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Tales from the Expat Harem: Foreign Women in Modern Turkey

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As the Western world struggles to comprehend the paradoxes of modern Turkey, a country both European and Asian, forward-looking yet rooted in ancient empire, Tales from the Expat Harem reveals its most personal nuances. This illuminating anthology provides a window into the country from the perspective of thirty-two expatriates from seven different nations - artists, entre As the Western world struggles to comprehend the paradoxes of modern Turkey, a country both European and Asian, forward-looking yet rooted in ancient empire, Tales from the Expat Harem reveals its most personal nuances. This illuminating anthology provides a window into the country from the perspective of thirty-two expatriates from seven different nations - artists, entrepreneurs, Peace Corps volunteers, archaeologists, missionaries, and others - who established lives in Turkey for work, love, or adventure. Through narrative essays covering the last four decades, these diverse women unveil the mystique of the "Orient," describe religious conflict, embrace cultural discovery, and maneuver familial traditions, customs, and responsibilities. Poignant, humorous, and transcendent, the essays take readers to weddings and workplaces, down cobbled Byzantine streets, into boisterous bazaars along the Silk Road, and deep into the feminine stronghold of steamy Ottoman bathhouses. The outcome is a stunning collection of voices from women suspended between two homes as they redefine their identities and reshape their worldviews.Coining the "expat harem" as a distinct community, the editors also boldly reclaim the concept of an Eastern harem-long the subject of erroneous Western stereotype. "Much like the imported brides of fifteenth-century sultans, our expat harem is conjured by the shared circumstance of being foreign-born and female in a land laced with a harem tradition," Ashman and Gokmen declare."Our writers are inextricably wedded to Turkish culture, embedded in it, yet alien nonetheless."


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As the Western world struggles to comprehend the paradoxes of modern Turkey, a country both European and Asian, forward-looking yet rooted in ancient empire, Tales from the Expat Harem reveals its most personal nuances. This illuminating anthology provides a window into the country from the perspective of thirty-two expatriates from seven different nations - artists, entre As the Western world struggles to comprehend the paradoxes of modern Turkey, a country both European and Asian, forward-looking yet rooted in ancient empire, Tales from the Expat Harem reveals its most personal nuances. This illuminating anthology provides a window into the country from the perspective of thirty-two expatriates from seven different nations - artists, entrepreneurs, Peace Corps volunteers, archaeologists, missionaries, and others - who established lives in Turkey for work, love, or adventure. Through narrative essays covering the last four decades, these diverse women unveil the mystique of the "Orient," describe religious conflict, embrace cultural discovery, and maneuver familial traditions, customs, and responsibilities. Poignant, humorous, and transcendent, the essays take readers to weddings and workplaces, down cobbled Byzantine streets, into boisterous bazaars along the Silk Road, and deep into the feminine stronghold of steamy Ottoman bathhouses. The outcome is a stunning collection of voices from women suspended between two homes as they redefine their identities and reshape their worldviews.Coining the "expat harem" as a distinct community, the editors also boldly reclaim the concept of an Eastern harem-long the subject of erroneous Western stereotype. "Much like the imported brides of fifteenth-century sultans, our expat harem is conjured by the shared circumstance of being foreign-born and female in a land laced with a harem tradition," Ashman and Gokmen declare."Our writers are inextricably wedded to Turkish culture, embedded in it, yet alien nonetheless."

30 review for Tales from the Expat Harem: Foreign Women in Modern Turkey

  1. 4 out of 5

    Anisa Ali

    I thought this book would be good for me to read because I will be teaching English in Turkey for a year, and have been wondering what it would be like as a western woman traveling and living by herself in Turkey. As a compilation of Western women's experiences traveling to and living in Turkey, the book is definitely helpful in understanding Turkish culture, family relations, and dating/relationships/marriage customs. It was divided into several different themes, including: experiences with the I thought this book would be good for me to read because I will be teaching English in Turkey for a year, and have been wondering what it would be like as a western woman traveling and living by herself in Turkey. As a compilation of Western women's experiences traveling to and living in Turkey, the book is definitely helpful in understanding Turkish culture, family relations, and dating/relationships/marriage customs. It was divided into several different themes, including: experiences with the Turkish bath, romantic relationships with Turkish men, wedding ceremonies to Turkish men, the role of superstitions in Turkish culture, and Turkish hospitality. Although I felt that some pieces of the same theme were a bit redundant (I found this especially with the weddings section), the book as a whole can be very eye-opening to someone that hasn't been a part of, seen, or been really familiar with Turkish (or a similar) culture. As someone raised in a Pakistani family, I found that I was not surprised by many things mentioned in the book, including the large extended family networks, restrictions on romantic relationships in conservative families, and a deep belief in superstitious rituals. However, I could also say that the selections were useful in at least confirming what I had already suspected. Another thing I got from this book is that it's important to remember the diverse lifestyles within Turkey. Turkey varies widely in religiousness, as well as the degree of Westernization. As is apparent in the various pieces throughout the book, many of the authors had vastly different experiences with their travels to various parts of the country, and with relationships with Turkish men. While some women seemed able to travel throughout the country with little bother from local men, other women struggled with unwanted and persistent attention from men. Also, some authors who married Turkish men did not encounter much difficulty in being accepted into the Turkish family (for various reasons), while others really struggled with it. My favorite piece is the very last one, which is about a fundamentalist Christian woman in Turkey for the purpose of proselytizing Muslims. She describes her journey in letting go of her fundamentalism as she became closer and closer to the Turkish family she lived with. She also explains how she was surprised that in the end, it was her who had something to gain, rather than the other way around. Although it may sound a bit cliche, to me her story symbolizes one of the primary outcomes of traveling: learning more about the people in the world, and learning to cooperate with one another, regardless of who we are or where we come from.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette (Ms. Feisty)

