In a culture where staring is not only accepted, but seems to be as natural as breathing, the last thing you want to do is something that will draw attention to yourself. I will now be known at the Cihangir çaybahçe as the yabancı drawing girl who fell off her chair onto her ass. Imagine the horror I felt, as I discovered the back right leg of my chair was standing on nothing but air. I felt that odd slow-motion sensation you get when you know something bad is about to happen, and as I tried desperately to use every muscle in my body to balance myself, I realised gravity was just going to have its way with me.
Down I crashed— down three steps onto my backside— legs in the air, chair somehow beneath them. As I am lying on the pavement, I decide to take my time getting up. If I am going to have an audience, let's not give them the expected posture of humiliation. No hanging of the head, no red cheeks, no nervous laugh. I sit up, right the chair, slowly rise to my feet and casually dust myself off, as if it's a perfectly ordinary thing to fall off a chair. Shoulders back and head high, I fluff my hair, straighten my shirt, sit down and order a tea. I feel dozens of eyes on me, hear whispering I cannot understand, and give them absolutely nothing. Eventually, everyone goes back to their previous conversations and staring— at someone else.