Run, Forrest, run!


A teenage boy wearing thick glasses, no jacket over a thin white blouse and flip flops over his grey socks is feeding bread from a plastic bag to the seagulls on the river bank. He tears big pieces of the soft loaf and throws them in the air, pausing from time to time to take hungry bites himself.  When both the boy and the birds finish their lunch together, he folds the plastic bag and hides it in his fist before shoving it in his trousers pocket and crossing the street, disappearing among the old houses on the other side of the road. My baby is sound asleep against my chest, tucked in the elastic wrap and I can feel his warm breath against my skin. I stop in my walk to watch the scene. I know it’s one of those moments that are going to turn into lasting memories and stick with me for a long while.

Just like my midwife’s coffee scented breath in the wee hours of the morning as she’s blowing softly on my face during labor, while I’m feeling my baby’s head with my fingertips before he finally comes out later.

Or his heart pounding like a racing horse’s under that pink flowered tree in the park, as he pulled me closer and closer, giving me long kisses before allowing a short distance between our mouths and resting his eyes on my lips while uttering the question he’d been rehearsing so many times. It was a cool evening after a rainy day this spring and I felt like peeing.

Or seeing that second line on the pink test at 4 am on March 8, sitting on the toilet in his bathroom and trying to live through the next day as if everything hadn’t completely changed forever.

Or his warmth when I cuddled in his arms on our first night together and my chest exploding from the incredible heat as he so full of himself assured me: “Relax, I am here for you.” Back in Harmony street, early December…

Or sitting in my seat on the bus taking me from Konya to Cappadochia, my dark red fingernails matching the fresh bruises on my face, and the whiteness of the skin on my neck reflected in the clean window. November 1, last year.

Or landing in Cambodia in such perfect darkness that night in February last year, my 85 year old Swiss friend sitting beside me, a long saliva string with sparkling beads hanging from the corner of his mouth all the way down to his shirt, while I’m struggling with such a strong combination of anxiousness, curiosity and fear.

Or that rainy evening in March last year, landing in Istanbul to meet a beloved friend on her birthday after a delayed flight. Looking for flowers and cake in the airport and ending up with a huge lolly pop in my hand as I’m walking up to her in that impressive crowd in the Ataturk airport to surprise her from behind. Her smile and her tight hug bringing back old feelings of guilt.

Or coming out of the shower, wrapped up in that white towel, water still dripping from my hair down my bare shoulders, and seeing that silver mist fill up that shabby candle lit hotel room in Istanbul where I stayed for a whole week a month later. “My happy time”, as my Syrian friend called it. “You’re happy, Dana”, he explained, “that’s why you see this fog in the room. It’s called happiness.”

Or crossing that bridge lined with flower pots somewhere in Cluj in the summer of 2015, construction noise filling up the area and dust sticking to the skin on my feet, my sandals getting sweaty on the hot asphalt.

Or a particular evening in August two years ago while carrying stuff on my bike from my former home when I moved in Harmony street and I heard this little girl say: “Look, mom, the lady is going on holiday!” and I felt she was making such an accurate description of my situation in spite of the distance between us.

Or that morning back in my former home, probably in the spring of 2015, folding laundry and sprinkling it with warm, fresh tears on the stretched out couch in the living room where I’d just spent my first night alone, out of the bedroom. “This is so damn hard”, I told him, “Help me”. “Do you want me to help you stay or help you leave?” he asked picking up a T-shirt, tears rolling from his eyes down his cheeks and crossing paths on his chin, making it shiver uncontrollably.

Or that narrow road in Crete about ten years ago, after dinner in that beach tavern where those Greeks suddenly spoke no English at all when they brought us our overcharged bill. The day was losing strength as night was closing in, and so was I losing respect for the man driving next to me.

Or that creepy studio I lived in for a few months when I finished university, with its dirty armchair by the balcony door, where he sat, legs spread, arms resting in his lap, lowered chin and faint voice. That “I don’t love you anymore” that threw me out of my own life like a dog kicked out of a yard when its people are tired of it.

Or that “I love you!” spoken to me as if it were a huge and painful problem, sitting at the desk in my room back in my home town, while I was still in high school. I didn’t know how to answer that, so I closed my eyes and hugged him and just copied a detached attitude I’d seen was successful and repeated what someone else had said to me not long before: “What am I going to do with you?”

And so many others, like a big box with a wide selection of pralines – different sizes, shapes and flavors. I wonder if Forrest Gump had a similar perception when he remembered “My mom always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”

PS Yeah, that’s me in the photo.

Making a Cappadocian friend in Goreme

It’s my very last day in Goreme, Cappadocia and I decide to take a morning walk in the village, after having breakfast on the sunny terrace of my hotel. I go down the stone steps, cross the small paved yard, get out into the alley, turn left and then right at the first corner, into the narrow street, looking at shop windows on the way. My eyes are hurting from the strong sun and I decide I need a new pair of sunglasses, since I left mine at home – the pair I got in February form the night market in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

So I stop at this corner shop and check out the sunglasses displayed outside, but they seem to have survived every rain here since spring, covered in layer upon layer of white and red dust turned to mud by the rain, dried by the sun, wiped by the wind and so on, again and again. So I think they must be fairly cheap. I am running out of money, but my eyes are not happy at all, so I’m looking for a pair I can afford.

When the shop keeper comes, a dark haired man, mustache, black leather jacket, hands stuffed in his pockets, he hits me with the 20 lira price. And I am too polite to turn my back and just walk away. And my eyes hurt. So I manage to choose a pair and ask him to wash them so I can get a better idea of their real condition.

When we get into the shop, he sprays window cleaner on them and starts rubbing them with a soft cloth. I cringe at the sight and look around the shop, trying to feel more comfortable.

“I think they should be washed, really… And I think 10 lira would be enough. I mean, they are dirty and scratched. And it’s winter…”

“Maybe I would make it 15 lira, but not if you say like that”, he replies giving me his most expert puppy eyes look.

I smile, giving him my most penetrating look, stripping him naked of all the pretense.

“I’m sorry”, I continue. “I mean no offence. Really, look at them. I am just stating the obvious. And it’s off season. No one buys sunglasses anymore.”

“It’s all right”, he answers smugly, “I’ll sell them next year.”

“In this condition? OK…” I answer and let him continue rubbing them as I continue looking around the selves.

“You have a really nice shop.”

“Thank you.” he replies and I feel him softening up.

“Have you had it for long?” I insist.

“The building? Forty-five years. Family business.”

“Wow, a long time. That’s nice.”

He then hands me the sunglasses, proud of his work. I pick them up, turning them in my hands unsatisfied with the result.

“Can I?” I ask picking up the cloth myself.

“Of course.” he replies with a frown.

I wipe them again and carefully check them for scratches.

“They’re still dirty. And scratched”, I land the verdict on the glass counter between us.

He moves away from the counter, sighing and picking up a carton box from the lower shelf on the right, places it in front of me and starts shuffling through pairs of brand new sunglasses, clean in their thin plastic covers.

“Oh, the secret stash”, I giggle.

He hands me a pair and then my hands find their own way into the box and I try on several pairs, some just for fun, asking him for his opinion and making him laugh.

Eventually, I narrow it down to two pairs.

“Hmm… Which one should I get? What do you think?”

“This one”, he says, pointing to the pair I’d actually choose.

I decide to play a little longer and try both on alternatively a few times, complaining it’s so hard to decide.  When I see him rolling his eyes, I say I am sorry, forcing him to encourage me to take my time and keep going. Eventually, when I get bored, I choose the ones we both like and hand him 15 lira.

“Do you want tea?” he asks.

“Actually, yes. Why not?” I reply, although I wasn’t planning to.

And I let him lead me to this other room in the shop, where a hot chimney is burning, inviting me to take off my coat and pretend not to notice the satisfaction on his face.

“How nice! I love your chimney!”

He smiles and points to a chair next to the window and I sit down. He pulls a white plastic chair and joins me after pouring tea into a small tulip-shaped glass and handing it to me on a matching square shaped plate.

“Are you travelling alone?” he asks.



“I like travelling alone. I can write. I can sit down with you over a glass of tea and talk, I can do whatever I want. And it was my birthday. So this trip is a gift I’m making myself.”

