The first interview I did with Angie has been published by one of the daily newspapers here in Turkey. It’s a shortened version, but very excitingly includes a photo. Have a look at the Sunday Today’s Zaman website to check it out.
Finding the Minu Hotel
It’s hot. Unsurprisingly. It is midday, mid-July, and this is Fethiye – a seaside, sun-baked town on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast. I am trying to find the Minu Hotel to interview its owner, Angie. My stomach is jumping – butterflies beating against the sides, continuous shocks of adrenaline. My first interview and I have never been to the hotel before, have only my scribbled google-map instructions to navigate by. Fethiye isn’t large, but the hotel is in the old town – streets coil around each other, there aren’t specific landmarks. People will happily give you directions, and my Turkish is good enough to understand them, but there is a less than fifty percent chance the person will actually know the place you are trying to get to. Which won’t stop them “helping.”
To my immense relief I find it easily. The hotel is exactly where google said it was. There is even a street sign. I locate the entrance, half hidden between a cafe and a tourist-tat trap, and follow the signs up the marble stairs. The reception is white and airy. I can hear the hum of activity from the old town but the room seems to float above it – cool, clean, modern but not stark. Angie is waiting for me.
I’ve known her for a year or two now. Known in the way that you do when your kids are at the same Turkish school and you are both expat mothers in the playground. We’ve chatted a time or two, compared notes while we watched our kids play at a Burger King birthday party, but we are both busy people. We haven’t ever socialised outside of our kids’ schedules. I am glad to have the opportunity now: Angie is one of those rare people who has managed to build up a successful business; who has integrated into the community without compromising herself or her values – I am immensely curious as to how she has done it.
She hands me an iced water and we sit at one of the scrubbed pine tables in the hotel’s lobby. The interview begins before I’ve uncapped my pen, before I’ve even asked a question. I quickly realise that Angie is one of those people who doesn’t just know how to talk, but how to communicate. She knows why we are here, what the Women in Turkey Project is about, and she is ready to tell me her story.
An expat with Turkish roots.
I knew she was half Turkish, but what I didn’t know was that her mother left Turkey when she was sixteen, married Angie’s British father when she was eighteen, and that Angie was born and raised in England.
“My mum isn’t really very Turkish – she never taught me Turkish” she says. “It might have been different if we’d lived in one of the big cities with a Turkish community, but we didn’t we lived in the South. I never fitted in.”
I’m surprised – Angie seems like one of those people who could fit in anywhere. After ten years in Turkey feeling the daily foreignness of being six feet tall, pale, and blonde, I have forgotten my own childhood. Where actually most people had the same colouring as me, even if they weren’t quite so tall. I have forgotten that the ‘Mediterranean look’ was not so common in the UK of twenty years ago.
“I was too dark.” She continues. “Back then I had to work really hard to make myself fit in, to be popular.”