    This is the most thorough of all the Seal Press collections I've read in terms of introduction to the various aspects of a nation's culture. I never thought much about Turkey as a place to visit, although its history always fascinated me. I remember that old song from when I was little, "CON-STAN-tinople...." I think it was Danny Kaye singing that one, but I'm too lazy to check the search engines and confirm it. The thing that touched me most deeply in these essays was the hospitality of the Tur This is the most thorough of all the Seal Press collections I've read in terms of introduction to the various aspects of a nation's culture. I never thought much about Turkey as a place to visit, although its history always fascinated me. I remember that old song from when I was little, "CON-STAN-tinople...." I think it was Danny Kaye singing that one, but I'm too lazy to check the search engines and confirm it. The thing that touched me most deeply in these essays was the hospitality of the Turkish people. It's a strong tradition with them, whether you are a friend or a stranger. Some of the examples of their generosity and caretaking moved me to tears.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Waverly Fitzgerald

    I have been thinking of traveling to Istanbul and also am reading a series of historical mysteries set in Istanbul (The Janissary Tree) and I have a friend who moved to Istanbul ten years ago and never came back, so when I saw this book at the library, I scooped it up. What a delight. And my friend, Diane Caldwell, had an essay in the book which helped me understand why she never came back. Some of the essays were better written than others, but all of the were illuminating, in terms of helping s I have been thinking of traveling to Istanbul and also am reading a series of historical mysteries set in Istanbul (The Janissary Tree) and I have a friend who moved to Istanbul ten years ago and never came back, so when I saw this book at the library, I scooped it up. What a delight. And my friend, Diane Caldwell, had an essay in the book which helped me understand why she never came back. Some of the essays were better written than others, but all of the were illuminating, in terms of helping someone like me who does not know much about Turkish culture, understand the variety of people who like in Turkey, common customs, religious practices, the true nature of shopping (conversation with the shopkeeper!) and especially, the hospitality for which the Turks are famous. It certainly made me more eager to visit Turkey. There's not much about politic or about history in this book, which is understandable. The overall impression one is left with is one of pleasure and generosity and welcome. I hope that is still true.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lu