“Oh, really? Happy birthday!”

“Thank you.”

There is a short silence between us as I’m looking around, getting more familiar with my surroundings.

“You have nice things. I like your shop”, I add honestly. “And your notebooks are really nice.”

“You can choose one. I’ll make it a birthday gift for you.”

“Oh, really? That’s so kind. I will.” I was not expecting that and I’m feeling very grateful.

We are drinking tea and smiling and I tell him which notebook I like, so he picks it up, wraps it and adds a card with his number and a happy birthday message. So I decide I should also be generous.

gift notebook from goreme

“Do you have Facebook?”

“Yes, he says, handing me his phone. So I type in my name, tap ‘add friend’, then take out my own phone. He takes it from my hand when I ask about WiFi (it’s a Turkish thing, I guess), he keys in the password and I accept his friend request on the spot. We then shake hands and he pulls me closer, kissing my cheeks. We have the Turkish ‘double hug’ which I love.

“Come again”, he says.

And I do. After the scary episode that follows with the owner of my hotel (unpublished at the time I’m posting this), I return a few hours later, still trembling inside, to say goodbye before going to the bus station. When I get to the shop, it’s empty and the sunglasses I tried on earlier are still resting on the glass counter, the chimney is burning, the tea kettle is boiling and his phone is charging in the shop window. I call his name and there is no answer, so I take a few photos of the shop before walking from one shop to the next, as several of them are connected, and find these two older men chatting, surrounded by carpets.

shop in goreme cappadocia

shopping on goreme

“Merhaba. Furkan?” I say when they finally notice me.

One of them stands up and starts calling Furkan. He offers a seat and tea while I wait, but I carefully refuse, smiling politely and asking questions about the shop. And by now I know it has become a defense strategy and I am no more willing to make any new friends in this place at this point.

When Furkan comes, he looks so happy to see me and, at the same time, a French couple come into the shop, trying to choose some lamps. I tell them in French that they are very beautiful and the only problem in choosing. I show them the model I have at home, from Istanbul, and tell them I keep it on the kitchen counter and light it almost every night when I get home. They seem a bit more determined now, so I let them choose.

I turn to Furkan and he looks so proud of me now, as if he’s raised me himself to be a good seller or I’ve got contaminated by the talent just by being around him for a glass of tea earlier this morning. I smile and offer him one of the nice, ripe quinces that the psycho hotel owner picked for me on our trip in the forest in the middle of nowhere in the nightmare I’ve just survived.

“Did you see how we arranged the carpets today?” he asks taking me into this hidden yard at the back of the shop – a carpet paradise. He is so proud of his work and so affectionate of his carpets and I do believe it looks impressive.

carpet arrangement in goreme

“It looks beautiful!” I tell him.

“Like you.” he quickly replies, smiling and giving me his warmest look.


We go back in and he brings me a water bottle for the road, telling me he saw my picture on Facebook, wearing the new pair of sunglasses. We both laugh at the new memory we have in common and I hug him before I leave, taking in his warmth and that soothing smell of a good man, like warm bread when I’m starving.


PS If you travel to Goreme, pay Furkan a visit at the Ikman Gift Shop and please give him my warmest regards.

The day I leave Konya Shams does some magic

I wake up moaning from a dream I forget as soon as I open my eyes and jump out of bed, grab my tablet and do my online check in and proceed with packing. Then breakfast. There’s this guy I saw yesterday too. Tall, firm, dark hair, beard. Something tells me he might be a journalist. When I get to the cheese section with my plate, he comes and stands close behind my back. Just like yesterday. Yesterday I turned smiling and made room for him to come next to me so he can fill up his plate, only to be refused and shown by a quick hand gesture to carry on. So today I don’t bother and just attend to my plate, feeling his presence in the room and his invisible touch on the back of my neck, under my hair being held up by two bobby pins with round shaped blue and black gems at the end.

I resume my seat next to the window. This time the room is full and some women wearing scarves wrapped around their heads are also here, still outnumbered by men. The TV is on again and everyone is watching the news, so I decide to crawl out of my autism and join them. Nothing to be worried about: arrests being made, police officers beating up people, protests, street explosions, a blast in an apartment building, speeches, riot police marching. I have no idea where all this is happening and I am not sure I even want to know. Wherever it is, it’s too close.

