Thursday, October 21, 2010

Turkish Directions

This is nothing new, but I thought you might get a kick out of this. Let me start with some background and a valuable lesson learned early on.

Four years ago, when I was still new in Turkey, a fellow expat and I made plans to go out to dinner with our respective boyfriends. She and I made all the plans; the men just had to show up. C picked me up from work, and we started to drive. "So, where are we going?" he asked me.

"I've got the address right here." I proudly produced my Palm Pilot, pulled up the address and read it out to him.

"What's that? Where's that?" he asked.

"What do you mean, where's that? This is your city!"

Well, who knew, but in Turkey things don't work that way. Addresses, streets, directions don't work that way.

Anyway, to make a long story short, C got on the phone with my friend's boyfriend and we figured out how to get to their place. But not without the two of them having a good laugh over us girls and our western assumptions!

So this is how it works when you want to give directions: first, you state the neighbourhood. If it's Istanbul, district first, then neighbourhood. Then you state the closest main street, and a landmark, such as a restaurant or a school. Then you might get more specific with the colour of the building, or which business is on the ground floor of the apartment. But don't bother with an actual street address, since apparently only the postal service uses or understands that system.

I was reminded of all this when I received directions to an event on raising bilingual kids I'm attending on Saturday. Can you make sense of this?

"Dumlupınar 17, Caferaga mah Kadiköy Istanbul. Near MUHURDAR Cad. and Burger King on corner of Muhurdar Cad. and Dumlupınar Sok. close to SIFA Hastanesi and next to Gümüş Cafe and opposite Sahaf Cafe. See you at Greenhouse!"


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