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IMG_0512When we arrived back at the house yesterday afternoon, I took myself off for a long, luxurious basic clean and threw many buckets of water over my head to clean off any fly residue.

After that, I thought I’d just sneak a quick peak at the internet. When I opened Facebook, the name and password were not mine. Nor was the box blank. There, in black and white, was an email address that started with the word “Tuba.” Hmmmmmmmmmmm

Earlier in the week, one of the days when my laptop was overheating on the kitchen table, I had turned it off and mentioned to Dursun that I thought this might be a problem. I explained to her that I didn’t want people using it as I have work on it. In fact, what I have on it is very important to me. I have the book on it and, when I arrived, I was supposed to be making last minute changes before sending it back to the publisher. Of course this never happened as I could not get a look in. Even though my Mother in law doesn’t really understand how writing could constitute ‘work,’ or, why I would prefer that to cooking, cleaning, Ironing, chopping wood and generally running myself into the ground, she knows me well enough to know I wouldn’t be making a fuss for nothing. “Bosver” she says, don’t worry about it and by that she means don’t worry about upsetting anyone. We are in the kitchen at the time with Tuba and Ayse and I hear Tuba say something along the lines of

“She is a foreigner, their brains are different”

I refuse to get angry at this. I knew damn well it would happen and realise that I can’t change these people or their way of doing things. I’m pretty amazed at myself actually for remaining so calm but I had made the decision, within the first couple of days, to just go with the flow and felt that putting a password on it would be petty. “Go with the flow” became my mantra.

Securing the laptop now within its case, I take it into the spare room and put it at the bottom of my suitcase, covering it with clothes.

It seems we are going out again. Dursun and Ide want to show me something special. As much as I would love it to be a trip to the spa for a few treatments and a white wine spritzer, I suspect it will be something far more subdued. I’d take bets right now on it being something religious.

Eyyup Sultan Cami

Eyyup Sultan Cami

We end up at the Eyyup (hands up who just read that in Northern accent?) Sultan Mosque; a tribute to yet another Peygamber (prophet) with a story attached to Urfa.  Here, there is another cave with a small queue of people at the entrance. We wander past them and through the gardens, stare at the sacred well and then Ide and Dursun say…….wait for it………they are going to do Namas.

I take the kids, Kerem and Elif (Havva’s daughter) to the tourist shops at the back and give them some spends. After they have made very sensible choices of wood effect pencils with their names engraved on, we find a bench and sit. Ide and Dursun return and ask if I want to go into the cave? Under normal circumstances I would but, I really can’t be bothered to go through the trainer, insole rigmarole, so I don’t.

The Cave

The Cave

Along one wall, are taps that religiously spill water from a natural source. Our current water bottles are emptied and both Ide and Dursun fill these from the taps and get me to write on them so that they don’t get confused with just any old water.

OK, this is a nice looking mosque but, it’s not my kind of site. I am into ancient history, preferably anything stone. Over the years this has earned me the family nickname, “Taş Kym” (Taş means stone) and I have plenty tales of adventure relating to this but, that’s another story. Urfa is now a Muslim paradise, a pilgrimage city with more religious attractions than Moses could shake his stick at. Venture much further back in time however and the region where Sanliurfa now stands, had its roots firmly planted in more primitive religions; the polytheist & monotheistic beliefs of Assyrian and Babylonian times.  These are the sites that get my heart racing and the ones that I drag my poor husband around, boring him to tears with the who, what, why, when’s and wherefores (I think he has more than got his own back for that now don’t you?).

Ide, Kerem & I

Ide, Kerem & I

At home that evening, its patlican kebabs for dinner, pot after pot of cay and more balcony chatter. Ayse has a headache. She has a frown on her face, which is nothing unusual but this time, it is to do with her pain. I catch her eye and nod my head in the direction of the kitchen and we both leave everyone else and go for smokes. She asks would I like coffee? I get the feeling she wants to talk.

