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Friday, 9 August 2013

Bayram and a brave cat

Today is the second day of Seker Bayram (Eid al-Fitr.).  It's the holiday that follows Ramazan, the month of fasting.   It's traditional for familes to buy  new outfits to wear.  Many poorer familes may only buy a new outfit once a year, and this will be used throughout the coming year on special occasions.

It's a time of feasting, and in particular the eating of sweets, chocolates and all sorts of other sticky syrupy things like baklava.  Children will turn up at the door, and will be given sweets after having kissed the hand of the adult and raised to the forehead as a mark of respect.

Although I bought sweets in readiness for the onslaught of children, none of them turned up.  I suspect it's more to do with my dogs than anything else.  Children rarely come up this far and I am sure they have discussed amongst themselves that the strange yabanci (foreigner) keeps dogs as pets, so they steer clear.  Never mind, I'm sure I can manage the sweets myself!

And talking of being a yabanci.  It's at times like this that I really do feel like a fish out of water.  It's very much a family time.  Younger members of families travel all over the place attempting to visit as many relatives as possible.  For me it's just another day.  Mr A is away of course, and we have no family visiting (not that I am wishing for a visit by the in-laws!!).  Both Dursune and Sevke have family visiting them.  Dursune's grandchildren are sleeping on her flat roof so this is making the dogs bark every time they move.  None of us are getting much sleep.

Another thing that happened yesterday morning made me feel like an outsider.  The Muhtar, accompanied by a man with a big box, went around the village visiting each house and handing out a small gift.  It was most likely some sweets or cake.  Every house, with the exception of mine!   I happened to be in the kitchen looking out of the window and saw him give gifts to Dursune and Sevke, glance briefly at my house, hesitate,  then walk on.  Naturally I'm not bothered at all by missing out on a gift, I just feel a little sad that after 15 or more years here, I will always be considered an outsider.

You may recall my mentioning the cats that took up residence in the chicken coop some months ago.  They have mostly disappeared, with the exception of one handsome cat.  He is  white with a few grey markings.  I leave food and water for him every day in the chicken coop, but he never comes near me.   The dogs don't like cats and if they see him they bark furiously.  He knows he is safe at the top end of the garden though and the dogs can't get to him, so he will stretch out in full sight of them almost teasing them.

When we had the new metal fencing erected along the driveway, it was mainly to keep the bottom part of the garden dog-free.   Unfortunately there was a slight gap at the bottom and Freddie was able to squeeze himself underneath during the night and had great fun chewing and trampling on plants.  Last week the metal man came and put another bar along the gap, so  Freddie is unable to get underneath.  He now spends his nights searching for anything else to destroy, eg a plastic dustbin, water bowls, a huge pot of herbs, shoes, etc.  He then takes great pleasure in barking at my bedroom window around 5am to wake me up.

The cat has discovered that the bottom garden is now safe.  He has spent the entire day lounging in the shade under the gazebo.   The dogs spotted him and started barking, so he got up and strolled slowly away.  Ten minutes later he strolled back...unnoticed by the dogs...spread himself out and has remained there ever since.   He is indeed a brave cat, completely unperturbed by 5 dogs.


18 comments:

  1. ....ahhh I know what you mean about being an outsider there. The Muhtar sounds like a nasty lil' man, all he knows is that you could be celebrating also. I also get sneers and being ignored when I go there from my in-law's friends and family....and I've been there quite a few times and I do hear the word 'yabanci' and I know it's about me.
    We celebrated Bayram just my husband and I and our daughter by going to a restaurant for Kebabs and spent the night in a Police Station b/c some girl texting while driving slammed into our car.....but my husband did manage to get a Kabob later for dinner, so it wasn't all too bad for him.

    Your 'furry' family is quite funny and all have their own characters and personalities.....it's like they are lil' people in there.

    take care.....and eat lots of sweets. I made a Revani Cake for my husband and I won't eat it toooo much as it has that sugary syrup it is soaked in....will make me jumpy........ especially with a double cup of Turkish coffee.

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    1. Well that was quite an eventful Bayram Erica. But at least you got to eat. Revani cake is lovely, but just a little as it's too sickly to eat too much.