    It was really interesting to hear different women's experiences but they are all really old experiences so they don't relate as much to today. I liked the Turkish they used in the book so you learn some vocabulary at the same time. [3/14, 12:49 AM] Luann: Sünnet circumcision ritual. Nataşa~ foreign prostitute Daha çabuk ~ faster İş başı ~ start working Paydos ~ stop work [3/14, 12:50 AM] Luann: Atatürkçü ~ committed to the modernizing ideals of Atatürk [3/14, 12:51 AM] Luann: Person [3/14, 12:51 AM] L It was really interesting to hear different women's experiences but they are all really old experiences so they don't relate as much to today. I liked the Turkish they used in the book so you learn some vocabulary at the same time. [3/14, 12:49 AM] Luann: Sünnet circumcision ritual. Nataşa~ foreign prostitute Daha çabuk ~ faster İş başı ~ start working Paydos ~ stop work [3/14, 12:50 AM] Luann: Atatürkçü ~ committed to the modernizing ideals of Atatürk [3/14, 12:51 AM] Luann: Person [3/14, 12:51 AM] Luann: Hanım abla kızım [3/14, 12:55 AM] Luann: Ruhsat lütfen registration please [3/14, 12:59 AM] Luann: Bunu ruhsatınız değil. Ruhsat lazım. ~ This isn't your registration. I need your registration [3/14, 1:02 AM] Luann: Arkadaşın emniyet kemeri takmıyor. Emniyet kemeri. ~your friend was not wearing her seatbelt. Seatbelt. [3/14, 1:03 AM] Luann: O takması lazım. Önemli. Tehlikeli. She must wear it. Important. Dangerous. [3/14, 1:04 AM] Luann: Song Arda Boyları by Şükriye Tutkun [3/14, 1:07 AM] Luann: P. 14 each time a new baby is born the farmer plants 30 or 40 saplings and by the time the child is grown and ready to marry the trees have matured and will bring a good price as lumber. (Poplar trees) [3/14, 1:08 AM] Luann: İyi yolculuklar [3/14, 1:10 AM] Luann: Threw a bucketful of water toward the back of our departing car ~ turkish custom for heralding a speedy return: may you come and go like water [3/14, 1:11 AM] Luann: Şalvar trousers [3/14, 1:21 AM] Luann: Cicim Kilim [3/16, 12:19 AM] Luann: Ne ayıp! Tövbe tövbe, terbeyesiz! (How disgraceful! How rude! ) [3/16, 12:19 AM] Luann: Zurna (oboe like instrument) [3/16, 12:22 AM] Luann: Bir fincan kahveninkırk yıl hatırı vardır. ~ one cup of coffee is remembered for 40 years. Proverb about how easy friendship can be formed. [3/16, 12:22 AM] Luann: Yufka dough [3/16, 12:24 AM] Luann: Bursa ~ 1st capital of the ottoman empire [3/16, 12:39 AM] Luann: Dolmuş ~ mini bus [3/16, 12:39 AM] Luann: Defol! ~ get lost! [3/16, 12:47 AM] Luann: Places ~ Işak paşa sarayı; mount Ararat; tigris river in hasankeyf canyon; akdamar island; selçuk cemetery & Stonehenge tombstones in Ahlat; black basalt walls in diyarbakır [3/16, 1:07 AM] Luann: Rahle ~ type of bookstand use for heavy religious books [3/16, 1:07 AM] Luann: Kible~:the holy niche indicating the direction of mecca [3/16, 1:08 AM] Luann: Mihrap (ottoman = mihrab) mosque's holy prayer niche [3/16, 9:44 AM] Luann: Çarşaf ~ black cotton sheet to convert the entire body (abaya?) Ehram (warmer one made of woven unbleached wool ) [3/16, 9:45 AM] Luann: Hoş geldiniz ~ hoş bulduk [3/16, 9:46 AM] Luann: Aman allah! ~ she's so thin! [3/16, 9:46 AM] Luann: Nazar ~ the evil eye [3/16, 9:47 AM] Luann: Hamam ~ turkish bath [3/16, 9:56 AM] Luann: Fayton ~ horse drawn phaeton carriages [3/16, 9:56 AM] Luann: Çayhane ~ tea house [3/16, 10:02 AM] Luann: Abla ~ ağabey [3/16, 10:03 AM] Luann: Make turkish coffee köpüklü (with foam) [3/17, 1:15 AM] Luann: Place ~ Göreme in cappadocia where the fairy chimneys are. [3/17, 1:15 AM] Luann: Yufka ~ a paper thin bread made in large quantities to last families through the winter [3/17, 1:40 AM] Luann: Ekmez ~ grape syrup [3/17, 1:40 AM] Luann: Tandır oven [3/17, 1:41 AM] Luann: Sedir ~ bench seat. Packing your being into a niche in the stone wall = custom since ottoman times [3/17, 1:42 AM] Luann: In Göreme they say Nörüyon? For nasılsın. = ancient dialect of turkish [3/17, 1:43 AM] Luann: Kısmet = kismet; destiny [3/17, 1:45 AM] Luann: Kurban Bayramı ~ slaughter a sheep. Commemorates ibrahim's near sacrifice of his son ismael [3/17, 1:46 AM] Luann: Turks thought that the dead animal's spirit would carry the soul of the sacrificer to heaven & that sharing the meat served to consolidate a sense of community [3/17, 1:46 AM] Luann: P. 61 ^ [3/17, 1:47 AM] Luann: Beldiye ~ town hall [3/17, 1:47 AM] Luann: Ezan ~ call to prayer [3/17, 1:48 AM] Luann: Upward toss of the head means no [3/17, 1:49 AM] Luann: Kayseri ~ interesting odd tonn for sale on the back streets [3/17, 1:49 AM] Luann: Çeşme ~ fountain [3/18, 6:13 PM] Luann: Abdest ~ muslim's ritual washing before prayer [3/18, 6:15 PM] Luann: Kese ~ traditional session of rough, exfoliating body scrubbing [3/18, 6:19 PM] Luann: Turşu ~ spicy homemade pickle [3/18, 6:23 PM] Luann: Peştemal # traditional red and blue plaid wrap worn as the sole covering within the hamam [3/18, 6:30 PM] Luann: Rakı "lions milk" [3/18, 6:31 PM] Luann: Kese ~ thin abrasive mitt (for scrubbing off dead skin) [3/18, 6:32 PM] Luann: Kissing both cheeks gently for greeting and parting [3/18, 6:50 PM] Luann: Turkish superstition that walking barefoot causes infertility [3/18, 9:21 PM] Luann: Muezzin ~ either the thing or the person that gives the call to prayer? Not sure [3/18, 10:42 PM] Luann: Gelin hamamı ~ bridal bath ~:to prepare a the bride for her wedding with a ritual cleansing [3/18, 10:43 PM] Luann: Dershane ~ a private English language school [3/18, 10:44 PM] Luann: Gelin hamamı early in day before the henna night on the same day [3/18, 10:47 PM] Luann: In the hamam ~ small marble basins with in the middle of the room [3/18, 11:21 PM] Luann: All turkish women shave their vaginas? [3/18, 11:22 PM] Luann: Fıstık gibi~ like a nut ~ idiomatic compliment of beauty (just for vaginas? ) [3/18, 11:26 PM] Luann: Sumerian goddess Inanna [3/18, 11:32 PM] Luann: Baggy şalvar pants [3/19, 12:23 AM] Luann: Kara çarşaf ~ the head to toe black covering of conservative muslim females (an abaya) [3/19, 12:29 AM] Luann: Buyurun ~ may I help you [3/19, 12:30 AM] Luann: "Tssked" (sound) ~ colloquial turkish for "no thanks" [3/19, 12:30 AM] Luann: İşte , anladım. ~ here, I understand [3/19, 12:32 AM] Luann: Visible nipples through clothing are offensive in turkey? [3/19, 12:33 AM] Luann: Estonians are naturalists maybe bc regular drugs are expensive [3/19, 12:34 AM] Luann: Yeast ~ maya Mold ~ küf Fungus ~ mantar Infection ~ enfeksiyon [3/19, 10:19 PM] Luann: Harar ~ burlap bags [3/19, 10:19 PM] Luann: Kızılderili ~ native American literally redskins [3/19, 10:23 PM] Luann: Being a polite guest means accepting anything that is offered [3/19, 10:25 PM] Luann: Kına ~ henna paste. Symbolic blessing for maturity and fertility [3/19, 10:26 PM] Luann: Henna lasts a month and permanently dyes the fingernails and toenails orange until they grow out [3/19, 10:27 PM] Luann: Brides henna their hair as well for an auburn sheen [3/19, 10:28 PM] Luann: Groom. Just the hand or finger is dyed depending on regional custom [3/19, 10:28 PM] Luann: Friends and family attending the henna party dye their hands as well [3/19, 10:29 PM] Luann: Davul drum and oboe like zurna [3/19, 10:31 PM] Luann: Men surrounding fire outside with davul and zurna. Women inside with a boombox [3/19, 10:32 PM] Luann: Türküler folk songs themed for henna night [3/19, 10:33 PM] Luann: Songs about the sorrow of the bride leaving her mother [3/19, 10:34 PM] Luann: Nightclub with floor shows ~ a gazino [3/19, 10:35 PM] Luann: Göbek atması ~ belly dancing . Literally throwing the stomach. [3/19, 10:36 PM] Luann: Slinging gut upward in quick movements while her torso remained still [3/19, 10:36 PM] Luann: Türkü ~ kind of song? [3/19, 10:41 PM] Luann: At henna night. Drama of wedding night~ proper way to pray and lovemaking. Only before bride comes into room. Bride enters. Face covered with several veils of thin red muslin edged in oya (finely tatted motif laden colored lace ) [3/19, 10:41 PM] Luann: Older relative leading her by the hand [3/19, 10:44 PM] Luann: Bride takes her place in the middle of the room while another türkü is sang. Large tin plate of green henna paste is carried in and set on the floor. Smells of drying alfalfa. Kına thick sticky and very messy. Everyone crowds around the plate [3/19, 10:46 PM] Luann: 2 girls apply kına to brides feet and hands and other people put it on their hands. Generously spread in no specific pattern [3/19, 10:47 PM] Luann: Completing ritual ~ a coin