The Apartment We Hate (AWH)

Though the apartment at which we were staying temporarily is tucked into the end of a cul-de-sac, it was only quiet from about 4am until 8 or 9am. That’s because there are several bars, clubs, and restaurants nearby. One bar has a back window that opens to the inner court shared by a few buildings behind our bedroom window.

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The inner court is used as an unofficial storage area for discarded items.

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Every city has this kind of thing. In Chicago, up until a decade or so ago, you could bribe an alderman who represented a not-so-posh neighborhood and he (it was always a “he”) would let you dump your waste on an empty lot.

Plus the rooftop three stories above that bar houses another bar.

During the course of the first night there, through our bedroom window, I heard everything from “London Calling” to “You Give Love a Bad Name.” Then it sounded like a band was playing. Then at one point I heard both Pink Floyd’s “Time” and Def Leppard’s “Pour Some sugar on Me.” Those two songs together do not make a good mashup.

Outside the windows to the kids’ bedroom was the back door of a club that opened to an outdoor area (not accessible from the street) where people congregated to smoke and talk. Every time the door would open the music pounded through the steady din of conversation and hit the entire cul-de-sac with the shock of an M-80.

Meredith came out of the room and complained to me many times that she couldn’t sleep. Several times I went into the room Henry and Meredith shared to try and soothe them. Later, Stephanie went to see what she could do after Meredith got out of bed and turned on the hallway light around two in the morning.

We couldn’t open the windows because then the sound from outside was even louder. There was no air conditioning either. So we were all basting in our own sweat.

It was difficult to think straight because of the exhaustion induced by the noise, the heat, and the jet-lag.

The kids finally fell asleep after Stephanie put the lone fan in their room to act as white noise.

The kids are supposed to start school on Monday. How can they go to school if they can’t sleep? My mind was wondering what the hell we were supposed to do. First, the apartment we thought we were renting turned out to not be available until September 8th. Then we were told we could stay at this other place, which was hot and loud….Finally, I fell asleep.

In the morning, after eating a slight breakfast of some scrambled eggs, peach juice, and coffee, I headed out in a dress shirt, tie, slacks, and sportcoat for my job interview. Thanks to some wonderful friends here who passed around my resume, I was contacted a month ago about teaching writing.

I found my way to Yeditepe University, deep into the Asian side via funicular, ferry across the Bosphorus, and then a bus. Arriving there a half-hour late for my 10am appointment, I apologized repeatedly for my tardiness but no one made a big deal out of it. They said it was okay because it’s difficult to get to the university from the European side. Once I have credentials as an instructor, I’ll get to take a free shuttle bus that runs more quickly than the hour and 40 minutes it took me to get there.

The interview went very well. I had a nice long talk with one of the instructors.

“How long have you been in Istanbul?” he asked early on.

“Since yesterday afternoon,” I said.

“Whoa!”

He told me about the job, the curriculum, the kinds of students, and with the coordinator we discussed what the salary and benefits would be. The university will obtain a work permit on my behalf, but I have to request a copy of my diploma from USC, which is impossible to do if you do not have access to the Internet. (The AWH did not have Internet.) If I had known about this understandable requirement, I would have made a photocopy of my diploma to bring with me. My diploma is in a box, buried somewhere in the basement of our home in Michigan.

I have never taught writing before. My only experience with any form of instruction is in the corporate environment creating training guides and conducting some training. So this is going to be a new experience.

As I left, the instructor helped me get an Istanbul Kart so I can ride all forms of public transport in Istanbul without having to carry coins for tokens with me everywhere. I used it to ride back to the European side via the bus, ferry, and funicular.

When I returned to the AWH, I found three people suffering from cabin fever and more. Henry had thrown up shortly after waking up and was lethargic through most of the morning (though he didn’t throw up again). He had spent the morning and early afternoon on the couch, drifting in and out of sleep. My wife and kids hadn’t been out all day. They wanted out of the apartment and its proximity to bar-life as soon as possible.

I took Meredith with me and we looked for someplace nearby that had wireless internet. We thought that Starbucks would be okay. After we had paid for our drinks and food (a brownie and tiramisu), we sat down and I tried to use the wifi.

Their service, WiSpotter, requires you to use your Facebook account. I said fine. But then, in order to verify your logon, they wanted to send me a code via SMS to my phone, which I was to then enter on a website. I don’t yet have a working phone in Turkey. So other than Facebook, I had no access to the internet. I managed to share our safe arrival and early frustrations on Facebook but that was it as far as communicating via the Information Superhighway.

Frustrated with the text message requirement for logging onto the internet, I ate my yummy tiramisu. Meredith didn’t like the taste of her brownie. So I packed up the brownie and put it in my laptop bag, and we walked back outside into the sun and heat to look for an internet cafe. At least the Starbucks had been air conditioned.

Meredith used my phone to take a picture of the street we had been walking on. This is a wide street by Istanbul standards.

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We wandered a bit, off Istiklal Street, and found an Internet cafe on the second floor of a building. I couldn’t use my laptop; only the Windows computers they had set out.

I paid all of 1 lira ($.50) to check my email, send a message to my in-laws letting them know we were in Istanbul, and to send another message to our Landlord To Be (LTB) that the current place was far too loud and that if her apartment was not quiet there might be a problem. Then I booked a nearby hotel at which to stay for at least four nights, starting the next day. While I did all of this on a Turkish keyboard (there are two keys for the i, one with the dot and one without, and the @ symbol is on a letter key), Meredith fell asleep in the chair next to me.

The upside of a job is that it gives us a bit more room financially to find another place if the one that has been promised is not suitable for a family with school-aged children. We don’t need another apartment to hate….Who knows? It could all work out and we might not have to search for another place to stay.

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6 thoughts on “The Apartment We Hate (AWH)

  1. Oh! Hope you can move before the 8th because noise can be a horrible problem! Happy about your interview, congratulations!!

    • We’ve managed to move into a hotel, after another adventure. But we’ll have to move into another one (yet another story) in a few days.

      Thank you! I’m excited about the job.

  2. Sorry it isn’t a wonderful start to your Istanbul adventure. I taught English when I was overseas and it was quite a challenge. Congrats on the interview!

    • It’s been bumpy but we’ve managed to roll with it.

      Thanks. Teaching writing to Turk undergrads will be interesting. I’m looking forward to it. I’ll be in the Foreign Languages Department and they teach over a dozen languages.

  3. Brave New World! (Well actually it is the opposite….)
    Congrats to you and all of your family, Rich!
    Be safe and have lots of fun.

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