My husband arrived in Ankara six months before me. With much to be done to prepare for his new bride’s arrival, he set out looking for an apartment to rent. During that period, he sent lots of photos of apartments and neighborhoods. We finally settled on one in Aşağı Ayrancı.
The first thing he did, was create a video for me, so I could get a good feel for the place. Understand that when he rented it, he had a few things in mind. One, it needed to be affordable since I didn’t have a job to come to and he was on a government salary. Two, he wanted it to be in a neighborhood where I could easily walk to a shopping district, possibly make new friends, and not have a lot of traffic. Three, he wanted me to be close to Kizilay. Kizilay is the downtown area. Besides incredible shopping deals, McDonald’s, Burger King, and traditional Turkish hustle and bustle, it is also the area where most of the English language schools are. The plan was that I would likely take a job teaching English, having recently been TESOL certified.
The video is probably very disturbing to all of my American friends! Particularly to those who had been to my 135-year-old, 3-story Victorian in Philadelphia. This “new” apartment was a mess! Built in the 70’s and previously inhabited by a little old lady, the apartment needed lots of work. An apartment from the 70’s is considered “old” here. On top of that, the prior tenant couldn’t keep up. And so, my husband, his brother, parents and uncle, set out to make me happy.
Everything was cleaned throughly. The pink walls were painted an off-white. A laminate floor was laid in one room. The living room floor was stripped and re-stained. The yellow metal kitchen cabinets were replaced. The green bathroom porcelain was replaced with white pieces and a modern cabinet. Carpets were installed. A new water heater installed. An exhaust fan for the kitchen was put in.
Light fixtures and appliances do not typically come with a rental in Turkey. So new ones were installed. (Of course, some of these projects carried over to after my arrival! Afterall, I had to look at these new light fixtures every day!) And yes, I did say this is a rental! (Lot’s of pics of the lighting because I love the fixtures – and they weren’t my style previously!)
Eventually, the gifts came. Dishes. Coffee and tea pots. Trays. Apparently, many Turks have a thing for pink and purple. I kept receiving gifts in these colors, about the only two colors I can think of with which I don’t want to decorate my home. Unable to avoid these colors, I made a plan. The little bathroom would become my “pink” room.
The “little” bathroom, what Americans would call the “poweder room,” has a traditional toilet and a sink. That’s it, except that a “traditional” Turkish toilet is quite different! It’s a hole in the floor, with a porcelain basin and footing, so that one can squat to take care of business. There’s a handle in the middle of the wall to flush. And there’s usually a pitcher sitting on the floor, under a smaller faucet, for extra water to keep the place clean and neat. In addition, there is a change of shoes by the door – no explanation necessary.
I wasn’t so surprised to see this in my home. I first came across this style in France and Italy. Most Turkish homes still have them, even the new ones. In fact, I have only been in one new home – a single home – that didn’t have one. More and more Turks are converting these to sit-down styles, but as of now, you will still see them everywhere. Expats tend to lay something down to cover the hole, and use the room for a storage closet. But if my 80-something family members prefer to squat, well, more power to them! I decided to cater to them.
Not too long ago, my husband and his brother installed a bathroom kit for me. We picked up a mirror, shelf, cupholder, soap dish, towel holder and toilet paper holder for about 25 TL ($15.75) in a shop in Keçiören, a more conservative and traditional neighborhood. The local big box Home Depot-type stores sell them for about twice as much. After that, I added the pink! Pink embroidered towel, pink wash cloth, pink soaps, etc. It didn’t look bad, but still, I didn’t want to enter.
Today, a plumber came to replace the pipe from the bathroom above us. Yes, the pipe runs directly into our bathroom, over one’s head. Glad to have the new pipe!
After cleaning up the mess, I got to thinking. Why not add a little “pazazz” to the bathroom. Afterall, we are DIY’ers! In my opionion, every room needs some art work, even the bathroom. Not wanting to spend any money on it, I went straight to work on my computer. I pulled up some clipart and processed the pictures in Microsoft Publisher. (Man, I love that program.) About an hour later, photos were printed and hung on the walls.
I’m thinking, I might just give this bathroom a try. Afterall, it’s been a year and my knees could use a good workout!