Andre Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
"So Jamaica, how are you liking Turkey?"
Locals aren't always keen to strike up a conversation here in Istanbul, so I was rather surprised when a young female volunteer started questioning me yesterday. Oh and by the way, 'Jamaica' is my adopted name here.
She must be the fifth or so local that I have met that actually speaks English. Usually, volunteers at major meets are pretty strong in English. It's not such a common thing here.
"I like Jamaica more," I responded to a warm smile.
"Well, what do you know about Turkey?" she continued, still smiling.
"Well, I know that it tastes very good. We eat it a lot in Jamaica, mostly the neck."
She didn't get the joke at first and her much-belated laugh insulted my comedic skills.
As I said, Turkish people aren't the friendliest I have met.
If you want to hear expletives in Turkish, try taking pictures of locals here in Istanbul.
OK, maybe I am being a little harsh but truthfully, the Turks have struck me from the onset to be a rather cold and unfriendly bunch; smiling seems unnatural to them. Again maybe that's not a true representation of the entire lot; perhaps I just don't encourage friendliness.
Nonetheless, I was a bit taken aback when I had an interesting exchange at a local bazaar (market) the other day. It was quite amusing at first and then, well, not so amusing when it became clear that 'brother Turk' (The villain) was not seeing the humour in all of it.
Yep, don't mess with the Turks; us Jamaicans like to consider ourselves the global 'Bad People', but this time around, I gladly took my 'bad up' and went on my merry way. These are some serious folks.
It all started because of a woman, and before you get any ideas, I was simply fascinated by her veil and what looked like miles of cloth wrapped around her frame. Eager to play the role of 'Curious Tourist', I grabbed by point-and-shoot camera and clicked away, of course, expecting a smile. After all, that is what you do even when visitors annoy the hell out of you - you smile.
Well, there were no smiles here as 'Brother Turk' went on a tirade, gesticulating madly. He was pretty worked up about it too. You would have thought I violated his female companion in the worst possible way. Had I just committed some heinous crime? Mark you, there was never any hint of an intention to get physical, just a lot of noise. He must have known I didn't understand a word he was saying, yet he kept at it. So I walked away, pride shattered but my face intact.
Maybe PALS should consider me as an ambassador of peace.
By the way, if you are ever in Turkey and someone offers you Turkish coffee, consider it an insult; Do not drink it; it tastes like mud!