Tuesday, 13 October 2009


I came back late last night from a long weekend in Istanbul. OHMIGOD! The men! They're all insane! But I loved it!

I’ve had a chat up line or two thrown in my direction in the past few years but none as inventive, exotic and amusing as those dished out by the Turks!

Any ladies feeling neglected in the fawning department should head straight to the airport. Don’t bother to pack – you can shop till you flop right there.

The first point in the Turkish men’s favour is that 50% of them are gorgeous: tan-skinned, black-haired, pistachio green-eyed, three-day stubbled, in short . . . drool-worthy. And if you glance admiringly in their direction, you’ll get it back in spades.

The second point (perhaps not in their favour) is that they’re the biggest shmoozers in history. All I wanted to do was browse the Grand Bazaar but I nearly ended up with a third husband!

Before you’ve had a chance to take in the stock of jewels, handbags, leathers, souvenirs, pashminas, spices and furs, the merchant salesmen have lured you into their caves with a:

“Vel-cum, beautiful lady! Vel-cum! Today is my birthday! You help me celebrate or you break my heart!” Oh! OK then. . . if you put it like that . . .

A small boy appears through the labyrinth swinging a silver tray on which balance various glasses of fruit tea: apple, sour cherry, pomegranate, melon – very tasty. Of course, you neither want nor need a glass of tea, but it’s all part of the shopping experience.

As the banter goes on, your head is turned, your blood starts to pump, a surge of adrenaline fuels the fire as a thousand and one designer handbags dance before your eyes. Try as you might, you find yourself unable to resist the vendor’s leathery clutches.

“Your body is perfect. . . like a Coca-Cola bottle!”
“You look so delicious, I want to eat you in a sandwich. . .”
“Look into my eyes, I will change your life . . .”


Now I’ve never had myself down as naïve or impressionable – not with my great age and experience – but by the end of the trip I’d fallen in love - not once, not twice, but three times in as many days! So much so that I actually began to empathise with those foolish English women who set off somewhere hot, and within hours of arriving want to stay forever because they fancy themselves enamoured with the first man who flatters them.

And you can understand why: there’s something utterly seductive about a place where the air smells sweet, the nights are balmy and the moon hangs, laconic and lemony, in the dark night sky.

Add to this a sip of raki, the whisper of promise from those full and faithless lips, the brush of a dark-skinned hand against your hair, the adoring gaze of a pair of long-lashed eyes and what woman wouldn’t find herself hooked?

OK. I'm not shtoopid. I know what they’re after: the same thing men all over the world are after, no matter their colour, creed or climate, but what a wondrous web they weave in their efforts to ensnare you!

No: “Get yer coat, darlin’, you’ve pulled!” or “Brace yerself, Sheila!” for the likes of them. It’s all about ‘your beautiful eyes, your wonderful smile, the scent of your skin, the shape of your mouth’ – keep talking, baby, just Keep. On. Talking. . . even if it is a load of old (Istan) bull!

My first visit to the Grand Bazaar produced one fabulous handbag, a chinchilla-trimmed leather jacket and a date with Josof. The second visit delivered an amethyst necklace, presents for the family and an invitation from Ferro, the quintessential tall, dark, handsome Turkish toyboy. Within hours of meeting, we were snogging on his sofa. Yup! They sure move fast.

The nightly trips to the Tea Garden to smoke shisha pipes and get leered at by anything in trousers offered up Murat, Hasan and Ozäy all very keen to take our relationship to a higher – or was it lower? – plane. In fact the one we nicknamed Ali Baba who started with the usual: “Verr arr you from?” immediately followed this up with: “I have very good feeling about us!” Us? Really? What was your name again?

He did manage to sprat my mobile number though by dictating me his, asking me to dial it to check I had it right and presto! he had mine. Duh!

So now Josof and I are meeting in Rome in November and Ferro is coming to London as soon as he gets a visa and we’re taking the Eurostar to Paris!

I’m very hopeful these two events will come to pass. Why wouldn’t they? These are genuine guys after all, about as genuine as all those Gucci, Fendi, Hermès and Vuitton handbags!

But you know something? I don’t care. You don’t have to go to the party, but boy, it’s nice to be invited! And my long weekend in Istanbul was the most ego-boosting, life-affirming, femininity-flattering experience I’ve had in a very long time.


Wild Willie o' Orkney said...

Welcome back!!
So you've just 'discovered' Turkey? -o.m.g.I wonder if Istanbul radio put out a warning when you arrived -"Lock up your SONS"?(lol) Sounds like you had a great time tho, and met some 'interesting' people...tho' I'm told on some good authority that most Turkish men don't like to be rejected by women - and can turn surly, and sometimes really nasty (blow to pride etc.)Apparently unlike (say)Italians they won't just shrug and 'laugh it off' if they're rebuffed. I'm sure you're more than capable of looking after yourself - but do be careful.I wonder what Turkish women are like on the social/romantic scene? My guess is that being an Islamic culture it will be all 'proper' (a bit like Castillian women in the old days)- at least on the surface. I might take a quick flight over now the weather has turned 'dricht' here!
What's with the English ed. of your novel at the moment?

Wendy Salisbury said...

Thanks for your comments Willie! Most informative. Needless to say the two Turks I liked have not been in touch but the one I didn't won't leave me alone!! Hey ho!

Blood on the Sand currently in translation in Spain - release date May 2010. About to be offered at the Frankfurt Book Fair to the rest of the world. Fingers crossed...

I'm now underway with the 2nd novel 'Odessa Dawn'.

Enjoy whatever you do and wherever you go. It's very autumnal in London today... xx

Wild Willie o' Orkney said...

Ha ha - You tried 'hard to get', so no wonder he's chasing you!(I gather that was the one who managed to snaffle your mobile number?
My Spanish is now far too rusty, so will have to await the translation.Have fingers & toes x-ed for you at Frankfurt.
Now on the 2nd eh? Here's me still struggling with my first. Too many 'distractions' is my excuse - bet you've heard that one before!
Hope one of your 'terrible Turks' turns up soon! (You really don't wanna be called a 'Sheila' ever again,do you?)x

Mary Matthews said...

Wendy, I'm so glad you've discovered Turkey!!
Indeed, it is a very soul affirming place to visit! I spent about a month there several years back - VERY NICE!!
Ran across a book titled "Ex-Pat Harem" and met several lovely Ex-Pat ladies who settled there for much the same reason as you described, with adoring local men.

Enjoy your adventures!! :-)