“Forest ghost brings you love and luck”.
I never met Sharon, my mother-in-law. Sounds like the opener to a tired joke, but it’s the simple truth; my wife Tara and I got together in 1997, by which time her mom had been dead from lung cancer for nearly three years. By all accounts, it’s my loss—everyone who knew her suggests she was a great lady.
Among those who knew her is a semi-retired college professor in Turkey named Esin Hoyi. When Esin was a young girl, she traveled to the United States and lived for a brief time with an American family—my mother-in-law (when she was a teenager) and her sister and their folks.
Throughout Tara’s childhood, her mother told her she had a Turkish “aunt”, and after Sharon’s untimely death, Tara and Esin started corresponding. When the time came last spring to embark on a follow-up to our great London adventure of 2009-2010, we decided to travel to Istanbul to partake of a new culture and to meet Tara’s aunt and uncle for the first time.
And to buy toys, should the occasion present itself.
Just before we left Asmara, Esin e-mailed Tara to share what must surely be the highlight of this people’s noble culture: they have a tradition whereby they make every effort to prioritize the indulging and spoiling of the niece’s husband. As such, Esin asked Tara to let her know before our arrival what I was most interested in seeing.
“Just tell her all the stuff you want to see,” I said. “And then add ‘toys’ and ‘ice cream’ to the list.”
And what do you know—they had a toy waiting for me in the form of Arçelik, a fully-articulated battery-powered robot with disarmingly cute eyes. Naturally, he speaks Turkish. (Full disclosure: the electronics company for which the robot serves as mascot is called Arçelik. I am not certain whether this is also the robot’s name.)
As if this wasn’t awesome enough, after a brief tour of the Blue Mosque, we visited some booths at the bazaar, where I found some keychain critters called Forest Ghosts. Here is some crucial information in the form of the packaging bio (the nonsensical syntax is the fault of the Forest Ghost manufacturers):
The Magic Power
He comes from a rude forest of African.he escape from the wild fires of forest. His strength is endless, he can travel through the time and space,he can convert different roles to rescue or punish the human.
I only ever snapped a few hasty photos of my Forest Ghosts and my Turkish robot before tossing the poor things into storage in Twin Falls, Idaho during our annual trip to the States. And really, I should have known better than to mistreat them so, ‘cause while we were in Istanbul, we also bought Oyuncak Hikayesi 3; you know it as Toy Story 3.