First of all I hate turkish delight (the sweet/dessert). It’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Instead what I really like from Turkey is ‘Ayran’, its basically, yoghurt, water and salt I think, and in case you want to make it, this is the recipe. Another thing Turkey is Famous for that I love are pistachio nuts, loveeeee them and they are super cheap there, unlike when you are buying them in Nigeria or most other places. Also really like the fact that they serve yoghurt with almost all their food.
So Turkey is the second country outside of Nigeria and after the U.K, I visited. I personally love Turkey and Turkish people, I think the place and people are beautiful and simply delightful . I really am not done with that country, it’s actually somewhere I wouldn’t mind living for about a year, but I guess I should give up on the dream of living all over the world if I wanna start a family right? Turkish people have always been very friendly towards me, and Ataturk airport in Istanbul is like another home, cause I’ve spent a lot of time in that airport, seeing as I always use Turkish Airlines. I shall write a brief review about Turkish Airlines in a later post.
I first traveled to Turkey in 1996 and then again in 1997 and 1998, all to Ankara, which was then the capital for a dance festival, called TRT International April 23 Children’s Festival which held every year. I went those three times with an NGO, Glorious Diamond Productions, and went as a cultural dancer. It was an awesome experience. Children from all over the world attend, representing their countries and dance their traditional/cultural dances at different events. Turkish schools sign up to host these children, and each child (sometimes two) is assigned to stay with a Turkish Family for the two weeks that they are there. So in the three times I went, I had/stayed with three Turkish Families. One year (1997) I met the Prime Minister of Turkey, Necmettin Erbakan who I presented with a gift from Nigeria and he also gave all the representatives of the countries gifts (mine was a watch with his name inscribed on the back), another year I gave a speech on Peace in front of thousands of people, I think that was my first experience of public speaking in front of so many people and I composed the speech myself, with a little help of course. To be honest if you drop me off in Ankara today, and I get a Taxi to Maltepe Bazar, I’m pretty sure I can still find my way to my Turkish Family’s house of 1998.
My first Family in 1996 were super cool, they didn’t speak English so well but their daughter (my turkish sister), was a very friendly girl and always stuck with me. Then, I was very picky with food so I refused to eat their food, and they just kept buying me Mc Donald’s till they got tired and started making burgers for me at home. My second family in 1997, the daughter was so troublesome and I didn’t like her at all, she was so bossy, even to people older than her, lol. My third family in 1998 was my best family,they spoke English really well and I had two Turkish sisters, it was great. They have this thing that looks like an eye, which then I thought was demonic so I was always dodging it in the houses I stayed at (So Nigerian of me).
My braids kept falling off and my turkish family thought I was loosing hair and were very worried . Anytime I met someone and they asked where I was from, and I said Nigeria, they would immediately start shouting “Okocha, Amokachi, Uche” (they were popular football players for Fernebahce then). At some point I told them Okocha was my brother, not knowing anyone was paying attention and found myself on news in Turkey saying it . Being black and also cute got me and all of us loads of attention, one time we were walking through the bazar (market) and some old lady with big warts on her nose, like those old witches with hunch backs you see in cartoons, came up to us and started kissing us, I dodged the kisses. I was legit scared.
I learnt a little bit of the language while I was there, the basics like Merhaba (hello), Gunaydin (good morning), baba (father) and my fave word of all indirim (discount), (I swear I didn’t even google translate, I remember them from that time), my mom asked for ‘indirim’ in every shop we went to. At that time, turkish lira was of such little value, that a $100 worth of shopping filled up a big suitcase.
We visited Cappadocia and also some rocks which they said was the upper room, where the last supper took place. I was taking a picture and slipped and got a scar on my wrist, which I still have till this day. I appeared on Turkish Tv and newspapers a few times, my mom should still have the clippings from the newspapers somewhere.
I made so many friends, I kept in touch with some for a while, but forgot the password of my yahoo mail and lost touch. Even my mom was keeping in touch with some suitor of mine from Netherland I think, he went directly to her to show his interest and not to me, haha.
I believe this was the beginning of real exposure for me, because it really did challenge me to be more social, make random friends and stop being shy. I mean, I danced in front of thousands of people, and like I said earlier, gave a speech. It was wonderful and I am grateful for the opportunity and experience, which I pretty much owe to my Aunt Ms. Nkem Oselloka-Orakwue (The storyteller of Tales by Moonlight and producer of Speak out NTA then).
Well this is all for part one, I am currently on my way to Oslo (country 27, yippee) from Gothenburg, Sweden and my laptop battery is dying. So I’ll continue when I arrive. Unfortunately I have no digital pictures from these trips, but when I get back to Nigeria, I will upload some photos from the ones my mom kept in her photo album. Make sure you don’t laugh when you see them oh!!
Next up, will be about my trips to Turkey in recent years.