Meeting Marriott Managers at a Turkish Engagement Party

Most of the people I’ve met in my life have said a lot more than they’ve done.

“I work as a manager at the Marriott and I’m able to think of ten people who are interested in having English lessons.”

I was at a student’s engagement party a few weeks ago and I engaged in a lot of small talk since many guests were enthusiastic about speaking English to a native English speaker (I was the only foreigner there too. It was extremely pleasant to be at an authentically Turkish event). I didn’t plan on talking to anyone actually; I was comfortably sitting, and sometimes standing, in a corner of the living room with my phone to film the traditional event of the man’s family (the father, in particular) and the woman’s family (her uncle because her father died from lung cancer six years ago) meeting and discussing the possible engagement and marriage of the man and woman and of the man to drink a cup of salty Turkish coffee prepared by his beloved in front of all relatives and friends while the men of both families continue to discuss about the couple possibly marrying. The point of the salty Turkish coffee drinking is to better evaluate whether the man is indeed suitable for the woman. I was excited to be invited to the event and planned to only happily film a large portion of the conversation and take photos of the beautifully-decorated snacks and dishes and pastel colors in attendance. I had never been invited to an engagement party before and I thought it was a great chance to experience something culturally Turkish that most foreigners have definitely never gotten to witness.

No one spoke to me until it was time to eat and talk (after both families specifically the men [because it’s still very much cultural for the men of the couple’s families to get together for the woman’s father to decide whether or not his daughter could marry the man in question] agreed to consent to their children to marry and, hopefully, to live happily ever after). I was content with trying all the food especially taking several servings of a rice salad that I became quickly fond of (this is due to my being Asian and simply having a strong love for rice). I sat in my corner when the people sitting next to me introduced themselves to me as friends of my student’s newly established fiancé. The friends were each a couple and the men spoke to me more than the women (only one of the women knew English well enough to or wasn’t shy to speak); they were managers at the great and reputable Marriott in the European Side of the city. One of those dazzling managers told me that English was extremely important in Turkey but not enough people were any good at speaking it. The ‘necessity to speak English’ topic went on for a long while. A few of the managers didn’t feel that they had sufficient English to talk to guests so they did other much-needed tasks but wish to be able to speak more confidently with foreigners. They claimed that even when they spoke with foreigners, it wasn’t enough to reach a more adequate English level.

Some of the managers present began to ask me about my availability to teach private lessons and I was asked for my number more than once. I talked about having Business English teaching experience and they looked interested in arranging lessons. I said it wasn’t a problem to contact me and to create a Business English program.

They looked delighted to keep in touch.

The managers and man’s relatives and other friends, including the man himself left my student’s home and I had a good rest of the night.

I didn’t expect much from that long conversation. I would be more than happy to give lessons to those managers but I was never contacted and my student (whom the managers spoke to about hoping to message me) informed me that she gave my number to them so she knew they had my number when I saw my student some weeks later to ask about how everyone was doing (and she wanted to talk about my thoughts and feelings about the party, in fact).

I’ve met a lot of people who mention (on more than one occasion too when they see me) they were interested in seeing me for lessons or for meeting somewhere or for bringing a dessert for me to try because they insisted I had to try it and none of those people have ever kept their word. I’ve never asked anyone for anything, much less pressured anyone at all as I usually mind my own business and do my own thing but I would still like it if people did what they said. I’m not the type of person to feel bad about such false words but I think about what people say and don’t do because I’ve thought about if I’ve ever done such a thing as they have and I’ve never had. I can’t bring myself to say I’ll do something and not do it. This is not my character. I can understand that making promises is part of small talk and only for the sake of it is how people are but I refuse to do this very thing. When I say I’ll do something and don’t do it, I feel awful. I don’t mind passing the time talking to anyone but they shouldn’t say what they would do and end up not doing it. Because I’ve gone through a lot in my life and I don’t depend on anyone to feel good, I’m okay when people don’t call when they say they would but I always steer clear of these people, or people I perceive to be inconsistent. It’s unacceptable behavior to promise to do something, especially to repeat it a few times, and not follow through.

I hope everyone is careful with what they say they’ll do.

(I hope those managers keep their word with their guests.)



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Deborah Kristina

Author of ‘A Girl All Alone Somewhere in the World’, ‘Confessions and Thoughts of a Girl in Turkey’, ‘From Just a Girl Grown Up in America’. (