Posts Tagged ‘turkish’

Thoughts On Being Bicultural

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

The two of us laughed at her when my cousin asked if Americans have a different sense of humor than Turks. The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized the appropriateness of her question. I was staying with her and her husband for the night, and we were watching funny YouTube videos; things that had gone viral that I hadn’t heard of before, like the Serkan is my Girl video, made by two cousins to annoy their Uncle Serkan, that took Turkey by storm. [It’s been 3 days since I saw the video, and it’s still stuck in my head.] When I tried to think of funny American videos I could show them in return, I was at a loss; it wasn’t the right mood for that type of humor.

It was then that I remembered how I felt during my first few years in the United States, around the age of 10, when I didn’t always quite “get” what was so funny about some of my classmates’ jokes, and when my awkward humor that was well-received by my friends in Turkey was often received in the new world with a disapproving quirk of an eyebrow. With time, it clicked, and it helped that I’m often easily amused. Fast forward to a few months ago: while I’d been laughing with tears for over an hour at funny Turkish Vines while I should have been doing homework, I suddenly realized that most of my American friends would look at me funny if I shared these with them, and the magic would be lost.

I feel lucky and even blessed to be able to appreciate the humor in both sides, but it also feels bittersweet. The best way to describe it is that I feel like I’m sharing part in a big inside joke.


The next day I found myself in my grandmother’s kitchen in Tekirdağ, staring at her bulletin board full of photos of her immediate family: herself, her late husband, me, my parents, my aunts, my uncles, and my cousins at various stages of our lives, some of whom are no longer with us. Having been transplanted from Turkey at a small age to spend the next 20+ years in California, it’s become increasingly jarring to me when I face my relatives and realize our facial similarities. I’m used to feeling “exotic” for most of my existence, and the annual visits home are becoming forceful reminders of where I came from. It’s like I’m back where I belong, but not quite. Something is amiss; a part of me has changed too much. The change is indescribable with words further than these.

The following day I am on a bus from Tekirdağ to Istanbul. The trip is only two hours, and I watch the Sea of Marmara coast in the heavy rain. The Tekirdağ visits always invoke a deeper kind of introspection, because unlike the modern, sprawling Istanbul, it’s a more modest city with a small-town feel. Life is simpler there. People know each other. My relatives’ worries, perspectives, and aspirations are different from my own. What do I talk about with them? Enough things. If I were there for an extended period, surely the conversations would be deeper. I’m already too full from eating Tekirdağ’s traditional meatballs before being dropped off at the bus station an hour and a half earlier, but I consume the tea and cake they’ve handed out while reflecting on the past two days, watching the rain hit the windows on the bus to Istanbul.

Bilinguality restored

Friday, November 13th, 2009

Long-time followers know that when I moved to this new domain name this year, I decided to build up the website from scratch, even though most of the same content would be transferred from the old website.

The most admirable quality of my old website (in my own opinion) was that it was bilingual; each blog entry, drawing description, composition summary, was written in both English and Turkish. It represents my biculturality while opening my website up to a wider audience.

I was a bit hasty when opening up my new site this year. I had just wanted the website up, so I had only done the English version as a start. Now I have finally managed to complete the Turkish version. All subsequent updates will be executed in both languages.

Thursday, May 9th, 2002

I have the AP English exam in about 9 hours, and I am sitting here producing choir propaganda materials, with sleep dripping out of my eyes. (Wow, that’s actually a Turkish idiom, sorry. Sometimes I can’t notice what language I think/talk in. The other day I said a Turkish sentence, then could almost bet that I’d accidentally used an English word in there.. but I hadn’t.)

Sunday, February 24th, 2002

Emily’s right – I do write more now! I think part of the reason is that I’m using the fast pop-up BloggerPost thing where there’s nothing but a textbox to write my entry in, and the buttons for posting. So I don’t see my previous posts. Before, I used to come often to the editing site, but leave without posting because I’d be like “Well, I’ve already posted enough for today.” Ack. Well, hopefully people at least enjoy my ramblings. I’d rather have a charming guy in love with me always checking my site and poring over my intelligent postings, but I really can’t see that happening at this point in time.

The layout rocks, man! And hey, I noticed it matches the rugs in my bathroom! Yay green, yay olive green!

I love my new honeysuckle scented perfume. Honeysuckles have good connotations: when I was little, my grandpa and I used to take walks in the park, and while we were walking home there was a honeysuckle bush on one of the fences, and we used to pick honeysuckles for my grandma. *smiles* Aww, that’s so cute! They smell soo nice, too. I loved smelling them and I still do. I think they are my favorite flower.

Honeysuckle is called “hanımeli” in Turkish and it literally translates to “lady’s hand.” *grin* Cute.

Tuesday, July 10th, 2001

Hello… the featured Teoman song of the day is.. “O”!! I’m gonna put up some lyrics to one song each day, cuz I like them.. I was just listening to it right now and I felt like putting this one up, so… here it is.

A little explanation.. Turkish is weird. The placement of the verbs, subjects, etc. are all different. So.. I will try and translate this line by line, but if it doesn’t make sense don’t sue me. Also, there are Turkish characters that don’t appear on most computers, so I am going to type them in English letters.. for example, the letter ç I will type as c, and ö as o, and so on. Turkish people will get it. Those who aren’t Turkish needn’t get it anyway.

Another thing, in Turkish, the word “o” means “he, she, or it.” But since the guy’s straight and he’s talking about a woman, here “o” translates to “she.” So here we go.


o herseyi kendi yanindan gorup

almak istedigini alir

baska sey dusunmez

beni unuturdu

anun her ani heyecan dolu

beni uzdugu zamanlarda bile

yoklugunu hissetmek

beni korkuturdu

ben herseyi onun icin, onun

yaninda yaparken

o hepsine uzaktan bakardi bir yabanci gibi

her sozumu dinliyor gibi

beni kandirirken

icinden gecen binlerce ses bastirirdi sesimi

o her gunu yeni bir umutla

bekler gibi gorunur

yarina inanmaz, beni avuturdu

onun her ani heyecan dolu

beni uzdugu zamanlarda bile

yoklugunu hissetmek

beni korkuturdu.

she would see everything from her side

get what she wanted

wouldn’t think of anything else

would forget about me

every moment for her was excitement-filled

even when she upset me

sensing her absence

would scare me

while i would do anything for her, by her


she would look at all of it from a distance, like a stranger

as if she was listening to my every word

she’d fool me

thousands of voices inside her would quiet me

she seemed like she waited

for every day with a new hope

wouldn’t believe in tomorrow, would comfort me

every moment for her was excitement-filled

even when she upset me

sensing her absence

would scare me.

That’s it. Now imagine that sung with really happy music.. like those ones in commercials where they’re advertising fresh 100% fruit juice, no preservatives, and you see these children running around in fields or backyards, drinking fruit juice.. and the mom is just watching them from inside.. reminds me of that kind of music! Anyway, doesn’t seem like much, but believe me — it’s horribly depressing with a combination of happy sappy major music and sad, sad lyrics. *sob*

Hm, I bet people are wondering why I bothered writing all this just about now. So I better leave. Hehe.. bye!

By the way, sorry if the lines don’t match up. Nobody cares if they do anyway. 🙂