is placed in each of the bride palms for luck and prosperity before her hands are wrapped in scarves to let the henna dye set overnight [3/19, 10:49 PM] Luann: Başlık ~ bride price [3/20, 7:25 AM] Luann: Erkek kına gecesi ~;chasing the groom and each other around the fire. Jumping over the flames. Laughing and smoking [3/20, 7:25 AM] Luann: Çay molası ~ tea break [3/20, 7:26 AM] Luann: Brides in certain villages wear red dresses [3/20, 7:27 AM] Luann: Seymen regional folk tradition~ bedangled headdress of colorful scarves [3/20, 7:33 AM] Luann: Names of unmarried people on groom's shoe and bride's shoe [3/20, 10:46 AM] Luann: Turkish tradition ~ gifts being opened immediately (usually ? By older Germain family members) [3/20, 10:49 AM] Luann: Older female*** [3/20, 10:50 AM] Luann: Official marriage booklet ~ aile cüzdanı (family portfolio) ~ logs future children and serves as a legal record [3/20, 11:02 AM] Luann: Using a curved scimitar to Cut cake [3/20, 11:09 AM] Luann: Women clasped hands and raising them move in a circle celebrating a well married couple. Aunt? Pops silver coated chocolate covered almonds into newlyweds mouths as she twirled by calling out a Turkish good luck proverb "en kötü günleriniz böyle olsun" ( may your worst days be like this one) [3/21, 7:30 PM] Luann: P.153 ~ "But the taste of dissatisfaction began to coat my tongue - the foul flavor of living the wrong life, the bitter reflux that came from a lifetime of swallowing back self". [3/21, 7:30 PM] Luann: Darbuka drums [3/21, 7:31 PM] Luann: Demir ~ iron [3/21, 7:32 PM] Luann: Rakı ~ the national alcoholic drink made from anise [3/21, 7:33 PM] Luann: Ud ~ lutelike string instrument [3/21, 7:33 PM] Luann: 9/8 gypsy music [3/21, 7:35 PM] Luann: Songs ~ ilk aşk (1st love) by Turkish folk fusion group Ezgi'nin Günlüğü (Ezgi's diary) [3/21, 7:37 PM] Luann: P. 159 quote by British poet Mary Oliver "I was a bride married to amazement". [3/21, 7:37 PM] Luann: Darbuka drum [3/21, 7:38 PM] Luann: Classical belly dance intricate arm work and tight hip turns [3/21, 7:41 PM] Luann: the flamboyant dance done in some kind of beaded glittery bikini top and low riding transparent skirt with seductive hip work and salacious shimmies. What westerners think belly dancing is [3/21, 7:42 PM] Luann: Meyhane ~ tavern [3/21, 7:42 PM] Luann: Şerefe! ~ cheers [3/21, 7:44 PM] Luann: Halay ~ hora like dance. Grasp each other's raised hands dancing as they wind through places [3/21, 7:45 PM] Luann: Mastika ~ a popular gypsy dance [3/21, 7:45 PM] Luann: Zil ~ finger cymbals [3/21, 7:46 PM] Luann: Ders aldım ~ I took lessons [3/21, 7:46 PM] Luann: Tavuk Koyun sheep Keçi goat [3/21, 7:47 PM] Luann: Babamın çiftliğinde yirmi tane sütlü inek vardı. [3/21, 7:48 PM] Luann: Gerçekten, yirmi tane inek mi vardı? [3/21, 7:48 PM] Luann: ibne ~ faggot. Slang [3/21, 7:49 PM] Luann: Şalgam suyu ~ pungent and salty pickled beet juice (people think it will warm you up? ) [3/21, 7:51 PM] Luann: Accents. Changing the g at the beginning of a word to a j sound = Northern accent [3/21, 7:52 PM] Luann: Hatun ~ vernacular for "urban lady" [3/21, 7:53 PM] Luann: Ladino is a medieval language made up of Spanish, French, & turkish. The language of the Jews expelled from Spain [3/24, 12:12 PM] Luann: Food. Köfte, dible, dolma [3/24, 12:16 PM] Luann: Söz yüzüğü ~:matching narrow banded gold promise rings . (After visit for parental approval courtship officially begins ) After they enter a period of söz (dating before deciding if they want to get married) [3/24, 12:16 PM] Luann: Köfte ~ meatballs [3/24, 12:17 PM] Luann: Yaprak sarma /// dolma ~ stuffed vine leaves [3/24, 12:18 PM] Luann: Yavrum ~ affectionate term for "young one"(probably just for babies) [3/24, 12:19 PM] Luann: Baklava [3/24, 12:19 PM] Luann: Burma boreği ~ wrinkled pastries [3/24, 12:20 PM] Luann: Karalahana ~ black cabbage (wrinkled leaf) [3/24, 12:21 PM] Luann: Place Tirebolu name derived from Tripoli. Has 3 castles. [3/24, 12:23 PM] Luann: Dible ~ traditional dish in the black Sea region sometimes prepared with finely chopped green beans instead of cabbage (cabbage rice and onion chopped tomato and salt with water) [3/24, 12:26 PM] Luann: Syrup poured over the dry burma boreği (fine layers of nuts and wafer thin pastry ) rolled around an oklava (narrow rolling pin). The pastry is then pushed together and eased off the oklava to form a wrinkled hollow roll and then is chopped into finger length segments [3/24, 12:27 PM] Luann: Sandık ~ chest (bridal chest? ) [3/24, 12:28 PM] Luann: Full of her çeyiz (trousseau) -towels, tablecloths, sheets, pillowcases, all hand decorated by the bride herself or her mother [3/24, 12:30 PM] Luann: Pouring warm syrup over burma boreği making sure that every piece is equally soaked [3/24, 12:39 PM] Luann: Burma boreği ~ dessert [3/24, 12:40 PM] Luann: Şehroye ~ soup. Orzo pasta cooked in a watery broth of tomatoes, onions, & parsley [3/24, 12:41 PM] Luann: Kissing the hands of elders and bending to touch his forehead to their hands as a sign of respect [3/24, 12:42 PM] Luann: Poyraz wind = ? Wind [3/24, 12:43 PM] Luann: Kaymak ~ clotted cream of Buffalo milk [3/24, 12:44 PM] Luann: Kocaman ~ extremely large [3/24, 12:45 PM] Luann: Pazarlar ~ open air markets [3/24, 12:50 PM] Luann: İstanbul ~;♧bronz sokağı ~ maybe named for bronzesmiths of the old city [3/24, 12:51 PM] Luann: Kıraz ~ turkeys sweet napoleon cherry [3/24, 12:52 PM] Luann: Çerkez tavuğu ~ circassian chicken ~ dish of shredded chicken and walnuts [3/24, 12:52 PM] Luann: Kapuska ~ cabbage stew worth ground lamb [3/24, 12:52 PM] Luann: Biber dolması ~ peppers stuffed with rice and pine nuts [3/24, 12:53 PM] Luann: Pilav ~ rice [3/24, 12:53 PM] Luann: Cacık ~ cold yoğurt and cucumber soup [3/24, 12:54 PM] Luann: Musakka ~ stewed vegetables with minced lamb [3/24, 12:54 PM] Luann: Köfte ~ meatballs covered with a tomato sauce [3/24, 12:55 PM] Luann: Cold appetizers [3/24, 12:55 PM] Luann: Patlıcan salatası ~ smoked eggplant puree [3/24, 5:22 PM] Luann: Humus ~ puree of chickpeas and sesame paste [3/24, 5:23 PM] Luann: Sadiye ~ female name [3/24, 5:23 PM] Luann: Kiss on both cheeks [3/24, 5:24 PM] Luann: Yayla çorbası ~ a yoğurt and rice soup [3/24, 5:25 PM] Luann: Arnavut ciğeri ~ fried liver and onions [3/24, 5:26 PM] Luann: Zeytinyağlı taze fasulye ~ traditional chilled dish of green beans cooked in olive oil [3/24, 5:27 PM] Luann: Öyle mi? ~ really? [3/24, 5:27 PM] Luann: Bu pasta istimiyorum. [3/24, 5:27 PM] Luann: I dont want this pie [3/24, 5:28 PM] Luann: Dede ~ gpa [3/24, 5:28 PM] Luann: Ben bu pasta sizin için yaptım. [3/24, 5:32 PM] Luann: Eline sağlık ~ (not ellerine sağlık?) [3/24, 5:32 PM] Luann: Health to your hands [3/24, 5:33 PM] Luann: Çok güzel bir pasta yapmışsın ~ you've made an excellent pie [3/24, 5:34 PM] Luann: Western turkey ~ Town of selçuk ~ Greek ruins of Ephesus, house of the Virgin Mary, & cave of the 7 sleepers [3/24, 5:35 PM] Luann: Yade ~ kurdish word for mother [3/24, 5:36 PM] Luann: Job of the eldest son's wife to look after the mother in law [3/24, 5:36 PM] Luann: Nomad wool kilim rugs [3/24, 5:37 PM] Luann: Efendim? ~ ~ polite way of requesting someone to repeat themselves [3/24, 5:37 PM] Luann: Herself* [3/24, 5:38 PM] Luann: Uzbek cloths [3/24, 5:39 PM] Luann: Tandır clay oven [3/24, 5:40 PM] Luann: Clucked her tongue and raised her eyebrows ~ turkish sign for no [3/24, 5:42 PM] Luann: Not having curtains in the windows gives the impression that you're too poor to have them or that you're shamelessly trying to show off what you did have or worse to expose what you're doing [3/24, 5:42 PM] Luann: Curtains kept closed [3/24, 5:42 PM] Luann: Haydi ~ hurry up [3/24, 5:44 PM] Luann: Oldest responsible to provide for parents and siblings [3/24, 5:44 PM] Luann: Traditionally [3/24, 5:45 PM] Luann: Kurdish culture ^ [3/24, 5:55 PM] Luann: Grand bazaar in Istanbul ~ kapalı çarşı. Originally founded in 1453 by ottoman sultan mehmet the conqueror. Over 4000 shops, restaurants, workshops, banks, & mosques [3/24, 5:56 PM] Luann: Has its own administration, an army of maintenance people and its own police force [3/24, 5:57 PM] Luann: The final stop on the silk road trade route between the far east and Europe = mother of modern shopping malls [3/24, 5:59 PM] Luann: Nuruosmaniye mosque ~ baroque style. Near main gate. Huge wooden double door banded with iron and crowned with the gold trimmed seal of the ottoman empire [3/24, 5:59 PM] Luann: Travertine tiles?

