Bad news: on one of the first days during my stay in Edirne, I suffered from a sudden bout of lower back pain after bending over in the shower to pick up a bar of soap. The hazards of personal hygiene are not to be underestimated and studies have proven that an astonishing number of people succeed in killing themselves every year in the bathroom. At least I had averted that fate.
Recovery is slow and frustrating, but it gives me ample time to read and learn about the Turkish culture.
The Turkish language doesn’t recognise gender. There is only one word for he, she and it. This can explain why Turkish speakers frequently mix up he and she, or him and her, when conversing in English. This makes for surprising plot twists when the subject of a narrative suddenly becomes a man instead of a woman, as was previously envisioned, or vice versa.
The history of Turkish can explain many foreign influences from Ottoman times (even though it has gone through a period of purification since). Interesting examples I found:
Bulgaristan, Yunanistan (=Greece), where the -stan suffix is of Persian origin.
A word I frequently encountered and which I recognised from my past travels in the Middle East was tamam, which means OK and is a loan word from Arabic.
LANGUAGE AND FOOD
Döner, as used in the ubiquitous döner kebab, means to turn in English. The same mechanism of word invention is visible in the Greek gyros (cf. gyrating) which is prepared in a similar fashion as its Turkish counterpart.
Dolma are stuffed vegetables, which I found out after I got some offered to me by the cleaning lady of the hostel. It has the same root verb as dolmuş which are the shared taxis or minibuses, where, in the past, people would be packed, or stuffed, like sardines.
TEA AND COFFEE
I learnt the Turkish way of making tea. Turkish tea is grown in Turkey, on the eastern Black Sea coast. This seems obvious, but till then I was under the impression that the adjective Turkish was referring to the unique process of preparing the brew, which is done in the peculiar double boiler tea pot, called çaydanlık in Turkish. It mainly involves pouring boiling water from one kettle in the other with an reassuring attitude suggesting that you know what you are doing. The result is a very tasty cup, but somehow, it is never quite like the tea served in a tea house.
Turkish coffee is simply made by throwing losts of coffee in boiling water. Turkish people will tell you that it’s much more complicated than that, but it isn’t. The result tastes always the same.
In the Health Museum, which is housed in the mosque complex of Sultan Bayezid II, there were several interesting displays of treatment of the mentally ill. Music therapy and aroma therapy were used to calm the deranged and urge them to hand over their battle axes. In the courtyard, a water fountain was installed in the hope that the sound of falling water had a therapeutical effect on the mentally ill. The effect it had on me is that I had to go and find a toilet.