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Jodi Waldron
Travel
Argentine Tangos
Turkey
Istanbul, OT (Turkey)
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Istanbul Funnies

by Jodi Waldron
August 11, 2003
Istanbul, OT (Turkey)

Istanbul Funnies

written by Jodi Waldron
August 11, 2003

I would like to share some additional comical adventures that Eileen (Fisher) and I (Jodi Waldron) had.

Language Goofs:

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We spent one delightful day on the beach at the Black Sea. I (Jodi) went up to the refreshment stand to purchase lunch. Having previously received a translation of the menu, I very timidly mangled the phrase Oton balikli salatao…(a tuna salad). The cute young guy behind the counter looked confused, so I meekly repeated my request, twice! He chuckled and then said (in perfect English) Oh, do you want something to drink with that? At which time everyone within earshot started laughing!

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After a sensual trio of tangos with Too Tall, a handsome, fantastic dancer, (see Eileen's paragraph on nicknames) I figured he had enough of me, then I tried to impress him with my use of what I thought was the colloquial version of thank you. He looked at me with a shocked expression and said Oh, do you want to leave me already? It turned out that he had wanted to continue to dance and I had said good-bye. Needless to say, we continued. I discovered a few days later that he not only hosted a weekly milonga, but was one of the performers at our farewell milonga.

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Street Adventures:

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One evening Eileen and I were enjoying a pre-milonga dinner in a window seat of a restaurant on the main street. While Eileen was talking I was glancing at the passers-by on the sidewalk just in time to see a man walking by looking at us. He continued to look at us after he passed, looking back over his shoulder while getting closer and closer to a pole in the middle of the sidewalk. Just like something out of Candid Camera, he crashed smack into the pole! He was knocked backwards by the impact… caught himself before falling and continued on his way as though nothing happened.

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Then there was the time we went into a store to purchase shirts we saw in the window. We negotiated a small discount and then saw belts we liked and did some more bargaining based on the fact that between us we had made four purchases. I gave Eileen my half of the money and we went to pay. We both were getting the 500,000 lire bill confused with the 5,000,000 lire bill and Eileen gave them the smaller amount in error…they gave it back to her, she put it back in her wallet, pulled out a wad of money, counted out what she thought was the correct amount, without realizing she had again given them the 500,000 bill. Again they returned it to her and she went through this scenario again. The clerk got so tired of this situation and said something to the effect of Forget it and took back the bills she had started to return to us, motioning for us to leave… just to get rid of us!!

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Taxi Rides:

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1stcab ride - Our first independent shopping spree went into overtime, so we rushed into a taxi expecting an uneventful 5 million lire ride back to the hotel and a mad rush to get ready for another fabulous milonga that evening. After 1/2 block, the driver turned around and started chatting with us with the meter running and the cab sitting still. Eileen asked him to please drive as we were in a rush. 2-3 blocks later he stopped in the middle of the road in the midst of rush hour traffic. This time he got out, leaving the door open and us in the back seat. He crossed over to a sidewalk vendor and bought some peaches. Upon returning he made a big production of offering us some. We declined and he sat there eating his. We again asked him to please drive and we then started down an unfamiliar, narrow, winding residential road. Getting alarmed we asked why we were there. The explanation was that he was taking a longer route due to the heavy traffic. Although his English seemed good, he suddenly didn't seem to comprehend my question about whether the fare was based on km or minutes!

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After a while we tried a different approach asking directly what the fare would be. He gave an amount almost 3x higher than the usual rate and we noticed the meter was almost at the legitimate rate it should have been and we were only a few blocks from out starting point.

Discussions turned into arguments and we asked him to pull over. Negotiations got nowhere so we silently decided to pay partial fare, jump out and look for another cab. This escape had to be carefully timed so as to have all our limbs out of the cab before paying so we could make a quick getaway and remain intact! Eileen and I had already discovered we think alike about almost everything so our nonverbal escape plan went down like clockwork!!

After leaving the taxi, we spotted a tourist policeman. We asked him to help us get another cab and he wanted to know what happened. Eileen started recounting the story but he needed to call over a translator. At first they didn't believe us. By the time the story was finished we were encircled by tourist police. I was getting afraid we were going to be carted off like something out of Midnight Express… but they were very sympathetic and called over a taxi, telling us that if the driver charged more than the 5 million to call them and gave us the translator's business card.

2nd Cab Ride:

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Our next independent ride started out uneventfully. We both kept a constant eye on the meter, trying to avoid any reoccurrences of the previous day. Upon arriving at a street parallel to the hotel, we asked the driver to stop there to save time and money. The meter read the correct fare: 5.7 million lire. Eileen started to take out the money and when we looked at the meter again, it had doubled. She questioned the driver about the sudden change and he said something about the night tariff, which we knew doubled after 6pm but it was only 5:30. After successful conversations with him we silently agreed to employ Plan A from the previous encounter. Eileen would get out the CORRECT amount of money, Jodi would open the door on the sidewalk side and slide out, allowing Eileen to safely get both feet out of the cab, at which time she would hand the driver the money and we would both make a run for it. The plan hit a snag when Eileen in her nervousness started confusing the infamous 500,000 lire bill with the 5,000,000 one. Jodi in her nervousness confused the window handle with the door handle and panicked thinking we had been locked in, of course making it worse. Finally, Eileen found the correct bill and Jodi found the correct handle and we made our escape… running up the steps behind the hotel ASAP!

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The moral of this story is to ascertain the cost of the fare BEFORE starting out (as the guide books suggest).

Despite this, the Baila Tango trip to Istanbul was marvelous. The milongas, the milongueros and the music were mesmerizing. The tango classes were excellent, the scenery beautiful, the food delicious and the tours interesting and educational. Every minute was full of fun and adventure.

Photos courtesy of Jodi Waldron


Tango Trip to Istanbul

Back to the Istanbul Trip main page

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