This happened on Sunday night in Istanbul.
All the hotels in the city were full, so Bernie and I had to move from the nice Conrad Hotel in Besiktas to the unlisted Villa Zurich Hotel, close to Taksim. I arrived there Sunday night, and my shirts were all badly wrinkled as if they had spent the weekend inside a bottle of Coke or, as they say in Brazil, in the guts of a cow (“na barriga da vaca”).
So, I called the reception and asked for an iron and an ironing board. The person there asked me why I needed an iron for. A bit surprised, I said, “well, my shirts are wrinkled and therefore I need an iron”. Then the person replied: “You want iron for your shirts?” Even more puzzled, I said: “Yes, would that be possible?” and heard “Okay, I’ll send that to you in a moment”.
After about 15 minutes, somebody knocks in my door. I open it, and this person from the hotel has a tray with a glass some white liquid and a straw. I stared at the white glass for about 10 seconds, thinking: this is getting really bizarre. Then I asked: “What’s this?”
The person said: “Didn’t you ask for yogurt?”
Then reality sank in, and I exploded with an uncontrollable laugh. In Turkey, Ayran is a popular salty drink made of yogurt and water. I’m not sure if it’s pronounced the same as “iron”, but with my thick accent I can’t actually blame the reception person for the confusion. The poor guy was probably thinking: this guest is weird, he uses yogurt to starch his clothes.
If you ever go to Turkey, make sure you bring your Picture Dictionary, as known as Universal Phrase Book with you. It can come handy if your Turkish – or your English accent – is as poor as mine. This is ayran:
And this is iron: