There are many blessings that friends and strangers give to each other. If we meet a stranger's child, we bless the child. When eating in someone else's home we bless the cook and the cook blesses the guests. We bless the wallet of the person who bought our meal at a restaurant. We bless someone who has a new haircut. There are many more. Blessings abound in this culture.
Relationships are much more important than schedules. Often, no notice is given ahead of time from visiting friends. They will just show up at our door. A visit may last late into the night. Children don't seem to have bedtimes. 12 and 1am is quite normal.
Often, especially in village homes, everyone eats on the floor around a short, flat table. We eat from the same serving dishes (and pray we don't get ill). We do not have our own bowls. In the city, folks are more modern and use dining tables, although, we often share food from the center of the table. Bread is served at every meal.
Women do all the cooking and cleaning. They often do most of the outdoor work around the house as well. When a woman is serving a meal to guests, she usually doesn't eat, but watches plates and refills constantly.
If someone visits while you are eating you should insist that they eat with you. You absolutely cannot eat in front of them.
We kiss our friends on both cheeks and hug both sides as well when greeting one another. (This has become such a habit for us that when we visit America, my husband kisses his male friends and I kiss my friends' cheeks. We often get strange looks.)
Tea is served in thin, small hourglass-shaped glasses and is steeped a long time in loose leaves from the Black Sea area. People drink it all day long sweetened but never with milk.
When my children meet an elderly person, they kiss that person's hand and press it to their forehead as a sign of great respect for their age.
Guests should be seated by the host far away from the door and in the best seat in the house.
We only speak Turkish when not at home.
We must dicker for almost everything we buy because the items are usually overpriced.
We can't find basic food you may take for granted. We have to make our own peanut butter and get very excited when we can find M&Ms or chocolate chips. Often, the flour we buy is stale, the rice has worms, and the cheese is old. The eggs are sold unwashed with manure on them. Once, after eating most of the jam in a jar, I found a large beetle at the bottom. Loose bowels are a fact of life here. Only the most basic food can be found. We make everything from scratch.
People in larger cities, however, have a better selection than we have here and most everything can be found for a price.
Women do not look at a man's face or smile at strangers. You must look through them.
Turkish homes are extremely clean, but most people throw their trash on the ground when outside of their home. Families are perfectly content picnicking in the midst of a trash-covered field.
Drivers do not pay much attention to the painted lines on the road. They often straddle them while driving. Passing on curves is very common.
Strangers love to come up to someone's child and hold, pinch or kiss them. This is considered very normal in this society. Even young men will stop a stranger and beg to hold the child. This is a very sweet tradition. We do not fear for our children as much as people do in the west.
Our home is filled with Turkish rugs. Once or twice a year, we take them outside and scrub them on a cement slab while on our knees along with several other ladies. Afterwards, we drink tea together and rest.
Often, men relieve themselves along the side of the road. Little boys just stop and do this while playing. It is our job to turn our heads. I still have a hard time with the fact that they scratch their private places in public. Public toilets are holes in the floor. Toilet paper is not generally used. (No, I will not say anything more about that subject)
Children are not disciplined AT ALL until they enter school. They truly run the home.
Mothers feed their children by hand until the child is about six years old. They often do this by following the child around the house with a spoon and bowl of food coaxing him to eat. Fat children are desired, so food is given to them throughout the day.
So what do you think?