Weird Advice for Living in Turkey – you are probably too old to be adopted

Turkey is an amazingly friendly country, and any new resident, within short order will find they acquire an “Indispensible Turkish Friend”. Be it taxi driver or emlak, neighbour, site manager or bar owner, somewhere along the line, in those first few weeks someone will “take you under their wing” and try and sort every issue, problem or question you will ever have from now until the end of time. At the same time they will guard you from hostile takeovers from other new Turkish friends and try and keep you to themselves.

Try and resist. Independence is definitely a thing worth treasuring, especially in Turkey because if you’re not careful your Indispensable Turkish Friend will run your life.

I have friends who have had to move house, twice, to get away from their new friends who had practically moved in. I’ve had friends who would sit politely and watch whilst the wife of their Indispensible Turkish Friend rearranged their kitchen to their liking whilst tutting over the standard of cleaning. I have friends who report in daily to their Indispensable Turkish Friend telling him where they are going, who with and when they will be back. I have friends whose lives are no longer their own; their Turkish friend accompanies them on holiday, nanny’s them on days out and shepherd’s them through every commercial transaction from buying paint to getting their drains cleaned to servicing their car. It must be a full time job being an indispensable Turkish friend!

It isn’t that your Indispensable Turkish Friend has any motives other than the purely altruistic, at least initially he hasn’t, he just lives in a society more complex than you imagine.

Turkish society is like string theory on steroids, a multidimensional weaving of duty, obligation, familial connection, old feuds, honour, loyalty and commerce all intertwining through the two hundred generations since the fall of Troy! As a foreigner you sit in the midst of this web like a well favoured child, you are shown off to friends as a thing to be proud of but you cannot be trusted to make decisions on your own because you will fall fowl of charlatans and fakes.

It is an exhausting and stressful business weaning yourself from the superglue clutches of an Indispensible Turkish Friend and it always ends in tears so it is better not to acquire one in the first place.

If we have enough gumption and get up and go to leave our homes and sail beyond the sunset to discover new lands and learn to live in them what on earth would make us want to turn into a dependant when we get there!

Real Turkish friends are brilliant, they will drop whatever they are doing to help you and they will be happy to help you. Indispensable Turkish Friends will have dropped what they were doing before you ever thought you needed help and they will help you even when they don’t know how or shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near the task in hand as they will totally bugger it up.

Maintain your independence, make your own contacts, find your own suppliers, and explore your new world. Spread your friendship far and wide. An Indispensable Turkish Friend doesn’t guarantee you either the best price or the best service because his recommendations are influenced by all the myriad connections of Turkish society and impartial advice doesn’t exist here. So go your own way, and make your choices based on your own standards and your own pockets, rather than on the dubious advice of the Indispensable Friend. You’ll make a few mistakes, we all do, but you’ll learn from them and your life will be your own.