“Postane?” I ask my fat bearded receptionist when I finish breakfast. “I want to post some cards…”

“There, but is closed today. I think… But I can help you. Monday.” he says , looking directly behind my eyes somehow.

“Tesekkur, evet. I go and check now and if it is closed I will leave them with you. Tamam?”

“Tamam”, he replies and we say our goodbyes and, as I get out into the street, an old man speaks Turkish to me, so I know I have become a Konyan. At least partly. This, too, is one of my homes now.

I get to the post office and find my receptionist was right, so it will be the second time in Turkey that I leave my postcards to be sent by a receptionist after I am already back in Romania. I still have time before my flight, but I decide to go back to the hotel and write. Then I see this natural shop on the left and go in. I let out a sigh of pleasure as a smile warms up my face when I get in and dip myself in the mixed smell of spices and herbs and oils. Did you know that the Turkish word for ‘mixed’ is ‘karma’, by the way?

It’s sunny and quiet as I come out of the shop and the thought of visiting Shams again starts challenging my decision to go to the hotel. But we said or goodbyes, I tell myself. It is good to respect that. Yes, but you don’t know if in this lifetime you can ever come back here again. So now you are here. You have time. Go. And so I go. And as I’m walking to the mosque, I realize it’s my third time here this week and I’ve always come from the right side and went away on the left side, surrounding the mosque every time.

shams park                     shams mosque

In front of the mosque, just like yesterday, some boys are running and laughing around the ablution fountain, scaring the pigeons away. I take off my shoes and get in without covering my head again. I remember when I am already in front of the tomb. The atmosphere seems more peaceful today and I have a stronger and more stable sense of the energy here, bathing in rose perfume.

You have come again.

I have.

You are already whole.

I am.

What is it that you seek?

My love, send him to me. I want my equal. My partner. If he is already close, wake him up, remind him of who he is. Send him to me. I want to be found.

mevlana museum

I walk slowly and calmly back to my hotel, finish packing and then carry my suitcase down the stairs to the reception. The ‘journalist’ comes in right as the receptionist hands me back my credit card. We smile to each other and he hesitates for a moment before getting into the elevator. I ask the receptionist to call me a taxi for the airport in thirty minutes and then sit in the red armchair facing the elevator, planning to take out my tablet and work on my writing. The ‘journalist’ comes down a minute later and, when he sees me, he says something in Turkish.

“Sorry?” I reply.

From here on, it all happens very fast and I just remember he asks me if I want to have tea with him somewhere and I say yes, but I only have thirty minutes before I should head to the airport. I think we also talk about where each of us is from at this point, but I am not sure anymore.

“What if I take you?” he offers and I do have a brief moment of hesitation before my right hand reaches out to him and I introduce myself. In something like a fraction of a second, the following inner dialogue takes place:

“You are completely nuts! You are absolutely not getting into a car with a stranger again in this place!” my mind says.

“Have it your way. Anyway, you know exactly how it’s going to be: you’ll say no, of course, because it’s the sensible thing to say, and then spend the entire taxi ride to the airport wanting to go back to the hotel and, after that, both flights designing plans to jump off the airplane and, of course, the next few months (at least!) wondering what could’ve happened and trying your best to forget you were so stupid and said no.” My heart doesn’t explain all this actually, but gives me a homeopathic dose of the feeling projected over the whole film shown in fast forward motion. Less than a fraction of a second.

“Hmm… OK!” I am actually shocked and, at the same time, happy at the sound of my own voice. He happily picks up my backpack, says something in Turkish to the hotel staff, who are all gathered around a table in the restaurant, watching the whole scene with great interest and some of them even envy, and then we both get out.

“You haven’t learnt anything. ” my mind insists hopelessly as I get into the front seat and he apologizes for the mess.

“No, I haven’t, thank God. Now just shut up.” I reply.

“Let’s see, where can we have tea…”, he says trying to focus.

“In Turkey? Everywhere.”

