Upon discovering that my internet was out for some inexplicable reason, I began to feel a frustration and a sense of helplessness rising up inside me— I could not call the internet provider myself, as the situation called for more Turkish than I am capable of communicating in. Instead, I chose to stare at the spastic blinking lights on my modem, hoping foolishly that if I concentrated hard enough, the lights would shine a constant green, and I could go back to my normal, webby life. The stare-off was interrupted by the pitiful groaning sound of my doorbell. Muttering under my breath, I peeled myself off the floor and reluctantly tiptoed to the door.
Three distorted shadows curved through the peep-hole with an air of expectation in their postures. I wondered what on earth they wanted from me. I opened the door and was greeted by smiles— one of which belonged to the young man downstairs, and the other two were not yet familiar. Through mime, a flurry of Turkish and about seven English words, I learned that they were my downstairs neighbours in need of adjusting their satellite dish, which of course, happened to be located right off my balcony. I opened the door wider and in they marched, with a curiosity and wonder in their eyes. They peered into my living room, my workroom and my bedroom on their way to the balcony, mumbling things to each other as their heads turned this way and that. Going against my I-can-do-it-myself independent nature, I decided to ask for help, asking them in broken Turkish if they had a wireless connection I might use.
"Hehh... maalesef, yok. Ama komşu—" and with a finger pointed upward, "internet var." I learned from the sweet-faced young woman on my balcony that while she did not have internet, my upstairs neighbours did. I made the radical decision to leave my busy downstairs neighbours in my apartment as I climbed the stairs to ask my upstairs neighbours for access to their network. This was for me, a tremendous exercise in trust. The doorbell rang a bird call, and a friendly, familiar face opened the door. Before I knew it, I was surrounded by smiles, ushered into the entryway and asked to join the family for a little television. I respectfully declined their kind offer, and tried out my weak Turkish:
"Benim internet çalışmıyor— siz internet var mı?" Before I could ask for their password, I was handed a piece of paper with a series of letters on it and accompanied back to my apartment by the son, where he typed the letters into my computer. I clicked open the browser, et voilà! Access. I thanked him with my hand on my heart, and he explained that I could use his network whenever I needed. As he ran back upstairs, I decided to check on the status of the satellite fiddling on my balcony. Father and son continued to pull and twist the dish, while the daughter asked me about whether or not I get bored living alone, and where my family is. I decided to take this opportunity to show them some of my artwork, to give them an idea of who I am; that I am not some sketchy foreigner but rather, a nice foreigner who sketches.
"Ohhh! Çok güzel! Maşallah!" Hand gestures formed that demonstrated how much they liked what they saw. I was then invited to their home to watch television with the family. When asked if I had a television of my own, I replied, "televizyon istemiyorum"— I do not want a television, to baffled looks. Laughter ensued, and a brief conversation was struck between them and my upstairs neighbour who was now on her balcony watching our interaction.
"O television istemiyor!" This elicited more "ohhhs." I tried to explain that if I watch TV, I wont draw— they nodded seriously, and seemed to understand. After a good while, I found myself alone again, in the doorway of my apartment. As I was about to close the door, a woman in a floral headscarf appeared in my entrance. I did not know her. She smiled, and started rapidly explaining something I could not understand under her heavy accent. I told her I did not understand, and with a look of great seriousness and sincerity, she said:
"Korkma. Biz burdayız!
Don't be afraid.
We are here!