I’ve just entered the ladies room of a restaurant on the Turkish coast. I’ve never been here before. I do not know the agitated woman examining herself in front of the mirror. She’s skinny, sportishly attired but past the bloom of youth. (Sadly, so am I.)
Her hair is out-of-a-box red, straight and short, and fits like a copper helmet on her head, as if sprayed into submission by a mother lode of hairspray.
I noticed other foreigners in this restaurant, which apparently is an expat hangout. They all seem to know each other. A good number of Brits and Germans have made their home here on this beautiful coast of Turkey. You can see why. Nature here is spectacular, the food is delicious, and the local people are friendly.
Who wouldn’t want to lounge away an afternoon in a restaurant like this one below?
“You have a comb on you?” the woman asks again. She’s not looking at me, but is peering frenetically at her reflection and nervously arranging a small lock of hair by her ear. I am mystified by her desperation.
“No, I don’t,” I say, which is actually the truth. I would have lied if I’d had one as it’s not my hobby to lend my comb to strangers in restrooms. I know you may find it uncharitable of me not to come to the aid of a sister in need, but so be it.
I see her reflection in the mirror, see the manic look in her eyes.
One of the fun things about travel and expat life is that, apart from meeting interesting locals, you come across flaky foreigners — refugees from the Western rat race, adventurous retirees, misfits and oddballs who are out of place in their own country. I’m not sure which category this panicky lady fits into. Maybe she’s just a visiting granny high on Turkish Delight.
I rake my fingers through my own hair and do a bit of fluffing. “I just go like this,” I tell her, to give her another option, which may actually not work on her helmet hair. “You look fine,” I add to comfort her and calm her distress. (Let it not be said I don’t try to be nice.)
She turns around and faces me. Her eyes are very dark. There’s a moment of silence. “Who cares, anyway, really?”she says then, as if struck by revelation and enlightenment.
“That’s my motto,” I say cheerily, reaching for the door to the toilet stall.
She takes a deep breath as if this profound insight has taken a load of her shoulders. “Really, who cares?” She turns and trots off to the dining room.
Other expats I’ve met here, British and Dutch, love living here in Turkey. They do not worry about their hair and seem relaxed rather than stressed. Possibly because they do not partake excessively of sugar or mind altering substances, but instead get high on watching the spectacular sunsets on this coast.
Does this photo remind you of the one on Turkey is for Life? Well, British expat Julia and I were sitting at the same table (with our spouses), watching the same sunset. Her posts about her life in Turkey lured us here, and so we met. This was great fun and the first time I ever met someone I knew in the blogosphere.
It’s easy to see why expats love it here. Here’s the garden of the house of Dutch expats, hammock and all.
They traveled around, were in India and Morocco and Portugal. They fell in love with Turkey and settled here. They speak Turkish, which is no small feat.
But I digress
Back at the restaurant table with my prince, I sip my wine and we order food. I see the hair-crisis lady standing at the bar with three men, talking and laughing and having a drink. Later on I see her alone at a table writing on a laptop.
Maybe she’s a famous novelist and I don’t recognize her. Maybe she’s sending an email to her grandchildren. Or maybe she has a blog and is writing about her hair epiphany in a Turkish bathroom: Nobody cares what my hair looks like!
I love meeting funky people. Here’s the story of an Italian oddball I met in Ghana, West Africa: Expat Life: You Meet All Kinds.
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No doubt you’ve come across a few oddballs in your traveling life. Do tell and entertain me!