  5. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    I'm about a forth way through of the short entries from these expats and am enjoying the book more than I expected. Of particular interest to me is the contrasts made between the Western society's rules regarding a woman's body as compared to the norms in Turkish society. For example, one expat notes that the women, in the presence of an immam, cover their faces but not their nursing breasts, while in the US, only recently, do laws allow women to breastfeed in public without the legal accusation I'm about a forth way through of the short entries from these expats and am enjoying the book more than I expected. Of particular interest to me is the contrasts made between the Western society's rules regarding a woman's body as compared to the norms in Turkish society. For example, one expat notes that the women, in the presence of an immam, cover their faces but not their nursing breasts, while in the US, only recently, do laws allow women to breastfeed in public without the legal accusation of lewd behavior. However, in religious locales in the US, patrons are advised to follow the rules of the places, which most likely, involve covering up the breast. Another story involves the anxious quest by a woman to the pharmacy for a commonplace feminine malady - yeast infections - anticipating the group participation in what the writer felt was a private physical and potential moral blemish, only to find that people of all ages and genders immediately looked past her physical circumstance (and as anticipated, all in the store vicinity attempted to help her with her issue, whether their assistance was requested or not) to comfort her through a sense of common humanity. Another example which makes the body in Western culture beyond what one would term intimate, and instead, taboo, and sinful. Other stories involving gender roles in the formation of relationships are also quite interesting.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    I savored this book of short stories told by foreign women who lived in Turkey after a visit to Istanbul myself this past spring. The references to neighborhoods around Istanbul that I had visited, foods I had eaten, and monuments I had toured helped me better understand my own experiences while in Turkey as well as the situations the authors described. I don't know if I would have found the stories as interesting had I not had the opportunity to see some of these things for myself first. But, a I savored this book of short stories told by foreign women who lived in Turkey after a visit to Istanbul myself this past spring. The references to neighborhoods around Istanbul that I had visited, foods I had eaten, and monuments I had toured helped me better understand my own experiences while in Turkey as well as the situations the authors described. I don't know if I would have found the stories as interesting had I not had the opportunity to see some of these things for myself first. But, as a recent visitor, interested in learning more about the customs and lives of Turkish people, I found the insights of the women who shared their personal stories to be fascinating and enriching. If you're a non-Turkish woman who has visited Turkey, I think you'll enjoy this book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    2.5 stars I read the first 12 stories, and that's about as much as I cared to read. It's not that I disliked the stories, or what they had to say about the experiences of these women, it's that I didn't find anything compelling about them. They were all generally interesting in a bland sort of way; maybe a factoid here or a snippet of description there will surface in my memory some day, but there was nothing that I truly want to remember. Time for this reader to move on. 2.5 stars I read the first 12 stories, and that's about as much as I cared to read. It's not that I disliked the stories, or what they had to say about the experiences of these women, it's that I didn't find anything compelling about them. They were all generally interesting in a bland sort of way; maybe a factoid here or a snippet of description there will surface in my memory some day, but there was nothing that I truly want to remember. Time for this reader to move on.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tova

