Thursday, 30 September 2010

Plans

It has been a busy week. I am still over at the hotel with Mr Ayak each day, and am becoming an excellent masseuse!  I've done four more customers since the first one I mentioned...and I've even received tips...so I must be doing something right!

The in-laws have been here since Sunday.  Judging by the amount of clothes they brought with them, I was assuming they planned to stay for months.  However, they are leaving tonight.

I would normally be quite pleased about this but this visit has been a real eye-opener for me.  Mr A and I have been having a difficult time recently.  He is I'm afraid typical of most Turkish men, in that he doesn't find it easy to sit and discuss our problems, something which I feel is essential to keeping a marriage on track.  He's a "bury his head in the sand" kind of person and thinks if we just don't talk about it, the problems will just disappear and everything will be fine.

It was never the intention for the in-laws to be aware that anything was wrong, but over the past couple of evenings, things have cropped up in conversation, and they are now completely in the picture.  Very surprisingly...FIL has been an excellent marriage guidance counsellor.  He has proved to be very diplomatic...he has in fact lectured Mr Ayak strongly, but without appearing to take sides.  He has also told me that he and MIL are very fond of me, consider me to be very much part of their family, and that the only reason they gave us this house, was because of me.  Simply because they trust and respect me.

I am totally and utterly amazed at this revelation.  It's taken almost 13 years to reach this point...but better late than never!

Mr Ayak appears to have taken on board everything his father has said, and the improvements in his attitude are already showing.

I think the business will finally close within the next few days.  Around a dozen English customers arrived at the hotel this week.  They weren't booked there...they were all transferred from another hotel that was in a bad state and they all complained.  We have managed to book almost every one of them for hamam treatments.   There are no more guests due to arrive.  Those staying there now are the last intake before the hotel closes.

Our plan for earning money from now on through the winter, is for Mr Ayak to buy stock of Mesir Macunu and to travel around the villages selling it from the car.  He did this a couple of years ago but as he didn't have a car at the time, had to involve another man with a vehicle, who literally ate all the profits!

Mesir Macanu is particularly popular with people in villages. Mr A knows he can sell it, and he will keep expenditure down to a minimum because we will plan his route every day, and there are 1000s of villages in the Mugla area that can be covered without costing too much petrol.

He was in negotiations a couple of months ago with a very large hotel in Didim to rent their spa centre for next year.  He also found a partner from Holland, who is a tour guide, lives and works in Turkey, and has money to invest.  However, after much discussion this week...in which we included FIL..we have agreed that if we take on something of this size, we won't have so much control.  It's really just too big a leap from the business this year.

So we intend to look around for something of a similar size to the current business, and plan to work together as we have done over the past few weeks...because it seems to work.

Of course...this being Turkey...all these plans could change.  We'll just wait and see how it goes.

Finally....I am spending most of today at home, trying to catch up with chores...and sleep!   I am also going to try and catch up with reading all my favourite blogs, but due to lack of time, I may not be able to comment.  So please forgive me if I don't.  I'm sure normal service will be resumed pretty soon!

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Being adaptable

Throughout my life I've always tried to adapt to whatever environment or circumstances I find myself in.  In some ways I was always the odd one out in our family.  I never found it easy to conform or to do what was expected of me.  I always went my own way...even if it turned out to be the wrong way at times. 

I've had lots of different jobs during my working life, ending up in social work, which gave me enormous satisfaction, until the stress of working with seriously mentally ill clients eventually took it's toll.

I've had a few different jobs since I moved to Turkey.  I worked for a tour company in Side, Antalya, as a tour guide.  Not an official one of course, and I had to rapidly read up on the history and geography of this country so that I didn't appear to be a complete idiot, or worse still having someone recognise that I was blagging it.  I got away with it quite well.  I used to sell the trips to customers too.  If I do say so myself...I am pretty good at selling...fridges and eskimos spring to mind!

In Goreme, Cappadocia, I worked in a small cafe.  I learned how to make gozleme and borek, and other things too.  I worked just with the owner and between us, we shopped, cooked, cleaned, served customers, plus everything else necessary to keep a cafe ticking over nicely.  It was busy and very popular.  I worked extremely hard for little money but I enjoyed it immensely.

Also in Goreme I worked in a small antique shop.  I knew nothing about Turkish antiques but I could still sell them to foreigners.  The owner could speak no English...he had the knowledge and I had the language.  Between us we did pretty well.   After that I was left in sole charge of a gift shop...also in Goreme.   I worked on a commission only basis, so I really had to use my selling skills.

