Oh, this happy life
I had my first ever kebab when I was about fifteen. The taste of fresh pita bread stuffed with red coleslaw, tomatoes, cucumbers and crisp warm pieces of lamb meat all topped with a savoury yoghurt sauce made my palate fall in love with the dish quite instantly. I kept returning and became a regular customer at the local Dönerbude (German for kebab place) in the city I grew up in.
This morning, as I was strolling through the still sleepy streets of that very same city, I came upon a cozy Turkish coffee shop that opened up recently. In the mood of Turkish breakfast, I approached the place and there he was: Mustafa, the former kebab shop owner. Even after all these years, he recognized me, beaming one of those huge smiles so characteristic of him. The kebab place had been passed on to other hands and he was now proudly showing me around his new coffee shop.
I told him I’d been living in Turkey for a while and he was both surprised and pleased to see me speaking Turkish to him now. Breakfast and çay were served, smiles exchanged, more çay.
It’s been a little over a year now since I returned from my 1.5 year Turkey adventure. That experience has shaped me in so many ways and I often find myself recalling those happy moments spent over there, just enjoying the Turkish way of life.
Sitting in the coffee shop this morning, listening to the chatter of some other customers (obviously regulars), sipping my çay, watching the people passing by from my window seat, having the sun rays of a beautiful spring day caress my cheeks, I felt teleported back to Turkey.
Mustafa introduced me to the other customers. One of them, a guy about my age, remarked: “If you’ve been to Izmir, watch out. You’ll always want to return there.” How true. Mustafa himself told how much he missed the Turkish social life. That’s why he made sure to be back every once in a while, even if only for a day or two. “I go there, get my dose of sun and immerse myself in the busy streets of Istanbul. It makes me feel alive again.”, he told me.
When I wanted to pay, Mustafa said the other guy had paid my bill. He had just left a few minutes earlier, smiling and wishing me a nice day. His invitation had passed completely unnoticed by me. This totally made my day. Is there anything nicer than enjoying other people’s company and being invited for breakfast by a total stranger?
What’s made YOUR day recently? Feel free to share your happy moments, as large or little as they may have been.