Friday, March 6, 2009

Top Ten Lists

At Hagia Sophia

Today I (Kalli, as opposed to Jacob, who wrote the last post--there was some confusion there) am offering what you should know if you are considering becoming a world vagabond.

Top Ten List: Why It's Tough to Have No Home

1. Laundry.
We laughed when we paid $13 for a load in Jerusalem, we were shocked to pay $25 here in Istanbul... and after $50 spent in a month to wash the meager clothing that we still have, I have taken to washing our clothes in the shower or sink, and drying them on the heater. Why is laundry so expensive here? Well, because they don't have laundromats. You are paying for them to be personally and lovingly washed, dried, ironed and folded. It frustrates me because I actually love doing laundry. I want to do it myself. I like to organize the colors, arrange them in the machine, and get them back smelling all nice and clean! Well, the new system seems to be working just fine. Pour some shampoo, soak in the sink, squeeze, and rinse. Not exactly the most convenient thing in the world, but it works. And yes, the showers are just the bare floor, which would gross me out if our cleaning lady didn't do such a good job.

2. Earning Money
I'm learning a bit about internet marketing, which Jacob is a genius about. However, I have yet to bring in sustainable income, and I'm not really in the position to work where I help people, which is my ideal job. Like kids, old people, or underprivileged people. Time to rant a little bit now:
Why Did I Get My Degree?

First it must be understood that I loved college, I enjoyed class, I daydreamed about future courses I would take, and I actually look forward to being able to take classes one day in the future. BUT the degree itself makes me wonder...what was the point? Especially after being married to a successful entrepreneur who dropped out of college? Of course I happened to choose two of the most impractical studies in the world, vocal performance and English editing. And consequently, I have been hard-pressed to find a job after graduating that uses either of those two skills (well, except for at an out-of-control school where hapless directly-out-of-college teachers were ordered about by a veterinarian-turned-school dictator). I mean, I know how to take a deep breath and sustain sound for a very long time, but in the real world how will that apply? Or the fact that I know the difference between "further" and "farther"? Those skills aren't going to bring in the big bucks.
I've thought about becoming a street musician but I'm somewhat worried it's illegal and I'm afraid I would get arrested; I haven't seen any here in Istanbul. I'm looking into TESOL jobs, which are plentiful and easy to come by... if we choose a place we want to stay longer than 2 months. I am meanwhile jealous/awed at Jacob's worldwide income-earning prowess. And I try not to feel too guilty, instead viewing this as time well-deserved after 5 years of college.
3. Developing skills and talents.
If I were home I could be learning handy little homemaking skills, like learning to knit, or decorate the kitchen, or bake homemade cookies, or paint dishes, or something. Those skills are very difficult to develop on the road when you pretty much have only two suitcases worth of possessions and a bedroom the size of a shoebox. I mean, the understanding of the Kurdish-Turkish and Palestinian-Israeli conflicts should count for something, but it's certainly not practical, like sewing. I'm jealous of girls who get to decorate their home and do little artsy stuff like that. I guess I could attempt to decorate the hostel room but that probably wouldn't be the best idea.
4. Digestive Bugs.
Eating in a foreign culture will do that... especially 2nd world countries...enough said.
5. Fashion Faux Pas.
Wearing the same outfit 4 days in a row and owning only one pair of shoes is like death to fashion. And I wear the same huge, rabbit-fur-shedding coat every day. But actually I mind this a lot less than I ever thought I would. And to think in high school I planned out what I wore so I never wore the same clothes twice in a month!
6. Looking like a tourist or foreigner.
And therefore being constantly stopped by strangers who say in broken English "Where are you from? Would you like to come into my shop? Would you like to buy my book? What are you looking for? Are you here alone? How old are you? How long have you been here? How long will you stay?" Worst of all, if you are a female walking alone and accidentally catch a guy's eye, you will be followed and bothered. Which is why I prefer to walk with Jacob. Even with our friends we are the constant source of entertainment and attention. I can't hum under my breath without a chorus starting up mimicking me. Really. Gone are the days of anonymity.
7. Living Quarters
We experience hit-and-miss hot showers and long for dependable, accessible Western-style toilets. And along with that... we're used to cramped living quarters, small beds, and a lack of privacy. Here is Jacob sleeping between the cracks of our two singles pushed together:

The narrow hostel stairway

8. Not having girl friends!
Why is it that everywhere we go, we only make friends with males? In general, it seems, guys are more likely to travel alone and live in hostels, and Sarah, the cleaning lady, doesn't know a word of English, not even "hello". I am going to lose the ability to talk with members of my own gender.
9. Harder to Serve
That includes not having callings or responsibilities at church. Or, not having a place to meet at church at all. Also, at BYU, there was so much opportunity for volunteering. I was involved in a different project every semester and I loved it. Here, I don't even know how I would, for example, go about visiting a Turkish nursing home or if that's encouraged at all.
10. No Pets
I really really really want a puppy. The end.

Okay, now for the ...

