How to Tell If You’ve Adopted a Turkish Lifestyle
Many expats spending a considerable amount of time in Turkey, eventually adopt Turkish mannerisms without realising it. Known as the “rub off effect” this refers to something we subconsciously start doing because of repeated exposure.
It makes sense that any long-term foreigner in Turkey would eventually adopt traits of the Turkish lifestyle that ensures they blend in with the locals rather than stand out, so if any of the following applies to you, the rub off effect has worked its magic.
How to Tell If You’ve Adopted a Turkish Lifestyle
1: Homemade Raki
A long time ago, you developed a fondness for Raki, the national alcoholic drink of Turkey, but tax increases are proving to be costly on the pocket, so you have started making your own. While other nationalities make wine or beer as a hobby, the Turks consider their raki making endeavours as a necessity of life and have even formed raki tasting clubs to see who makes the best.
2: Winter BBQs
Raki tastes even better with a full rack of barbequed meat, marinated chicken and fish, hence no matter what time of year it is, you break out the BBQ on the balcony. Even if you must stand there in hat, gloves and a scarf, neither rain or gale force wind can stop you from firing up a traditional Turkish BBQ.
3: You Eat Fish with the Heads and Tails Intact
When you first came to Turkey, the idea of eating a fish with all body parts intact was so uncouth and insulting to all those years of watching gourmet celebrity chef programs. Now, if a restaurant does not serve the fish with head and tails intact, you feel like you have been short-changed. You are an expert at eating around the backbone, and the dead eyes staring at you from the head, don’t bother you one iota.
4: Soup for Breakfast
Growing up, you only ate soup as an appetiser or when you were ill, but you now recognise the diversity of the humble dish and think nothing of ordering in lentil soup for breakfast. An alcohol-fuelled night out must end up in the soup kitchen because it prevents the dreaded hangover. Of course, soup is not soup if it does not have copious amounts of garlic and chilli flakes sprinkled over the top.
5: Typical Islamic Sayings
Having spent much time with Turks, you’ve adopted their social greetings and when you walk into a room, “Selam Aleykum” easily rolls off your tongue. Meaning peace be upon you, when someone says it to you, you perfectly respond with “Aleykum Selam.”
Your other favourite saying is “Mashallah.” Meaning with God's will, and to express joy and praise, you especially love it when a cute child comes along so you can throw your hands up in joy while stressing your appreciation.
6: Nobody Hassles You Anymore
The absolute test to find out whether you are now a fully signed up member of the Turkish community is that no-one bothers to ask where you are from anymore, and if you live in one of the coastal holiday resorts on the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts, the bars, restaurants and shops have stopped hassling you. That is a relief, but secretly you are proud because only holidaymakers get hassled.
7: Cekirdek Seeds
One of your favourite pastimes is sitting on a park bench, watching the world go by while cracking open Cekirdek seeds with your teeth. You are that efficient at it, by the time you leave, a pile of Cekirdek shells has littered the pavement.
8: Tell It How It Is
As if they didn’t already know, you think nothing of telling people that they have gained kilos, in other words, you’ve got fat. You are still perfectly aware that in western culture, it is insulting to do this, but what goes around comes around, and this is payback for all the Turks that pointed out your weight gain.
9: Yogurt and Bread
As if your eating habits couldn’t change anymore, a loaf of bread and/or bowl of yoghurt has to be on the table of every meal you eat. If they are not, you will let your meal go cold while you go to the shops and get some.
10: Crazy Driving Habits
After years of sticking to speed limits, losing car parking spaces and diligently trying to be the best driver on the road, you now feel a certain air of freedom as you let rip to drive like a Turk. Driving rules only apply if they are no other cars on the road, so you don’t have to stop at a red light all the time. Your favourite part is when the traffic lights turn orange, and you can beep your horn loudly at the car in front of you.
11: D.I.Y at Night
We get it. You are a busy person with much to do, and that is why you drill holes and do DIY at ten o’clock at night, even if you live in an apartment block with paper thin walls. The fact that your neighbours are winding down ready for a good night sleep is irrelevant because only abnormal people go to bed early.
12: A Spotlessly Clean Home
This one applies to females who have made friends with a group of Turkish women and realised there is a rarely spoke about competition with unwritten rules to compete on who has the cleanest house. You regularly mix together chemicals to get the shiniest tiles or whitest grout and love people coming around for tea because you get to show off your spotlessly clean carpets.
13: Slippers for Visitors
Even though you live alone, you own six pairs of slippers. The other five are in case visitors come around all at once. They have pride of place at the front of the door where everyone will leave their shoes when entering your house.
14: Exercise Machines at The Local Park
Even though the gym has air conditioning, ultramodern machinery, music to motivate you and instructors for guidance, you think their membership fees are a waste of money, and much prefer the brightly coloured exercise machines at the local park. Besides being free of charge, they are a fantastic opportunity to people watch and catch up with local gossip.
15: You Have A Tab at Your Local Shop
Reminiscent of the 60s in the UK, the local corner shop knows your name, what you like to buy and because you are a loyal customer, have set you up with your very own tab. Letting you pay for goods when you want, you are extremely proud of this little quirk in life because it shows the Turks trust you as one of their own.
16: Western People Think You are Rude
Everyone uses slang words, but when it comes to saying “no,” you have adopted the Turkish way of saying it; that is a roll of the eyes and tut of the tongue. The problem is that not all English people know about this Turkish mannerism and think you are tutting at them, so call you rude behind your back.
17: You Have Your Own Tesbih
Otherwise, known as worry beads, your collection of tesbih beads matches every colour outfit in your wardrobe. You are often seen flicking them with your thumb while contemplating the worries of the world. Should you mislay your tesbih anywhere, everything must stop until it is found.
18: Running Water
After washing your dinner dishes in a bowl of hot water and fairy liquid, you also rinse them under running water. Likewise, you jump in the shower after a bath to rinse down. The Turks do it as an Islamic belief that running water is cleaner, but you do it, only because it makes everything seem so much cleaner.
19: Lastly, Do We Even Have to Talk About Tea?
One surefire sign that you have adopted a Turkish lifestyle is that every day, you drink many cups of sweet, black tea served in a tulip shaped glass. That really, is the Turkish thing to do, especially if you are male and sit in tea houses, playing the game of OK, while doing it.