“In Konya… You know, when I saw you yesterday I wanted to ask if you want to have tea with me, but I… It’s hard… I didn’t.”

I say nothing.

“You look Greek.” he continues.

“Do I? Everyone here says I look Turkish.”

“I thought Turkish at first, you heard I spoke Turkish to you at first.”

And we talk about our professions, the political context, our living situations, family relations, anxiety, my birthday, my bike fall, my travels, my writing and why I came to Konya and I don’t remember everything and we decide going directly to the airport is a better idea than finding a place in the city because once we are there we can be more relaxed and just enjoy our cay.

“So are you going to write about me?” he asks.

“I think I already have, to be perfectly honest”, I reply and check my draft, which I already started earlier this morning, and find it’s right in the first paragraph.

“I will read it later”, he says.

Our interaction is pleasant and whole, natural and honest, lacking the usual aggressive courting heavily infused with sexual tension I have got used to in most of my interactions with Turkish men. Moreover, it is not seduction that has brought us together. So I finally start feeling I am being treated like a person, not a mere walking sex opportunity.

“So why are you traveling alone?”

“Why not?”

“Oh, right. I would be afraid to go alone even to Bulgaria. And you come here alone. It is not safe here. People get drunk and have knives and there are fights after dark. I have this pepper spray with me, look.”

“Well, I am not usually afraid. Now it was a bit stressful, it’s true.” I reply.

“How old are you?”

“34. How about you?”

“What do you think?”

“The same. Or maybe 35?” I reply.

“I am 34. I was born in…

“1982” we both say at the same time.

“When?” I ask.

“The sixth month… June.”

“What day?” I continue driven by my insatiable curiosity. “20? Something with 2, right?”

“12”, he says and he doesn’t seem to freak out.

We get to the airport in a short while and he takes my luggage out of his car and then I give him my mobile check-in printed by the receptionist and he goes in and asks what time I should come for boarding. He comes back triumphantly and tells me we have two hours. So he puts my luggage back in his car and we drive to a nearby place. It is a nice restaurant and we are both here for the first time. We sit at a table for two next to the window and he asks:

“How is your stomach?”

I mean to say fat, but I just say it is ok and, when the waiter comes to take his order, I can’t help noticing that the waiter looks so much like Hamodi, my good Syrian friend in Istanbul, so I smile to him perhaps with a little bit too much attention, but really I feel like hugging him.

And I also can’t help noticing that we are both sitting at a table for two next to the window, facing each other, just as we were yesterday morning at the hotel, only this time we are finally at the same table. And I remember how this morning I regretted having put my coat and purse on the seat in front of me and thought I might have invited him to share the table and eat together, since the restaurant was full and the only free table he could find was right next to the huge TV screen. But I figured I was leaving today anyway and women don’t usually do that here. Not because they can’t, but because they don’t need to. Men around here still seem to have balls. And I want that. Not needing to make up for someone else’s lack of balls. Plus, I thought there is no point in forcing things and I reminded myself (as I always do) that life always finds a way.

The waiter brings cay, water and the same traditional desert I had last night with Merve. I get up and go to wash my hands and I simply notice, I just notice how I leave my purse with my phone and wallet with passport and everything on the chair in front of him. When I return, we enjoy everything together and talk.

He asks if I have eaten some traditional Konyan food and tell him I am a vegetarian. He asks why.

“Well, long story”, I reply.

“Long story and you think I wouldn’t understand”, he says reading my mind.

“I will show you a poem from Mevlana to Shems, so that he doesn’t leave him”, he says out of the blue and picks up his phone and types something. When he points the screen at me, a video starts playing. “But it’s in Turkish”, he adds. We watch a few seconds of it and then he gets the idea to find the poem in English so that I can read it.

He hands me his phone again and I barely get to read the first two or three lines and I feel something is changing dramatically in the atmosphere. I look up and ask if he is OK. I feel a sort of agitation and very ample movement, like spinning. In the beginning it feels like the tension preceding an earthquake, but then the movement is much more erratic, not only vertical and horizontal, but more chaotic on account of what I perceive as fear of letting go, of losing control. He is clearly affected by something and is struggling to keep it all together. I remain calm and ask the question again. He answers in Turkish, gets up in a rush, spilling the water glasses on the table and over his phone, a few drops landing on my trousers.

