Home for the Holidays

“Home” for the Holidays

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Last week I had been feeling a little homesick. I’m not really sure why, but it may have been due to the approach of the holidays and students talking of visiting their families, the gradual approach of fall, or the knowledge that this would be my first Autumn and Halloween spent outside of the country. Whatever the case, heading to Amasya helped buck my spirits up, as well as the knowledge that I would be spending Kurban Bayramı in Ankara with my old Turkish host family from last year – the same host family I had tried to visit two months ago.

Home for the Holidays
Ankara has a bad rap amongst Turks of not being beautiful – bah!

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Haci Bayram Camii

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I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little apprehensive about seeing my old family again.

Would they still like me? What if my Turkish got worse to the point that we couldn’t speak? Do they even remember me? Were the times we shared that great, or is it just rose tinted glasses? 

These thoughts lightly jabbed at the back of my head for the entirety of the six hour bus ride from Amasya to Ankara, but they were all but extinguished as soon as I met with Hakan in Ankara. “Brother!” he exclaimed, as he pulled me into a hug and kisses on the cheeks. “How have you been? Time, how fast does it pass, huh?”

“How is everything?” I asked him tentatively.

“Great, great. Everything is the same, but there have been lots of changes. I’ll tell you later.” I just nodded, willing to accept whatever stories Hakan would tell me in his own good time.

The first change in Ankara he displayed to me proudly and immediately, though. “I’ve opened my own business, bro. E-Commerce, telpanet – I’ll sell all types of interesting goods from China here. It’ll be great.” (It’s now up and running, and he is indeed selling some pretty unique stuff).

Ankara Kale
Best thing about where Hakan works? The castle is nearby… I just wanted to find a reason to post this picture.

Once we were back at his new house, I saw my old host father. With a huge smile, Hakan introduced me saying “do you remember our guest?” Again, I was greeted like a long lost son as I was pulled in for a hug and questions asking how everything was in my life – including the two favorite questions of all Turks 1) How’s your love life? 2)How much money are you making teaching?

After settling in, I asked where mom was.

“She’s working as live-in help with an old woman. How old is she? Probably around 100. Anyway, mom will be back tomorrow for a day off, but she will be gone the rest of the time you’re here, unfortunately.”

The next day came, and I managed to grab lunch with an old friend of mine – Belma – and her two co-workers during the day. After which I saw the last major landmark in Ankara that I haven’t seen – the Haci Bayram Camii and the Temple of Augustus (the mosque was built on top of the old temple). Back at the house, I heard someone in the kitchen cooking as I walked through the front door.

Haci Bayram Camii and Temple of Augustus

Sneaking in, it turned out it was my old host-mom. Knocking on the kitchen door, she turned around and started gushing. Again pulling me in for a monster hug and one of the warmest embraces I’ve experienced, she chattered constantly the whole time she was cooking about her work, what’s been happening in Ankara, as well as asking how everything in my life has been.

“It’s funny,” she laughed to herself. “One year ago you were here as a student, now you’re visiting us as a teacher.”

I just nodded and smiled. Within another five minutes money was forced into my hand and I was told to run to the bakery across the street to buy some bread for dinner. My homesickness was gone and I truly felt, as I put on a sweater for the chilly autumn night, that I was back “home” for the holidays.

My only regret from Ankara? Not finding time to take pictures of my second family…

Penny for your thoughts