It’s the end of Ramazan. Cos didn’t fast this year because his kidney was removed, and since fasting wouldn’t be good for him, he gets a pass. Now it’s the holiday of Eid-al-Fitr, here called Seker Bayrami, meaning “sugar holiday” – a sweet excuse to eat baklava while visitng family. And by visiting family, I mean we’ve been visiting Elif’s family, and their in-laws, and their in-laws’ in-laws, and fourteenth cousins of dead inlaws whose spouses were lost in the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Each visit is pretty much the same – take your shoes off, look at pictures of grandchildren, accept chocolate candies and hide them in your pockets when the host isn’t looking, accept candied chestnut pieces and passing them to Cos who vacuums it down, and drink tea followed by coffee followed by more tea, followed by the candy that you had to bring them which they then had to serve back to you on a nice plate which was the same plate as the one at the last place, then 40 minutes later (Dilek had promised it would only take 10) you’re swept away into another traffic jam and off to the other continent to see another relative whose connection everyone forgets, but you remember from the year before.
We went to Cos’ aunts and going home was amazing. We left at 9:45 and arrived home at 2 AM – it was 20 kilometers total. It started to snow and never stopped, three inches total, but it was icy, and all these Turks were literally pushing their cars. The cars are tiny, not like American SUV’s, and none of them could move, all the wheels were spinning, so lots of boys were pushing the cars and walking them from Europe to Asia, like a kid carrying his bike up a hill that’s too steep. Cos was panicking and Elif talked him through it, telling him how to steer out of a skid, how to pump the brakes, soothing his ego by saying she’s had experience driving in lots of wintery conditions in America. Things got fun when our “out of gas” light came on halfway across the bridge. But we made it home OK.
In two months will come the delightful festivities of Eid ul-Adha, “animal slaughtering day,” which commemorates Abraham’s hearing voices and trying to cut his kid’s throat. Hooray! I first learned of the holiday a couple of years ago, when I looked down from Elif’s mother’s balcony to see a bunch of men spilling a lot of blood slaughtering a cow, right in the middle of the street below the apartment. (Good thing I didn’t look up; one of Elif’s mom’s friends had upstairs neighbors who were sacrificing a sheep on the balcony, where it dripped onto her own…) At Elif’s dad’s apartment, they pool their money and purchase and slaughter a sheep right in their indoor garage, where they park their cars. Anyway, the purchaser of the sheep keeps something like 10% of the animal and then distributes the rest of it to the poor, which is good for everyone except for the sheep.