Friday 7 March 2008

The road to Byzantium

You know that saying about the long and tortuous Byzantine ways? About never taking the direct approach or telling the naked true, but embellishing –or lying- out of properness or politeness or not to loose face.

Here, in modern Byzantium, it is a corner stone of society. It is impolite to tell the truth in many occasions, and is even more impolite to tell somebody that he/she is lying, even if it is very obvious.

So we hired once a young man to help with the garden a couple of hours a day. This young man got very often ‘distracted’ and forgot to come to work, but had always very good reasons:
First, his grandma died; then his maternal uncle got sick, then his paternal uncle had an accident, and so on. In a couple of weeks he run out healthy relatives and I run out of patience, so he had to go.


Last somebody send us a very funny example of this customs by mail. Over lies and politeness, good manners and indirect approach, and the long and winding road to Byzantium. Enjoy!

Mehmet and Ayşe are two students sharing a flat in Istanbul. Mehmet’s mother, living in another city is invited to dinner one evening at the flat.

During the meal, Mehmet’s mother observes Ayşe long and hard, noticing that she is a very pretty and attractive girl, and wondering if they are more than roommates. Mehmet, who can read his mother’s mind, says:
Mum, I know what you are thinking, but we are roommates, nothing more!
After dinner, Mehmet’s mother goes back to her house.


After a couple of days, Ayşe says:
Mehmet, since the day your mum came to dinner, I can’t find the silver sugar dish.

Mehmet replies;
I can’t imagine that my mother took it, but I will write her a letter anyhow.


And so Mehmet writes;
Mummy, I am not saying that you took the silver bowl. But I am not saying that you didn’t. The point is, that since the evening that you came to dinner, the silver bowl is missing.
Love, Mehmet

A week later a letter arrives from Mehmet’s mum:
Dear son: I am not saying that you are sleeping with Ayşe, but I am not saying either that you are not sleeping with her. The point is, that if Ayşe slept in her own bed, she would have found the silver bowl.
Love, Mum.