When I moved to Selçuk, we kind of decided that I wouldn't work anymore, and I've enjoyed having all this free time.  However since we moved to our village 18 months ago, I have been pretty lonely with Mr Ayak away, and really feeling that I'd like to work again.

As I mentioned previously, for the past 2 to 3 weeks I have been working at the Hamam every day with Mr A.  I have throughly enjoyed it, and it has helped enormously to get our marriage back on track, which had been suffering due to all this time apart.

There aren't that many customers around now, it's almost the end of the season, but again I have been using my selling skills to persuade people to buy the "full packet" of sauna, hamam, face mask and massage, and full body massage.  Most of this is done by Mr A, with Turan assisting, and I have been applying the face masks...pretty easy really.

Occasionally we have female customers who insist on having a female masseuse, rather than a male.  During the season, Mr A employed one or two females, but they weren't really up to scratch, so they didn't stay long.  On other occasions he called upon a masseuse who works at a Hamam in Bodrum and she would come over to do a one-off massage. 

We had a female customer today who wanted to book the full packet and Mr A phoned the masseuse but she wasn't available.  Before I knew what was happening, Mr A had booked the customer and her husband and told them that I would be doing the treatments for the lady!

Was I worried?  Of course not!   "adaptable" is my middle name!   So I escorted my customer first to the sauna for 15 minutes.  I then did her turkish bath which first consisted of exfoliating her entire body with a special mitten that is used for this purpose, whilst constantly rinsing off the dead skin with the water that flows into the bowls all around the hamam.   Next she had a foam massage.  I've watched Mr A do this many times.  Small pieces of soap are mixed with warm water in a large container until there is lots of lather.  Then a large muslin sack the size of a pillow case is immersed into the lather and squeezed.  Then you open it and blow into it, holding it closed at the top.  You then rub it from the top of the customer's body to the feet and it produces enormous quantities of foamy lather.   This is then massaged into the skin, and rinsed. The customer turns over and you repeat the procedure.  The customer is  finally rinsed off throughly.

Next is the face mask.  It's a natural algae substance which is painted on with a brush, left to dry for 10 minutes then rinsed off with cold water.   After this the customer proceeds to the massage room and the face is first massaged with cream.  Then the entire body is massaged with oil.

I did it all.  I have done many massages over the years for Mr A, and he has been quite happy.  He has taught me well.  Although my technique is somewhat different from his.  The Turks are pretty heavy handed when they massage...I like to think I have a more gentle touch.

Anyway my customer was delighted...she was so relaxed that she actually fell asleep on the massage table.  She thanked me profusely and said she would be back for a repeat performance before the end of her holiday.

So can I call myself a masseuse now?  Probably not ...I've just learned to be adaptable!

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Catching Up

I've taken a much needed day off today.  Mr A and I have been setting off  to the hamam each morning around 7.30am and not arriving home much before 8 or 9pm in the evening.

I am so tired.  Stress over the past few months has caused me to lose my appetite and an excessive amount of weight along with it, and I haven't been sleeping at all well.

We don't have many customers at the moment, but have been determined to stick it out to the bitter end.  In any case the hotel closes around the first week of October. so that will be that.

We continue to experience problems...such as flooding out the house on Tuesday...and I have come to the conclusion that all these things are sent to try us, and to make us stronger.  I just accept them as part of this strange way of life that I have lived for the past 12 plus years.

The very old car which we bought last week...which was a heap of junk...spent more time in a workshop being repaired than it did on the road.  Eventually Mr A took it back to the seller, demanded his money back plus the money he had spent on repairs.  Of course the guy didn't want to pay, but a few threats from Mr A and he handed over the money.  The car we had originally intended to buy, which someone else got to first, came back on the market again.  Apparently he had to return it because he couldn't raise all the cash.  So we paid the deposit as originally agreed, and the rest will be paid by instalments (fingers crossed we actually manage to earn money to pay!).

It's also a very old car but not as bad as the first one....not quite as much rust!  It was fine the first day.  The second day we drove the 5km  from the village to the main road...and it just stopped...dead.  Mr A phoned a mechanic friend in the village who has a workshop in Milas.  Fortunately he was just about to leave home for work and 10 minutes later he pulled up beside us.  He got the car started and we followed him into Milas.  It stopped twice on the way and had to be re-started but we finally got there.  I've no idea what the problem was but the car had to stay in the workshop all day so we had to get the bus to work.  It was collected in the evening and cost us 275 lira...which Mr A intends to cut from the rest of the money owed.

