Turkish customs: almost everything delivered right to your door

In Argentina you can have your soda water delivered to your door; in many parts of Turkey you can get almost anything you need without leaving the house. Provided you live nearby, most shops and restaurants will deliver to your house, even for the smallest purchases. If you make a purchase in a bigger shop (a piece of furniture, for example), almost always the shop will deliver it to your home for no additional cost. In addition to this, a plethora of vendors roam the streets selling (or sometimes collecting) their wares.

Buying melons from a street vendor


June 6, 2012 5 comments

Picture Postcards: Hurma tatlısı seller in Turkey

Today’s food cart photo was taken by our Managing Editor, Lucy, who spotted this yummy looking sweet being sold on the street.

Read more:
Lucy, our Managing Editor, experiences the world from Turkey
Recycling in Turkey
Turkey: A view from the East

March 19, 2012 Comments disabled

Lucy, our Managing Editor, experiences the world from Turkey

Meet Lucy! Lucy is our Managing Editor here at Pocket Cultures, the woman without whom Pocket Cultures wouldn’t exist! Lucy is British but she and her husband and their baby daughter Samira live in Turkey. Today, Lucy tells us about her love of seeing the world, what she misses most about the UK and why she loves living in Turkey and learning new languages.

Lucy, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’ve been fascinated with languages and other cultures since first visiting France as a teenager. Throughout university my school friend and I worked part time jobs during the summer holidays to save up and travel for a few weeks. Now I’ve lived in four different countries and still love learning languages – currently I’m working on my Turkish and trying to learn Arabic too.

Where do you live? Where are you from? If those are different, can you tell us a little about what inspired your move?

At the moment I live in Turkey. My husband Karim and I met in Spain and we thought it would be good to live in a third country as we’re both from different places. We both liked Turkey so here we are!

If you would describe yourself as multi-cultural, tell us a bit about what culture you most identify with and why. If you have kids, what culture do they most associate with?

Well, I had a thoroughly English upbringing and never lived outside the UK until I was 19. However since then I’ve lived in several different countries and my husband is not British, so I suppose I identify less completely with English culture than before.

Now part of my family is Libyan and Italian and at the moment most of my day to day interactions are with Turks so of course that alters the way I see the world and behave with other people.

I’m curious to see which cultures our daughter will associate with. She hears English, Italian and Turkish on a daily basis and since we joined a couple of international playgroups she already has friends from many different nationalities.

Can you describe a typical day for you?

Well, since I have a 4 month old baby this answer would have been very different a year ago! For the last few years, I worked from home doing freelance consulting as well as running PocketCultures so I used to spend hours every day in front of the computer.

These days I normally get up sometime between 6 and 8am, feed the baby and have breakfast with my husband. Then whilst the baby naps I catch up on what’s going on with PocketCultures. Later either I take the baby for a walk outside, or we meet neighbours or friends for coffee or join in a playgroup. To get to the town centre from where we live I have to take a dolmuş (shared taxi) and then a tram so I don’t go very often. But our neighbours often organise meetups at home and I sometimes meet friends in a nearby shopping centre.

After the baby goes to bed in the evening I have dinner with my husband, do some chores and hopefully get time to read for a while.

What language or languages do you use on a day to day basis?

English at home, Turkish everywhere else. We also have some Italian and French-speaking friends so I use those languages quite often too.

What is the best part of living in your country? The worst?

Nobody is going to believe this but I really miss English food. Having said that Turkish food is pretty good too. The worst thing about England is the weather and the lack of intercultural awareness.

The best part of living in Turkey is the people – they are extremely friendly and welcoming and in general tolerant and flexible. For me the hardest thing is having to negotiate frequently. I’m not used to it and so I find it hard to get into the ‘game’ sometimes.

Describe a favourite typical meal from your country

The most typical English meal has to be the roast dinner, or ‘Sunday roast’ (because it’s traditional to eat it for lunch on Sunday). It consists of roast meat, which could be beef, lamb, pork or chicken, accompanied by potatoes and lots of vegetables. We eat the meal with gravy, a kind of sauce made from the meat juice. There are also various accompaniments depending on the type of meat, for example mint sauce for lamb, horseradish sauce for beef.

What’s something that visitors are often surprised by when getting to know your country/culture?

How cold English houses are. Despite the cold climate we use the heating as little as possible. Plus many houses are old and not well insulated, so they can be quite cold. We are used to it though.

March 15, 2012 10 comments

PocketCultures world tour: best of 2011

Happy New Year! Our roundup of 2011 begins with a reminder that 1st January is not the beginning of a new year throughout the world. Carla wrote that Brazilians consider the year to start after February’s carnival, and Anu wrote about new year celebrations which take place at different times in different parts of India. Of course many parts of the world do celebrate the start of the New Year on January 1st, and Sandra’s post explained all about new year celebrations in Portugal.

Bolo Rei
Bolo Rei – part of the New Year celebrations in Portugal. Credit.


December 31, 2011 1 comment

Recycling in Turkey

When PocketCultures contributor Nargiza was in Istanbul airport recently, she snapped this photo of separated bins for recycling waste.


Sights like this are quite new in Turkey. But in comparison to other European countries Turkey recycles many more things in an ‘informal’ manner.

In Turkey, if something can be re-used, chances are it will be: the eskici passes in front of my house at least once per week to collect unwanted furniture, broken electronic goods and anything else that isn’t needed any more; another man patiently combs through rubbish bins to salvage empty plastic bottles; a neighbour takes away all my empty glass jars to fill with home-made pickles and sauces.

The overall volume of rubbish that actually gets sent to landfills is much lower than in many other countries in which I’ve lived.

The eskici passes regularly to collect unwanted goods

Official figures confirm this observation. In 2008 (the latest year for which measurements are available) Turkey produced 428kg municipal waste per inhabitant per year, which is lower than every country in the EU-15.

For comparison, Sweden produced 515kg per capita, UK produced 565kg per capita, and Spain produced 575kg per capita. The ‘winner’ is Denmark, which produced 802kg of waste per person. (Source: European Environment Agency)

Maybe the most interesting answer is one I received from the local council in the town where I live.

According to them, the local government does not need an official recycling programme. Instead private companies compete for permission to collect waste for recycling, because it is so profitable.


Read more

Organic recycling in Indonesia
How to reduce emissions without reducing growth
Tulip: symbol of abundance, indulgence and Istanbul

November 18, 2011 Comments disabled

Turkey: a view from the East

We often talk about Turkey as a bridge between East and West, but many times the comparisons are looking from the West. Today have a chance to see Turkey from another perspective, thanks to Ahmad Reshad Noori, a student from Afghanistan.

Reshad was part of a group of Afghan students studying Turkish in the same school when I first arrived in Turkey. These smart, enthusiastic and lively students put me to shame with their ability to learn Turkish at lightening speed! Four years later, Reshad has just graduated from a civil and environmental engineering degree at the University of Cukurova, Adana (Turkey) and is now studying for a Master’s degree. In this interview he talks about his impressions of Turkey, the rapid changes in today’s Afghanistan and his dreams for the future.


November 4, 2011 2 comments