      I am working my way through the sweets! Iyi Bayramlar to you, your husband and daughter xx

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  2. You thought about getting a cauldron and cackling occasionally?

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    1. Haha...yes KV that would really give the neighbours something to talk about :-)

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  3. I also bought sweets and no one came. By chance Esi had 3 days off work and I am back from Greece for a week so for the first time I can remember we have had a family Bayram.

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    1. Perhaps the kids are becoming more health conscious and giving up sweets BtoB! Nice that you were altogether for Bayram xxx

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  4. Really strange - first Şeker Bayram we were here we got a vast number of children calling in. Last year only one family (particularly cute kids from just down the road). This year we've had what I would describe as a 'sensible amount'. Children from our street who we see every day. All of whom have been pleasant and polite though they don't do the hand kissing thing.

    There are a lot of children on our street. Often they make us feel like the weird yabnancı and I still don't like it when they say 'money money money' (I used to pretend they didn't know what they are saying, but then they say 'para para para'. It's been quite instructive to see their attitude when we say Para değil then hand out the şeker and wish them iyi bayramlar......

    We got in a couple of kilos of sweets but, I think, Ashley has eaten nearly as many of them as the local children!

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    1. I don't like the money demands Hilary, particularly as I suspect it's mostly due to them thinking that all yabanci are rich. I'm sure most people in this village are better off than I am!

      Like Ashley, I have eaten most of the sweets now..well it seems a shame not to :-)

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  5. Your description of your dogs versus the cat made me smile. It is so similar at our place. Our dogs tolerate our own cats, but they all hate the neighbours cats with a vengence. Like you we have fenced off our front garden for the dogs and it almost as though the nieighbours cats stick their tongues out at them as they glide past in the other part of the garden, with the dogs barking hysterically as they go.

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    1. Yes it is funny isn't it Jacqui? And the dogs fall for it every time!

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  6. Shame there are still some local distrust of foreigners...I remember the rudeness of some of our neighbours to my husband - in Huddersfield! Happens everywhere there are strong local traditions and ignorance. Great shame, though.
    I rather like the cauldron suggestion!!
    Axxxx

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    1. Hello JC Villa, and welcome. Yes it is a shame and of course it happens everywhere, and I normally wouldn't notice, except I was on my own this time so it was more noticeable.

      I like the cauldron suggestion too! :-)

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  7. Hello Ayak,
    It is very rude of them not to include you or knock on your door during bayram. It is very odd too actually given the fact that you are a gelin not a tourist! And maybe you are right your five dogs may have something to do with it.
    Do not read much into money requests from kids. It is the same custom apperantly all over middle east, eastern Europe and north Africa. It gives the child a sense of freedom to be able to spend it whatever junk food they want. I was one of them growing up and my attitude was no different then Halloween kids asking for candy over here. It is good to have some change that day, which would probably cost what you have already paid for the candy. And when you ran out you just tell them. They sure wouldn't mind the dogs

    Love

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    1. Hello Seabell and welcome. Yes I think the dogs may have a fair amount to do with it.

      I hadn't really thought of the money requests in the way you have mentioned. It throws a different light on it altogether.

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  8. Sorry to be so late getting here, Ayak. Blame my visitors!

    It's never good to be made to feel like an outsider, especially after living there so long. Given what you've written about the Turkish attitude to dogs, I too wonder whether your five dogs may be at least part of the reason the Muhtar didn't include you.

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    1. You're probably right Perpetua. I was bothered for a moment, but I'm over it now!

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  9. Sorry to hear about your Eid experience. What is a Muhtar - the village chief? I am afraid the poor dogs might be the reason they stay away. I am sure you know the stigma about dogs(?). I never touch/petted a dog until I was 19 and came for my studies in the US. I was terrified of dogs! Hope you have a better Qurbani Eid. Hope you are used to the sacrifice by now. All the best - Hafiz

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    1. Hi Hafiz and welcome to my blog. Yes the Muhtar is the village chief. Yes I am very aware of how most Turks feel about dogs, although it's not so bad as it once was. I hope you are not so fearful of them these days.

      I'm afraid I am still not used to the sacrifice. I doubt I ever will be :-(

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