Our Small Town in Maltepe

I’ve wondered if I could ever truly feel at home in a city of 17 million people. I’m not what I’d consider a city slicker, and the feel of a small town appeals to me. The hustle and bustle of Budapest was a bit much for me, and that’s a city of 2 million. However, I’ve realized how Turks compensate. It’s as if small towns pop up in little enclaves around the city, and I’ve found immense delight at finding such a small town feel in our neck of the woods.

Our new location is a bit off the beaten path, but not so much so that people will make excuses in order to get out of trekking across the city to see us. I’ve been delighted that in less than two weeks I’ve found a place in this community. I have a tailor who greets Ellie by name every time I step foot in his shop. I went to pick up my order from him recently and he wasn’t there. I queried next door to see if the lady at the food shop at any idea where he was, and she promptly unlocked his shop, accepted the payment, and presented me my freshly tailored curtains. What service!

We also have a grocery store we love. Again, when we go in everyone delightfully shouts, “Eleanor is here” and come around to visit with her and to kiss her. While walking in the produce section the sweet woman who weighs my fruits and veggies took Ellie to her scale area and told Ellie she’ll watch her while I finish getting my produce. She fed her two bananas and doted on her, making Eleanor buzz with energy reminding me that she is indeed a true extrovert. Upon exiting the store a nice man loaded up the store’s service van with all of our groceries, explained to the driver to unload for me since I have a baby, and then we set off to our home. What was a 3 minute free service ride from the grocery store would have been a 12 minute walk in the rain with 15 kilos of groceries and 11 kilos of baby on me. The driver delivered the groceries to the front door of the building, and a neighbor showed up right then and insisted on carrying the groceries up our 4 flights of stairs. My husband did come down to help and intercepted the errand, but it was a sweet gesture on the part of my neighbor nonetheless.

In our neighborhood we also have the guy I call “the everything guy.” His shop is full of anything and everything. Just imagine it, and it’s probably there. He knows I’m a foreigner and looks out for me in the neighborhood. While purchasing my items a woman outside yelled to him to inquire on the cost of a product. He yelled back, “On iki”- 12. She replied, “on sekiz?”- 18? Again, back and forth 2 more times until I finally yelled for her to understand. My voice is pretty high-pitched and can get through to even those with hearing problems. After she left we both chuckled a bit and I said to him in Turkish, “Maybe she’s a foreigner. Just kidding!” He then cracked a smile and said, “good joke.” It sounds funnier in Turkish. I suppose it’s entertaining to hear a foreigner crack at joke at their own expense.

At any rate, I’m thrilled that we have a lovely bakery we enjoy, extremely kind neighbors, a great kebab place and a local pazaar once a week that’s less than a one minute walk away. We are so thankful for our new home in this little small town in the midst of a gigantic city.


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About Melissa

Melissa is a wife, mama and fan of all things Turkey. Among other adventures, Melissa loves living life in Turkey while raising her daughters. On IstanbulMoms you can hear about her adventures and escapades, tips for success, strategies for untangling the culture, and ideas for enjoying life in Istanbul to the fullest.

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