It’s taken me over two months to find an African hairdresser here in Ankara. I was protecting the ‘wedding braid’ until I finally decided to let it go. There was no option left for me, except to watch YouTube videos and commit my arms to torture. I did so a couple of times and gave up.
Eventually, I decided to give my hair a break while I hoped and prayed for a hairdresser. It was unkempt and made me uncomfortable. I had a couple of contacts but they were either too far or had Terms and conditions I couldn’t accept. So occasionally, I would contemplate on chopping it all off (after all, my head was always under a scarf) but even a scissors was not easy to come by- I couldn’t just grab one in Aunty Adzo’s shop like I would back home. There are specific shops you can find things like that. The last time I wanted a blade, the man at the supermarket offered a Gillette shave. Days later, I found a man selling packets of it at the local market called Pazar. I grabbed one.
So when my roommate (hubby) told me he’d find this Togolese hairdresser, I was overjoyed! Even for her, we tried to book appointments but failed. She is a nursing student and did braiding on the side. One time after class, I waited for her as requested but she disappointed. Later, we rescheduled on her day off and it happened.
I was to meet her after class, in another area I’d never been before. All l had was an address and a beginner’s Turkish. I am still learning. The instruction was to take the train to Dikimevi and locate her. It wasn’t an easy task since I still don’t have a local number nor internet for outside use. I was going to rely on hope and instinct.
The sex part is almost here.
So after the train ride, I followed my guts and decided to use the less complex exit– the one without an escalator; just a tall staircase to bring me from the underground. I found myself in the streets, close to a Vodafone shop. I scanned the area for any sign of a black person, at least Somalians because they are everywhere in this capital city. To my surprise, there was none. I should’ve known at that point that this place was different. There was no black person in sight to help me make a phone call to Fortune.
I decided to stand just by the roadside to think of my next move. Oh God! It felt just like I had a sticker on my forward that read “Call girl, take me home please.” I realised the men were looking at me so much I could trace their gaze all the way to the other side of the road where they make a turn yet they won’t even blink. Some made gestures like smiling or winking. For a moment I thought they were acting friendly because in these few months, I’d experienced how hospitable these Turks were. At the supermarket, shops and even the random person on the street. They’re always willing to help even before you ask. So obviously, these people couldn’t be any different.
But the women at Dikimevi told me something with their gestures. Their look was rather disdainful while the men’s felt welcoming.
Okay I get it. I am black and different. I am standing by a busy street. I look helpless. Maybe I need money to pay my fees or rent. Maybe I need to go back home. Maybe I’m just hungry. Maybe I had no option but to sell my body. It was all coming together and I begun connecting the dots. Thinking about all that felt like I’d regained my memory. All the things I was told by the women in the Ghanaian community when I first came started reoccurring like magic. I now remember their words vividly, especially the girl from Istanbul.
“Girl, these Turks have no respect for black women. The harassment is too much in Istanbul. Black girls and sex are always put in the same sentence. Even with your ring on as a married woman, you get people honking their cars behind you. It’s just terrible but don’t be surprised when you get that experience.” This is one of the cultural shocks I was made to look out for.
But in my case, Ankara was too decent and too disciplined for anything like that. In fact, from my experience people here respect and love blacks. If you have a black baby, just hide them. Everyone you meet will like to touch them. So who are these people at Dikimevi? Maybe there’s more to them than those in Kızılay and other areas I have been to.
Minutes later, I decided to enter the Vodafone shop to ask for help. I was able to reach my hairdresser and narrated my ordeal when she finally came to get me. She laughed out loud after listening and said: “I’m sorry. I should’ve told you to stay off the street.”
Well, I had to do something while waiting. After accepting this would make a good write-up, I took a few steps back, away from the street to stand in front of a shop. That was when I saw a man stop abruptly, fixing his gaze on me, probably thinking I was making a move towards him. Pervert!