The Dhoku piece was one of the first I wrote that wasn’t food related. There had been two others about gyms and cycling in the city but the first was very factual and not worth putting here and the second isn’t very revealing of anything in my life other than that I bought a bike and cycle a couple of times in the city and didn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted to. Istanbul is not a cycle friendly city – at least not on the European side.
It is mostly interesting because of how misleading it is. I had a set appointment to go, went with the editor of the magazine because she spoke Turkish and certainly didn’t buy a carpet! I don’t think I even liked them that much. I don’t think that’s exactly dishonest, it’s just journalism.
Reading back on it I can see the glaring error I made that an experienced editor would have picked up immediately. I had all those quotes from the manager and never said his name or gave any idea who he was. Amateur.
The only part that stands out is my description of myself as a piece of bloody tuna. It was true. I felt very uncomfortable alone as a girl in the most touristy part of the city. I’d got used to going there with my boyfriend and the overwhelming male and sales attention that disappeared as a result of having a chaperone. Any other trips I made there were with visiting friends so the attention was diluted and easier to ignore.
Why on earth I had worn a dress, albeit knee-length, I don’t know. I was sitting waiting for the editor and a stallholder came and told me the way I was sitting revealed more than was wise. He was right and I think said it for my own good and not to get some kind of leverage. But it only added to how out of place I felt and how much I didn’t really like being alone in Istanbul. It really had quite a predatory air for me then. Whether because I’d got so dependent on a protector and a pseudo protector who was as big a snake as the salesman in the Bazaar or because the threat was real, I’m not sure. But when the editor arrived she noticed how they were eating me with their eyes too.
The other two articles were a new thing for me too. Co-writing. And co-written with men.
Josh and I went for pide and lahmacun together somewhere I can’t remember and I never told my boyfriend about it. He and I lost touch but had bonded over revealing that we were both terrified at our first editorial meeting. My first had been his second and he had seemed so completely cool and at ease that he added to my feelings of insecurity and being out of my depth. Writing this prompted me to look him up and I found him on Twitter so that is the second friendship I’ve made some reconnection with because of this blog, even if it’s just social media wise so far.
The other two guys from Grand Bizarre I didn’t bond as well with. Jeff I can’t even remember now but Rich I liked. He got barred from the country for three months once for accidentally overstaying his visa – a story I then appropriated two years later when Everything Was Awful and my boyfriend forced me to go back to the UK because his brother was coming and he had of course told him the Awful Everything. I had to say something to my employer to cover the fact I was walking out on mid 12 week contract.
There were a few of these abrupt leavings across 2009-11. And a lot of lies to cover them up. Most of my friends didn’t even know I was in Turkey when I was being made to leave. I couldn’t maintain proper friendships with people because they’d have seen how crazy my life had got, how crazy I had got, so I shed layers of friends like dandruff.