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Alanya, Turkey

Anecdote in
Alanya


by Mari Nicholson
 · personal page ·
 · website ·

 

Eyes creased against the sun he listened, then looked around to make sure all was as it should be before moving to the chair in front of his primitive dwelling.

As the minibus disgorged the tourists his features broke into a smile that artfully displayed his two remaining teeth and provoked a gratifying round of picture-taking.

The driver spoke to him, gesturing towards the mountain. The tourists watched him intently as he narrowed his eyes in the direction in which the guide's finger was pointing and shook his head. At this the guide rustled something paperish and he turned and looked at the waiting group: he sighed as he gave a wave of surrender in their direction.

He wondered, as he always did, at their enthusiasm for the caves in the mountains behind his farm, but thanked Allah that the only access was through his fields. He listened as the driver explained the age-old rules of hospitality and heard him invite them to sit on the benches which served as seating round the rough wooden table. He bowed to them before disappearing behind the sacking that served as a doorway to the shack.

Minutes later he emerged bearing a dish of fresh, cream-encrusted yoghurt and a jug of rose-scented honey, which brought gasps of delight and a renewed scramble for cameras. He held the position he knew they liked until his hands grew weary then set the dishes on the table. From the pocket of his long green coat he produced saucers of various sizes and ignoring the gasps of mixed horror and amusement from those who saw the furtive way he rubbed each saucer with his elbow, he placed one before each guest.

As one more timid than the others placed her hand over her saucer to signify refusal he allowed himself a moment of pique and scowled. Someone spoke, and the hand was lifted - but hesitantly.

Smiling again, he proceeded to serve the yoghurt, dribbling the aromatic honey over it in impressive patterns. Triumphantly he handed each one a spoon and watched as they dipped them into the luscious dessert.

The timid one stared aghast at her dish where, floating on top of the yoghurt was a large, coarse, black goat's hair. Indicating his understanding of her predicament he rolled back a sleeve, leant across the table and inserted a finger into the dish from which he extracted the hair on the end of his very long fingernail.

Smilingly, he proffered her the dish again but the driver intervened, pushing the dish away and shouting. He shuffled his feet then in penitent mood he slipped into the shack to re-emerge bearing a platter of oranges which he pressed on his guests.

He waited until they'd disappeared up the hillside before counting the money given to help alleviate his appalling living conditions. Then he wheeled his shiny new motor-cycle out from under the rough matting screen which had hidden it. It was time to go home.

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(c) Mari Nicholson - worldwide rights reserved
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This article was published in
Sunday Telegraph (London)
Winner of Telegraph competition “Just back from …”

 

 

 

 

 

 


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