A friend of Mr A's bought a new CD player for his car so gave Mr A his old one.  When we left work yesterday, we called in at a workshop owned by another friend who promised to fit it in the car for us.   A 10 minute job...apparently!   Well I am of course familiar by now with "Turkish time"...so an hour and a half later it was installed...and it took 5 men to do it!  When we collected this car on the day we bought it, we had to take it to a car wash because it was filthy.  A 20 minute job says Mr A.  It took 2 hours.  Like I said...this is Turkish time...and I'm frankly getting a little fed up with sitting around waiting when I have so much to do at home.

We set off for home...were just outside Bodrum...on a hill...and the car ran out of gas.  It runs on LPG but also has a petrol tank.  Of course, typical of our luck, the petrol tank was also empty.  I stayed in the car while Mr A walked to the nearest garage to get some petrol.   An hour later we got going again.

The sitting room has taken longer to dry out than we anticipated.  But we need to put everything back tonight as the in-laws will arrive tomorrow.  So today I've been at home, wading through mountains of washing and ironing and cleaning every other part of the house other than the sitting room, which Mr A will sort out when he gets home tonight...that is if he hasn't been delayed by another unforeseen problem!

I have had some time to relax today though and catch up on reading all your blogs....and the dogs have been pleased to have me around.

Overall this past couple of weeks working with Mr A has done a great deal to improve our relationship, and we know for certain now that we will not be spending so much time apart in the future.  It's been an exhausting time but well worth it.

Have a good weekend everyone xx

Wow!!

I'm left rather speechless this morning.  The following comment appeared on my blog this morning.  I have heard of this organisation.  One of my followers 'Cross the Pond' received similar recognition for her blog as an ex-pat living in London.  I never imagined I would receive the same.

"Hi Ayak,


I couldn't find any contact information, so I decided to leave a comment here.

I'm Andrew Dunkle and I currently serve as the senior editor of GoOverseas.com. We are contacting you with regard to your blog, Turkish Delight, which the editorial staff at GO! Overseas has selected as one of the top travel related blogs in Turkey. As recognition of your outstanding writing skills we are delighted to include your blog in a select list of websites representing Turkey. We select only the most exceptional blogs that meet our exacting standards and we hope you feel a sense of pride that you have been recognized for your efforts. You may view this list on our website here:

http://www.gooverseas.com/turkey-blogs

You are welcome to display one of the image badges we have created specifically for blogs we feature in Turkey. This is an easy way to let your readers know that you have been recognized as an outstanding blogger. You may contact us to receive a badge via email.

Thank you for all the high quality content you have contributed to the global online community. We look forward to continuing to follow your experiences abroad in Turkey. If you have questions about GO! Overseas please don't hesitate to contact us.



Warm regards,
Andrew Dunkle

--

Andrew Dunkle
Senior Editor
http://www.gooverseas.com/
www.facebook.com/GoOverseas
twitter.com/GoOverseas

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

From negative to positive

I constantly tell myself that I must try to see things in a more positive light.  Sometimes it's difficult, sometimes it's impossible, but it's important to keep trying.

The flood:   It could have been worse.  We have electric extension sockets on the floor.  I could have stepped into the dark house and the pool of water and received a shock which might have killed me.  I didn't.  So I'm lucky that nothing electric was affected.

Mr A undertook the big clean up.  I didn't have to do anything.  That's good isn't it?

The drawers and cupboards under the sink in the kitchen were also swimming in water, so they had to be emptied, the drawers dried out, which happened overnight, and everything placed back in good order.  Large items such as the cooker, fridge-freezer and washing machine had to be dragged out to mop up the water.  Now I expect there are many of you like me, who rarely pull these large items out because they are just too heavy.  When  you do there is always so much dirt and grime behind them.  So Mr A has cleaned all this.  Another job I don't need to worry about for some time.

He has managed to rescue the fitted carpet after all, washed it along with the Turkish carpets and they are all drying outside today.  They actually all needed a good wash so I'm really pleased about that.  Thank goodness we still have temperatures in the 80s during the day.  It should all be dried out by tonight. 

