Monday, July 27, 2009

Dutch-style cyclists spotted in Turkey!

I was in Konya this weekend, a city in the mid-west of Turkey. The city especially attracts tourists from abroad for its sufistic (mystical Islam) roots. They come to the city to visit the grave of the world-famous muslim poet & philosopher Rumi (the founder of the order for whirling-dervishes). Rumi lived about 800 years ago. In year 2007, he has been described as the "most popular poet in America". Here is the wikipedia link.
(a photo I took during a whirling (sema) ceremony in Bursa about 10 months ago)

One other characteristics of the city Konya is something totally different: it is arguably the city with most common bicycle usage in Turkey. It even has, although noticably limited, bike pads in some streets. This, I have never seen in any other turkish city so far.

The thing which made me excited was to spot a dutch-style cyclist in a street in Konya yesterday. I have seen cyclists, albeits sometimes rarely, in all turkish cities I visited so far; and I had never seen this before.

So, what is it? :) Well, having somebody else sitting at the back-seat of your bike while you are cycling.. And this "somebody else" has to sit in such a way that s/he will make 90 degrees to the back of the cyclist. Very dutch-style! And, the man on the photo below exactly does this! Even more interesting is to see a women in the role of "somebody else" in the photo since I have never seen a female cyclist in the city. In this case, she is not riding herself, but at least she is "on it".
At the back, the Aziziye mosque is seen. It is attractive with its late-ottoman style minarets.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Mall-free City: Amsterdam

Yeah; that, I first noticed a month ago in a mall in Izmit where I "handled" my military duty (a neighbouring city to Istanbul).

"Oh, my God; how many malls are there in this city; hmmm there are 4 I know. But, but, in Amsterdam....I do not remember any... Well, isn't that strange to not to have any malls at all in Amsterdam, arguably the biggest city of Holland??" I have started to question..

I only remembered the complex at Amsterdam Bijlmer-Arena station; which even cannot be considered as "mall" compared to the ones we have here in Turkey.

Maikel, the savior
Yup, I had wonderful moments last week! Maikel was here, in Istanbul, for 5 days (and also Kaustubh for 1 day). We strolled around the city from european side to asian side; from black sea villages to genoese side to the islands.. And, of course, we also had time to drink a cup of coffe in the biggest mall of Istanbul, Cevahir.
photo from here, "Sociology Compass" blog.

It is not only the biggest in Istanbul (among about 20 others), but also biggest in Europe; and 4th biggest in the world.

Then, I had the chance to ask Maikel if my deduction that Amsterdam did not have any mall was true. "Actually we have Kalvertoren" he said. Then, I suddenly remembered the shopping center at the one end of the famous Kalverstraat, close to the Bloemenmarkt. "But, I would not consider it as mall, maybe semi-mall" said Maikel; and I agreed. It was "nothing" compared to our Cevahir Mall.

Maikel also told me that the "mall" culture would probably not visiting Holland in the near future.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A letter from Alfonso (or How global is the life now)

Global World
It was about two weeks ago (yes I was very busy to not to have time to mention about this before).

I got a letter from Alfonso in reply to my letter I sent (i guess) in February. It is amazing actually to get a letter in Turkey from an Italian friend who lives in France, with whom we met in Holland :) How global is our lives nowadays! Another funny thing is; we know each other since we have a common friend, Kaustubh, who is Indian :)

We met many times in either in his place in Ceramplein
(where he always performed cooking experiments for dinners, which, always turned out to be deliciious) or in my place at Funenpark (where he usually came with a bag of clothes to wash).

Alfonso, you mention in the letter that "experimental cooking is a little difficult" there "people are much more traditionalists". Then, I will say that they are not aware of what they miss by being traditionalist :)

Degree of Happiness in Amsterdam
It is nice to read in the letter that he was much more satisfied now with life in France than in Amsterdam:
"Don't get me wrong, Amsterdam was also a nice city. Now I understand that having a bad house and a not very-friendly work environment invluenced my staying in NL a lot" he says. Actually, the place they lived was a very old apartment with many missing things. And, both Alfonso and Kaustubh, never got a proper response to their complaints from the university or the housing company.

He also talks about how loose the work life is in France. "'to work' intended in french way" he says, "which means, arrive late; have nice time with colleagues; don't go home too late".
Alfonso; this, I would call Mediterranean style. We also have a very similar working style in state-based working places.

Alfonso, you say that your french gets better. I am sure! I am sure it is much better than the time you were trying to communicate with your Senegalese roommate during a dinner in my place :)

Also, if you "will have to turn the roulette again and will find a new position somewhere", I guess this will be a country with a different language (after Germany, Holland, and France) :). What about Turkey?:)

Hey, Maikel was here in Istanbul last week for few days; Kaustubh also joined us for 1 day. We have strolled through the city together, nice moments. You are also welcome!
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