Turkish Sayings (Part 3)

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Adages, sayings, idioms and proverbs really offer an insight into another language and culture. In some languages – possible in English, for example – sayings don’t really play that large a role. In Turkish, however, there seems to be a saying for essentially every minor interaction you might encounter. Some of the more common ones have already been discussed in Parts 1 and 2.

So, without further ado, here is the next installment of some of my favorite Turkish sayings:

Ayran içtik ayrı düştük

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Birth of a Dialect

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The recent, and as of yet still unexplained, cancellation of internet to my apartment has left me, Danielle and Fabio all connecting wirelessly to the router of a friend living above me. Since the connection in my apartment is strongest, our living situation has taken on a dorm-like feeling as we all huddle around the hot spot with our electronics trying to check our email and be productive; or, as is the case with Danielle and myself, be helplessly distracted by Facebook.

“Do you know her?” Danielle asked me, having just received yet another friend request from an unknown Turk.

“Nah, I don’t. Maybe she’s one of your students?”

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On the Asian Side

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Aside from a brief trip to Kadıköy with Jen while in Istanbul, I had never managed to find myself on the Asian side of Istanbul for any particularly long stretch of time. Although the vast majority of all touristic sites are on the European side – the original site of Constantinople and old Istanbul – the Asian side still always had a certain allure to it. Maybe it was just something as simple as the fact that, although the Asian side is a different continent, it is still completely visible.

Regardless of why I was attracted to this side of the city, I managed to get my wish to explore it in detail after I returned from Germany. I had a one day stop-over in Istanbul before continuing on my way to Tel Aviv the next day, and I was very kindly welcomed to the city by an old student of my mom’s – Umut. Although we had never met before – we had only ever e-mailed each other – Umut and his family instantly and happily took me in and gave me a bed to sleep in for my night in the city. They even lived on the Asian side – lucky me!

Istanbul Asian Side
Like France in Asia – Küçüksu Karsı

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Aklım Nerede

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This song, a cover of the Pixies ‘Where’s My Mind?’ by the group Biz might be one of my favorite covers of all time. Musically it is essentially the same as the original, but the Turkish lyrics are completely original and are, in my opinion, much better. The lyrics are saying:

Your heart is single but your head is a pair
Is everything still like you left it?
They’re still walking with you in your minds
Where’s my mind? Where’s my mind? Where’s my mind?
I lost it and no one has picked it up from where it fell
The area is wide but time is tight
It’s surpressing from every side
From above, from below
Did we stop existing again while kissing?
But what do you think?
Where’s my mind? Where’s my mind? Where’s my mind?
I lost it and no one has picked it up from where it fell
Your heart is single but your head is dual
Is everything still as you left it?
In your minds they are walking without you
Where’s my mind? Where’s my mind? Where’s my mind?
I lost it and no one has picked it up from where it fell
And, as always, here are the original Turkish lyrics for anyone interested:

Kalbin tek ama kafan çift
Bıraktığın gibi mi her şey hala
Aklındakiler seninle birlikte yürürler
Aklım nerede aklım nerede aklım nerede
Kaybettim onu kimse almadı düştüğü yerden
Alan geniş ama zaman dar
Bastırıyor her yandan
Yukarıdan aşağıdan
Öpüşürken yeniden varolmadık mı
Sence de ama
Aklım nerede aklım nerede aklım nerede
Kaybettim onu kimse almadı düştüğü yerden
Kalbin tek ama kafan çift
Bıraktığın gibi mi her şey hala
Aklındakiler sen olmadan da yürürler
Aklım nerede aklım nerede aklım nerede
Kaybettim onu kimse almadı düştüğü yerden
And here is the original Pixies version of the song.

Touristic Istanbul

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When Jen came to visit Istanbul – over a month ago, as hard as that is to believe – she had one major goal for what she wanted to see in the city: the Aya Sofya. Although Istanbul is a magnificent city worth much more than it’s well known tourist draws, Jen was right to have that be her goal. One should not go to there and not bother seeing the Aya Sofya and the old city where Constantinople, and Byzantion before that, once stood. So, on Jen’s last day in the city, we set out to see the touristic Istanbul.

Outside the Aya Sofya
Outside the Aya Sofya

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Jewish Turkish Cultural Similarities

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The other day I was having tea with one of my good friends, when for some reason I decided to tell her the following joke about Jewish mothers:

One Hannukah a mother gives to her son two sweaters – a red one and a blue one. The son is very happy, so the next day he decides to wear the blue sweater to show his mother how much he loved the gifts. As soon as he walks downstairs the mother looks him over and says, “So, you didn’t like the red one?” 

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The Golden Hill Rule

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Seeing Istanbul by night from the Galata Tower really inspired me for the travels I later took in Germany and Israel – specifically, I developed the philosophy that if there is a hill or mountain behind any sort of city or town, climb it! The views offered in reward for this are almost always worth it. 

The first iteration of this rule in practice was the climbing of Schlossberg behind Freiburg with my mom. Although we had no idea what was at the top of the hill, we were treated to fantastic views of the city at the top. Also unbeknownst to us, but heavily implied by the mountains name (Schloss means castle in German), was the old fortifications of Medieval Freiburg – awesome!

Golden Hill Rule

Istanbul by Night

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I am generally terrified of heights. It’s something that I’ve been trying to overcome for the past couple of years, with increased vigor here in Turkey so I don’t miss out on anything worth seeing; which is a lot! Civilizations just love to build tall monuments on top of even taller mountains. It was with this mindset that Jen and I set out to reach the top of Galata Tower a few hours before our New Year’s festivities were to start (you can read about those adventures here).

Istanbul by Night

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Sonbahar by Yolda

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As a way to combine both practicing my Turkish and continuing the tradition of Friday Refrain (never willing to give this up), I’m going to start throwing Turkish songs into the mix. I’ll do my best to try to translate the song lyrics too so everyone can enjoy. Danielle first showed me this song about two months ago, and I haven’t been able to stop listening to Yolda since then. I love their ephemeral folkishness – it’s exactly the type of music I listen to in English too.

Anyway, the song is roughly saying:

Autumn (sonbahar) touched your hairs
A little remained, from which the roads diverge,
The roads are coming to a halt before me
The roads, they’re taking you from me
You should also go towards there yourself
If there is a laughing sun inside, you’re passing it
You are mixing with the sea
You are returning to your heart
If it doesn’t make complete sense… poetry? Anyway, if you enjoyed the song you can download both of Yolda’s albums for free from their website.

Also, here are the Turkish lyrics too for those who might be interested:

sonbahar değdi saçlarına
az kaldı, birazdan ayrılır yollar
yollar, önümde dururlar
yollar, seni benden alırlar
nereye gitsen de kendinsin
içinde varsa güneş güler geçersin
sen de, karışırsın denize
sen de, dönersin kalbine

World of Graffiti

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I’ve noticed that the more I travel the more interested I become in smaller intricacies of each city I see – particularly graffiti. Having just come back home to Malatya from almost three weeks of traveling in Istanbul, Germany and Israel, I am amazed by the amount of amazingly artistic work I saw and the range of topics covered. Particularly interesting was how a large portion of all the art was in English – I guess the world of graffiti is flat.

world of graffiti
Welcome to Tel Aviv – The city’s watching you

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I never said this was worthwhile

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