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Turkish Delight

At the age of fifteen, our son, Henry lived in Istanbul, Turkey, for a year as an exchange student. Later he majored in Turkish studies in college. While living in Turkey, Henry stayed with a family who had a son, Mustafa. We made this a true exchange when we invited Mustafa to come to our home to spend a year going to school in America. Our invitation of one year turned out to be ten years. After Mustafa graduated from our local high school, he got his bachelor’s degree at our state university and his MBA from Loyola. He began working in Chicago, and that’s when his parents informed their only child it was time for him to return to his home in Istanbul. When Mustafa returned to Turkey, he met the love of his life. Our family went to our Turkish son’s wedding and met his parents and his beautiful bride.

Before we left, we shopped for souvenirs to bring back home. And, of course, we spent a day at the world-famous Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. We had a long list of items: silk scarves, leather bags, Russian caviar, teas and spices, painted pottery, the list was endless. You cannot buy anything in the bazaar without bargaining.

We spent a long time in one shop. Each time the shopkeepers had a price for us, we added one more jar of caviar, another scarf, or more spices. Any every time we added something, the owners of the shop conferred with each other to re-compute a price to include our latest addition.

My husband, daughter, and I kept haggling over the price and although the shopkeepers were fluent in English, they chatted back and forth in Turkish while we decided on our purchases. After a very long time, still unable to agree on a reasonable price for all our items, one of the men looked at Henry and said, “You’re their son, aren’t you? Why are you so quiet?” In perfect Turkish, Henry replied, “Because it’s more fun to listen. And, yes, my sister’s red hair is natural, and she is happily married and not available to go home with you; and I agree, my father is too fat and doesn’t need another can of caviar!”

The store owners were shocked to hear a young American speak flawless Turkish but they appreciated the joke that was played on them and we all laughed together. As Henry knew, Turks have a wonderful sense of humor.

Kay Gillett Moody and her husband James T. Moody have been married for almost 50 years. Although they are in their 70s, both continue to work full time, Jim as a United States District Court Judge in the Northern District of Indiana and Kay as an owner, administrator, and instructor at the College of Court Reporting in Hobart, Indiana. Kay is presently writing her sixth court reporting textbook for online students. Her website is

Reprinted from "Female Nomad and Friends" by Rita Golden Gelman. Copyright © 2010. Published by Three Rivers Press/Crown Publishers, a division of Random House, Inc.

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