Saturday, November 13, 2010

First blueberries, now fish

First it was blueberries.

Today it was fish.

There are things about maneuvering amongst another culture that are difficult. I have been attempting, with as much effort as I can muster, to eliminate one of the main difficulties: the language barrier.

For instance, today, we headed to little kids' arcade in Adana with Dan & Angelica and their two kiddos and Stebbins and William. Stebbins wanted to know if she could get tokens with a credit card. I was able to ask the teenager behind the desk if we could. In Turkish. "Evet," was the reply! Hurrah! She understand me! Yippeee! Stebbins decided she didn't need more tokens, but I didn't care. I asked a question. I got an answer.

A small miracle.

After our little outing which included lunch at the McDonalds (which Isaac has been calling "Old McDonalds") upstairs, Dan & Angelica headed back to base while Stebbins joined our crew for a trip to "Metro" (the Turkish equivalent of a Sam's Club.) While this was not the place that I had unknowingly spent $15 on frozen blueberries during one of my first weeks in Turkey, our error today definitely rivaled my past purchase.

JB wanted to buy some fish. Since I am the sort-of-Turkish-speaker in our relationship, I attempted to help him figure out what would be a good fish to grill. I asked one of the workers if anyone spoke English. I found someone who spoke a little. Between his "biraz" English and my "biraz" Turkish we were able to ascertain a fish that fit JB's requirements.

We thought that the fish was 32 TL per kilo. We got three of them. Upon checkout, JB saw on his receipt that we had spent 90 TL on the fish (roughly $60 USD). I was proud of myself. I was able to speak to the cashier in Turkish and figure out that the fish were not 32 TL per kilo but 32 TL per fish. Yay for me in figuring this out. But it meant diddly. We were still faced with the fact that the guy at the fish section of the store had spent a considerable amount of time cleaning and preparing the fish for us. We felt it would be a very unwelcome thing to reject the fish after having them cleaned and paid for.

(Side note: when the man helping me with the fish told me he would clean it and get it ready for us, he told me, in English, to come back in 14 minutes. I guess this was the only number he knew. It was quite funny. Who tells someone to come back in 14 minutes? I asked him if "on besh" was adequate which is 15 in Turkish just to make sure we were on the same page. He said that was perfect.)

Anyways, we took our $60 worth of fish and went home. I would like to say that the fish was fantastic. But it wasn't. It was decent. JB did the best he could with it. But we definitely spent $60 on only semi-decent fish. Nick helped us eat it. He ate $20 worth of fish.

There are some things about living in another culture that you just can't prevent. Misunderstandings are one of them. I am trying to learn the language. I can now count to the thousands in Turkish which is encouraging. I know most of the money-related terms. But still. I failed to properly ask whether the price was "tanesi" (each) instead of "kilosu" (per kilo) and it cost us.

Big time.

Live and learn, right?


Anonymous said...

Sheesh, that's some fish story, Wen! Whoever comes after you guys will have it easy if they just read all of your back posts:)
I'm proud of you for all the accomplishments-and boy, are there a lot in such a short time!
love you,
mom k

David and/or Lesley said...

I'm still really impressed with your language skills! :)

Joia said...

To the Thousands??? Wow! Your Turkish rocks, Wendi! =)

Flakymn said...

Well Joia, it isn't quiet as huge as you'd think. Once you learn the word for "hundred" you just put the numbers in front of it. Same with "thousand." It only requires learning a few words once you get your 1-10 and twenty, thirty, forty figured out.