Turkish neighbours are usually very friendly, at least until they fall out with each other and swear vengeance, but even then they usually communicate by insult. Silence rarely reigns. When we started building our house in 1991, our nearest neighbour lived on the corner of the lane, a good 400 metres away and well out of sight from where we had chosen to build our house. She was an old woman, wrinkled and weather beaten and long widowed, who would sit on her step and watch the world go by. I would greet her every time I passed on foot and occasionally wave from the car and she would totally ignore me every single time. I have continued to wish her good morning and good evening in the intervening two and a half decades but she has never once replied. I realIse that I may have looked strange to her, a tallish blond with funny foreign ways and a pampered pooch in the days when dogs had to work for their supper, and we had decided to build a house on what she obviously considered her side of the village, (her house being the only one on the left side of the road until we came along) but my neighbour, who is now next door but three, never let on to anyone why we had been sent to Coventry before we even moved in. This evening, I walked past with the dog lead in one hand and a black bin bag in the other - the municipality has given us a rubbish collection service now and the bin is next to her house. My neighbour was on her step again, looking exactly the same as she did the first time I passed, I smiled as usual and wished her good evening and shock, I got a good evening back! I almost did a comical double take but she was still talking. "Is your husband dead?" she asked, "when did he die?" No, he's at home, I replied. He's watching the football . "I heard he died" she insisted. "No, no" I countered, lost for anything to add to this exchange and carried on to the bin. As I passed her on the return, she wished me a good evening and I threw back "Are these the words I've waited 25 f***ing years for? Of course that was only what was on my mind, my lips just mouthed "Same to you".
I've lived here long enough to know that tact is not a common Turkish characteristic. Did she finally decide that we had had something in common after all this time and communication could begin? As conversations go, I don't think it was worth waiting 25 years for.