Especially soothing syrup...
Person to person, hand to hand...
Politics spoken here...
For Language Lovers?
Stoned near Ankara
The Ladies Turkish Bath...
Driving in Turkey...
John can do...
To pay the bill...
Our "Private" Conversation...
Were you talking to me?
The Tell-Tale Thud
Cussin' in the Rain...
Ayran a good race
Just peachy ...
You're my beloved...
A dolt by any other name...
Shish enough, and more...Ed. 5.0
In early 1958, the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Nathan Twining, invited all of the NATO chiefs of staff to H-Bomb tests in the Mariana Islands of the Pacific.
Shortly after he did that, in the middle of June, my
phone rang in the Pentagon --
my caller was none other than then Lt. Col. Vernon "Dick"
Walters [who later became our
Ambassador to the UN & Deputy
Director of the CIA].
He said, "Robert,
I hear that you speak
that true?" [He was on the phone to me from the
basement of the Pentagon, where he was assigned to the Standing NATO Group
& intelligence chief.]
I suggested he ask any of the Turks in his NATO group.
So, he rang off, made the necessary queries, and in a few minutes
he called me back...
would you like to escort the Chief of the Turkish General Staff,
Gen. Feyzi Mengüç, to the upcoming H-Bomb tests?"
Of course, I leapt
at the chance & sure enough, two weeks later
all the Big Brass assembled
in Washington, DC for a few days to get acquainted before
flying -- on John Foster Dulles' personal
plane -- to Honolulu & then on to Eniwetok.
During that brief interim, I took
Gen. M. for a quick bus ride to places of
interest near his hotel. He spoke
only halting English -- which is why Walters
wanted me in the first place.
After boarding the bus, Gen.
M. started to tell me something in
English. I replied in Turkish,
"Pasam, bunun gibi durumlarda Türkçe konusmakta
hem kolaylIk hem de çok emniyet var. Onun için, izin verirseniz,
Türkçe konusalIm. Hatta aynI zamanda da etrafImIzdakiler hakkInda
He grinned & agreed. It was just
fine with him. And so, we began a private
conversation -- which continued for
several clandestine minutes. And, we thought
we were being pretty clever, I'll tell you
We became so confident, in fact, that we threw caution
to the wind and began a frank assessment of the people around
us. After a few minutes more, we noticed an attractive lady rise
from a seat nearby and prepare to depart from the bus. And as
she passed us, she leaned over and -- you guessed it -- softly
said in perfect Turkish,
"Dikkat edin; Wasington'un her tarafInda
bolbol Türkler var."
[Be careful, Washington is full
The General and I did a double take in true Hollywood style. Then he, I, and the attractive lady exploded in laughter together. And, in a flash, she was gone.
Well, you can be sure that, for the rest of our bus
journey, our conversation was the
very picture of propriety!!!
I've often wondered if
a causal factor in his retirement?
Ask for details about our
After about three weeks in Istanbul, I had picked up just enough Turkish to survive.
One day, I was walking through the Grand Bazaar with a British friend. As two foreigners, we got the usual offers of tea and great prices from the many vendors, but declined them all. We weren't shopping, just walking through, engrossed in our conversation.
One of the vendors, whom we had ignored when he tried to lure us into his shop, began gesturing and complaining loudly in Turkish. I couldn't understand a word of what he said, but from his tone, I could tell that it was far from complimentary.
At first, his uncalled-for harangue startled me. Then it irritated. And I quickly made up my mind that I wasn't going to let him know how ignorant I really was about the Turkish language.
So, I turned to him and gave him my best-ever bluff...
"Efendim?" I asked clearly*.
His jaw dropped two feet, he turned bright red, and started, I assume, apologizing profusely.
I didn't stick around long enough for him to
"I'm sorry, I didn't hear you well. Could you repeat please?"
Click here to learn
about all the uses of "Efendim..."
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