The waiter comes and accompanies him to the exit. Before getting out, he looks back at me and makes a reassuring gesture with his hand, telling me to relax, stay there and wait. And I remain calm, wipe the water off his phone with a tissue and continue reading the beautiful poem, wondering if I can find it in my book as my mind makes the connection between these lines, in which Rumi’s asking Shams not to leave him, and my complaints about his absence as I was visiting his tomb.

When he returns, he has washed his face and it’s wet and he keeps apologizing.

“It is first time, never happened to me before, I don’t know what this is, maybe tension, I don’t know, I have anxiety. I am sorry.”

“Have some water”, I advise him smiling calmly. I want to squeeze his hand and help him get down on the ground again, but at this point I don’t. I am just witnessing. And I have no doubt that nothing is wrong.

“Let’s go”, he says, “when I stay here my head is spinning again.”

“OK. Let’s get out of here, the air will be good. You are OK.”

“Daniela, I am so sorry. I am sorry. Daniela… Daniela… Where is my car?”

“It is in the back, let’s go this way.”

“It never happened before.”

“You haven’t met me before”, I reply and make him laugh so now he is more relaxed.

” Where is the car?” he asks again.

 “Where is my head?” I reply.

“Where are we? Who am I?” he continues and we laugh.

Having exchanged contact information, he now drops me off at the airport, complaining about my heavy suitcase as he is carrying it inside.

“Sorry, it’s not a Turkish guy”, I tell him so we laugh again.

konya airport

As I continue working on my blog post after the security check, I lean back in the chair at the boarding gate and rejoice in the silent and relaxed atmosphere of the Konyan airport.

konyan airport

The guy at the security check even insisted I should keep my water bottle. All my previous tension is history now and the atmosphere has either cleared or I cannot be bothered by its heaviness anymore. When I get in my seat on the plane, I start feeling the same rose smell as in the Mevlana museum and Shams’ mosque. Suddenly, I hear a girl at my back say in a British accent:

“It is your destiny, you can’t escape it.”

The weather is perfect and taking off makes me a bit high, as it always does, and I enjoy it like an addict taking a dose of his drug. On board service soon starts and everyone is relaxed, no one talks loudly, we smile to one another and I take pictures of the sky. It looks like a snow covered field, making me dream up plans about this winter.

flying above the cluds

“Istanbul”, I turn and say it to the big girl on my right as we have come down through the thick layer of cotton above the city. And I purposely stress the ‘a’ and add some air around it before I allow the other sounds of the name to slip out on the water slide my tongue curves into.


“Istanbul”, she repeats returning my smile.

“Guzel”, I add, this time stressing the ‘e’ like licking a lolly pop.

“Cok guzel”, she corrects me, her face lit up by an even warmer smile.

At passport control in Istanbul, with a big smile on my face and the rose perfume still in my nose, I get to this desk where a guy with a purple right eye checks my passport. And I think it is just too funny a coincidence and can’t help laughing and pointing to my purple right eye.

“Merhaba! We both have a purple right eye, look!” I say and close mine so he can have a better look.

He listens and takes out his pistol from his waist to show me how he got it, explaining everything in Turkish. Then I tell him about the bike crash, but I am not sure he gets it.

” Daniela… Daniela… Daniela… I am not handsome, Daniela…” he adds, composing the beginning lines of his first elegy.

We wish each other the best, like two brothers in arms and then I catch a glimpse of the most beautiful red sunset before it takes me almost one hour to walk through the entrails of the huge airport from the quiet domestic arrivals to the busy international departures, where I struggle to find a WiFi  connection.

red sunset

             attaturk airport international departures

The first time I hear someone speaking Romanian I think “Oh, how nice, they are going to Romania!” I feel I am not and it takes me a moment to realize I actually am. It feels as if I were just passing through, that it’s not really my destination. I feel I am on this long journey, going somewhere very far away. Such a strange and strong feeling…

plane view of istanbul by night

The plane takes off in Istanbul and I am looking down at the beautiful lights and taking photos, thinking that we all get this impulse to arrest moments, as if simply living them is never enough. We cannot just look at the beautiful lights and enjoy the feelings they awaken, but need to make them our own, to possess an image of them, frozen, stopped in time. A moment that is so fleeting and so artificial in its death caught on camera. We arrest impressions of time passing in an attempt to create permanency. Only that never really happens, everything keeps flowing all the time. Whirling.

