Thursday, 24 September 2009

My Turkish family

I've never had a great deal to do with Mr Ayak's family, even though we have been married for almost 11 years.  Apart from the fact that we live so far apart, as I've mentioned before, Mr Ayak and his father have always had a very difficult relationship.

At the time of our wedding, they weren't talking so no family were present, just a few close friends.  For some years most of the contact I had with my father-in-law, who speaks excellent English, was on the telephone, and more recently on webcam.  During these conversations he has criticised his son a great deal, and this has made me feel uncomfortable.  I did however pluck up the courage during one such conversation, to tell him that in my opinion the very things that were the subject of his criticism, were mostly due to his not being such a good father to his son as he had been to his other two children, Mr Ayak's half brother and sister.  He was angry at the time, but a couple of days later sent me a long text message almost agreeing with my comments.

Over the years I have tried to build a bridge between Mr Ayak and his father.  At the same time, Mr Ayak's stepmother has done her best to do likewise.  It's taken a lot of hard work, but eventually it seems to have paid off, which resulted in my father-in-law giving us the house that we moved to in May of this year.  A house that Mr Ayak senior had been renovating with the intention of moving to with his wife at some time in the for him to give up on this plan, I see as a huge gesture of goodwill. 

On the rare occasions that we have seen them, the atmosphere has always been tense.  Even though my mother-in-law doesn't speak English, she and I  sensed each others' discomfort, and we both seemed to be treading on eggshells when Mr Ayak and his father were in the same room.

So I have been dreading their visit this week.  I wasn't sure that Mr Ayak would be able to get home to see them so I knew I would be faced with having to entertain them...but in a way I had mixed feelings about this.  Perhaps it would actually be easier if Mr Ayak couldn't get home?  Maybe this would be better for all concerned?

They arrived yesterday afternoon, loaded down with bags of food.  Very generous of them, although I had already been shopping in Milas and most items were duplicated.  Then Mr Ayak arrived home an hour later...also with then we had everything in triplicate.  Unfortunately most of it is perishable...what a waste (although I'm sure the neighbours will help to dispose of some of it).  The evening started out with the usual tension but gradually everyone relaxed and it was fine.

Mr Ayak had to return to work early this morning and isn't sure when he can next get home.  This has given me a long overdue opportunity to get to know my in-laws a bit better.  And it has indeed been wonderful.

I was anxious about being able to control  Beki, Poppy and Milly, because like most Turkish people, the in-laws aren't keen on dogs...but they've taken it all in their stride.  In fact they've looked on in amazement at my giving the dogs orders, and them actually obeying me (they don't usually...but maybe they had decided to give me some support today!).  And they've laughed at the dogs running rings round me and tripping me up when I've been trying to feed them.

They spent a few hours today down at the land on the edge of the village, pruning fruit trees, etc...and I am going to attempt to help them tomorrow (should be interesting!)

We have just spent a wonderful evening chatting about all sorts of things.  My mother-in-law has being showing me photos of my nephew, who is 4 years old, and of course I have been showing her pics of Billy. Lots of ooh-ing and ahh-ing from both of us.  Not having a proper barbecue, father-in-law made a charcoal fire in the garden and cooked on that, and mother-in-law and I prepared the rest of the food together.

Much to my pleasant surprise, I will actually be very sorry when they leave.


  1. Oh my lovely Ayak, I could cry, I know how worried you were, and I told you it would be fine, and it was, this is quite wonderful reading of how well everything turned out.

    Laughing at all the food, thinking of your trip to Milas, now you have three lots.

    Oh you must feel so happier now.

  2. Yes Ann...I'm much happier. I'm beginning to understand that there has been a lot of misunderstanding and breakdown in communication over the years. But it's never too late to put it right.

  3. That famous Larkin poem about mums and dads is so true. Very glad that you have sown some valuable seeds over the last couple of days. Fancy them not being keen on dogs though - I never quite trust people who are not mad on dogs - what's not to like?

  4. So happy it worked so well...everyone seems to have come with good intentions...though ~I bet the pics of Billy helped things along!

    Just reading FF's comment about dogs...our Turkish friends explained that 'muslims' they call them...regard dogs as unclean, thanks to some throwaway line in the Koran...or some commentary on the Koran. Our builder was a dog handler when he did his national nonsense in the Turkish army about 'unclean'!

  5. FF: It's very much a cultural thing with the dogs....

    and Fly: You've just explained what I was going to say to FF...yes this is true.
    Although of course in the case of your Turkish builder, the dog he "handled" would have been considered to be a working that's acceptable. As of course would be those dogs that guard properties or work as sheepdogs. They are as a race just not in to having dogs as pets.

    Having said that, my in-laws are strict muslims, but they have been very accommodating as far as the dogs are concerned. I thought it would cause problems but it hasn't at all.

  6. I think he said it was something to do with their saliva!

  7. Oh that's interesting Fly because I've heard many Turks say it is to do with their hair...maybe it's both? Our spare bedroom, which is of course the in-laws' room, is the only dog-free room in the house. I've deliberately kept the door closed and the dogs out (although Poppy is the only one allowed in the house now) because they use their prayer mat on the floor when they pray...and I would be very embarrassed if it ended up covered in dog hairs!

  8. Ayak, that post was lovely and I am so glad that you made the effort to get to know the in laws and that you are making good progress.
    I think you have done a really super job.
    Give yourself a good pat on the back!

  9. Maggie...what a lovely thing to say...thankyou very much xxx

  10. How wonderful.

    I'm so glad that the bridges have started to be built.


  11. Hi Ayak,

    It's the petty stuff and the lies that annoy me.
    Your probably a nice person, but the ones you support , aren't so nice. They tell big lies.
    What's your verdict on them ?


  12. Hi Laffin...welcome to my blog. I assume you are referring to forums which I used to frequent rather than commenting on my blog? I say "used to" because I no longer wish to be associated with them. You are right there are many liars. But I have no wish to get into any discussion here that is totally irrelevant to my blog. It would only spoil the flow for my followers.

    However, if you wish to follow my blog and comment on the content, then you are more than welcome.


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