    This was good. Most of the stories were just okay, but I think I lost at least 10 years of my life due to the emotional pain caused by Gaze. RTC

  9. 5 out of 5

    Leanna

    I stumbled across Tales from the Expat Harem: Foreign Women in Modern Turkey. The title is rather off putting, but this collection of 29 essays is perhaps the most helpful book I’ve read in my preparations for moving to the country. English-speaking women from around the world, though mostly Americans, write about their experiences living, working, and sometime romancing throughout Turkey (though most do live in Istanbul). Only of few of the authors are professional writers. Although the writing I stumbled across Tales from the Expat Harem: Foreign Women in Modern Turkey. The title is rather off putting, but this collection of 29 essays is perhaps the most helpful book I’ve read in my preparations for moving to the country. English-speaking women from around the world, though mostly Americans, write about their experiences living, working, and sometime romancing throughout Turkey (though most do live in Istanbul). Only of few of the authors are professional writers. Although the writing is not always stellar, it is more than adequate and sometimes even better than many of our current bestselling authors. The women provide a variety of perspectives, but almost all openly admit to struggling with adapting to a culture so different from their own. In “Forever After, For Now,” Tanala OsaYande writes about maintaining her identity as an independent American woman while navigating the Turkish dating scene. Several women also write about experiencing the Turkish bath for the first time, and Rhonda Vander Sluis in “Failed Missionary” describes working as a Christian missionary who eventually rethinks her calling. Only one essay is set in the city where I will be living. Unfortunately, it takes place in the 1960s, and the author has apparently not returned since then. I’ve been told Eastern Turkey is far more conservative than the West, but I suspect life has changed dramatically in the last 40 years, so I won’t take any advice from the essay. Another story mentions a tradition I’m convinced Americans should adopt. Brides write the names of single women on the soles of their shoes, and grooms write the names of single men. Maybe if someone had done this for me, I would be long married. Then again, maybe someone will do this for me in the near future.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Helene

