What am I doing here? Manisa #3

Slow travel means sitting and being in a place longer than just a few days. Especially when you take a job and work in a foreign country.

This was another Sunday spent in Manisa and since I’m publishing it on the edge of Monday, it will also be this weeks Manisa Monday too.

Mostly the day was just a very long walk and a nice lunch in our new adopted town of Manisa, Turkey. We saw vegetables in the souk that made Hanane amazed. Check out these cabbages!Giant cabbage in Manisa

We had a nice lunch together. Hanane almost always orders chicken wings. I tried the Manisa Kebab. It’s essentially bread with kebab meat over it, served with yogurt, tomato, and a green pepper. It was good, but I prefer the Iskender (Bursa) Kebap which has a savory sauce over the top of it.

We finally found a teapot that suits my wife’s Moroccan tea making needs. She hates Turkish tea which is essentially black tea. I’m partial to it, but the smell disturbs her. Turkish teapots aren’t really suitable for making Moroccan tea, but I found her a small steel teapot that will work for her. She brought her own tea from Morocco. Moroccans drink green chinese gunpowder tea with a ton of sugar and mint or other herbs. Essentially, one cup of sugar to one cup of tea. It’s probably why so many Moroccans have lousy teeth.
Turkish Military Service
We saw plenty of kids playing and passed a wedding car procession with the horns blowing and the scarves waving out the windows. Then, we walked by a military base where parents were dropping off their sons for the obligatory military duty. Lots of tearful mothers and sisters, proud fathers, and sons bursting with pride. The sons were dancing and chanting as they got ready to go to boot camp.

In Turkey, you aren’t considered a man until you’ve fulfilled your military service. A woman won’t marry you, your parent’s won’t support you in business, and essentially, you are considered a boy until your time in the military is complete. Those who wish to defer can go in college first, but after they have to serve a longer term (a year instead of the six months, but as an officer). I’ve noticed more than once that men’s attitudes change towards me when they find out that I was a Marine. Suddenly, I’m considered to be a peer. There isn’t anything subtle about it. A friend of mine wanted to start a business after he completed college but his parents refused until his military duty was complete. I’ve also heard seriously that it’s the same with men who want to get married. It’s no joke.

I didn’t take any pictures of the military intake, since this being a militarized country, they are more than a little sensitive about pictures around bases or troops. It’s a funny thing, to always see the flags, hear the pride of Turks, and hear the martial music being played, but the fact of the matter is that Turkey is probably a better country because of the compulsory military duty. In general, it’s clean, people are disciplined, and because of the many police and soldiers, it’s not a lawless kind of mayhem on the streets as it is in some other countries I’ve recently lived in.

After our long walk, we bought baklava and came home to eat Turkish baklava with Moroccan tea. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday in Turkey.

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Damitio  (@vagodamitio) is the Editor-in-Chief for Vagobond. Life is good. You can also find him on Google+ and at Facebook