May 14, 2019
I step off a dirty Turkish street, and into a perfectly clean apartment. My friend welcomes me with kisses and smiles, but the first thing I do is take my shoes off so that I don’t tread dust into her home. I didn’t bring terlik (house slippers) with me, so my hostess offers me some from her collection kept especially for guests. She ushers me into her salon, only used for guests, and I sit in the appropriate place. An older teyze (‘aunty’) has the most honourable seat, furthest from the door and any drafts. I greet her by kissing her hand and touching it to my head, as a sign of respect. My hostess’s daughter offers me kolonya, pouring it into my cupped hands to wash them.
I’m offered Turkish coffee accompanied by a glass of water and a piece of Turkish Delight. Other times the hostess might offer çay (Turkish tea) with sweet or salty cookies; for special occasions she might invite my whole family to breakfast, a vast spread eaten slowly with plenty of time for talk and endless glasses of çay.
We talk about my friend’s unemployed son and frail mother-in-law; she says that they will be provided for Insha’Allah, (‘God willing’), but with no confidence that Allah is concerned about these matters. She accepts eagerly my offer to pray in the name of Isa but is surprised that I mean there and then!
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