By CATHERINE SALTER BAYAR
“I’m Kurdish. What do you know about the Kurds?” the attractive man at the sidewalk café asked me. Scrambling for a witty response, I said the first thing that popped into my travel-weary head.
Perhaps not the smartest thing to say but it turned out to be the opening volley in an on-going cultural exchange between me and this man, now my husband, for the past 11 years.
Six months after this encounter, I left behind relative prosperity and my own 1200 square feet in a trendy Los Angeles neighborhood for an untested business and romantic relationship. I moved into an apartment building with his traditional southeastern family of 15 on the outskirts of the western Aegean town of Selçuk.
Its population of 25,000 with large Balkan and Kurdish minorities includes a growing expat community, and Western travelers swell the ranks from April to October when they arrive to see the Greco-Roman ruins of Ephesus.
Settling in to a new physical location has been far less complicated than adjusting to different social and familial expectations.
I find I’m often out of my depth in making sense of my role as a member a Kurdish tribe. Cultural immersion can sometimes be a total submersion.
How deep are you willing to plunge into the crosscurrents of another culture?
California native Catherine Salter Bayar creates knitwear, seeks textile treasure, lives near the splendid ruins of the ancient city of Ephesus, and writes about it all in her upcoming book, Weaving Our Way Home.
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