R and I looked on Yelp for a place to eat in north Austin this evening, and we ended up in Troy, a Turkish/Mediterranean place in a little strip mall where we had been once before, a couple of years ago.
The waiter had a very strong accent, so I asked him where he was from, and sure enough, he was from Turkey. A recent immigrant, too, apparently, because he knew very little English and asked me to speak slowly. I told him I was reading a book by a Turkish novelist, Orhan Pamuk. Ah, Orhan Pamuk, yes, yes, I like him. He asked me which book it was, but when I told him A Strangeness in My Mind, he didn’t understand ‘strangeness’.
I told him that it was a book about Istanbul, and about a boza seller. Ah, yes, yes! And he immediately gestured how they would have their buckets of boza hanging from a stick over their shoulders, and he called out “Booo-zaaa!” the way they did. That was wonderful, because Pamuk mentions several times the certain way the sellers called it out, and until now I could only imagine it.
R was fascinated with the tiny glasses and other knick knacks on display, so the waiter told us that the small tulip-shaped glasses were for raki–do you know raki? Yes, from the book! And I told him that I drank tea from glasses like that at a Turkish neighboring family’s house back in Holland.
Anyway, we ordered our meal, which was delicious, and before paying I looked up the original title of A Strangeness in My Mind so I could show it to him on my phone. Kafamda Bir Tuhaflik. He hadn’t heard of the title before, but now he knows what ‘strangeness’ means. He wrote the names of two other Turkish authors on a slip of paper for me: Yasar Kemal and Zülfü Livuneli.
Today was good.