Thursday, January 23, 2014

CH 3 – Original voice Exercise: Tea time in Trabzon

I’ve just sat down on a stool that feels like it belongs in an elementary school. The smell of sea, cigarettes and charcoal float through the air. The busy highway is directly behind me, the black sea directly in front. The two noises clash against one another, creating a havoc of whooshes.  All around me people are squatted down on these 2 feet stools, sipping from tiny clear tulip shaped glasses. They are drinking the Turkish equivalent for tea known as çay. Although it sounds exactly like Indian Chai tea, the flavour of Turkish tea couldn’t be more different. It has a brick like colour, with dark green leaves lightly floating on the bottom. It resembles orange pekoe in flavour, but sharper and tarter. It is not sweet at all, unless you add 2 or 3 of the individually wrapped sugar cubes, available in a glass jar on your table. There are three groups of people sitting around drinking their çay. Three young girls sit to my left.  Two are wearing multi coloured head scarves and long tan coloured trench coats. The third is dressed in Western garb right down to Ugg boots, and her dark thick hair flows freely.  All three have their bedazzled phones out and appear to be simultaneously texting and chatting to each other. The conversation moves very quickly with a flurry of hand motions. Their faces are full of a strength and attitude that even a girl from the Bronx would be hesitant to mess with. An old man in a wheelchair sits in front of 2 young men. They sit on the only normal sized bench, and they are all smoking. The conversation moves slower here, and when the old man speaks both young men listen attentively. He seems to be sharing an opinion with them, perhaps on politics. He holds out a hand, and seems to list an assortment of reasons why the answer to whatever problem they are discussing is simple. He shakes his head expecting full agreement from both young men. They respect the man in the wheelchair, it is obvious in the way their heads are tilted down, as if in deference. Finally there is a group of rowdy young boys, one of which has just joined the group. He goes around the circle to each boy and forcefully grabs their hand. They lightly touch their temples to each other on both sides and embrace.  The newcomer lights up a cigarette while the others follow suit, like a row of dominoes. They are all talking at once in a crescendo that rises and abets like the black sea waves in front of us. Their hands are out to both sides holding the boys’ arms on either side to them in what appears to be an attempt to hold the other down, while each one attempts to be the loudest and finally dominate the conversation. It is not violent in any way, in fact it is quite endearing. The way these boys laugh and touch each other is sweet. It appears as though they have been friends forever and have such familiarity they can all speak at once and somehow everyone will still be heard. These Trabzonians are undeniably loud, and full of passionate motions when they speak. But just like the iconic beverage we are all sipping on they are uniquely Turkish.

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