I’ve lived off and on for several years in a neighborhood that is considered trashy by the standards of my Turkish friends. Turkey having a very classist society, it would make sense that most of my friends, who are well educated and well off, don’t like to come visit in this neighborhood. However, foreigners at first cannot tell the difference between this and other places in Beyoğlu. I admit that its ghetto character has revealed itself to me gradually. It wasn’t until recently that I realized I had to move.
Except I already did move—a month ago—into another apartment in the same neighborhood. Julie and I wanted to get our own separate apartments (weird foreigner behavior #1) and we started looking in other areas. But then we found out that there is a reason why people like us live in the ghetto: We cannot afford to live in the nicer neighborhoods. So we have at least something in common with our current neighbors (who are mostly immigrants from Anatolia.) So, in the end, Julie and I found two nice apartments across the street from one another. In fact, it is much like the old flat that we shared except with a street running through it.
A street filled with loud children and bickering, sunflower-seed chewing gossipy adults. Often the air splits with the sound of firecrackers. Or construction. Or just general cacophony. There is a quiet period, however—between the hours of about 3am and 9am. So I have been enjoying waking up early in the morning to enjoy the quiet.That is why, when a man climbed into my bedroom window the other morning at 6:30am, I was already half awake. I had been lying on my side with my back to the window (which is at the foot of the bed) and I heard the rustling of my curtain being pulled aside. By the time I had turned onto my back, he was standing next to me. I didn’t take time to think—I cocked both of my legs back and kicked him hard in the chest, while screaming, “NO!!” His eyes got HUGE and I heard him gasp as I knocked the wind out of him. He silently fell back, but simultaneously, he grabbed my Kindle which was on the bedside table. I didn’t care that he had my entire collection of reading in his hand—I just wanted him out of my room. The bedroom door was closed and he opted to escape back out the window from which he came.
My apartment is on the second floor. I had only been in the flat a week and had been considering putting bars on the windows, but hadn’t gotten around to it. He jumped into the window frame and probably thought he was going to climb down the side along the drainage pipe in the same way he came up. However, I shoved him hard out into the air and he landed heavily on the stoop of the house across the street. I was surprised (and a little relieved—I didn’t want to see blood) when he landed on his feet and ran away. My cries of ‘Hırsız! Hırsız! (Thief) woke the neighbors, but it was too late to catch him.
A couple of good things came out of this situation: 1) Arni was scared for me and flew back to Istanbul to stay with me just a week after he left, and 2) I got to meet my new neighbors and show them that I do know how to speak Turkish. When I am under stress, I am always able to miraculously produce the intelligible Turkish that I cannot summon under normal circumstances. To bad that incidents like these are the reason I want to leave Turkey and never speak Turkish again.