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I’m still one of you guys—I swear!

OK OK, I know what you’re all probably thinking: “Ohh, now that Elif has clawed her way to the C-list, she must spend all her time doing cocaine with hedge-fund managers and being too much of a big-shot to write on her blog anymore.”  Well au contraire, chers lecteurs: in fact I have been prevented from blogging, not by hours of yelling at the interns for messing up the triple-organic fair-trade cappuccinos, but by the relentless pursuit of journalistic truth, to the extent that I even spent all afternoon yesterday plucking turkeys in a village near the Sea of Marmara.

Here you can see me hanging out with my new friend Duygu, who is 12 years old and wants to be a nurse when she grows up. She is definitely an A-list turkey-plucker. (I think I am somewhere on the H-list.)

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Duygu’s rents are also pretty cool:

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The dog’s name is Garip, which means “weird.” something like “strange,” “friendless,” or “outcast.”  But the really weird one alienating presence was that large male turkey, he kept walking around the scene of carnage looking important, making eye contact with nobody and nothing (I think he was a fellow member of the press). More pictures here.

Happy new year to all my loyal readers and hardworking interns!

(Ha ha, of course I don’t have any interns.  Unless you count my cat, but all he ever does is make a mess and create more work for my illegal-alien house slaves.  Just kidding.)

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11 Responses to “I’m still one of you guys—I swear!”

  1. Susan Says:

    So….Turkeys really are from Turkey!

  2. Dave Lull Says:

    Happy new year.

    Boston Globe
    Reading the Russians
    Elif Batuman’s fresh look at a forbidding body of literature
    By Peter Terzian
    January 3, 2010

  3. Elif Says:

    Dear mysterious Dave Lull! Thank you for the link and happy new year to you as well!

    Thanks also to my dad for notifying me of the correct definition of garip (see above). This actually makes sense now, because I remember my companion that day remarked, of the name “Garip”: “Strays often start out with that name, and then they become domesticated and are stuck with them.”

    Dear Susan, speaking of getting stuck with names, I don’t think turkeys are really from Turkey, but they certainly do end up here. It turns out they are popular on New Year’s.

    The story seems to be that the turkey is a New World bird, but was originally confused with the African guinea-fowl, which was called a turkey-cock because it was first imported to Europe through Turkey. Either that, or actual (New World) turkeys were imported from Mexico by the Spanish, through Turkey.

    Either way Turkish people don’t have any patriotic feelings about turkeys since the Turkish word for “turkey” is hindi which means “from India” (probably from the French dinde), which is apparently a result of the confusion between the East and West Indies.

    For a fabulous catalog of names of turkeys, see Amin Malouf’s blog (”in Lebanon… the male turkey is called ‘dik habash,’ meaning Abyssinian… cock; but the Egyptians called it ‘dik roumi,’ which literally translates as Roman rooster but by which they really mean a Greek one. The Greeks themselves know the turkey as a ‘gallopoula,’ which means French hen”).

    More amazing turkey philology here—e.g. in Chinese the turkey is called a fire-chicken or angry-chicken, and in Japanese a seven-sided (seven-surfaced) bird. Then there is this great anecdote about Choctaw:

    “There are two native words, fakit and cholokloha, both based on the sound of the bird’s call. The word fakit is pronounced just like ‘fuck it’ so it has fallen precipitously from use as the Choctaw community has become bilingual. Fakit has been replaced by akank chaaha or `tall chicken.’”

    (They don’t say what happened to cholokloha… maybe bilingual Choctaws rejected it for sounding like Coca Cola.)

    Anyway, this is definitely a bird you could call garip in various senses.

  4. Dave Lull Says:

    Sunday, January 03, 2010
    Talking about …
    …Reading the Russians.

  5. Dave Lull Says:

    STANFORD Magazine: January/February 2010 > Showcase > Author Elif Batuman

  6. Joe Freeman Says:


    Nazdrovi on the good reviews (that’s probably not spelled or used correctly). I read your piece on Russian Bells in the New Yorker a little while back and was shocked and chagrined to learn that you are not in our reading club, you know, the one that devours Russian literature by the truckload? We’re plugged here on the New Yorker’s book bench blog:
    Feel free to request a card and join up.

  7. Tara Says:

    Dear Elif,

    I made you a fan page on Facebook, because I nominate myself president of your fan club. Anyway … hopefully you won’t freak out and spill your hedge fund cocaine or anything. Onward to the A-list, Elif, turkeys and all!

    I’m crawling my way into F-list oblivion. It’ll take some time and eternal returning of many a pointless literary allusion to arrive but somehow, I shall ….


  8. Tara Says:

    Dear Elif,

    I didn’t even have a chance to read all your blog comments to other dear readers here and I’ve deduced: you know too much! I can’t keep up with you!

    Per usual, shakmaty now.

  9. Michael Fay Says:

    The Boston Globe piece was very nice! I’m wondering if you’ve seen The Last Station yet. Three of my favorite actors, but pretty miserable reviews so far. I remember seeing Christopher Plummer (a Montrealer) on Broadway in Othello in the late seventies. And Helen Mirren is always a wow. Can’t wait for the release of the book!! Happy New Year from northern Ontario.

  10. kipkirmizi Says:

    Stumbled upon your blog today after reading a review of your book in the NYT. I am relieved finally to understand “garip” — I can say that i”ve misused it many a time (thinking that it meant weird or strange). I once referred to the possiblity of sleeping with two cousins as “cok garip”. Oops. Ahh the joys of mangled language. Brava on your good reviews. And keep posting about the Turkish language. All English speakers of Turkish need a little help…

  11. Elif Says:

    dear kipkirmizi, sorry, i just saw this now—for the record, in everyday speech “garip” is used to mean “weird,” and the usage for sleeping with two cousins sounds totally fine to me…

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