A couple of days ago, I wrote about some of the dietary changes Richie and I have made since we arrived in Turkey. As I sit here in the apartment, looking out at the snow and slush with absolutely no desire to go outside, I’ve been thinking about the changes in how I spend my free time over the past few months.
One major change I’ve made is the fact that I read a lot less. Well, I read far fewer books anyway. When we came to Turkey, we just brought a few with us. My selections were a book on yoga, a couple on meditation (I thought these would be generally useful, unlike a novel which you just read once and are then finished with), a cooking encyclopedia, and a few small history or fiction books. Plus Lonely Planets for Istanbul and Turkey. And a book on teaching yourself Turkish (sadly, very underused). Richie brought a few of his own choosing.
I am a book junkie. I love the smell of new books, I love the atmosphere of bookshops, I love purchasing new shiny books and I love OWNING them. Over the years, I definitely bought more books than I read. I buy them three at a time. And as soon as I’ve bought a batch, I end up seeing another one about a topic I really want to learn about, or a novel that sounds so compelling I can’t resist it. I LOVE BOOKS. And obviously, I love reading them too.
Books in English are rather expensive in Istanbul. They are a luxury I can’t really afford at the moment. I have been taking my time reading the books we do have, savoring them completely, instead of devouring them one after the other like I usually do. As a result, I’ve enjoyed them much more. I have a history of being a compulsive reader. I have known for ages and ages that its best to take your time with a book, think about it, experience it, enjoying it in a deliberate and leisurely way. But I usually am interested in so many things and want to read so many books, I just fly through them, not enjoying them as fully as I could because I’m already thinking about the next three books on my reading list!
That has changed, for now. I’ve only read three full books since we’ve been in Istanbul, and I’m currently working on my fourth. Its been great. I’ve gotten so much more out of the experience of reading each one, and I haven’t spent money building up a crazy collection of books I don’t need.
I also know there is a book exchange near our apartment, run by an ex-pat who’s lived in Istanbul for years. I really have to make my way over there and see what its like. Its a great way to avoid making new purchases (therefore, not breaking my Compact pledge or spending money) and supporting a great idea.
What else? Well, now that it’s winter, I feel like we haven’t been up to a whole lot. We meet friends out and about for a drink or two. Or we visit nearby friends and have dinner together. Richie and I are still trying to do at least one Turkish-type of activity per week. We watch DVDs or downloaded films or shows at home. I spend WAY more time on the computer than ever before! I’m not sure how I feel about this. It helps me feel connected to the world, and its obviously a good way to keep in touch with friends and family. I have read lots of interesting things in the past couple of months on blogs I follow, on various web pages, etc. But I still feel like I’m a bit too tied to my computer! On a more active note, I also do yoga once a week, and I go to meditation group once a week too. That’s about it really.
I have definitely become used to an existence where entertainment=spending money on something, be it food/drinks, recreational shopping, or gigs/films, etc. What kinds of things can one do for fun that cost very little or no money? I feel like I need to think of more constructive ways to spend my time. If anyone has any cheap/free recreational activity ideas, PLEASE SHARE.