Ahmed’s popularity amongst his circle of friends is colossal owing to the fact that he has a car. As few of his friends drive, they mistakenly think he is the Turkish equivalent of Lewis Hamilton. Ahmed enjoys driving and a day off from stacking shelves, so will often for the cost of the petrol, taxi his friends to their chosen destination. And being a shrewd Turk will drag me along so he can treat me to a day out which someone else is paying for; so I’m not being unkind when I say that Ahmed is like a dog with two tails when he manages to save money in some way.
On one such occasion he was asked if he could take Mustafa, who works in the bar adjoining his family shop, to his hometown to visit his family. Mustafa is a typical Turkish bar boy with a twinkle in his dark eyes and a ready chat up line. Not to mention killer abs, which are regularly on display to the delight of all the young female holidaymakers, and Patrick Swayze snake hips. In the past three years he has become engaged to not one but four English girls, each time having an elaborate engagement party in the bar in which he works. I often wonder if he is receiving commission and do all his fiancées realise that they have all chosen the same venue to celebrate their betrothal. Not to mention that the bar owner has officiated at all four ceremonies; so maybe he’s on commission as well.
Mustafa’s family live in a small Turkish village near Kusadasi, so we set out very early one morning fortified with petrol station bought snacks. When we arrived it was still early, so Mustafa’s elderly mother invited us inside for breakfast. They lived in a very basic upstairs apartment of a two storey building with outside shared bathroom facilities. Mustafa’s mum bustled around putting breakfast together whilst her rather large family watched genuinely fascinated by their visitors. They were a traditional Turkish family all living within the small apartment and working the land. I was genuinely humbled by their hospitality, as it was apparent that they did not have much but the little they did, they willingly shared with us. Mustafa’s family made their own cheese and butter, and the vegetables and fruit were grown in the shared garden. As his mother fussed around us making sure we were well fed, I couldn’t help but notice the array of plants all growing in her window pots. At first I was a little puzzled as to why she would be growing non-flowering plants but a second glance confirmed my suspicions. The abundant plants growing in window boxes were in fact cannabis. I did wonder if this kindly old soul was aware of the nature of the flora she was lovingly cultivating.
Maybe I was being a tad ungenerous but I speculated about what would have prompted the canny Mustafa to leave his commission based job during the main tourist season; but then maybe he had another engagement party to arrange or maybe he just liked cake!