Top Ten List: Why I Want to Continue Living Like This for A Long Time

1. We're spoiled.
We don't have to clean the bathroom, we eat out every day or get fed every day by our friends, and we get our sheets washed. How will we go back to the real world after this?
2. We are making friends from all over the world.
And I am getting rid of stereotypes that I didn't even know I had. By making friends with people from different cultures, I am also learning traditions that I would like to continue, like if there are other people in the room to always offer them the food you are eating. And to invite travelers to stay or visit in your home. Or if someone asks for directions to take them directly there yourself, as people in Turkey are wont to do.
3. Public transportation.
It makes it really easy to get around. That means I don't have to drive. I like to drive, but only if there are no other cars on the road, and that rarely happens. Why doesn't the US have better public transportation?
4. Seeing new sights and exploring new places all of the time.
At any time I can choose to just wander down a random street and I will be sure to come across something I have never before seen in my life. Like a gigantic statue of Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey, or women in scarves rolling dough to make Turkish specialties.
5. Learning about other religions.
I have been shamefully ignorant about the spirituality of other people around the world. I have enjoyed learning about them. I have enjoyed seeing the Orthodox Jews at the Wailing Wall and the gorgeous tiled mosques. But I've got to be bold here when I say that Islam, if followed strictly as stated in the Koran, is a threat to world peace. Not just radical Islam, but plain old read-the-Koran-and-weep-Islam. Why? 1. It encourages violence against unbelievers and 2. It sanctions wife-beating. It says women should be obedient to their husbands, and if not, they can be beaten into submission. I met with a Muslim Malaysian missionary who admitted openly to this. He was proud that he was able to talk with Americans about his religion, but I was pretty much turned off of Islam forever. In fact, I found it very difficult to be courteous to him, but I couldn't help but think of my friend Andrea, whom I'm pretty sure would have gotten REALLY fired up. The concept of domestic violence was completely foreign to him (and his friends). Any organization that steps on the basic human rights of others is a major problem, and it's more major when this religion is the government for many countries, including those of the Middle East and Africa. That's not surprising when you look at their problems, is it? Women are second-class citizens there. BUT we have made many Muslim friends who are incredibly nice and hospitable.
6. So much history.
And you don't have to read it in a book, it's right in front of your face. It makes the stories that you know of the area come alive. When I watch the news 20 years from now, I will be able to say, "I was there, I understand their problems a little bit, I understand the way they think a little bit, and they are good people." Every day I can say something like, "I walked along the Ottoman walls today" or "I saw the Orient Express." And best of all, paradigms are examined that I didn't even realize existed. I had no idea how materialistic and focused on the next purchase America (and I) was until I lived in Macedonia, for example. Or conversely, how necessary capitalism is to really help businesses to thrive.
7. No stress.
We take it easy here, we live and go as we please, we have the hours and schedule that we like.
8. Pursuing normal hobbies in an exotic environment
just makes my life feel like it has more meaning. Like hearing the Muslim call to prayer as I'm playing Skip-Bo. I don't have the hectic plan-everything-by-the-hour that I usually go by when I travel. We can just live our lives and experience the other culture. Speaking of hobbies... Jacob went berserk after finding the ideal way to consume his protein powder by creating his own water bottle and peanut butter jar top and visit the gym. Look at how happy he looks:

9. The Romance
Doing something (traveling the world as a married couple) that we have never met anyone else do is exhilarating. It makes you feel like you're breaking the status quo. And it's very romantic. Much better to travel with the one you love.

10. The Food!!!
There are no Kurdish restaurants in America, and even if there were, it wouldn't beat getting it made for us every night right here in Turkey! Plus we eat so healthy here. People in America would not be so diet-obsessed if they traveled. There's just not processed food. We snack on nuts, seeds, and cherry juice. And, ok, really good chocolate bars called Dido.


GooberDiva13 said...

It's hard to remember what I was going to comment on, since I thought of many things to say as I read through your wonderful top 10s. a) you are a very brave girl, I think I'd only be comfortable traveling in cultures more similar to the U.S. Although I did go to China that one time. b) Music and English editing...I think that's more marketable than German Linguistics, especially since I don't want to teach German to punk high school students. We are very similar - girls with degrees and drop out of school to start up a successful business or two husbands. And I want a puppy. same person, i'm telling you. c) I can't remember C any more. sorry.

Adespain said...

I had to laugh, I probably would have gotten fired up if I hadn't been told that once before. Good job managing to stay courteous. I hope I would have been able to do the same.

Loved the top 10's. Very enlightening. And I agree about the romance part. Although we weren't exactly world travelers like yourselves- we did go live in Guatemala for six weeks. Stayed in a Guatemalan home and the lady next door cooked for us (so I also have to agree with the diet thing). It was blissfully thrilling.

We miss you guys. Hope you'll manage to travel over to Ohio sometime!

oh said...

Kalli, come home.

TexasNexus said...

Ummm - Which of the top 10 is I really really miss my father?

Meg and Terr said...

If you are paying $25 every time you do your laundry, that would explain why Jacob likes wearing the same clothes for 3-4 days at a time. Looks like you guys are having a lot of fun and stay away from the US as long as possible, govt is ruining everything.

Une fille à l'étranger said...

You guys are so very lucky!!! Someday I will travel the world with my spouse as well. I guess I need to find my spouse first :P You guys keep enjoying it and you'll be welcome here if you ever want to stop by Corsica :)

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