Sunday, 15 August 2010
The stereotype is a man who believes he is superior to women, that he is always right...simply because he is a man...and that women should just accept it. He believes he should make all the decisions. That he should live his life the way he wants to, and that the women in his life...mother, wife, daughter...are there to enable him to do so...to make his life as comfortable as possible. And this is more or less how it is in the majority of traditional Turkish homes.
However, one thing I have discovered over the years, is that Turkish women are much cleverer than their men give them credit for. They know this is the way men are, so they work around it to get what they want. They are brilliant manipulators. If they want something done, they manage to convince the man that it was his idea.
Not all men are the same of course. I've been pretty lucky with Mr Ayak in that our relationship has mostly been equal....which is just as well as I've never been that good at manipulating. I tend to just come out and say what I think or want. But I do accept that there is still a certain amount of this Turkish male mentality in Mr A. It's inevitable..it's the way males are brought up. And I am resigned to the fact that I do at times have to adopt the Turkish female mentality if there is no other way to resolve an important issue which will affect us both.
Over the past week or so, Mr A and I have had no opportunity to just sit and talk about our problems. He is feeling under pressure because he owes money for the rental on the business premises, personnel accommodation, food, and other outgoings.
I went over to the hotel yesterday, and spent almost 3 hours with him, trying to talk things through. He feels like everyone is making demands on him and he can't escape. Because I started off by asking him to write down the debts, he mistakenly assumed I was also putting pressure on him and he snapped. He ranted and raved and shouted...and I was upset. It developed into a big row...although it was pretty one-sided...once he starts shouting, he is unable to listen. I was convinced though, that even though I wasn't enjoying this situation, it was important that he got all the pent-up anger and frustration out of his system. So I just let him rant until he was exhausted....and then I was able to have something resembling a normal conversation with him.
He has the opportunity to start up another business in Milas. I won't go into detail just yet, because I don't have all the facts. He wants to rush into doing this, because he is in a state of panic. He thinks that if he does it quickly, he will start making money which will cover the Hamam debts. But I know that it's unwise to rush into another venture at this point in time....and had to find a way of convincing him to slow down.
The problem is that he can only see the debts as huge amounts of money which are impossible to pay. This isn't really true but I had to find a way of making him see this. Mr A asked Mehmet to join us to talk about the possible new business venture. So now I had two Turkish males to contend with. I wasn't expecting it to be easy.
I got him to list all the debts, and outgoings for the rest of the season...till the end of October. He has already negotiated with the General Manager to pay the remainder of the hamam rental in three stages. One at the end of August, one in the middle of September and the final one at the end of September.
I then added up the amounts and divided the total by the number of days left until the end of the season. This simple bit of maths showed them that the daily profit they needed to achieve was in fact quite possible. They both looked shocked...it suddenly hit them that all was not lost. I don't know why they hadn't thought of doing this before. Mr A would not discuss the finances with me up till now, he thought it shouldn't be my problem. After all he is the man and I am just a woman...what do I know?
So somehow, I don't know quite how, I've managed to get them to slow down and take stock. Mr A was all for rushing off at the end of August and renting premises in Milas, starting up another new business...and as a result just adding to the enormous amount of stress he already has. Now, however, they can see that they need to stay put. Do all they can to get customers and earn the money to pay the debts, plus hopefully a bit more which will enable them to open a business in Milas. I've managed to get them to accept that 1st November would be a suitable opening date....by then they will be able to see whether it's something they can realistically afford to do.
Their spirits have been lifted, by the simple fact that it's not impossible to earn enough money to stay afloat. And because they are in a better frame of mind, I feel sure it will give them more of an incentive to work at it. They were both quite depressed about their situation, and this is certainly not conducive to attracting customers. In fact before I left, they were putting their newfound enthusiasm into action, and had taken a couple of bookings. One of these was from a lady who was on holiday with a group of 11 people. I managed to get Mr A to offer her a special price on her treatment, and also the promise of a further treatment free of charge, should she introduce the rest of the group to the hamam experience.
So the ideas are mine...but Mr Ayak thinks they're his. What does it matter if it produces the desired result in the end.
I'm getting good at this manipulation lark.....I'm becoming more like a Turkish woman every day!