Posted by: mollyscafeistanbul | February 22, 2012

Meandering thoughts Feb 2012

This week Arun and I went shopping in Tahtakale, near the Spice Bazaar for my monthly shopping for the café. We usually go in the morning, as it is less crowded with other shoppers and I need to get back to open the café. Nowadays we stop for breakfast at Murat Akdeniz Pide. Since we are now sort of regulars, we are always greeted. I chat a bit with the baker who makes endless pide. In the past I asked him what kind of yeast he used (dry yeast) and this time I asked how many pide he made in a day– about 700! As I watched he patted the dough into long pieces, flattened them, filled them, in this case with meat and tomato, and then folded the edges up. Then he put them on a big wooden spatula, like you see used in pizza ovens, and slid them into the oven, five at a time. The oven was full of about 20 of them as I watched. They also make a flat bread, also called pide, but it is not filled. Their pide is very good. It is precooked and then they pop it into the oven to warm up. For 7 lira each it is a good and delicious breakfast.

 

I bought coffee that day. The price has gone up again! By another 20%. I complained, but what can you do?

 

Most foreigners who have been here for a while are all in a tizzy because the government decided rather abruptly that all foreigners who have been here more than a year have to get govt health insurance. Today I went (again) to take care of it. I had gone once before but was told I had to get a paper from the Canadian Consulate saying I did not have insurance in Canada. It gave me an opportunity to schlep out to Levent and see the new consulate offices. The very first one I went to years ago was in Mecidiyekoy in a modern building. Then it moved to an old flat on Istiklal Caddesi, which I like for the convenience and the woman who has worked there forever liked for the ambiance. When I saw her a the new place, she was behind a bullet- proof glass and I had to hand my documents in a slide under the window. I told her I was sorry to see that she was now in prison! She replied that I was one of the few Canadians that understood that. At any rate, I got the paper and today I handed it in along with my I.D. documents. This morning when I went into the office, I was in a huddle with grizzled old men and Kurdish women in colourful clothes. One Kurdish woman had her son along because she did not speak Turkish. Then the computer stalled. I got disgusted and started to leave but ran into an African guy I knew from Cukurcuma who hauled some furniture I bought there. I had noticed his fat and rather ugly Turkish wife talking to a man at a big desk in the back part of the office, so I took my chances and went to talk to him. He got me all fixed up. I have to pay 216 lira month until my residence permit expires and then I have to go back to the SGK office (luckily not far from here) after I renew it.

 

The cute little kitties are much bigger now and the girl, Suzy Too (the mother was Suzy Q), has a lot of boyfriends these days, so she and her brother Cowboy are going to the vet very early on Friday morning. Both kitties are very demanding of love so they are always excited to see customers who they are SURE will love them. Most actually do, but some don’t. For that we have a big blue squirt bottle. Now when the kitty sees it, he or she stops the behaviour, but unfortunately, they haven’t learned not to do the behaviour. Sita, my old café kitty, still comes in to dine and she is smart. When she wants to leave, she rings the bells on the door. Often when I am in the kitchen I look out the door to see one or the other kitty sitting by the door looking in. all I can are eyes and ears. These days they come in and out a lot.

 

A few weeks ago it snowed and here I am posting my photos. One day as I walked through the square I noticed someone had made a big snowman, which unfortunately was knocked over by the time I came out again. The garden was full of snow at the height of the snow days and it took a while to leave since it gets morning sun. I am glad those days are behind us! Inshallah…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everyone on the street is complaining about business being slow. The snow days were hard, as our street was icy. I fell and knocked myself out for a second, but two friends from Lal came out and hauled me up. I was embarrassed and assured them I was ok, but I had a good-size bump on my head for a while. I put salt out in front of my café but no one else did anything except complain. Finally the tea guy down the street started breaking up the ice, but by then it was going anyway. There are not many tourists these days and most people stayed at home when it was so cold. It is nice to see people coming out these days.

 

The word is getting out that I want to sell my café I am very picky as to who I will sell it to, as I want it to continue in more or less the same way. I am not in a hurry to sell, as I am also not in a hurry to leave Istanbul. Many people exclaim, ‘no, don’t sell! Don’t leave! This is such an important place and what will Galata be without Molly?’ Well, come and spend money, then! And Galata has been here for a few thousand years, so I imagine it will be fine without me. Why do I want to leave? Truthfully, I don’t really want to leave, but my kids are in their 30s and will have their own kids soon and I feel I need to be on the same continent. There is a big psychological difference between 5 or 6 hours and 10 or 20 hours with an ocean in between. I have been thinking a lot about what it would be like to live in Toronto again. Dull, perhaps. As I look out from my balcony at home and see the Bosporus and Asia, I wonder what I will look at in Toronto. Other houses, other buildings. No sea, no water– I am sure I cannot afford to live near Lake Ontario. My aunt and others assure me that Toronto has changed a lot since I left it 40 years (!) ago, but I also have changed. I have said many times how when I go to North America I feel more like a foreigner than I do here, as I look like them but inside I am completely different. My body language has changed, my English has changed, my outlook has totally changed. When I was young, Toronto was called Toronto the Good, often said with a bit of a sneer, as everything was closed on Sundays and it was very white. Now it is much more multicultural, but still it is Canadian– a bit dull and very polite. And cold in winter! I must be nuts! But I have already informed my daughter that I will live with her in the winter.

 

For now, however, I am still here in my beloved Istanbul working long days in my café I like the people who come in and the days are certainly different. It is interesting to see who comes in and I often have interesting conversations. Stay tuned!

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