We sit drinking Nescafe 3 in 1 as we smoke and slowly, her story tumbles out. She tells me that she likes her life in Istanbul. That she has good friends there and the kids are never bored as there is always plenty to do, but, (there’s always a ‘but’ isn’t there?). Over the past six years she has developed arthritis, asthma and IBS and this she blames on stress. There can be only one kind of stress in my experience and so I say

“How is your husband?”

And she tells me

“No good”

And then this hard faced girl tells me that she wants to buy a camper van, stow her kids away in it and take them to beautiful places where they can all be free. My heart breaks a little for her.

“Do it” I tell her, knowing full well that she can’t

With a sad and resigned look on her face she says

“I am a Kurdish woman. What choices do I have?” and sadly, I know it’s true.

The next morning, I hear a phone ringing. People are stirring. I look at the clock and It’s only 8am. I have slept in but even more impressive is the rest of the gang are now awake and it’s before 10am. Someone says “misafir” and there is a burst of activity as people push off blankets and adjust headscarves. At the word misafir, I groan; really? Guests at this time in the morning?

The atmosphere shifts and I gather new arrangements have been made. Dursun wanders over and sits on the end of my mattress.

“Hadi kizim” she says, we are going to visit family in another village. “Oh hell no” the voice in my head says. With the sweetest demeanor, I tell her that I’m not coming but I am happy for her to go and leave me and I will just spend the day at home resting my foot.

I sense victory, albeit a small one. Really, I should know better than to mentally celebrate.  After breakfast, I am expecting signs of people leaving but no-one does. Hmmmmmmmm

An hour ticks by and I decide to ask Dursun.

“What time are you going to visit the relatives?”

“Oh” she says, “we rearranged it for tomorrow. We are going to stop there on the way to the airport.” She shoots, she scores. I have just been outfoxed by my mother in law.

A bit later, she throws me a bone.

“Come on, we are going to the Çarşi” she says. “Yay, shopping” I think and an hour later I wonder what we are doing sitting in Havva’s parents house?

Havva & I at the Çay Baçhesi

Havva & I at the Çay Baçhesi

Leaving Ide behind, Dursun, Havva, her brother Mehmet and I do eventually make it to the Çarşi and spend a fabulous hour actually mooching and shopping. We also take a break at the Çay Bachesi and pose for a few photos and I actually now have photos of Dursun smiling. This is because I was poking her in the ribs with my fingers and shouting “diş” in her ear, telling her to show her teeth.

“Oy Kym, oy oy”she says.

Please don't sit on the grass!

Please don’t sit on the grass!

As we leave I decide I really must take this photo. Here you can clearly see the sign that says “Lutfen Çimlere Oturmayin.” It means, “please don’t sit on the grass!”

This evening, we are eating at Havva’s house and her dad is making his speciality ‘patlican kebabs.’  During a text conversation with Mu, I mention this and he says he is jealous. Abdullah, he says, makes the best patlican kebabs in Urfa.

They are indeed fabulous. Joined by Haci Amca, we are all sitting around the tablecloth double dipping and rolling filled yufka into wraps when I hear Havva’s mum say to Dursun.

“Oh look, she knows how to eat it”

“Tabi ki” of course she does, Dursun says glowing with pride at her clever little Yabanci Gelin.

Honestly, I feel about 12 years old.

After dinner, I retreat to the kitchen and smoke at the table while Havva does the cleaning up. Dursun wanders in.

“Hadi kizim” she says, “we are going to….” and then she says something about Syria. Now over the past week, I have seen the influx of Syrian refuges on the streets of Urfa. The beggars, the burn victims and the shops that now have signs written in a foreign language, a bit like the Polish signs that cropped up in the UK a few years ago.  I know we are roughly three miles from the Syrian Border but I have no desire to get any closer than that.  She then says something about going to visit a very religious man, as if that will entice me. Of course, I’d be up like a shot if I thought he could turn water into wine.

The minute they leave, Havva and I whip off our headscarves, crank up the air con and take the ashtray into the salon where we sit looking at old photos, playing with baby Zeyneb and chatting about life in general. It’s a really pleasant and relaxing evening and I really needed that.

There is just one more day left of my sentence holiday. Surely I am now over the worse? I mean, what else could possibly happen?