I taught this word to my Kazakh friend who came to the farm in Turkey to improve his English (the farm was run by an English couple).
Market day in the town happened three times a week, and as the only two volunteers at the farm for about two weeks, it was our job to go to the seaside town half an hour away by the village bus, to buy fruit and vegetables brought by the locals to sell.
I became pretty good at purchasing from the locals – I learned the Turkish word for ‘half’ (a kilo), numbers, and ‘thank you’ – pretty much all that’s needed! The first time I went to market was with another Australian volunteer, but the next day she left, so it was up to me, and Mr Kazakh, to go from then on. Apparently it’s cultural for men to help women, so every time I bought something, he would take the bag of fruit or vege from me. The first day I was amused, although the feminist in me questioned what to do. I continued to allow him to help, but it was a frequent topic of conversation – and hence I taught him that I am ‘capable’.
And since then, I’m the one who has had to be reminded.
Having staked out the location, I ate my supermarket broccoli and mayonnaise salad dinner, and waited for 7pm. I watched as a woman around my own age approached the building where I was going, and pressed the buzzer. The door opened, so I followed her into the hallway, and down a winding staircase to a small room that was tucked away. There a friendly Hungarian standing behind a desk greeted me, I paid my 500 forints, walked awkwardly into another room around the corner, and sat down at a table.
As an introvert, I have both loved and hated travelling by myself. The freedom to go where I like has been great. However the other side is that it can be lonely and isolating, and to make friends can be challenging – especially when it requires effort that is difficult to muster when in that place of loneliness.
I arrived in Budapest at the place I was couchsurfing, and after about half an hour, my host wanted a nap, so she asked me to go out and come back… seven hours later. Having been in the same place for a month with people who came to be my friends, with routine and a sense of comfortable predictability – to being on my own in a country where I knew no one, with no sense of safe space to just be – I felt very alone.
Tired from waking up at 4am to catch a plane, lost as to where to go – not really wanting to do anything but sleep – I felt like I had been thrown out of the nest and it was time to learn how to fly. So I went for a long walk along the Danube, sat on the bank in the blaring sun (having found a patch of wifi) messaged my friend, and tried, unsuccessfully, to hold it together. Feeling drops of water on me I looked up and saw a huge storm cloud above my head, and mused at the irony.
So what did I do? Well, I put myself out there. I looked on couchsurfing for any events that were happening, and that evening I went to the only thing on – a polygot club (despite only being able to speak English and a bit of French). Most of the people there were Hungarian and practising their English, so I think (and hope!) they were grateful for a native speaker. After about two awkward hours, two of the girls got up to leave, and I took it as my opportunity to go as well. On the way out I asked them if they were doing anything the next day, and if I could possibly meet up with them – an odd thing for introverted me to do! We exchanged details and then left.
The next day I met up with them and another one of their friends and we walked around the city and saw some sights, grabbed some lunch and in the evening went to a pub. They were all lovely and it was fun getting to know some locals. Achievement unlocked.
But even though I managed to do what I felt incapable of doing in my tired and drained state, I’m reminded that it is not me who makes me capable. I’ve had to trust God that things will work, and that he’ll help me along the way, because I really don’t have any control. Sometimes I think I act too quickly to decide the next steps, and later realise that if I’d waited a day or two, another option that may have been better arises. But at other times, it seems that when I wait I miss out on a better deal. However I’m realising that I need to trust that whatever the outcome, wherever I end up, it is all possibly just one of several options, and what matters is that I continue to learn, move forward, and trust.