Sunday, January 11, 2009

fun times overseas

For those of you missing Turkish culture posts here's a little ditty. A friend of mine in Turkey recently wrote this on her blog...

Last night we were invited to our neighbor's home for dinner. We have been invited into various homes for tea and have, of course, dined with Turkish friends who are connected to the school, but this was a first for us and was an invitation we happily accepted.
Just before we walked out the door, we endured (caused) a big commotion about house shoes. The neighbor lives right across the hall, so we had several options regarding footwear:
a)wear outdoor shoes to walk across the hall and wear our socks in the house (which would make the host feel obligated to provide house shoes for all 6 of us)
b)run across the hall in socks (which would cause them to worry that we might all get sick because we didn't have outdoor shoes in the hallway)
c)wear outdoor shoes and take a big pile of our own house shoes to put on after we got there (which might make them think we didn't expect them to be good hosts and provide enough house shoes)
d)wear our house shoes across the hall (which would make them be considered 'dirty' when we entered the house)

You laugh, but we stood in our entry for a full 5 minutes trying to figure out what to do. This is a BIG deal here. Cleanliness is part of the religion prevalent in this country. Not wearing outdoor shoes in the house is a BIG deal. But also, making sure your feet are in shoes is a big deal because many believe illnesses are caused by being in socks only (or worse, bare feet...little do they know what a hillbilly I really am in secret). Everyone was throwing out suggestions. Mary Erin had an enormous armful of house shoes to carry over, convinced she had the right idea. Eva had her crocs and her puffy princess shoes in her hands and was planning to carry both. Annika had her house shoes already on. Ross was saying to me, "Are THOSE our house shoes? Where did we get those? I thought you said we shouldn't take all those shoes, why are you telling us to bring our own house shoes now?" I finally halted everyone and said, "Look! Just trust me. I don't have time to explain..Ross, wear outdoor shoes and take no house shoes. Wear socks in the house or take the house shoes they offer you. Girls, wear outdoor shoes and take your own house shoes. That way they can provide shoes for the adults but don't have to outfit all of you kids." Then Esther panicked, "But I don't HAVE house shoes, they are at school!" (Yes, the kids wear house shoes in the school when it is wet outside and they come in from recess.) So I said, "Ok, Esther, just wear outdoor shoes and then your socks unless they give you shoes." Mary Erin said, "Mom, my feet are big enough for adult house shoes, can I just wear my outdoor shoes?" "YES! Now GET OUT the door!" We also quickly discussed how to handle the prayer and decided that since it was their home, we'd each bow and have our own silent prayer. 3 seconds later we had crossed the hall, all smiles, pretending we had no stress, and accepting house shoes for anyone who didn't come with their own. Can you believe all that?

The story made me laugh thinking about how true it is! We have experienced similar issues when visiting the neighbors in our building. If you are interested in hearing more from them you can check out her blog here.


Sra said...

That is just insane! It's like a three stooges bit.

Anonymous said...

What a dilemma, but nicely solved! It is hard work trying not to offend or worry anyone. And makes for a funny and memorable story!


Anonymous said...

I totally understand about the reading but not commenting thing! I am so, so terrible for that myself. I have all of my favourite blogs on a reader (yours included, of course!) and rarely ever click through. Shame on me! I'll try to comment more as well. :)

Natalie said...

sra - it is! and usually we end up laughing about how ridiculous things like this are after the fact! great fun!

mamadallama - i know. it does help that we are foreigners. we are often excused because they don't expect us to know better!

lynn - i know. thanks for reading!

Anonymous said...

i was in thailand for my nephew's wedding and it was the custom to leave your shoes outside. which wouldn't have been so bad except that several of our shoes were run over by a big car! not exactly run over, but the car was parked on top of them. every time i wear squished sandals i chuckle at the memory! thank you for sharing this post it made me smile.

Anonymous said...

this is so funny :) I can relate!

Natalie said...

friyet - that is funny! thankfully we usually left shoes in the hallway outside the apartment door or right inside the apartment door. no worries about them being run over. i did wonder sometimes if they would be taken since we left them outside in the hall, but we never lost a shoe that way!

~m - i bet!