My Turkish speaking and listening skills, which are never hot outside of a controlled setting where people are speaking slowly, are improving!
This morning, for instance, I was able to ask a man standing in the bizarrely empty bus terminal, where I’ve never seen fewer than seventy-five or so buses,
“Hey, what’s going on?” I didn’t understand his answer, but I was able to plow fearlessly ahead with, “Where are the buses?”
He said something, and then asked me where I was going. I said I was going to work, near Capitol, and that I needed a 13, or a 14, or a 14R, or a 14Y, or a 15, or a 110, or a 500A, or a… He interrupted me to say,
“Unfortunately there is not. You have a problem.” Then he shrugged in a very Turkish way and moseyed down the street, which was lined by policemen and heavy-duty police fencing, and completely empty of cars.
I was then able to ask a succession of policemen where the buses were. One said, “Over there,” brusquely and turned away. One sighed and consulted his partner, and then said something I didn’t understand at all. The last one assured me the buses were by the Carrefour shopping center, so I walked there, where I was able to further practice my Talking to Strangers in Turkish skills by asking a mini-bus driver,
“Excuse me? Where are the buses from Kadikoy?”
“There aren’t any!” he said cheerfully.
“What?” I said. “The policeman over there is talking the buses from Kadikoy are at Carrefour!”
“Unfortunately not, no buses. There’s a meeting in Kadikoy. No buses.”
Huh. So much for being early to work and having a stress-free cup of coffee while I made photocopies in peace. I did some quick mental math- there was no money in my wallet, so I was limited to public transportation unless I walked 45 minutes back home which would make me X late for work, but then again it might take me another half hour to walk to the metrobus station which would make me Y late for work…
“How do I go?” I said, helplessly.
“Where are you going?”
“I’m going to work. I’m going to Altunizade.”
“This mini-bus is going to altunizade! Come! This one! We are going!”
“I don’t have any money,” I said. “No money.”
“No problem! No money! Get in!”
It almost makes me wish the transit would randomly stop running without any warning and without any instructions of what to do or where to go more often so I can flex my new locative case muscles.