Monday, November 25, 2013

The Tuesday Report--It's a boy!

Yet another sunny, mild day. Again we were in Antalya for intensive Turkish classes. I got out the door late for the 35 minute walk to the school and apologized as I entered the group three or four minutes past 9am. 

We were six students this week. 40-something German Mirion joined for two weeks. This is her third language-study holiday to Turkey, and she also takes a class in Germany where many Turks have emigrated. Though we seem roughly the same level in knowledge, she speaks far more readily--and quickly. She is gregarious and energetic. Watching her, I realize that these are vital traits for moving forward in conversation. My introverted self tends to speak when necessary to get something done, or with people I know and can relax with. It is a rare thing for me to strike up a conversation with anyone I don't know or have business with--in any language. Or to plan things to talk about that will push my skills forward. Not surprisingly, my written, reading and "classroom" Turkish is much better than my ability to quickly frame and speak into conversation. Mirion looks for people to talk to and for things to talk about. It doesn't hurt that this is her fourth or fifth language, either.

Yet again Tuesday morning, most of the class had not done homework or otherwise studied. Seray, our teacher, always starts with a review of homework and the prior day's topic. We answer in turns and those who haven't paid attention slowly work out answers and again Seray teaches the topic. This morning we at last finished review at 11am, then took a break. So that just over an hour of our 9-1230 class involved moving forward. All with theory. And I finally admitted that this is not working for me. 

But what to do? I had previously spoken to Seray, and know that she is also struggling. But she doesn't know what to do. It is so rare for adult language students to behave this way.

Mirion suggested we go to lunch, and I took her to St. Paul's Cultural Center. St. Paul's was developed by an American couple to provide a gathering place for cultural exchange as well as a venue to house churches. The international church meets there, as does a Russian and a Turkish church. English conversation classes, ballroom dance lessons, conferences, team meetings, cultural tours and many other activities are hosted by the center. AND they have a cafe with good, simple food, excellent coffee, cheesecake and carrot cake, and internet. With tables, sofas and easy chairs, and outdoor garden seating, that invite one to sit for hours for conversation or study. Mirion loved it.

"What do you think about the class?" I was curious whether it was just me who was bored and frustrated. "Do you mean the teacher or the other students?" She asked. And began to role out a whole strategy. Like I say, she is gregarious and energetic. "You and I can change it together," she said. "We must get there early to make sure we sit so that Abla and Husam cannot sit together. We must ask Seray to save the homework review for last," she added. "Far better to work on new things when we are fresh."

Hmmm...I was dubious. Just then Diny saw me and joined us. Diny is Dutch, and works with women's ministries. Her group is planning a retreat at Spa for the Soul in January, and she wanted to talk details. I introduced her to Mirion, but she was on her own track. I don't think she realized she was co-opting my lunch with my guest. Watching the hands of my watch move, "Mirion, I am sorry. This is boring for you. We must stop." But Mirion, ever the language learner, said she was delighted to listen to a business conversation in English. That it was helpful to her, and entertaining. So we continued with details of food cost, staff expenses and travel.

I also watched my watch because at 130pm I had a date for joy and adventure. At 120, Paskal telephoned. "Jeri, where are you?" he asked in Turkish. "We are waiting for you." Oh my! I jumped up and ran out with hurried goodbyes. Hustled the 15 minutes it took to get to our meeting point. As I approached their car, Paskal, his wife Melike, and her mother, sister and niece all jumped out to greet me. We piled back in and headed for the hospital for Melike's appointment.

Melike is four months pregnant with their first child. And this was the day for the sonogram that might determine gender. Melike and Paskal are dear to us, and they had ridden with us to Antalya on Monday to see her family and for this appointment.

In Turkey a visit to the doctor often includes family and friends. My first medical appointment here was for a routine eye exam. Halil also needed to see an eye doctor so he made our appointments with a recommended doctor in Antalya and we went to the city, a three hour drive from Kaş, together. They called Halil in first. I was settling in with my book when the doctor said, "No, you come, too!" Much bemused, I sat through his exam and the bi-lingual doctor spoke as much to me as to him. As though I was his mother and he was much younger than 28 years old. Then he stayed in for my exam, though the doctor talked only to me for that. 

Then last May, four days into a journey with friends, I was evacuated off their sailboat with what appeared to be a stroke or an aneurysm. Gravely ill. Curt had phoned ahead to organize a car and driver to get us to the doctor in Kaş, and to have the doctor standing by. Halil was waiting when the car pulled up to help me up the stairs while Curt parked the car. He came right into the exam room with Curt while tests were run and an IV given. Then he jumped into the backseat for the rush trip to the hospital in Fethiye, an hour and a half away. And into the ER, and into the MRI, and into the hospital room where they expected to keep me for a few days for rest and observation. Never hesitating, as though the company of friends was to be expected. In the end the diagnosis was amnesia, wildly fluctuating blood pressure, and other severe side effects that, in rare cases, are brought on by seasickness. Who knew? But Halil's older brother Mehmet, who lives in Fethiye, was also headed over to lend support when we at last convinced the neurologist to let me recuperate at home.
In the waiting room. Melike is in purple.
So. With all that personal experience, I felt free to ask Paskal and Melike if I could join them for this special time. They were delighted. Melike checked in and we all waited together for a few minutes. Her turn came, and we all trooped into the exam room. The doctor said we were too many, so Melike's sister and child went out, and the rest of us eagerly watched the monitor. My first time to see a sonogram. Gray shadows bounced and wiggled, and in a very short time the doctor pronounced the wiggles to be a boy. Mustafa Metin will be his name, after the couple's fathers. Paskal grabbed me for a hug, his blue eyes piercing the future, his smile oozing satisfied, gratified pride. Ba-boom, ba-boom, ba-boom. We listened to a strong heartbeat, and praised. Melike's mother glowed. She has three grandchildren already, all girls. The whole family delights that a boy will join this generation. 
Father and son/Baba ve oğlu
Melike's sister also had an appointment, so Paskal and I sat outside the hospital drinking tea and rejoicing. And then talking politics, mostly in Turkish. Pascal and Melike are, of all our friends, the best at pushing me to speak more. When all were ready they dropped me back near where we stay. 

Homework. Some time with Curt when he returned from his class at 5pm. At 630 we headed out to meet the excited family for dinner at one of their favorite restaurants. Finding it was a trial. In the end, we realized it was because Paskal had given me directions in English and had mixed up "from" and "to" so that we were searching for the correct turn on the wrong side of the landmark he had given. I passed my phone to a taxi driver, and he helped to sort it out. An excellent mixed grill, much laughing effort to get Curt to speak Turkish now that he is studying, and joyous celebration later, we returned to the apartment for more homework and then bed.

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