I was reading through one of Jack’s postings from his Perking the Pansies blog, about being stopped by the Jandarma at one of their very frequent control points and it immediately conjured up a memory from a few years ago. I was driving into neighbouring Dalyan and was caught up in a fair sized queue of cars, trucks and buses that was the result of one of these controls. I don’t know about you, but I’m convinced that I look guilty of something whenever I meet up with uniforms at close quarters. Going through customs I just know they’re going to stop me, and I’m usually right – ‘Hmmm! He’s looking a bit shifty, Bert. Let’s check him out.’
Anyway, back to the Jandarma and their road block; it was a bit unusual in that they were stopping everyone and the line was long and growing by the minute. Must be something big, I thought, as they had men down the line stopping the quick-witted from doing a U-turn and doing a quick skedaddle out of there, and so it proved. As we inched forward I could see that the Jandarma were in their best uniforms; so there must be ‘brass’ about; not only that, they were smiling, shaking hands and passing stuff over to the vehicles rather than the other way around! (Documents! I’m talking about documents!)
My turn arrived and I was pleased to note that the top sergeant was known to me; ‘Where is the Janet?’ he asked. ‘At home’, I replied in my less than perfect pigeon Turkçe. ‘Well, here’s some for her, as well’, said he, handing over 2 pink carnations, 6 sweets and a shake of refreshing lemon cologne. Behind me was a tourist bus and it was great to see the bemused looks on the faces of these folks as the bus was boarded and each was presented with a carnation, a sweet and a shake of cologne by smiling young Jandarma conscripts.
‘What’s all this about?’ I asked my top sarge; ‘Trafik Jandarma Günü’ he said, ‘Kutlu olsun.’ ‘National Traffic Jandarma Day – Congratulations.’
As I drove away with a big smile on my face, I noticed a couple more tourist buses caught up in the lengthening queue and thought what a positive memory these visitors will take home with them. Can’t imagine those po-faced British Traffic Cops dishing out carnations, they’re too busy nicking their own mothers for having a faulty side light! Mind you, our Turkish boys will be back in the groove and running with the pack tomorrow and there won’t be any of this namby-pamby flowers and sweets stuff – it will be business as usual!
Photos: wowing the locals, the tourists and even little old ladies – Ahh! Bless them!
Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü
ps the police have nabbed me a couple of times but the Jandarma have always been very civil and very forgiving!