Mr A said last night that we were indeed lucky.  It could have been fire instead of water...then we would have lost everything.  We've lost nothing.  Everything has been saved and by tonight the house will be back to normal and spotlessly clean.

Good result I think!


...................

It's come to my notice that some of my followers are again unable to post comments on my blog.  I am also having the same problem with some other blogs that I follow.  I really don't know what the problem is, because it happened before, then suddenly everything was OK, without my having to do anything.  Now it's happening again.  I think it must be a Blogger problem.

Please rest assured I am reading all the blogs on my list, even if I'm not commenting.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Keep smiling!!

Well...I've been having a rather difficult time just lately...which is a bit of an understatement.   I was about to write a cheerful blog post about how things seem to be improving.  But I have just arrived home to another disaster.

This past week I have been travelling over to work with Mr A and we have been running the business together.  For a few days we have had a young boy called Turan helping us, and we have had a steady flow of customers.  Not a lot...but enough to keep us ticking over until the season ends.

Mr A and I have been apart for far too long and it takes its toll.  We have enjoyed the past few days working together, and we now wish I had decided to be more involved from the outset.

We bought the old car this week which has been taking us to and from work without problem...except for this morning when the brakes failed.  We drove at a snail's pace into Milas very early this morning, using the handbrake to stop,  and got the brakes fixed and set off to work.

As usual before leaving home this morning we had a water cut.  Not a problem as we have plenty of showers at work.

So after about 13 hours out of the house today, we have just arrived home to find the  house flooded.  I had left the kitchen tap on this morning when there was no water...the washing up bowl in the sink...preventing the water from flowing away.  So its been running all day.  The kitchen floor is laminated...the trim has come away from the walls and the walls are damp up to about a metre.  There is of course water under the laminate flooring, so it will probably have to come up and be relaid.

The sitting room has a fitted thin carpet with two large Turkish carpets on top...all absolutely sodden.  The furniture is also wet up to about half a metre. The fitted carpet is completely ruined,  but the rugs will dry out of course.  Once that happens we will just have to make do with them placed directly on the concrete floor.

I've had a rotten cold since yesterday and I am very tired.  I am not feeling my best at this point in time.  Naturally when I stepped into the house I burst into tears.  Mr A has just taken over...he has steered me off to bed with the laptop, saying he will sort it out....well he'll sort as much as is possible.  He has taken up the rugs and the fitted carpet, and is dragging furniture out onto the balcony.

And I'm sitting on the bed writing this....trying desperately to keep smiling!

Sunday, 19 September 2010

My Beautiful Daughter

It's my Beautiful Daughter's 28th Birthday today. 

No doubt I will embarrass her by posting some photos, but here she is enjoying easter eggs...she was about the same age as Billy  is now (can you see the likeness?)


On her wedding day in July 2007:





And here she is with Billy last November:




She is such a special young woman. I am immensely proud of her and I love her more than I can ever express in words.



Happy Birthday my Darling Daughter xxxxx



Saturday, 18 September 2010

Dave

Who is Dave?  He is an important part of Billy's life.  He is his best friend.  Billy takes him to bed with him and out in the buggy.  He even went on holiday to Ibiza with him recently.

He is of course Billy's favourite cuddly animal...a monkey.  All children have one don't they?  My son's was a blue rabbit called Bunny (not terribly original) and my daughter's was a bear called Bertie.  I remember them being kept for years until they were absolutely threadbare and I had to make clothes for them.

 Dave seems to have developed a life all of his own...thanks to Billy's mum and Billy's dad's family, and I am finding all the comments about Dave and his antics on Facebook very amusing.  Here are some photos of Dave:
In the hotel in Ibiza with Billy
Getting a taste for the beer in Ibiza
The cocktails are pretty good too!


The following little story was posted with the accompanying photo of Dave on Facebook today:
 Known simply as 'Dave' this talented young monkey has been creating quite a stir as he tours Europe with a collection of songs based on his recent hedonsitic retreat to Ibiza.His manager Billy McCabe says he thinks Daves new single 'Beaches, chicks and cocktails' could well head straight to number one this Sunday....









Friday, 17 September 2010

Working and Acting

This week I have been at the hotel with Mr A every day.  Mehmet and Davut left on Tuesday morning.  It was very quiet here and they were anxious to go home to their families in the east of Turkey, rather than sitting around doing nothing.

But we still need to earn money, so Mr A is continuing with my help.  OK I can't do massage ...well I can but not to the same standard as Mr A.  But I have been applying face masks to customers, and haven't yet managed to poke anyone's eyes out with the brush.  And I am doing all the cleaning, sorting out laundry, talking to customers, and generally doing what I can to keep the business ticking over.  We are trying to keep going until the end of this month.

Yesterday was a good day.  We had nine customers who had the full package...sauna, hamam, face mask, face massage, full body massage.  If you can imagine it...one customer needs at least an hour for their treatments so Mr A was working flat out, without a break.  We started at 8.30am and didn't get home until after 10.00pm last night.  And we left home at 7.30 this morning to start all over again.

We have again been scraping money together to buy an old car.  With yesterday's business we managed to finally raise enough, and today Mr A will collect our car.   It is a very very old car, but it goes.  Please will you all keep your fingers crossed that it keeps going without any problems!

I mentioned "acting" in my post title.   Let me tell you something about Mr A.  Something you may have picked up on in some of my many posts about his adventures.  Mr A is the Turkish equivalent of Delboy.  He's always been a bit of a wheeler-dealer..he lives by his wits (and often by the skin of his teeth) most of the time.

We have had a series of motorbikes and cars over the years.  Mr A changes them frequently.  They don't always have the correct paperwork...and this can occasionally cause a problem if he is stopped by the traffic police.  My first experience of this many years ago, being stopped by the police on the way from Antalya to Side, caused me great anxiety.   Mr A produced his paperwork...not completely in order...and the police made several phone calls.   There was much conversation between them, and then Mr A gave one of the policemen a number from his mobile phone.  The policeman rang the number, spoke to the person at the other end, handed Mr A his papers, and sent us on our way.

The story behind this is that wherever we have lived, Mr A will spend some time at the local men-only teahouses.  These are also frequented by traffic police, jandarma officers, etc.  Mr A is a very sociable and likeable man.  He makes many friends.  He always makes sure that he becomes friends with the Chief of Traffic Police in every area we live in.  So this was the person at the other end of the phone when we were stopped.

 At the risk of someone Turkish reading this blog and reporting me (I'll chance it)...there is a lot of corruption in the police and jandarma.  Everyone has a price.  It's very easy to slip an officer a backhander and avoid being prosecuted or fined.  It's even better of course if you happen to have a friend who is a high-ranking officer!

You might think I'm being quite blase about all this.  I'm not of course.  Before I lived in Turkey I was an upstanding law-abiding citizen.  So I was shocked to discover that Mr A is by no means the only one who is willing to talk or bribe his way out of a difficult situation, or indeed to do a bit of name-dropping.

I was once driving our car in Cappadocia, when I was stopped by the traffic police.  I was alone, and wasn't even sure whether I had the correct paperwork, but I had to deal with it.  So I got out of the car, made out I understood not one word of Turkish....and then I burst into tears.  I have to admit that I was upset enough to cry, but it wouldn't have lasted long.  I did need to get myself out of the situation so I had to keep up the weeping for a while longer.  It worked...Turkish men hate it when women cry...and they soon waved me on my way.

The motorbike we are using at the moment isn't ours.  It belongs to a friend of Mr A.  It has no number plates!  Mr A has been using it all summer.  There are two traffic police checks between Milas and Bodrum, and somehow he has managed to avoid being stopped.  He seems to have a few tricks up his sleeve that work in getting him past the checks...but I have no idea how he does it.

Yesterday morning on the way to the hotel, I was on the back of the motorbike, and the traffic police stopped us.  As we pulled up Mr A said to me "You're ill...OK?"   We got off the motorbike and Mr A told the officer that his wife was sick, he had borrowed the motorbike (at least that bit was true) and was taking me to hospital.  Mr A hasn't yet managed to meet the chief of police in this area, so clearly there needed to be some acting on my part.  So I clutched my stomach and groaned.  The policemen and Mr A had a conversation.  I couldn't really understand how it was going, so I groaned a bit more...and a bit louder.  "OK" said the officer "off you go".  Honestly, I reckoned I deserved an Oscar for my performance!

I don't feel particulaly proud of having to behave this way on occasions...but I can assure you that this is how life has become here. 

However.  Hopefully all this stops today.  Our "new" car has all the correct paperwork.  Mr A has all his correct paperwork.  We will be driving legally at last.  And I will not be taking up acting as my new career!

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

"Big" people should pay higher bus fares!

Now I don't want anyone to think that I am prejudiced against big or fat people.  Of course I'm not. I've been pretty fat myself on occasions.  We all come in different shapes and sizes.

It's just that I always seem to get the fattest person on the bus sitting next to me.  It's almost as if I have a sign on my head saying "Sit next to me...I don't mind being squashed".

My journey on the Bodrum to Milas bus today left me battered and bruised because an enormous lady chose to sit next to me.  There is room for two people, but she not only took up her seat but half of my space too, leaving me with half a seat, and squashed up against the window, hardly able to draw breath...for 50 minutes!  As if that wasn't bad enough, she spent the entire journey rummaging in her handbag which meant that I was repeatedly jabbed in my shoulder by her elbow.

So I'm actually serious when I say that people taking up more than one seat on a bus should pay more.....and those of us taking up half a seat should either pay less...or at least be able to claim for injuries sustained.

Oh...and the seat was immediately behind the driver who had a rotten stinking cold...coughing, sneezing and spluttering his germs all the way there.   So no doubt I'll get a cold to go with the bruises.

Not one of my best bus trips.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Billy learning to dress himself




Posting Videos...Part 2

Thanks to my dear friend MelRoXx I think I am now able to post a video here.

Please bear with me my blogger friends.  Most of you by now will know that I am a complete pc numpty and it takes me ages to accomplish something new.  Mr friend Fly in the Web knows exactly what I mean, because she has similar problems.  I will attempt to put a video on here now.


Elephant baby joy in Melbourne zoo
Uploaded by itnquirky. - Watch the latest news videos.

Posting videos...Part 1

I have no idea how to put a video on my blog.  I was hoping to be able to do it by posting a video which I watched this morning which made me laugh.

It was an old Dean Martin clip which I watched on my dear friend Nomad's blog, and I know he wouldn't mind my copying it over here for others to see.

However, I couldn't manage to do it.  So if you want to watch it have a look on Nomad's blog.   And while you're over there, you may well find lots of other posts of interest to you.  It's a great mixture of pics, videos, art, interesting posts and words of wisdom.

For example this recent post A Week of Food is one I keep returning to, because it makes me think long and hard about the differences in our world.  It's real food for thought (if you'll forgive the pun).


ETA:  Note to Fly:  If I discover how to post a video, I'll pass on instructions! (Unless you already know of course?  In which case tell me how to do it please!)

Some recent pics of Billy





He's growing so fast isn't he?


Thursday, 9 September 2010

Taking a break

I'm taking a break from blogging for a while.  I really have no idea how long..could be days...could be weeks. I just have so much emotional and stressful stuff going on in my life at the moment, and I need a clear head.

Blogging sometimes helps me to deal with everything that's going on in my mind...but sometimes I feel too stressed to write...and that's how I'm feeling right now.

I'll still be reading all my favourite blogs of course, and when I've managed to shuffle all the words in my brain into some sort of order, so that they make sense, I'll be back.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Returning (or Walking Away Part 2)

Mr Ayak had lots of phone calls on Sunday.  He spent most of the day either on the phone or the internet.  His mood fluctuated between depressed and animated. 

It would seem that Mehmet, having taken control of the business, was, after just 24 hours, finding it difficult!
A lot of the phone calls were from Mehmet...which seemed to make Mr A pretty depressed.  However, other phone calls and chats on the internet, resulted in his mood being a lot brighter.  Mr A has some other ideas for what to do next...but they are all pretty vague at the moment.

I'm almost at a loss for words, because yesterday Mr Ayak returned to the Hamam and took control again.  He says there are bills to be paid, and personnel to be paid, and Mehmet can't cope.  Mr Ayak's conscience won't allow him to leave it in such a mess.  It doesn't matter that I think Mr Ayak has made the wrong decision in going back.  He's a man...and a Turkish one at that...and he will just do as he wants.  Don't they always?

I popped over there today.  I can't really assess his mood to be honest.  I don't know if he is going to be able to cope with this.  He's giving a good impression of coping but I'm not so sure.

I don't really know what else to say...other than watch this space.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Walking away

There comes a point sometimes in life when you have to give up flogging a dead horse and just walk away from it.  Yesterday was one such day for Mr Ayak.

You may recall the problems that Mr A encountered right from the start of the hamam business.  The volcanic ash cloud resulting in cancellations.  The General Manager not being totally honest about the type of customers, and the many other obstacles he put in Mr A's way.

 A couple of weeks ago Mehmet, Mr A's partner, decided he wanted out of the partnership.  Mehmet  is an excellent masseur and a really nice guy, but there has been a distinct lack of enthusiasm or sense of responsibility on his part when it came to managing the business.  It was Mr A's agreed role to get customers and to manage the finances.  Mehmet's role was to manage personnel.  He just hasn't been doing it.  So he agreed to become just another member of staff, receiving personnel accommodation and food, and commission for the work he did.

Having taken this step back, he then seemed to lose interest completely....disappearing for hours on end, and turning up when it suited him.

Erhan was an absolute treasure (you may remember me mentioning him).  A hardworking young man, loyal to Mr A, and wonderful with customers.  This week he got his call-up papers to do his national service.  He knew they were imminent but had hoped to see the season out.  Sadly it was not to be, so two days ago he left for his home to say goodbye to his parents and will be off to training camp in a few days.  We were very sorry to see him go.

Davut seemed much the same as Erhan...or at least I thought so.  However, it was discovered a couple of days ago that he's actually had customers when Mr A wasn't there, and has pocketed the money.  The arrangement is that the amount the customer pays goes to Mr A and the masseur is then paid his commission.
Davut has been keeping the lot.   Mr A was informed by one of the bar staff, but not wishing to accept this as fact before checking, he actually managed to locate and speak to the customers involved.  He didn't confront Davut.  He was really hoping that he would come clean.   He didn't.  Mr A asked him how many customers he had while Mr A wasn't there...and he said none.  Mr A still didn't confront him, reckoning that Davut would just have to live with his conscience  (if he has one).  Mr A was just very hurt that someone he thought he trusted had stolen from him.  Haven't I said before...many times?...Mr A is just too trusting!

Yesterday morning, Mehmet started to moan about the state of the business and the fact that they weren't earning any money and that Mr A wasn't getting enough customers.  Mr A's response was "Mehmet...if I'm no good at this...maybe you think you can do better?"   Mehmet thought he could.  So Mr A has handed the business over to him and walked away from it.   Mehmet seems happy with this, even though he was reminded that there is still rent to pay on the hamam, rent for personnel accommodation, personnel food, etc, etc.    And that the hotel is now only 30% full.  Mehmet, I think, is in for a big shock.

Oh well...good luck to Mehmet...he's certainly going to need it.   And maybe when he has had a go at the reins, he'll realise just how much stress Mr A has suffered these past few months.  I give it a week before Mehmet too collapses under the strain of trying to earn money when it's impossible to find customers.  Mr A could of course stick it out with Mehmet at the helm, but he is in no fit state mentally to sit there and watch a sinking ship.

I'm surprised Mr A has lasted this long.  So many businesses in the area have folded over the last couple of months.  It's a sign of the times...people are just not spending money.

Mr A came home last night.  I am very concerned about him.  He doesn't want to talk.  He looks like he is on the verge of tears most of the time.  He just sits and stares into space.  At one point he seemed to brighten up a little and talked for 5 minutes about other possibilities....but  this glimmer of hope didn't last.

You know?  I just hate writing about all this doom and gloom.  Mine must be one of the most depressing blogs around at the moment.  I'm surprised I still have followers to be honest.  But I've always said I write this for me...it helps to offload it.

So I'm going to try and end on a positive note.  I am not giving up.  We have survived 12 years of ups and downs.  There are ideas in the pipeline.  Mr A needs a few days of stress-free relaxation....and then we will start to re-build our lives.  Onwards and upwards!

Friday, 3 September 2010

A bit poorly today

"Get well soon" in Turkish
I woke up in the early hours of this morning with excruciating stomach pains.  When I tried to stand it was worse, and even more so when I tried to walk.  It's at times like this that I really hate being alone.  Well I was determined not to bother Mr Ayak until I really had to, and I didn't want to ring him until I was sure he had had a night's sleep.

I was hoping it would get better so I forced myself to keep moving about, but after a few hours I gave up and collapsed on the bed.  So eventually I phoned Mr A.  He came over on the motorbike but there was no way I could go into Milas on it, so I settled for the bus.

Because we don't have medical insurance at the moment, and money is scarce we had to settle for going to the devlet (state) hospital.  I have to say I was rather dreading this because previous experiences of devlet hospitals in Turkey haven't been good at all.  But I knew I had to see a doctor so there was no choice.

I was actually pleasantly surprised...and very impressed at the service.  Of course we had to pay because we didn't have insurance but it was a fraction of the price of the private hospitals.  There's an awful lot of to-ing and fro-ing and picking up pieces of paper in Turkish hospitals.  I have never understood the system...if you can call it that.  It's confusing enough for the Turks...so I would never manage on my own.  And of course it's extremely rare to find anyone who speaks English.

I saw a doctor, had a thorough examination, went through my medical history, and he felt certain there was some sort of infection.   I was sent off for blood and urine tests.  We waited an hour for the results then went back into see the doctor.  The tests clearly showed signs of infection, but he wanted to be sure so I was sent for an ultrasound.   And to my utter surprise and joy, the doctor who did the ultrasound spoke perfect English!  What a lovely young lady.  She has just moved from Istanbul a week ago, lives on her own in Güvercinlik (on the way to Bodrum) and hasn't really got to know anyone yet.  We chatted for quite a while and have exchanged phone numbers and hope to meet up.  She is a keen photographer and wants to come out to the village to take some shots of the scenery and animals..

She did a thorough ultrasound.  Immediately picked up on the cyst on my liver which was discovered two years ago.  It hasn't changed in size so its nothing to worry about.  My kidneys are fine, and also my ovaries (I was reassured by this as I actually thought this might have been the problem).

So with her report in hand, we went back to the original doctor, and it would seem I have a very bad urinary tract infection.  There is an added complication in that I was bitten by a mosquito on my hysterectomy scar a couple of days ago and I have had an allergic reaction to it which has resulted in swelling and bruising.  So together with the infection, I feel like I've been kicked very hard in the stomach.

I have antibiotics and three other types of tablets...so hopefully it will all be cleared up soon.  So now I'm home.  Mr A has tucked me up in bed and set off  back to work.  He didn't want to go but he really has to be there at the moment.  So I've promised him that I'll ring if I need him.

The total cost of all this treatment was 44 lira...about 19 English pounds.....although the medication cost us 50 lira.  Still pretty amazing though!

English conversation

I miss having good, intelligent conversations with other English people.   OK I have conversations with people on the internet, which I enjoy, but it's not quite the same.

In all the other areas where we have lived in Turkey I have made friends with other British people living here.  I've always avoided the "ex-pat cliques"...those of you living abroad will know what I mean.  Those groups of foreigners who stick together  and who don't make any attempt to integrate. I can't stand the way they attempt to make a little Britain out of their part of Turkey.  They lead their lives in their British ghettos as if they are still on holiday, and moan about everything Turkish.   But I've always managed to find like-minded people to get together with for a coffee and a chat.

The last 18 months of living in this village has been quite lonely at times, with Mr Ayak away and no other foreigners for miles around.  It's just as well I enjoy my own company most of the time.

Last week at the hotel I met an English couple and their daughter from Suffolk.  There have only been a handful of British people staying there this season, so to hear an English voice is quite rare.  We hit it off immediately.  We all had so much in common....and chatted happily for hours. 

My good friend Pauline, who was one of the first people I met when I moved to Turkey, had at that time lived here for 10 years.  Due to personal circumstances she had to sell up and move back to England. That was six years ago.  However we kept in touch and I visited her occasionally on my trips to England.  I discovered a few weeks ago that she was coming over for a short holiday to stay in Turgutreis where we lived at the time, her first visit since she left.  So we arranged to meet up in Bodrum on Wednesday.  She insisted on treating me to lunch which was lovely.  We sat down in the restaurant at 12 noon, and were still chatting at 5pm.   Doesn't time fly when you have so much to talk about!

Yesterday was the last day of the holiday for the people from Suffolk, and they told Mr A that they would love it if I could get over again to see them before they left.   So I went over yesterday, and again we spent hours chatting.  We said our goodbyes, swapped email addresses, and promised to keep in touch.  And I think we will...they are just so nice.

So this week has satisfied my hunger for English conversation. 

I have another friend who lives in England but also has a home in Selçuk.  She is due over here next week.   She always comes to visit me in the village for a day or two, so I have that to look forward to.

We take our daily interactions with people of the same nationality very much for granted.  It's not until you lose this that you realise how important it is. Having hours of wonderful conversation has really lifted my spirits in what has, in all other respects, been quite a difficult week.