>Ev alma, komşu al.
I learned this Turkish phrase last night, and I really like it. It means something like “Don’t buy a house, buy your neighbors.” In other words, the quality of your relationship with your neighbors is more important than the quality of the house you live in.
This saying really resonates with my desire to be part of a community, to live in right relationship with those in my neighborhood.
But in reality, being a good neighbor is not very glamorous. In fact it’s often quite mundane or even boring. Here in Istanbul it means sitting down and drinking a glass of çay, even if your mind is thinking about bills to be paid and English lessons to be written. In many ways, being a good neighbor in Turkey means letting go of American pragmatism and being prepared to do… well… ostensibly nothing. Presence is more important than productivity here.
Being a neighbor also means knowing the whole neighborhood is watching you and talking about you, but that’s a blog post for another day.