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TÖMER Picnic

May 4, 2011

Last week, all the Turkish language students at TÖMER (a.k.a. foreigners) had the chance to go on a picnic together for a day.  TÖMER organizes about one or two cultural activities a month for the students learning Turkish.  There are activities for the Turks too, but language activities, not picnics or skiing.

Anyway, Tuesday morning we all met on three big buses and went to a grassy park/forest area a little ways out of the city.  The weather wasn´t great, but it didn´t rain.  I mean, it rained that night after the picnic was over; a complete day without rain is a rare thing in Samsun.

Something different about picnics in the US and in Turkey: it is a much bigger affair here.  It is literally a whole day affair.  It would be better described as a day outside goofing around than as a picnic where you eat food.  I mean, there was food, but that wasn´t the main part.  There was also dancing, card playing, hookah smoking, and leaf throwing among other things. 

The dancing was interesting.  Because we are all foreigners, we don´t feel the need to dance only to Turkish music.  There was a nice mix of American (English), Turkish, Palestinian, and Azerbaijani music.  And the dancing.  Turkish dancing is best described as belly dancing without the outfit.  People keep telling me I have to move more like a snake in order to do it.  Let me say something: I am not a snake therefore I find this a very hard task.  But some people do not and can dance in ways I never saw before coming to Turkey.  Palestinian and Azerbaijani dancing is very similar.  American dancing…well, isn´t quite the same.  Another aspect of dancing is that there are big line dances (where you don´t move like a snake…more fancy foot work).  Everyone does the same moves at the same time and generally moves around in a circle.  A lot of these dances are done just by the guys, though girls are welcome to join.  I love the fact that a big group of guys are willing to dance.  We just don´t have that in America.

Card playing.  Not much to say about it.  The big game in Turkey is batak.  It is similar to ‘hearts’ in a way.  I have played a lot of batak since coming to Turkey, but not with TÖMER people.  It happens to be the game of choice in classroom 11-E at Samsun Anadolu Lisesi.  In fact, it was the first thing my class taught me. 

Hookah is a very common sight in Turkey.  It was no surprise that a couple hookah showed up at the picnic.  It has a really interesting smell to it and seems to fit right in with the culture.  At the TÖMER picnic I got to see hookah being set up for the first time (from start to finish).  It is a long process. 

Then there were the leaves.  I was told that this experience would cause me to mature greatly.  Maybe I have matured (along with all the other students at TÖMER), but that doesn´t change the fact that throwing dry leaves at one another can be fun.  There was quite the fight going of for several minutes that resulted in leaves being rubbed (can´t think of a better word) into girls´s hair and stuffed into guys´s shirts.  All I can say was that is was a lot of fun.  Also proved we have a bit of child left inside of us. 

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Dr. Kay permalink
    May 4, 2011 2:45 pm

    Hi Sam! Sorry I haven’t commented for a while—been really busy lately. I think you are going to have to keep up your blog when you get back for next year too—I’m going to miss it. 🙂 Love the pix—looks like you all are having fun! So my question is what do they smoke in the hookah? Regular tobacco or an herbal mix of sorts? So they must not have an age limitation for smoking it like we have here for cigarettes since it was at your picnic? Questions, questions—I have many!! 🙂

  2. May 8, 2011 2:03 pm

    SAM! Ok, so I love this post too! Andddd I always look forward to the next! =D I love the pictures too! oooh and hookah is really big here- kids do it as a family event, at bars, etc. something i still dont understand but, yeah. 😀

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