'Burası Türkiye!' 'This is Turkey!'


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Yesterday, you may recall, ‘Shit Happened!‘ Today? Well, today is another day!

This morning we both felt a tad moribund. The need to go to the loo being counteracted by the chipped lip of the plastic paint bucket that was filling the toilet role (such a way with words). The garden beckoned but the prospect of no water for five days, and no rain forecast either, had us reluctant to plant seeds and, instead, wandering around the garden hacking viscously at baby thistles and the like!

Meanwhile, after the visit yesterday by the Forestry people and the Jandarma, all was quiet on the Western front. The monster was also moribund – but more so.

Five days was looking more like five months, five years or maybe never! The Forestry people were back in some force with much coming and going. Enveloped in our ever more dense cloud of pessimism a small miracle occurred. Our neighbour Sadık arrived in his battered old Tofaş (an old-style Lada by any other name) with a great coil of water pipe tied on the roof. Knowing our situation, and being our plumber, he had taken it upon himself to get us sorted one way or another. Within twenty minutes water was flowing!

Sadık, a true neighbour, a squire and a gentleman!

This wonderful fellow has sorted a temporary arrangement that will see us through until the situation at the source is finalised. And finalising it (to paraphrase Capt Oates) may be some time!

Once Sadık left, again refusing payment, ‘We can sort it all later.’ (you recall he repaired the ravages of winter on the watering system), the Big Nobs arrived in force. The Forestry Chief for our province arrived with various Deputy Chiefs in one of those very intimidating 4x4s. We haven’t seen him for over a year when he donated a wad of trees for our garden. It was great because he was so interested to see what we had achieved since his last visit. The pond was a smash hit as were all the trees and J’s garden and compost heaps got special attention. Then they were off to assess what our new neighbour had been up to with his hired digger. Such a site visit by such high-flyers does not auger well for him.

And so it proved. What he has ordered done is totally illegal and he must answer for it before a judge. The owner-driver of the digger machine has had his machine and low-loader impounded and it will be parked outside our village muhtar’s office until there is a resolution by the judge. I don’t know if the driver has been charged but the loss of income alone will be devastating. A clear warning to others to ensure that, before you half pull a mountain down and fill a ravine and water course, what you are doing is legal!

So, life is pretty much back to normal and our moribund has done a bunk!

Alan Fenn, flushed and showered too!

ps after 20 years and a lot of political upheaval folk still ask us what it is that binds us to Turkey – the answer is all around us – Turks!

pps the Forestry Dept has undertaken to gift us a bunch of lavender plants – special delivery expected some time soon.


Travelling With Our ‘Ablas’!

authentic Sloggi

‘Abla’ translates as ‘older sister’ in Turkish. It’s a widely used, respectful term of address by Turks of all ages when they are speaking with those ladies they perceive to be older and/or wiser – Abla, or not. You can hear it any day in any market anywhere in the country; it is particularly prevalent in touristic towns when cheeky young market traders are flogging their fake ‘Sloggi’ thongs to greying, foreign matrons who giggle with delight at the first appraising looks they’ve had in many a long year – ‘These are so naughty, Abla. Full of Turkish Delight, just like you;- only 15 lira, Abla; but for you I make a special price!’

Which brings me nicely to Our Ablas – that is J and my older sisters. Not, I hasten to add, that I have ever seen them buying anyone’s thongs in Ortaca market, let alone fake Sloggis. But I digress . .

They used to come to visit separately each year, which was not surprising because I don’t remember them ever meeting each other in all the years J and I have known each other, until we came to live in Turkey. Anyway, one year we got the dates wrong and they ended up with an overlap of about a week. As it turned out, they got on famously and resolved to make their annual visit to us a joint venture in future.

This suited J and me fine as it halved the number of trips out we’d have to do. It also suited in another way – they never seemed to stop talking so J and I could flit around, doing our own thing with just an occasional ‘Really!’, ‘Is that so?’ or ‘Would you believe it?’ thrown in feigning deep and abiding interest. We’ve been here so long now that we have little idea about the people and events they’re chatting about. I did suggest to J that we could probably wander off to market or have a weekend away without either of them noticing, but neither of us has ever had the ‘bottle’ to test the theory out. One should, after all, show respect for one’s Abla or face the social consequences; Turks, understandably frown upon such boorish behavior.

The sisters pleasure in each other’s company led to J and me inviting them to accompany us on one of our trips – not in Turkey this time, but on the Trans-Mongolian Train from Moscow to Beijing. It was an amazing adventure filled with sights and sensations with side excursions thrown in. One in particular involved living in yurts in the wilds of a Mongolian National Park. There was horse-trekking; learning to erect a yurt; cooking wild yak meat in buried ovens and how to make everything else you need to survive from yak milk. Oh yes! And white water rafting – which brings me to the point of this story. Whenever our Ablas come to visit, we always tell them to travel light; you don’t need to pack towels and blanket – we have them here. If we find that you really do need welly-boots in Turkey in August, we can get them locally; and I think you can leave the kitchen sink at home this time because, if you remember, we already have one! It really is like that. Between them they bring a whole new meaning to a ‘bit of excess baggage’.

Anyway, back to the train trip; we told them, categorically, that whatever they brought with them, they would have to carry it – be warned, we said! Which brings me to the final photograph – here they are, stripped down to the bare bones and raring to get going on a bit of Wild Mongolian River Rafting.

'Bag-Ladies' comes to mind!

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü