Thursday, August 26, 2010

Adventures in Nanny Searching

I assume any nanny can change and feed a baby; the challenge is finding someone whose personality doesn't offend me. For long before a nanny's character flaws will influence my son, she will start to drive me crazy.

Here are just a few of the unbelievable things our new nanny did in her first three days:
  • She emptied out the fridge -- but only of my favourite things; this included an unopened box of Stroopwafels we'd picked up in Amsterdam.
  • She started taking the multivitamins I'd brought back from Canada, since good quality ones are hard to find here and expensive. (And in case there's any doubt in your mind right now, she told me, in her off-handed way, that she'd started taking them.)
  • While it is standard for employers in Turkey to provide lunch, Nanny is also preparing herself breakfasts.
  • Nanny throws her laundry in my laundry hamper at the end of each workday so I can wash it for her. And while presumably her previous employer offered her this convenience, I never have, nor has she ever mentioned it.
  • She suggested I tell our agent I'd decreased her hours and therefore her pay, so that I could save a few hundred dollars in commission fees; she reassurs me she'll corroborate my story. (Oops, sorry -- that was on day four, the penultimate day, of her employment).
  • After proving herself a real shark during salary negotiations and at one point even saying she wasn't interested in the job after all because it was a little far from her home, she's since revealed that a) she actually lives quite nearby; b) that she enjoys luxury haircare products; and c) that her husband's upper level management position pays 2500TL a month. A fortune in this country.
Needless to say, I've resumed my nanny search and am hoping to replace her as soon as possible.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Visitor at Home

It's nothing new for an expat to feel she no longer fits in at home, that her adopted country has changed her; I've felt the change slowly happening over the past four years.

My first visit home, four months after moving here, I over-identified with everything Canadian; ditto the following year. But at one point, I started to see things I'd never noticed before -- how cold Torontonians are compared to Turkish people, or how stingy they appear compared to Turks.

And then I started forgetting to re-adapt on trips back to Canada, standing too close to the person ahead of me at the bank machine, or rushing to get onto a bus instead of patiently hanging back until everyone else had gotten on.

But this summer I was truly amazed at the 'Turkishness' of my cultural observations:
  • I couldn't get over how dog crazy everyone was, and found myself slightly appalled at the sight of dogs on furniture (note: I used to have 2 Labs who slept with me on more than one occasion -- no judgement, dear Canadian friends!);
  • I couldn't keep up with everyone's punctuality, nor did I understand their impatience when dinner wasn't ready before 8pm;
  • I was surprised by the casualness of men's and the skimpiness of women's summer attire!
As lovely as it was to be 'home' again, I seem to have lost the ability to just step off the plane and right back into the culture I grew up in; it seems if I ever move back to Toronto, I'd have to go through a process of acclimatization not unlike what I went through when I moved to Turkey.