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Inside the Book
Title: You Must Only To Love Them: Lessons Learned in Turkey
Author: Ann Marie Mershon
Publisher: Maple Hill Publications
Living overseas is the best way to understand the world and its varied cultures. Recently divorced, Ann Marie decided to pursue her life dream of living overseas and accepted a position as a prep school English teacher in Istanbul. Ann Marie battled loneliness as she tried to make the most of her ex-pat existence, and her forays into the Muslim culture and the stunning landscape of Turkey brought them both close to her heart. This memoir is part travelogue, part adventure, and part romance. Now is your chance to vicariously experience life overseas, glimpse Islam from the inside, and perhaps explore Turkey on your own.
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At Harem my stomach lurched as I scanned the scene: hundreds of busses –green, blue, long, short. How would I ever find the one to Koç? I approached a man in a chauffer’s cap. “Do you speak English?”
“Hayir, ama giteceğim,” he answered, then disappeared. Did he want me to wait? I gave it an optimistic try. Soon he returned with a bushy-browed man in a plaid shirt. “How can I help you, Lady?”
Ah, hope! “I need to find the bus to the Koç School.”
“The Koç University?” he asked.
“No, the high school. Near Pendik.”
“There is no bus to Pendik here,” he said. “You must take ferry to Eminönü, then take Kadiköy ferry and train.”
My heart sank. The man at Eminönü must have thought I meant Koç University. I didn’t even know there was one! It would take all day to get home if I had to backtrack. And I wouldn’t have enough lira! Frantic tears filled my eyes.
“Maybe I can help. One minute, please.” Once more I waited, heart pounding. My hair was sizzling, my blouse glued to my back. I’d never felt so alone. Libby cowered beside me in the midst of bus-station chaos as I prayed this man would find me a way home. He returned smiling. “I found bus driver who knows Koç Lisesi. He will help you. Come.”
He led me through a sea of busses to a blue mini-bus similar to those I’d used with Jana. I settled behind the driver with my purple backpack on the floor and Libby’s case in my lap. It was tight, but I felt safe. The driver nodded at me knowingly. “Do you speak English?” I asked. He shook his head.
“Koç Lisesi,” he said.
“Yvet,” I answered. Yes.
It took fifteen minutes for the bus to fill, and we were finally off. We drove and we drove and we drove. Body odor permeated the bus as it filled and emptied numerous times, mostly with men. A few smiled at me, while most avoided my gaze. I wasn’t alone, just caught in the isolation of the wrong language. We drove forever. “Don’t worry, Libby,” I whispered. “We’ll get home.” I hoped so, anyway.
An hour later the driver pulled over under a bridge and signaled me to get out. He wasn’t going to abandon me there, was he? He said something to the other passengers, then motioned me to follow him up a stairway to the overpass.
He crossed the bridge, jay-walked through traffic, and led me to a crowded bus stop. When he paused to light a cigarette, I said, “Teşekkur ederim” (Thank you) and handed him five of my remaining lira. He pushed my hand away, indicating that I should wait. I shook my head and pointed to his bus. He looked back at his stranded passengers and nodded, then strode over to some men standing nearby. I heard “Koç Lisesi” and “Tepeören” (a town near the school). He returned and indicated that I should follow these men; he would go back to his bus. I tried again to tip him, but he shook his head resolutely.
A grizzled man with a crocheted scull cap strode over and asked me something in Turkish. “Anlamadım,” I said. I don’t understand. He repeated himself, more loudly this time. “Anlamadım!” I repeated. He tried a third time, even louder. “Anlamadım!!!” I boomed. Was he deaf? He nodded, nonplussed, then stood silently beside me, my aged protector.
Meet the Author
Ann Marie Mershon is a retired English teacher living with her husband near the Boundary Waters of NE Minnesota. She writes every day but also finds time to enjoy the outdoors, whether it’s hiking, biking, skiing, kayaking, or just sipping a cup of coffee as the sun rises.
She always enjoyed writing but didn’t start writing in earnest until about twenty years ago. She began with an enthusiastic effort at a YA novel, only to realize it was little better than recylable material. She took a series of writing courses and workshops before she began writing a weekly newspaper column then graduated to freelancing, writing articles for newspapers and magazines.
Her first published book was a middle-grade historical novel, Britta’s Journey ~ An Emigration Saga. It was based on a local family’s emigration from Finland to Minnesota. After teaching a few years in Istanbul, she met a woman who guided small tours of the city and talked her into collaborating on a guidebook of her tours, Istanbul’s Bazaar Quarter, Backstreet Walking Tours. This book is in its third printing, soon to be released as an e-book and as a phone app.
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