Monday, July 15, 2024

People of Another World II




If you need a beautician in New York, you should definitely meet Gül Topaloğlu. With her professionalism, kindness, and sociability, you don’t realize how time flies. Even as you exit the beauty parlor entangled in New York’s frenzied traffic, conversation glides over you like a smile.

I’m Melda Sherman, writing from Boston. I told you about Migratory Birds in my previous articles… I did a lot of research for my book that I wrote in 4.5 years. I have traveled a lot. I’ve traveled a lot from New York to Boston. That’s when I met my beloved Gül Topaloğlu…

She was very happy when she heard that I started the interview series “People of Another World” in ARTTMODERNMIAMI NEWS. I wanted to interview because I know that Gül Topaloğlu has a difficult story. She didn’t offend me either. I asked, she answered. Let’s listen to her story:

—— ARTTMODERNMIAMI NEWS/ Melda SHERMAN: Hello Ms. Gül, can you briefly tell about yourself?

——GÜL TOPALOĞLU: I am Gül Topaloğlu, I have been working as a beautician in the beauty industry for 45 years.

——MELDA SHERMAN: Why did you come to America?

——GÜL TOPALOĞLU: I came to America from Istanbul in 2000. Actually, let’s call it escape. I did not specify a place on the map. It may be in Ankara; it may be in France; I was of the opinion that I should leave Istanbul. I had made the first radical decision of my life. I was actually a stable person. I am very attached to my habits, and I do not change them easily. At that time, I made a very sudden and decisive decision. I didn’t want to breathe that air. It was to escape from myself.

——MELDA SHERMAN: What prompted you to change your life?

——GÜL TOPALOĞLU: The reason why I decided to change my life was sentimentality. While we were chatting, while everything was going very normal; my mother got sick and died. I thought she was joking, I was left with tea in my hand, it was a very abrupt and short goodbye, my mother lost me. I could not pass this trauma, the wall I was leaning on collapsed. I could not stand it and the most painful was my father’s disloyalty. He got married 2 months after losing my mother, who was my breaking point.

——MELDA SHERMAN: So sad! So how did impulse turn into action?

——GÜL TOPALOĞLU: I felt very lonely. I was alone. Everyone had returned home. At that moment, I realized that none of the people who said they would be with me were not with me. I made my decision by saying, “It’s now or never.” I had a friend who came on vacation from America every year. He always said to me, “Come on, I’m there, the place to be seen before die is New York, you must see it”. I called my friend and said I wanted to come visit. I came to New York for 2 weeks. It was very fascinating to me. In the morning, I was walking the streets to explore. Everyone I saw was greeting like: ‘good morning, how are you’ with beautiful and humane feelings. I said “OK”, I’m going to live here. I thought my son’s educational life could be very different here. With these feelings, I returned to Istanbul two weeks later. I made plans for next year. I liquidated my home and business (30/09/2000). I didn’t realize that coming on vacation and living here would be very, very different.

——MELDA SHERMAN: How did you adapt?

——GÜL TOPALOĞLU: 6 months after I came, I realized that I could not adapt 🙁

——MELDA SHERMAN: Have you always lived in New York?

——GÜL TOPALOĞLU: Yes, I have been living in New York since the day I arrived.

——MELDA SHERMAN: What are or are the turning points in your life?

——GÜL TOPALOĞLU: Since the day I came to America, I have worked in different salons in Brooklyn. One day at my first job I got so sick (toothache) that I was crying from the pain. Before going to the doctor that day, I was mobbed the day I had that toothache. This was my breaking point. A man was threatening me, trying his power over me, trying to intimidate me. Believe it! I was never afraid. At that moment, I made an irreversible decision. Now I would take care of my life and stand behind the decisions I made. That calamity made me realize my own strength.

——MELDA SHERMAN: Ah! This is so traumatic! Well, I have one more question for you: Are there many people who want to change their lives and settle in another country? What would you recommend to them?

——GÜL TOPALOĞLU: It is very difficult to start life again! If you’re 35 or older, you’ll come in two suitcases which is your whole life. You have to think about what to gain and what to lose! Is what you gain more valuable than what you lose? I was very disappointed in the first days I came for myself. Houses in NY are very small. While the rents of houses similar to mine in Istanbul were 5-6 thousand dollars, our earnings were 5-6 thousand dollars. According to our budget, one room and one living room is 1500$. There is no washing machine or dishwasher in the houses! Because it’s luxury. It surprised me a lot. No time to hang around with friends and have fun here! You will keep running. America is not like in the movies we watched! Our first mistake starts here. You will miss your family, friends and loved ones you left in Turkey. You can find raki and coffee here, but it does not give you the taste and pleasure you drink in Turkey. You will have friends from different cultures such as Korean, Spanish, and Russian. They are more friendly and natural than many of your Turkish friends. After leaving your family and loved ones in Turkey, the longing will begin after 6 months. If you can speak English in your 20s and come legally with a green card, you have a great advantage. So, America means a livable, beautiful, free life.

——MELDA SHERMAN: What have you learned on your life path? Can you say 5 items??


1- Mercy and conscience. Life is short! Life passes so quickly. First of all, I believe this should be our first value.

2- To set a goal. You should know the line between looking and seeing, between listening and understanding! Nothing is as it seems from the outside.

3- Patience! The most important thing is to wait! Because nothing happens ahead of time. To wait patiently like the sun, east and west.

4- Being one of those who know how to share! Sharing the food we eat, the love, the trouble, the trouble! And to do it without expectations.

5- Forgive! In life, there are those who make us sad, hurt or even hurt us a lot. Unfortunately, these people are usually our relatives. Our family, our relatives, sometimes our friends. Forgive at the end of the day! Because anger, resentment, if we keep it inside, this emotion will set us back on the path we’re going to take. However, it is necessary to leave that feeling at the crossroads and continue the road.

——MELDA SHERMAN: Finally, what is your future plan?

——GÜL TOPALOĞLU: My future plans include settling in a town in İzmir -Urla or Balikesir and opening a coffee. I hope it will come true.

——MELDA SHERMAN: Thank you for this nice interview, dear Gül Topaloglu, I hope your dreams come true. And I hope that one day you will publish the book of your dreams.

——GÜL TOPALOĞLU: Thank you.

Our passions are real phoenixes. From the ashes of the old a new one arises.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe – Migratory Birds

Melda Sherman
Instagram: messerman
Facebook: Melda Sherman

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