The Simitci and early Mornings

In summer it is difficult to sleep in the mornings. The heat, traffic noise (I live close to a busy road) and light are not conducive to good sleep.

In winter I shut the doors and windows and put the blinds down. These actions cut out the light and reduce the noise substantially. The heat is not a problem in winter (obviously) and although the apartment is cold, a hot water bottle and thick blanket perform admirably.

If I kept the doors, windows and blinds shut in summer I’d have an involuntary sauna. My bedroom does have air conditioning but it is noisy, not split-system and installed as an after-thought. It was placed in the window separating the bedroom from the balcony. The hot air is spewed out onto the balcony the other side of the thin windows. With the air conditioning I also have to open the curtains to allow the cool air to flow. Once in a previous summer I left the air conditioning running all night. Well, I planned to. In the middle of the night I woke sweating like no man before. The electricity was out and my involuntary sauna had come into effect.

Basically, it is more convenient to ignore the air conditioning. If I owned my flat I would seriously consider removing or upgrading the air conditioning system. The current ‘box’ is massive and effectively reduces my usable balcony space by %25+.

What has this got to do with simitci?

A ‘simitci’ is a person who sells ‘simit‘, donut-shaped bread rings. Every city has their own style of simit. Ankara is famous for its simit but my favourite is the simit from Adana. Simitcis often walk the streets carrying simit on a tray above their head. Simitci’s are almost always males – I have yet to see a female simitci.

To create awareness and attract attention as they walk along, simitcis call out in their deep voices “simitci”, “taze (fresh) simit”, “sicak (hot) simit” and other such war cries. Even the young boy simitcis have deep voices.

One of the simitci’s who pass by work everyday has a mild intellectual disability. It is fantastic that he is making himself useful. To support him Sevil buys simit even if nobody in the office wants it. Daily he passes, opens the office door and bellows “simit”, asking us several time if we want simit. If nobody is hungry for simit we have to say no two or three until he receives the message. Often his bellowing is not appreciated, when staff are either speaking on the phone or dealing with customers, for example. Sometimes he breaks out and starts singing a folk song. It is very funny and he is a good singer.

Simitcis walk the streets for long hours and work very hard. Some begin early in the morning at first light or before. The combination of deep voice and early morning create a penetrating sound. With the open doors, windows and blinds, in my sleep I can hear the simitci approach from a long distance away.

Today a simitci woke me up just after 7 am. I won’t lodge a complaint or protest too much, just accept the fact that simitcis are a great part of Turkish life. They are certainly much better than the Ramazan drummers!

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