I've been practicing my Turkish for several weeks now in preparation for my trip to Istanbul covering Unicera, the 21st International Ceramic and Bathroom Fair being held at Tuyap Fair Convention and Congress Center in Beylikduzu, Istanbul.



I’ve been practicing my Turkish for several weeks now in preparation for my trip to Istanbul – covering Unicera, the 21st International Ceramic and Bathroom Fair being held at Tüyap Fair Convention and Congress Center in Beylikdüzü, Istanbul.

For two days, I had carefully laid everything in our dining room so I wouldn’t forget to pack anything. Converters? Check. Passport? Check. Tools of my trade? Definitely.

My flight was scheduled for March 30 at 6:30 a.m. for Los Angeles, with a plane transfer in New York’s JFK airport. I was both excited and anxious. I didn’t sleep well the night before so when the shuttle van driver pulled up at my home at 3:20 a.m., I trudged toward the vehicle satisfied I had left everything in order at home and at work.

As we neared the airport, I decided to pull out a couple of singles from my wallet to tip the driver, and that’s when the cold sweat started. I couldn’t find my wallet! Should I go back home and miss the flight? Should I wake up my husband and tell him to pack the kids in the car along with my wallet so he can hand it off to me at the airport? I knew this wasn’t a good sign and I hadn’t even left the ground yet!

Thankfully, I decided to look in my laptop case and there it was, stuck under my handy mini-umbrella (rain is expected on Thursday in Istanbul and like all A-personalities, I had to be prepared).

With that drama now out of the way, I checked in my bag and boarded my flight to JFK. After landing there, I knew I had about almost two hours to kill before my final destination – Istanbul.

I sought out my one must-have before I continued with what would be a long journey: Starbucks coffee (skinny vanilla latte, two Splenda, please).

After locating it, I went on my way to the duty free shops instead of sitting at the gate and doing nothing. Bad idea.

After a while, my inner voice triggered me to check my cell phone for the time: 4:18 p.m. What? My flight leaves at 4:25! I know I had set my watch when we landed in New York and there was absolutely no way I had wasted two hours already just getting coffee and perusing the shops. Apparently, I had set my watch an hour shy of the actual time.

I asked a friendly employee what time it was and he confirmed it was 4:18. I don’t think I have ever run so fast in my life, to catch a flight of all things! As I was approaching Gate 15, I could hear someone on the intercom saying, “Passenger Arpi Nalbandian, this is your last call. We are now closing the gates.” As he set his microphone down, he noticed some odd woman frantically waving and yelling, “Wait, I’m here!” He shook his head, and opened the door so I could board the waiting plane. If I said I felt like a complete imbecile, I would be sugarcoating it – trust me.

After meekly settling in amongst the other passengers, the plane took off without any further miscalculations on my part.

Since my arrival in Istanbul, my effort to speak the language and make myself understood has been appreciated by my host country. Heck, even the gentleman that stamped my passport cracked a smile!

Tomorrow is the first day of the show, so check back for updates. For now, I’ll be taking a short walk down the street because I spotted a simit bakery (a fast-food type bread that is ring-shaped, and very yummy when freshly made!).