I was reading a post on Gaelikaa's Diary (a wonderful blog and well worth a visit), this morning about her nuisance neighbours, and it prompted me to write a post about my neighbours.
I have some wonderful neighbours...you may recall my mentioning Mehmet, the deaf guy who lives just up the lane from me. Whilst I was in England he, along with some more neighbours looked after my dogs when Mr Ayak couldn't get back from the hotel. He also found my post in the village yesterday and delivered it to my gate, with a promise to look out for future post for me.
And there's Şevke, next door, who is just lovely. She is the one who cooked food for the dogs while I was in England, but as she is scared of dogs, she got her daughter and granddaughter to bring the food into the garden to feed them. I buy my olive oil from Şevke...it's absolutely delicious. It costs me just 5 lira (about 2 pounds) for a litre. She sells it in empty coca-cola bottles, and I always pass my empties along to her so she has a stock of them. She is also happy for me to throw my weeds over the wall for her chickens, so I avoid having to light a bonfire.
And talking of bonfires. My neighbour on the other side...who's name always escapes me...has an obsession with bonfires. She has a habit of lighting one when the wind is blowing in the direction of my house and I have the windows open, and washing on the line. I've had a word with her on a couple of occasions, as has Mr Ayak, but it doesn't seem to make much difference. But I tolerate it, because I like her. She is quite grumpy and shouts a lot.....mostly at her animals. She has two cows, three goats, a donkey and chickens. She did have a young bull at one point, but one day the frisky young thing tried to mount her...I saw the entire incident and was so shocked I was rooted to the spot. Shortly after, he was moved to another home! She talks to her donkey and he talks back...honestly! I love the way she covers him with thick plastic sheeting when it rains...it shows she cares. She gets my leftover bread for the animals, along with empty 5 litre water bottles which she uses for milk from the cows.
Just below our house is a ramshackle, dirty, almost derelict house. Here lives an elderly couple who both have learning difficulties...I suspect as a result of the in-breeding that goes on in these remote villages. The woman collects cats...loads of them. She seems to feed them better than she feeds herself and her husband. Most of their house is now in ruins and they live in one tiny room. Their belongings are piled up in the garden and covered with plastic sheeting. They are both very dirty and smelly and it's unlikely they ever wash themselves or their clothes. The neighbours look out for them though, particular the lovely Şevke, who has the patience of a saint. They have no bathroom or toilet. They just have a semi-circular pile of stacked stones in the garden which they use as a toilet. Unfortunately, the woman sometimes doesn't bother to use their "toilet" and I have seen her come out of her door, lift her skirt, and squat just outside her house.
I know from years of working with people with both mental health problems and learning difficulties, that it's important to enable them to live as "normal" a life as possible, and this includes encouraging them to have some self-respect. I talked this over with my father-in-law when he was here, and with Mr Ayak. The mentality amongst the rest of the village seems to be that "they can't help it...they know no better". I don't subscribe to that idea at all. They may have problems but they are not stupid. Mr Ayak has talked to the woman about making sure they use their toilet, and not just squat anywhere, and he has said that they should try to build the stone-stacked toilet a little higher, and when they have done so, Mr Ayak will make them a roof from some of the old timber we have. They do add a few stones from time to time, so I think they've got the message.
The woman also makes a lot of noise. She likes the sound of her own voice. I have to admit that it bothered me a lot at first...it still does when I'm in a bad mood or I have a headache. But like most things, after a while you just don't notice.
I asked Mr Ayak how they survive...do they have money? He told me that they never have to pay for anything from the village shop, or for their vegetables from the Monday market. And people give them things. I have given them the odd things, like biscuits and cakes, and some fleece tops for the woman...although I've never seen her wear them. She didn't thank me but asked if I had a jacket!
During the winter months, a tractor and trailer came up the hill to deliver some sacks of coal for this couple, who had managed to fit a soba (wood and coal burning stove) in their tiny room. I was looking out of the window at the time. The husband came out to take the sacks of coal from the delivery man and to pay him. Out of his pocket came an enormous wad of money. There must have been hundreds if lira in his hand. What a shock...there they are, living off free handouts, but they clearly have money.
Like I said, people may have learning difficulties, but it doesn't mean they're stupid. This couple certainly aren't !