 And I keep repeating I my head “the Istanbul of my dreams, the Istanbul of my dreams” and I remember my friend Hamodi calling me earlier today, before checking out of the hotel, reassuring me everything will be all right by telling me that I will always be safe in Turkey even if there was a war because “everyone loves you here and you have a friendship with the dangerous things”.

Leaving the safety of the caravanserai behind

The car is cutting through the darkness like a big, hot, round-shaped meteorite falling from the sky. The sema is still shaking its earthquake inside me as my eyes, right one still wet, are wandering among the lights of a distant town.

“You are engaged to be married, I say pretending to be outraged at the passes he’s making on me, like an innocent, naïve eastern European. (Does that even exist? I wonder). “Can men in Turkey have several wives?” I ask, putting on a curious face.

“Well”, he says pausing and leaning back in his seat, ” No. But they can have several girlfriends. Secretly…”

“Oh, I see…” I reply and, although I have absolutely no interest in him, it is finally so clear to me that I never want to be anybody’s secret anymore and don’t what my life to be about secrets. So I giggle as if I received his answer as an innocent joke between buddies, wrapped up in a thin, golden layer of flirtatious attention. 

“I see you are writing sometimes”, he says.

“I am a writer.” I swiftly reply and, for the first time in my life, I feel comfortable saying that and I know it’s true, not something I am merely pretending or aspiring to be. This is it.

“Really? I hope you don’t write about me. Or I’ll come to Romania and…”

“You need a visa for that.”

“No, actually, I don’t. I’m a special citizen.”

“Really? What makes you so special?” I ask, inviting him to impress me.

“My father”, he says hesitantly. “He is an imam… You know what an imam is?” he asks and continues without waiting for my reply. “The leader of the mosque.”

“So your father is an imam and you aren’t a religious person…”

“Yes. I pray, I believe I God but I am not a religious person. It is not important. I will tell you, you should know three the things about Turkish men: firstly, they are aggressive. They are nice in the beginning , but when they know you are theirs, that they have you, they will show you their anger. You know, we cannot help it. It is what we have seen our fathers do…”

“Are you saying this because of my purple eye?” I ask, trying to make a joke because I would hate to have to take this seriously.

“No, I am serious. Secondly, they are very jealous. And, thirdly, they are not good in bed.”

At this point I’m laughing.

“Really, because we are not allowed to have sex, we can’t be good. Maybe some of us are born with a good potential, but since we can’t practise, we are bad. I don’t know about your experience…” he adds and pauses for me to answer.

“Well, a lady never tells.”

“No, a gentleman never tells. And I am a gentleman. So I never tell about my experiences. All my friends like to brag about their adventures, but not me. But I can see your potential. You don’t have to tell me.”

“Really? What do you see?” I take a risk and push him and, although he is not touching me, I can feel the boneless and fleshless and skinless part of his right arm already pushing against  my left shoulder and his hand sliding down the inner part of my thigh. I gently push them away. 

“You are an amazing girl. But not to date. To marry!”

“How come?” I ask laughing.

“You are too good.”

“Damn, I blew it again”, I add pushing my head back and laughing even harder. 

” No, really.”

“OK, it’s good you already have a fiancé then. I am safe.”

“Well, I like dating and I am interested in relationships. And girls. Not just to have sex with them, you know. But to know them. I am interested in their body. I have books at home about the woman body. Their shapes, functions, you know… Red hair would look good on you, by the way.”

“Really? Did you get that idea because we are just crossing the Red River?”

“No, I am good at this. Trust me, I have seen many people… I live with my family. But when I want to be free I go to a hotel, you understand me. Do you live with your family or alone?”


“That is good. You are free. You can date several guys.”

“Why would I want to date several guys?”

“You see, I told you you are too good.”