The magic of Turkish tea

Even if you don’t understand the language being spoken, you can comprehend much of a conversation by the voice tone, facial expressions and gestures. So I watched carefully as my Turkish friend and owner of English Test School in Eskisehir, Tamer Ozdemir, navigated a tricky situation by using tea as a tool.

While we breakfasted on the school’s patio, Tamer shared with me his annoyance that a small car was parked illegally in front of his school, making it difficult for others to pass. To show his displeasure, he set the windshield wipers sticking out — making the car look like a bug with antennae.

Within moments, the driver appeared and he told her that she shouldn’t park there. She asked if he did that to her wipers, and he said yes. A heated conversation ensued; she explained she was new to town and was staying in an apartment in the next building and had a hard time finding parking so she parked in the only place she could find. She then left on foot after placing the wipers in their proper position.

Ten minutes later she returned. Tamer invited her onto the patio for tea. She sat as Tamer’s assistant brought the tea and they talked in a conversational tone. They talked for 20 minutes while sipping the hot tea from a traditional Turkish tea glass. At the end, they shook hands, exchanged business cards and were new pals.

A tense situation had been defused over a glass of tea. Had Tamer not tendered the invitation, there might have been bad feelings between them which might have escalated. But the gesture of sharing tea turned it around.

It makes me wonder if soldiers carried tea instead of guns, what peace accords might occur. Maybe we should try it.