Turns out I don’t speak Turkish

One of the more disheartening things about having an unusual first name is the variety of pronunciations people use to address you with. Over time, I’ve learnt to respond to Ferrar, Faye, Faya, Fairer, Freya, Sarra, Tara, and Fa-rur. None of which are my actual name. Sometimes, people don’t believe that Kelly is my surname, so refer to me as that instead, and are indignant when I don’t immediately respond.

So it’s a nice novelty to be in a country where the name “Farrah” is actually not all that uncommon. It’s spelt differently (Ferah), and the /r/ is more of a trill (phonetics friends might dispute this, I was never any good in phon&phon), but it’s my name nonetheless. I was pleasantly surprised how easily the staff remembered it- whenever I’ve met second language-English speakers, I’m known as anything but my actual name. When I worked in a Chinese restaurant most of the staff got my attention with clicks or hand gestures. The rest didn’t bother to learn my name. I’m loving this temporary honour.

Short of this bemusing highlight, the language differences have, naturally, been a pain . I rely on confusing hand gestures and interpreting mimicry to gain my instructions, which you’d think would be easy enough. But, no. Pointing at a chair and miming sitting down and opening a book, does not in fact mean, “go and sit down and read a book”. It means “wait here while I mop so you can put the floor rugs down after I’ve finished”. Obviously. Which I learned the hard way- and managed to get told off, like a child, for innocently finding a book and seat and doing what I thought I was told. 

  It’s  pretty hard to not use phrases and culutre references- offering to brew up is met with confusion and comparing a hotel guest to Cheryl Cole charcter draws blank looks. Most of what I say, whether to the Turkish or Germans here, is replied to with polite-I-don’t-know-what-you’re-talking-about laughter, or ignored all together.

Not having any difficulty in understanding when they tell me I can “sit down”.

We’ve developed our own little quasi-language, a pidgin, if you will. “Make it work” means “turn the washing machine on”. “Hep” means  ”follow me”. A high pitched hum means I’m doing something wrong. My communication is surviving on half sentences and  Turkish and English words mangled together. 

The upshot of this whole language barrier is that I’ve basically forgotten how to speak like a normal person. I find myself awkwardly imitating their accents when trying to ask them for the next job- “Me mop?” “Where this?“. It’s pretty hard to not feel like I’m patronising them. It’s even harder not to laugh at their botched attempts of English “You shut up” for “Empty the dishwasher” was a personal favourite.


So no, I’m not fluent in Turkish. I’m holding out for another hidden talent.  Statistically speaking, if I’m so crap at everything else, then I’m logically bound to stumble across something I’m blindingly brilliant at. Eventually.


The first thing to go wrong in Turkey.

I’d been in Turkey less than an hour and I was already at risk of ending up stuck at the airport.

I’d watched my luggage going round the little carasoul twice before realsing it was mine, and was too busy being disapproving of two drunk girls who were creating a little scene at the other end of the arrivals lounge to pick it up the third time. Hardly a disaster, but I’d let myself get stressed out and annoyed by all the other people who were legitimately waiting for their bags in the most frustrating fashion possible- including loudly exclaiming that they wouldnt recognise their bags in any case. Is that irony? I’m not sure, but it did feel stupid.

More importantly though,was how I intended in getting from the airport to where I was staying. Kayakoy is a tiny village of Fethiye- a good 45km from the airport. I’d booked transfers online and was armed with my documents and proof of purchases (including reinforcemnts, courtesy of Nana Kelly). I was therefore slightly distraught to find that the transfer company had no record of my booking, and wouldn’t be willing to take me to my destination. I was told to wait while they tried to solve the problem. A kindly Irish tour guide took some pity on my lonely state and kept me company- she chatted cheerfully about how I needn’t worry too much, she’d seen worse happen to nicer people. Thanks, I think…

Thirty minutes later, after being peered at by a range of taxi drivers and having my receipts passed around a group of uniformed Turkish guides, I was asked to confirm the address, because apparently the one I had supplied (and had taken straight from the hotel website) didn’t exist. Which was reassuring.

The guide informed me that as I had booked through an indirect site-Travel Republic- the address had been accepted. However, this particular company did not go to the small village of Kayakoy as it was too obscure , so though I’d booked with them, the transaction had never been authorised. Which was great news- and the image of me standing at the side of the road with my thumb stuck out lodged permanently in my mind’s eye.

A compromise they were willing to make- which I thought generous seeing as they weren’t being paid and had no moral obligation to help me out- was to drive me to a taxi rank in Fethiye, where the local firm would then look after me. I was passed around Turkey not entirely unlike cargo, eventually to the safety of my hotel.

safe & in the right place. woo!

Turkish drivers are very different. They have no reliance on cats eyes to help them navigate the dangerously stwisting roads- just their own pair. Nor do they have any qualms in using their phones- they’re all calling each other, presumably, to let them know that they’re driving. I have never been in a taxi in England where the driver has made a sudden U-turn back to the rank in order to pick up his sister. But, I suppose, this is all part of the adventure. What’s probably more bizarre is although the second driver knew only a very basic amount of English, he knew every word of LMFAO’s album “Sorry for Party Rocking”. Which I guess is the important stuff.


Turkey tomorrow!

Not sure if I’ve mentioned it, but I’m going to Turkey tomorrow.

Just, you know. If you were wondering what I was up to. That’s it. I’m flying to Dalaman, I’m working in Kayakoy, I’m going alone. For just three weeks, but still.

It’s the longest I’ll have been away from home, discounting university. And to be honest, I get so pathetically homesick while in York, that it wouldn’t surprise me if you told me that I never made it three weeks without having a cheeky weekend home. So this’ll be interesting, at any rate.

Because I have so far undergone three separate personal safety lectures from family members, and also because I am a bit of an internet addict, I will be blogging still while I’m away.It lets my mum know I’ve not eloped with a Turkish waiter, and it also gives me an excuse to brag about what I’m doing, as I’m doing it.

I’m slightly terrified. I’ll probably be hysterical at the airport tomorrow. But lets just focus on the excitement- that’s much more fun!

(Also would like to immortalise my gratitude to Jonathan Frost for making this website look all shiny and pretty. You’re fabulous.)


Ning York: Restaurant Review

Having promised myself a visit to the newly opened Malay restaurant upon reading of its opening here, I could barely contain my excitement when I eventually rocked up at York’s latest Asian cuisine offering. And, thrillingly, my excitement was justified.

It was pretty quiet on the Wednesday evening when I arrived with my friend. There was no need to book, and we had a choice of the many available tables. There was a choice of a two course set priced menu at just £14.00, which we went for.  We students do have an eye for a good value bargain, after all.

As I was there with a friend who happened to have an incredible inside knowledge of the food- convincing someone who works a t a restaurant to eat there as a customer is no mean feat- I didn’t bother reading the menu. I just asked him to pick out what he thought were the best meals, and sat back as he did the hard work for me.

My friend, the charming Ian Lau, talked me through the menu, translating where necessary, and recommending what he thought I’d like. Though the menu is pretty accessible for those of us who have never actually eaten real Malay food before- and would have no idea what Nasi Ayem is normally (I have possibly made that dish up, excuse me)- it was definitely to my advantage having an insider on the job.  That, and in the same way Emma Bennett who hails from Blackpool, the spiritual home of fish & chips, knows a damn good chippy when she sees one, Ian knew exactly which dishes were going to be the real thing.

Gado Gado Salad & whatever Ian had…

I don’t usually let people order for me in restaurants, my feminist urges squirm with rage if a guy tries assumes I can’t manage the task for myself, but not wanting to ridicule myself with the pronunciation of the exotic but impossible sounding  delicacies, Ian kindly took the burden off me. Having avoided the embarrassment of trying to pronounce some of the more interestingly named dishes, me and Ian settled in a well needed and animated catch-up.

Our starters arrived shortly, and taste delicious. In fact, having been starving myself all day in preparation for this mega meal, I could have just about made out with the plate. They looked impressive, and though I’m not usually one for peanuts, I could have cried over the sauce, I was enjoying it that much. I had the Gado Gado sald, which for laypeople such as myself, basically translates to “get into my mouth oh my god”. Ian had gone for a cool stuffed and layered fried pancake thing, which I can also reassure you tasted amazing. The salad was a considerably larger starter than Ian’s, so I definitely got the better deal since I was famished.

I had been advised to order an extra side dish in order to qualify for the set priced menu, and stupidly went for Jasmine rice, despite ordering seafood Kuey Teow which is a wok-fried noodle dish. I love my rice as much as the next person, but there was just no need for both noodles and rice, so the small side bowl went untouched. Grumpy that I hadn’t gone for prawn crackers, I swiftly moved on with my life when I tucked into my food. Again, delicious. My only complaint would be that my starter and main were fairly similar- but was fine by me seeing as I’d all but necked the first dish.

Kuey Teow and the Beef Rendang

We lingered over our mains for a good long time; I pinched some of Ian’s mind blowing extra hot beef Rendang, and we were left to it by the staff. After an hour or so, we surrendered what was left of our food and asked for the dessert menu. I’m not usually one for warm desserts, so when Ian ordered an odd green trifle thing, I had to wait for it to cool down before I could enjoy. The service was friendly and attentive- stopping to chat even when I could see they were busy and happy to make special kitchen requests on our behalf. While paying the bill I had a great time singing their praises on the comments card, and had a merry little chat with them.
I think I’ll try to go for a meal with someone who knows the food inside out every time, as Ian did a marvellous job as Chief Recommender. Impressed and stuffed, we pootled our way off to the nearest bar to celebrate a good meal.