Sunday, October 21, 2012

lost in translation: chapter Istanbul

Istanbul is laid out like this:

I was staying at point A and the "old city," where the Grand Bazaar and the Hagia Sophia are located, is at point B. There are ferries that continually take passengers the 20-minute ride across, which is faster and significantly cheaper than driving/taking a taxi.

Six of us decided to take the ferry to the old city and have a look around. After a fun evening, even though everything was closed, we headed back to the ferry to find it closed. No more boats that evening.

The line of taxis outside the ferry station told us we weren’t the first to make this mistake. We asked the taxi driver to take us to our area, Kadikoy.

“Kadikoy? Yes, yes, I take you Kadikoy.”
“How much will that be?”
“10 each.”

I should’ve thought something was up, because with three people in the car, that would have amounted to 30 for the whole trip, which is about $16, and it’s a good thirty-minute or more drive to the other side. We divided ourselves up and got into the taxis. About two minutes into the trip, we realized our taxi driver didn’t speak any English aside for numbers and apparently “Yes, I take you.” About ten minutes into the trip, he starts saying “Kadikoy” and a whole string of other things in Turkish that we couldn’t understand.

I began to understand that Kadikoy was a much larger section of the city than we realized and he didn’t know where to take us after that. So I got out my camera and found this picture:

This was located a couple blocks down from our
 hotel and a semi-known landmark. 
I showed it to him and he pulled over and stopped the car. He made a bunch of wild hand gestures and said a lot more things, in which I used context clues to discern that he meant, “get out of my car.” So we got out and he drove away.

Fortunately, all three of us were good-humored people, because we laughed and hailed another taxi. Again, no English, again, I showed him the picture. To this he said “Kadikoy ships?” and we said “Yes, will you drive us there?” and he said, “Yes, I drive you.”

He drove to the ferry station. It was closed. We already knew that.

Using my “universal sign language” skills, I pointed at him and said “you” and then I made driving motions and said “drive” then I pointed at all three of us and said “us” and then I pointed at my picture. Fortunately he said yes and drove us back to our hotel.

Lessons learned:
  1. I will never take second-language English speakers for granted again.
  2. Carry a map and address of your hotel with you at all times. 

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