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this collection of short essays. I learned a lot from the essays of how life is like living in Turkey as an expatriate. I learned more about the Evil Eye, the relationships involved, and other aspects of Turkey that I didn't know about before. I felt this book prepared me for when I will go to Turkey. One story that really touched me was "Haze" and how bittersweet it was. I appreciate reading all the experiences these ladies felt while being in Turkey, where a lot of I thoroughly enjoyed reading this collection of short essays. I learned a lot from the essays of how life is like living in Turkey as an expatriate. I learned more about the Evil Eye, the relationships involved, and other aspects of Turkey that I didn't know about before. I felt this book prepared me for when I will go to Turkey. One story that really touched me was "Haze" and how bittersweet it was. I appreciate reading all the experiences these ladies felt while being in Turkey, where a lot of ancient ties still lie around in a modern world. I would have liked to read a story of an Asian-American expatriate in Turkey, though; that would serve to be an interesting story to me (considering I myself am Asian-American). Overall, great book and highly recommended for anyone planning to move to Turkey.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    I can't remember the last time I enjoyed an anthology of essays this much -- I began to pace myself in the second half so I wouldn't finish it so quickly. I started this book during my first 6-day trip to Turkey; reading it for weeks after we returned felt like an expansive and deepening continuation of my first experiences there. I particularly enjoyed how much Turkish language the storytellers weave into their tales; it reminds me that some concepts just don't translate and are best understoo I can't remember the last time I enjoyed an anthology of essays this much -- I began to pace myself in the second half so I wouldn't finish it so quickly. I started this book during my first 6-day trip to Turkey; reading it for weeks after we returned felt like an expansive and deepening continuation of my first experiences there. I particularly enjoyed how much Turkish language the storytellers weave into their tales; it reminds me that some concepts just don't translate and are best understood in their native language and cultural context. I also appreciate the reminder the deep personal transitions can be the outcome of struggles and intentional reflection. The breadth and diversity of the content and the authors is deeply satisfying. I heartily recommend this book to anyone interested in deepening their understanding of Turkey and/or the expatriate experience.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Nico

    I happened to get this book from my parents somehow. They traveled to Turkey, and maybe it was something someone gave them… I am not sure. Even though I don't specifically have (or I should say "have had") an interest in Turkey as such, this book really helped me appreciate the culture, people, and customs…for a time when I might - some day - perhaps be able to travel again. This book was published before the serious unrest and influx of refugees from Syria, which I think needs to be taken into I happened to get this book from my parents somehow. They traveled to Turkey, and maybe it was something someone gave them… I am not sure. Even though I don't specifically have (or I should say "have had") an interest in Turkey as such, this book really helped me appreciate the culture, people, and customs…for a time when I might - some day - perhaps be able to travel again. This book was published before the serious unrest and influx of refugees from Syria, which I think needs to be taken into account. Even so, it's a wonderful read…. There are a number of short stories written by a variety of English-speaking women from different backgrounds. Well written, concise, and interesting. A lucky find for me!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Christie

    I am really enjoying the varied tales of the experience of foreign women living in modern Turkey. My sister lived for many years in Turkey and in Italy and I think of her often during my reading. In the same time period, I lived in Mexico as a wife and a mother, my husband a Mexican national. While the Turkish experience is very unique in many ways, the experience of sharing a family and traditions does not seem to vary so much from one country to another. I am coming away from this book with a I am really enjoying the varied tales of the experience of foreign women living in modern Turkey. My sister lived for many years in Turkey and in Italy and I think of her often during my reading. In the same time period, I lived in Mexico as a wife and a mother, my husband a Mexican national. While the Turkish experience is very unique in many ways, the experience of sharing a family and traditions does not seem to vary so much from one country to another. I am coming away from this book with a lot of love for the Turkish family as I have for the warmth of the Mexican people.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lucy Houser

    Some of the women who wrote these essays were really naive. My middle-aged self doesn't have much sympathy with, for example, the woman who went to eastern Turkey, to the doorstep of the Islamic Republic of Iran, expecting Western manners from Turkish men. I mean, please. But the anthropologist who leads off the collection seems like a cool person, whose essay really illuminated Turkey for me. Having finished it, on balance, it's a good book, worth reading. HOWEVER, it needed recipes. I mean, wh Some of the women who wrote these essays were really naive. My middle-aged self doesn't have much sympathy with, for example, the woman who went to eastern Turkey, to the doorstep of the Islamic Republic of Iran, expecting Western manners from Turkish men. I mean, please. But the anthropologist who leads off the collection seems like a cool person, whose essay really illuminated Turkey for me. Having finished it, on balance, it's a good book, worth reading. HOWEVER, it needed recipes. I mean, what do traditional women in Turkey do? They cook. A lot.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Catherine

    I'm going to Istanbul this summer and this is a great introduction into the culture. The short stories are from women living in Turkey, but not native Turks. Great insight. My favorite so far is the peace corp volunteer whose American friends prayed for her saftey as she departed for Turkey and her Turkish friends were so worried about her returning to the violence of America after her two year stint in the saftey of Turkey. I'm going to Istanbul this summer and this is a great introduction into the culture. The short stories are from women living in Turkey, but not native Turks. Great insight. My favorite so far is the peace corp volunteer whose American friends prayed for her saftey as she departed for Turkey and her Turkish friends were so worried about her returning to the violence of America after her two year stint in the saftey of Turkey.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Judith Praag

