August 2011 – Istanbul: First Impressions
We’re finally here all together after six long months of Mr Incredible having an horrendous bi-weekly Istanbul-London commute. It’s hot and sunny and the children in particular are getting lots of warm smiles and attention from everyone. Pickle especially attracts cries of “cok guzel” (pronounced choc-goozelle) and is often scooped up and cheek-pinched by complete strangers. He’s not entirely sure about this hands-on attention being more accustomed to a restrained British smile or coo-ee.
Day one Mr I. drove us from the hotel to our new house. He then went to work leaving us in an empty echoey villa with the challenge of negotiating Istanbul by ourselves relying on my best international pointing, smiling and map waving skills.
Returning to our empty house the following day to meet the landlady I was expecting a short handover. I was wrong. As the morning wore on we were joined by the estate agent, the gardener, the cleaning lady, the electrician, two men to clean the a/c units, somebody to look at the washing machine, two men to fix some broken shutters and a further two men to work on the intercom system. Sadly the men to clean the water tank, the locksmith and the carpenter were delayed on other jobs and came another day.
We escaped briefly from the mayhem when the workmen gave us (myself, the kids and the cleaning lady) a hair raising trip down the hill to the supermarket to stock up on cleaning supplies and cornflakes.
Arriving back at the house I dished up a fine lunch of cereal and the cleaning lady set to cleaning. The landlady had a fit when she saw her lugging a leaky hosepipe through the front door, across the newly treated parquet flooring towards the balcony. The dripping hose was swiftly removed outside, taken round the house and then tossed up onto the balcony. Of course, when the hose was turned on, the landlady shrieked again as it squirted through the open balcony door and made a large puddle on the aforementioned precious floor!
Apart from the hose incident, the cleaning lady, Omur, was actually very pleasant and helpful. The limit of her English is: Traffic, verrrrrry bad. Other than that she babbles and smiles in Turkish. I’m sure we’ll be just fine.
We’re living in a hotel until the our container arrives, so briefly have the best of both worlds. No cooking, cleaning or shopping for me and an almost empty house for the children to run wild in. Time to start exploring. So far we have managed a meal by the Bosphorus at sunset. It sounds romantic, but Pickle kept making a bid for freedom so we spent most of it trying to stop him tumbling into the water.
We’ve endured boring but necessary trips to the supermarket and Ikea. We also, more eventfully, had an accidental trip……..to Asia. That’s one heck of a wrong turn. Only it’s not. Istanbul is the only city in the world spanning two continents and once you’re on either of the two cross continental bridges, there’s no turning around until you get to the other side. An unexpected excursion and perhaps a kind of a metaphor for expat life.