Time sped up this week. I don’t mean to say that I accomplished more at work or that I had exceptionally outstanding experiences this week (because this whole trip is full of novel an exciting experiences), but I can say with certainty that this week seemed to pass with a speed at which I had not experienced in Turkey so far on this trip. Life was not slow before, it had a distinct pace and I had developed a routine for everyday and was comfortable having reached a point where I was okay with being by myself for certain parts of the day. Yet, as I look back over this week, I realize that it is already over.
Last Friday I met a group of students who live on the fifth floor of the dorm where I live (I am on the second floor). I had walked down to the turf fútbol fields to see if I could join a game, but all of the games were already full and because they were 5v5 turf games, they weren’t accepting more players. Instead of doing my own work out, I stayed and watched the games. When one of them finished, some of the players walked over to the benches sat and began to take off their cleats. I noticed that two of the players were speaking English (I later found out that they were Serbian exchange students) so I walked over to the group and asked if the matches being played were part of a tournament set up by the University. One of the Turkish students responded that they were just pick-up matches and then asked me if I lived in EB2 because he recognized me. I talked with the group and they invited me to watch the fútbol matches with them later that night. I posted about this whole event last week, but since then I have continued to hang out with them in the dorm and play basketball and fútbol (even in the dorm lobby) with them, so my time after work to write has significantly dwindled.
On Wednesday of this week, I ate lunch with our chemistry colleagues from the biotechnology unit. Dr. Vasıf Hasırcı’s wife works in the Chemistry department in the building right next to ours, and we frequently collaborate with that research group on some of the tissue engineering projects we have here. We therefore ate lunch with them while Dr Hasırcı was in Ireland. After lunch, one of the women, Ayse, in the Chemistry department invited us back to their lounge for home made Turkish coffee. Before I continue, let me state that I really, really dislike coffee. For some reason, I guess I never developed the taste buds necessary to enjoy the drink. Even when I was in Costa Rica I remember people telling me that the coffee at this particular lodge we visited had the best coffee they had ever had in their entire life. Hearing this statement, I thought that I should try it, seeing as it may be the best coffee I was ever going to have and wondering whether this would open my eyes to the phenomena of coffee that had thus far alluded me, yet when I tasted it, the bitter sand-paper taste laid siege upon my mouth immediately and I could not have more than one sip. I say this to show utterly and completely surprised I was that when I tasted the Turkish coffee, I really liked it. It had some resemblance to the taste of coffee, and I would even say that it was a “stronger” taste. Yet for some reason, the particular mixture of the pure grounds in the cup and a sweetness that accompanied them made for a fabulous drink.
After the drink is finished (leaving the pure grounds in the bottom of the cup of course), it is a tradition to have ones fortune told by the patterns made by the grounds in the cup. The custom is to turn your cup over on to the saucer plate and wait for the cup to cool. When the cup cools, and you turn it back right side up, the grounds have spread all over the inside of the cup, making different patterns and designs. The designs, patterns, and smell of your cup yield to the fortune-teller the foundations to your future your future life. One of the masters students in the chemistry department therefore did me the service of reading my future from my grounds in my coffee cup, revealing to me things such as “you will have to re-evaluate something that is going well for you now in your life and through this evaluation, things will improve even more.” After her reading, I decided that I should take on the challenge and therefore ended up reading the coffee grounds in my fortune-teller’s cup (I will not reveal to you the special art and years of extensive training that was required for me to be able to do this, but rather I will leave you wondering how an American was able to acquire this particular Turkish talent) ☺.
Wednesday night and Friday night I had the opportunity to go to a place called Bahçelievler, which the people here just call Baceli (pronounced kind of in the Italian way (bachelli). The main street in the area has several restaurants, bars, coffee shops, clothing stores, and many other selling items. To get there, you have to take the minibus. Minibuses run all over the city of Ankara and have their destinations posted on the front of the bus. Therefore for 1.8 tr, or $1.20, you can pretty much go anywhere in the city. Anyway, Baceli, is a wonderful night spot which becomes very crowded at night. I hopefully will be able to share some video showing some of the atmosphere on the street during the night. Anyway, I have also been to Cepa (pronounced Jepa) which is the main shopping mall in the city and it is huge. The Cepa shopping mall is modern and has an incredible amount of stores. It rivals the mall of King of Prussia in Philadelphia or other large shopping malls that I have been to. Outside of the mall there is even a little amusement park complete with roller coaster rides and a carousel. I will hopefully be able to share some of this as well in the video that I hope to post tomorrow.