talk to me

Due to the limited lifespan of New Year’s Resolutions I decided not to make any this year, instead I have a New Year’s Intention. I don’t promise to stick to it, I don’t swear to make it happen, I simply intend to try. If it doesn’t work out? Well we all know the road to hell is paved in good intentions.

If it does work out? I’ll be able to hold a conversation in 10 languages.

While this seems like a super human task I must admit that I am already fluent in 3 of them (English, Afrikaans and Greek). Knowing Afrikaans is helping me along in German. I have done a Portuguese beginners course before so hopefully it will all come back to me. It turns out that Italian, French and Spanish are remarkably similar which makes it relatively easy. Next up is Zulu, (proudly South African and all that jazz… k I lied… I’m hoping to use Zulu as a negotiating tool if I find myself in some sort of criminal situation i.e. me about to get raped, not me about to rob a bank). Last but not least is Turkish; I fell in love with Istanbul and plan to return there many times – for the most part Turkish has nothing in common with the other 9 languages but every now and then there are some words that are very similar to the Greek equivalent.

Can I learn ten languages in a year?

Yes! Ja! Ja! Nai! Evet! Yebo! Oui! Sim! Si! Si! (yes I do know there are accents missing but my laptop just doesn’t want to play today)

Published in: on January 6, 2010 at 8:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Istanbul – a Greek South African’s Experience

My Greek family insisted that I never step foot in Turkey as Istanbul rightfully belongs to Greece; none of us were to go there until the city was given back to us!

Why did I choose to go to Istanbul? Why did I not stay in Greece instead and visit the fascinating sites left behind by my forefathers? Why Istanbul? Because I found an airline special; it was indeed the cheap ticket that won me over.

My extended family did their best to convince me not to go, of course that is what made me want to go even more. I had never had any interest in Turkey before and knew very vague details about why the Greeks don’t like the Turks. The city Istanbul used to belong to Greece and was called Constantinople; it was also referred to as ‘I Poli’ which means ‘The City’, and road signs used to direct travellers ‘eis tin poli’ which means ‘to the city’. ‘Eis tin poli’ evolved to Istanbul. The Greeks want Constantinople back, the Turks are not giving Istanbul up. The Greeks still refer to the city as Constantinople and take offence when others use the word Istanbul. The Greeks don’t like the Turks and I assumed the Turks don’t like the Greeks.

Before I arrived in Istanbul I had preconceived ideas about what it would be like. I imagined it to be a dirty, busy city. I was prepared to enter a very religious society and chose my outfits carefully so as not to offend. I awaited a male dominated society and pondered how I would deal with situations that would undermine me purely for being female. I was dreading being harassed by the men and was pleased with my modest choice of outfits. I expected to feel unsafe and was certain there would be a high amount of criminal activity, as tourists we would be particularly susceptible so I was ready to be on high alert. I was also concerned about being Greek; I was worried that it might create tension in certain situations so I decided that I would be proudly South African for this trip and not mention my Greek heritage. I felt rather brave and proud of myself for not turning back despite all my concerns!

Was Istanbul everything I had imagined? My imagination couldn’t have been farther from the truth! Istanbul is an exceptionally clean city despite being a mega-city that houses more than 12 million people (excluding the huge influx of tourists). It’s also a very beautiful city; the streets are adorned with colourful shops and tourist areas are decorated with flowers. There are so many historical sites to see that I soon realised 5 days is far too short for a trip to Istanbul. There are beautiful buildings, palaces and mosques that assure you that great people used to fondly call this city home.

The people of Istanbul are very modern and in no way impose their religion on you. They are extremely friendly and go out of their way to help tourists. The majority of store/stall/restaurant workers are male but at no time did we feel unsafe, on the contrary we felt welcome and were treated as guests of honour once they learned we were Greek. We truly were made to feel like Greek goddesses. It turns out that the people of Istanbul are fond of Greeks and have no animosity towards them, it is definitely a one-sided battle. Constantinople may have been ours but I am pleased that Istanbul has grown into a fine woman worthy of nations waging war for her.

Published in: on January 6, 2010 at 12:37 pm  Comments (1)  
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my little world

I have too much to say, so I’m trying my hand at writing it down…erm…typing it down.

Published in: on January 6, 2010 at 10:28 am  Leave a Comment