    Trials and trepidations of life in a foreign culture is often under estimated. The women who tell their stories in this book shed a light on what it's like to always be the foreigner, the stranger, even after years of being married to a local. If you think you need to don a veil to enter this modern day harem you're mistaken. Entering is recommended, the tales I've read so far are all fresh and entertaining if not enlightening. Trials and trepidations of life in a foreign culture is often under estimated. The women who tell their stories in this book shed a light on what it's like to always be the foreigner, the stranger, even after years of being married to a local. If you think you need to don a veil to enter this modern day harem you're mistaken. Entering is recommended, the tales I've read so far are all fresh and entertaining if not enlightening.

  17. 5 out of 5

    June

    This was right up my alley.. accounts of western women going to live in Turkey for many reasons; marriage ,work,study...some of the experiences really struck a chord with me. In one piece the author struggles to buy medicine for an embarrassing female ailment in a pharmacy staffed by men and full of male neighbours. Having been through a very similar scenario involving hemorrhoid cream, a french/arabic dictionary and a bemused Algerian pharmacist, I could easily sympathise...!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Sturmer

    I really enjoyed reading these short stories by women living in or visiting Turkey. They presented their relationships to the people as well as history, myth, opinion and observation in an very personal and involving way. I love the way all of them describe the innate dignity and courtesy of the Turkish people. The sisterhood of the Turkish women is also very different from relatonships within our fast paced culture.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rasheedah

    Great travel/living abroad essay collection - whether or not you have an interest in Turkey. Something is keeping me from giving it a 5 but I cannot put my finger on it. Amazingly interesting, from women's perspectives, easy to read, great insights, hard to put down. Great for a long flight and rainy days. Great travel/living abroad essay collection - whether or not you have an interest in Turkey. Something is keeping me from giving it a 5 but I cannot put my finger on it. Amazingly interesting, from women's perspectives, easy to read, great insights, hard to put down. Great for a long flight and rainy days.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Alan

    Short stories by non-Turkish women living in Turkey. Full of wonderful stories of the open hearted Turikish families. Stories of the hamam, bazaars, and cooking. Sories of women from nuclear families of 4 who marry into extended families of 20-30. Tales of rural marriage and bride prices. Stories of women dealing with Islam and Turkish men. A very good collection.

  21. 5 out of 5

    J

    I loved this collection of stories from this diverse group of expatriate women in Turkey; having visited the country in 1995, all of the stories resonated with me. I enjoyed how different all of the stories were and that it was non-fiction: there was not a "single painting" of the country, but rather a more nuanced picture from having read the many women's stories. Excellent. JB I loved this collection of stories from this diverse group of expatriate women in Turkey; having visited the country in 1995, all of the stories resonated with me. I enjoyed how different all of the stories were and that it was non-fiction: there was not a "single painting" of the country, but rather a more nuanced picture from having read the many women's stories. Excellent. JB

  22. 5 out of 5

    Rock

    Interesting to read about women from many cultures trying to make their way in this particular country. I'm sure some things have changed tremendously from the '70s to now, but the challenge of adapting to a culture not one's own remains much the same. Good read in preparation for a trip there in a few months. Interesting to read about women from many cultures trying to make their way in this particular country. I'm sure some things have changed tremendously from the '70s to now, but the challenge of adapting to a culture not one's own remains much the same. Good read in preparation for a trip there in a few months.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lori Ann

    This book inspired everyone on my book group to head to Istanbul. Great accounts from women living and traveling through the country as foreigners. Re-read this 12/10 while in Istanbul. FANTASTIC as a way of getting some more insight into the city and country.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kellie

    A must read before going to Turkey. Interesting to see how women fit into society - the things they are free and liberated to talk about and North Americans are not (yeast infections) and what it takes to feel part of another culture and way of being.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Victoria Englund

    I tend to avoid the "by women, for women" category (or any book that has any threat of using the word "goddess" more than once), but my fascination with Turkey led me to this collection of real-life stories that proved to be well worth the time... I tend to avoid the "by women, for women" category (or any book that has any threat of using the word "goddess" more than once), but my fascination with Turkey led me to this collection of real-life stories that proved to be well worth the time...

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    Loved it. Great perspective and depth. Thanks to my friend Julie for recommending it and providing it to book club since you could not get it in the US. Wonderful, wonderful stories. Will definitely read again.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Alice

    That's it! I'm dropping everything and moving to Turkey NOW!!! Oh, well I can't really - but this book is inspiring! It's not all fun and games, but Turkey seems like a great place, and I can't wait to visit. That's it! I'm dropping everything and moving to Turkey NOW!!! Oh, well I can't really - but this book is inspiring! It's not all fun and games, but Turkey seems like a great place, and I can't wait to visit.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Holly S.

    Worthwhile collection of 29 short memoirs of female expats in Turkey. Recommended for those interested in Turkey, expat life or crosscultural relationships. Some stories better than others. The last was the best in my opinion... That one will stay with me for a long time....

  29. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    Life in Turkey as experienced by Western women. It was such a fabulous read, and made me fall in love with Turkey even more. Such a rich, hospitable, and varied culture. This book is one I re-read once a year, and will definitely read before my trip to Istanbul.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Astrid

    Pleasurable pre or post trip read for Turkey. Essays extremely well and beautifully written while expressing genuine feelings, as well as deep reflections on feminism, orientalism and symbols in Turkish culture.

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