Koran School, Fun Fairs, and Emptiness

Each day the boys have been off to a Koran school, which is run as part of a local kindergarten that they attended a couple of years ago in the spring. It was our attempt to give them more of a taste of their culture, exposure to their language from children their age rather than just their dad, and possibly make some friends. The making friends part has always been the hardest as they always are viewed as the ‘yabanci’ or foreign boys. This year, since it is Ramazan, the kindergarten are hosting a Koran school for older boys, and while I worry that it may be rather old school the boys seem to be enjoying it, and there have been sports activities too.

It’s been a relief to be allowed to get on with my work in peace, rather than be invaded and have to encourage M to take them away so that I’m not disturbed. It also means that they are not at aunty or niece’s flat plonked in front of the TV for hours. They come back happy, well Smelly and Lai Lai do, Fatso just has grumbling in his DNA and can’t help himself. He has to be reminded that Mr Happy needs to make an appearance because mummy will ignore Mr Grumpy.

Last year we saw one of the lovely orange groves behind the flat being ripped up. We had been worried that this would lead to some ugly apartment being built. That didn’t happen, but what did has left me with rather mixed feelings. No apartment to block the flow of the breeze from mountain to coast, and back, which provides us with much needed free cooling and a break from the stifling heat and humidity. What we have instead is a Luna park, or fun fair. A static one though, and rather limited with it’s 10 rides. So apart from nightly serenades of really tacky non Turkish pop, which seems to be on a loop track of  about 2 awful songs, apart from the occasional 11pm shrieking from a tanoy declaring the park to be open (for now I will forgiven them as it is Ramazan so people tend to lead a bit of a topsy turvy life, says I ignoring the fact that 7pm bed times for young kids here are unheard of), it seems to be an acceptable alternative to the prospect of another apartment block. That is until the boys start nagging, can we go, can we go?

We relent, and say yes they can go. We make it across the road to the park without being flattened by a speeding car, on what is in effect a motorway outside our home. The problem with fun fairs is as soon as you have more than one kid the cost spirals, and even when you tell them only 3 rides do they ever believe you? They all wanted a go on the dodgems, so a bit of family fun; Lai Lai asking not to bump into anyone, Smelly and Fatso desperate to crash spectacularly and repeatedly. Then the aeroplanes, which highlight how crappy the park is as Fatso soars in the air while Smelly trundles below, his button not working properly. One more ride, Fatso is torn between battery cars and a trampoline ride. The cars win out and he and Lai Lai have a go. The boy in charge asks if Lai Lai can steer, which we assure him he can. Fatso discovers this car has two gears, pootling and fast, so like a demon with gritted teeth he’s off round the circuit–a Turkish araba canavar (car monster). Lai Lai, we discover to our cost is a bit like his dad; absolutely no concentration while driving and would rather talk about everything and look everywhere. He quickly crashes quite spectacularly and as soon as he’s off again the pedal is king but the steering wheel ignored. Smelly is charging after him crying ‘steer, steer’ and grabbing the wheel. Still Lai Lai chats away oblivious to all instruction, crashing and requiring Smelly, then the boy, then me, to chase after him to steer on his behalf as he chats about whatever is in his head. Demon driver Fatso all the while in hot pursuit to pass or crash at will. Boy does not think this is funny.

Smelly still has his third to go and so hops on the trampoline bungy, while Fatso shouts at the injustice of it all. Fatso has a long memory so his protests that the Luna park has not been fun will not be easily forgotten. Lai Lai meanwhile is still jabbering away.

After the park we manage to cross the road again to head down to the beach. I’d forgotten that Mondays are ‘filter’ days so the pool is closed, but it’s the sea I want today anyhow. We haven’t been down since we arrived and a black mood descended over me earlier in the day, so I feel the need to go down where the wind is stirring the waves up, and try to blow the black emptiness away. Lai Lai is the first to complain of the sand; in his sandals, on his hands, his face, he can’t win it gets everywhere. The others race to the sea, not to go in but dig, write their names, challenge the sea to destroy it all.

It pongs a bit. The beach where we are is not a tourist beach, so it’s not kept clean. There are signs to say don’t take a baby turtle as a pet, and don’t leave litter, but they are roundly ignored. I’ve given in to the fact that the sand has so much rubbish around. Perhaps one day love of country will extend to them taking away their litter rather than throwing flags in your face and ranting about how great the country is. It is rather nationalist where we are.

I try my best to blow it all away, but today it clings to me. Luckily I’m not prone to long lasting bouts like this but even a day is enough. Sitting there looking at the sea feeling strangely drawn and thinking about how easy it is to just walk in and keep going. That thought draws me up, how easily it came to my mind when just days ago I was fretting about getting on the plane. Then again it’s bit like standing on a ledge, am I afraid of falling or of the urge to step off? Perhaps I’m just really tired, insomnia has reared itself again and that always seems to send me off kilter. The kids are having fun digging, oblivious to what rubbish is filling and emptying itself from my head, apparently their goal is to capture just enough water in the hole so they can wash off the sand.

I go for a paddle, and try to blow it all away, resist the urge to go deeper, but get caught by a wave and now have wet pants (not US English). M agrees to buy pide for dinner, I think he knows that’s safer than some uninspired concoction that’s bound to go wrong and taste appalling when I’m in this mood. The boys battle to wash off the sand, and I walk barefoot as we head towards home. They dream of ice cream.

The pide comes and tastes lovely. Soon, after sleep deprived hysterics from the boys, they’re all off to teravi namaz with their dreams of ice cream and remember some of the things they learnt today. I stay behind and do a bit more work not realising I’m sat in the dark as they return.

Next morning, I think the sea has done it’s job. Now I just have to wash it all off the boys in a quick morning bath, of our topsy turvy life, before Koran school,


About 5yearsmybrainhurtsalot

Once a stay at home mum in Ankara, now a working mum who makes regular lengthy trips to Mersin with my brood
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