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23 Eylül 2020

THE JOURNEY OF BEING A ‘GUEST’

I started a journey that always expected to never end, a journey that was supposed to create my success in this world. At the young age, I was asked whether I wanted to study abroad. It took me days to decide, nothing good seemed to come out of this. As hard as it can be for a parent to send their kid to a foreign country, we all expected this journey will bring joy and success in the future. As a English proverb goes, no pain no gain. To keep the story short, am happily studying thousands of miles away from my beautiful country which I miss every day. Here I am writing from a foreign country that I now call home. A place where we foreigners are referred to as ‘Misafir’ which means ‘Guest’, a term that a really like. Are we not all “mere guests” upon this whirling earth? Yes, we are a guest to the world every second, every minute, every hour and every day we wake up to. What defines is what we do every moment we are still breathing here. A quote from Dalai Lama XIV actually defines this very well, “We are visitors on this planet. We are here for one hundred years at the very most. During that period, we must try to do something good, something useful, with our lives. if you contribute to other people›s happiness, you will find the true meaning of life.”  Dalai Lama XIV, has defined the real meaning of being a guest somewhere, the impact we have on ourselves and the people surrounding is what matters. We as foreign students, are embarked on this journey so as to have a positive impact on the societies where we positioned. At least that’s what I believe, and a motive that keeps me going every day. Our motherlands need us, they are craving for us and it for us who in one way or the other studied or worked in foreign countries to answer the calls. Besides the long story of everyone being a guest in the world, lets now discuss what I h a v e ex
perienced being a guest in a country I call my second home: Turkey. A country where you will experience the best of being a guest somewhere. From the first day I stepped into Turkey, I felt have been accepted with a smiling face and open hands. Turkish people are one of the most hospitable people in the world and actually famous for that. They open doors for you, invite you to your dinner tables and share as much as they can with you. The fact that Turks come from a nomadic culture has instilled hospitality into the nations identity ranging from the Ottoman Empire to the current generation. Whenever I am asked about hospitality in Turkey, I remember many people who I don’t know them by name by rather call them ‘abi’, ‘abla’ ‘teyze’, ‘amca’, or ‘dayı’ and they happily smile back. Turkish people take serious age difference and you just can’t call anyone by their name unless you are agemates or you have known them for long. That’s why every time I met a new Turkish person and I realize he is older than me I call him either of the words mentioned above depending on their gender and age. Anyway, now that you know how to address a Turkish person with respect, the next step is finding yourself at their doorsteps. Whenever I find myself ushering into a Turkish house, I am provided with slippers from their collection mostly meant for guests, which they usually call ‘terlik’. Well, I used to wonder why we have to wear slippers inside the house, not that I didn’t think their houses are dirty to be honest. I then find myself in a well-organized and an incredibly clean house sitting down in one of the couches drinking a hot a cup of Turkish tea as you wait for the main meal. The meal starts with a hot soup (‘çorba’), I used to make the mistake of getting full with the soup and bread but this is always just an energizer. The main meal comes by followed by a good dessert. After the dessert you can’t leave without having a cup of Turkish tea or Turkish coffee. Sometimes you may even end up having a bowl full of fruits. Leaving a Turkish house most of the times needs a lot of trying, a new wave of conversation almost always begins as you try to leave but get stuck chatting with the host between the skeleton of the door. If you are lucky enough to convince the host to leave, be sure that most of the times you won’t leave empty handed, you most likely be bombarded with a bag of something they have picked or collected or anything precious to them as a gift. I am sorry I can’t stop praising the Turkish hospitality, but one thing I can’t forget is staying in Turkey during the feasting Islamic Festival, ‘Eid Al Adha’ which Turks refer to it as ‘Kurban Bayramı’. If you are a Muslim and you go for the Eid prayers, you will find yourself shaking hands and hugging as many people as are coming out of the Mosque. You will be invited to every house and eat as much meat as you can. You may even wake up to bags of meat in front of doors, with a note wishing Happy Holidays. Long story short, Turks are the most hospital people you will ever see. Drink a cup of tea with a Turk, and they will take you forever, protect you and help you whenever and as far as their arms can go. I am happy to have lived here and got the chance to experience the famous hospital of the Turks!  

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