This post is funnier than you think.
For those of you who are unaware, while in Ankara I’m staying with my Aunt & Uncle – Uncle J works for the South African equivalent of the foreign office (he’s a super top spy dude, obviously) and they have a beautiful apartment in a great complex. I know right… here I am being all “independent” and “making my own way” while cosying it up with my cousins in the jacuzzi downstairs. It’s a hard life for the travel weary soul. Really though, I’m just kidding – my cousins are too young for the jacuzzi.
Don’t judge me.
Anyway. Auntie E volunteers for a charity that does some great work in and around Ankara. They’re a mixed bunch of ladies, both working and way too lucky*, from all corners of the globe. The money they raise goes towards projects that have great impact in the area – everything from providing computers for underfunded schools to a focus on improving women’s education. (Even though Turkey allows women to be educated, and many people encourage it, it is still a very misogynistic culture). Today I had the pleasure of meeting a few of the ladies while helping set up the next event – the annual Charity Fashion Show taking place at the British Embassy. Just a tip for anyone who might ever be involved with something similar – NEVER EVER SMELL DONATED CLOTHES. Just don’t. Bleurgh.
From C, the Aussie Mom with a like-minded sense of humour and taste in music (ie. Cat Empire), to Canadian M who speaks Turkish like, um, a Turk, and with whom I am going partying Ankara style**, the ladies were rather lovely. While watching them sort, price & label various bits of other peoples closets, I listened to their chatter. Throughout the exclamations at the hideousness of a half Hawaiian, half Mariachi band style t-shirt, I had to stifle a serious giggle. Individually they were all what I would consider regular, down-to-earth ladies. But then…
*DUM DUM DUMMMMMM*
There is something mystical about a ‘committee’. Something almost primitive. The word itself seems to hold a transformative power over the feminine. I specify feminine because this doesn’t only apply to those who are biologically female. They change, losing perspective. It’s like a reversion to the our time in the wild – the alpha leader, the followers, and all too often (for the sanity of the masculine support involved) a challenger. It can get ugly. Things that were once a simple decision between ‘Peach’ and ‘Salmon’ for the napkins can become a cold war between two opposing factions of the tribe. Throw in the word ‘charity’ and you are simply asking for a Stepford Wife bloodbath of earth-shattering proportions, that can shake the universe itself out of balance. BEWARE!!!
Yet I survived. I had been there only a few minutes before the Grandmistress-matriarch of the Runway (who was the apparent victor in what I hear was a hostile takeover) walked in, took one look at me & said, “well you can run the Jewellery stall, OK?”. Bearing in mind I had never met her before, I had good intel from Aunt E on her personality, and I’m generally a yes person, I said… “NO! YOU HAVE NO POWER HERE!” while baring my teeth and pounding my chest. She vanished, howling, in a puff of crumpets.
That would have been awesome right? I actually just said that I’d have to think about it. To which she huffed off muttering curses at me- I’ll probably never get my roses to win at the ladies luncheon now; a life-long dream is dashed. Darn. But I was proud of myself for standing my ground. And I’ve never seen my Aunt look so wickedly pleased before. So go me.
I’m very judgmental today. Probably need to work on that, but I excuse myself in the interest of narrative. (High-five for that bit of reasoning).
It’s honestly not that bad. Most of the time its people who really do want to do some good. But watching the secret snickers and meaningful looks exchanged throughout the session, all I I could see was a bunch of ladies in extravagantly floral headpieces gossiping about the crumbly teacakes. This is totally unfair of course, as no one was wearing a hat. And everyone was really nice. Yet the vision stood with me, and it wasn’t until I arrived home that I could shake the sense of propriety. So I suppose that no matter where you are, ladies will be ladies – especially in an ‘International community’.
Let’s hope I make it through the show tomorrow in one piece. If you don’t hear from me, or my blog is suddenly populated with posts on shrubbery and teensy sandwhiches, you’ll know that I’ve been…
*I know that people who don’t work, housewives/husbands, do do other things. I also know that the option to work is something that is often undertaken not out of necessity, but passion and drive. So don’t hate me for calling them lucky. Please.
**Ankara style – like Gangnam Style, but more delightful. (Geddit???)
(Click here for Day 2)
[DISCLAIMER: The ladies involved are pretty cool, & the AICC (Ankara International Charity Commitee) is fantastic. Click here to know more.]