Politics, Ramadam, Rules, FAQ, Guy Fawkes...

Trip Start Oct 03, 2002
Trip End Jun 30, 2003

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Friday, November 8, 2002

...Turks love Football, I'm a millionaire

So the next update from Istanbul, there is again too much to cover maybe let me think of the most interesting bits to show the differences of Turkey and all of the countries you are living in!

Politics - you may have heard most likely about the result of the elections here in Turkey, but let me tell you about the events leading up to it. There were 17 parties, yes 17 and of course some just had the same manifestations as others and one owned a newspaper and television channel so he just had a lot of money to run, these parties campaigned ALL the time and like an ice-cream playing music to attract children to buy an ice-cream, so did the parties I mean literally they had vans and their own cars playing LOUD Turkish music waving out of the windows and beeping the horn and it does not matter in Istanbul what time they do this. Also Turkish people have no problem discussing politics, who they will vote for and discuss it with anyone they meet on the street.

Now the elections themselves...on the actual day there is a law the prohibits anyone from drinking from midnight to midnight, so I was happily planning a meal with wine and went to the supermarket to discover a large plastic sheet with some Turkish writing on it explaining they cannot sell alcohol!!! But amongst the chaos in Turkey there is a rule like this! Oh how funny, so I laughed a lot and finally got some wine by using the line, hey I am a tourist!

So the people voted and then there was more confusion and discussion as the AKP party won and Erdogan cannot even assume position as prime minister as he was only convicted of racial hatred for five years so the irony is again just laughable really, I mean I am starting to realise that Turkish people are so happy and friendly as they have so many problems that if they started to worry then they would be sad all the time, so they just laugh a lot about things that happen here.

Ramadan - this started on the 6th of November and is a way for Muslims to show self-control, but for us tourists it is pretty great as places normally very busy are deserted just make sure you avoid travelling by public transport just before 5pm as everyone has to get somewhere as they desperately want to do the things they abstain from in the day for example are eating, kissing in public, sex, alcohol well they should abstain from this all the time anyway! And smoking. So you can imagine at 5pm when the sound is made in the streets, people frantically go to eat and you cannot even move or a very hungry person will be angry with you. However, let me stress that a lot of people also abstain from the fast altogether, especially young people and it is almost as if it is a different life for them here when they are studying at university away from their parents and being able to do what they want!

Rules - interestingly when I took the coach from Istanbul to Izmir on the west coast I was surprised by how organized and even how many rules they had for passengers traveling on them. All mobiles had to be switched off during the journey, so I thought that I would put mine on silent but this upset them a lot when I tried to send a SMS so I had to turn it off...also it was like traveling by aeroplane there was a steward offering tea, coffee, juice and cake several times and it was free. Considering the ticket was cheap anyway I thought this was great for Turkey.

Frequently Asked Questions - this is funny, but now starting to be annoying really, here are the questions they ask: Why did you come to Istanbul? (they ask this after they learn I am from England and cannot believe I would choose to come here) and Are you sure you are from England? Yes they do not believe I could be English!

Funnily someone came to me on the 5th of November and said you know it is an important day in England today? Forgetting of course it was Guy Fawkes night, I said yeah it's an important day, umm and they guy told me my history but it is ironic that we celebrate the queen and parliament nearly being blown up by having some firework displays and burning effigies of Guy Fawkes, when you explain this to a Turkish person it makes us Brits sound slightly strange!

Millonaire: I received my first salary here and it was great to think I am a millionaire, but the economy and the TL in particular is very unstable so changing money into US dollars is imperative.
When people here I am from England, then I must be an English teacher what else could I possibly do?, but really people ask me this every other day (...although I do have an extra one off job teaching an English conversation class soon!). Lastly so many people ask me how old I am, as when they hear that I have graduated they are then very unsure how I could have done it so quick! Most people guess that I am about 20 years old, but I love this so I don't mind so much.

Turks love Football. I mean LOVE football, so I am watching a bit as I live in a boys dorm, Galatarasay are of course very good and the team from Istanbul, Besiktas is who I should support...but we are already talking about the game between England and Turkey I think in April and they think they have a good chance, I of course replied that it is only a chance! Sue, Johno you will be pleased that I have a poster of Beckham after scoring in the world cup...can't remember what game, but my Czech Republic room mate wakes up to a huge poster of Beckham staring at her!!!

If you have read this far, go do some work! No, this is the most exciting bit...watch out England as I am coming home, just for one week it is my graduation in Bristol and I will be first in Bournemouth on the 16th and then in Bristol for a few days (19th, 20th, 21st), please get in contact with me as I would love to meet/talk to you. Turkish number will be off, and my old number will be on (07939 227695)

See some of you next week
Charlotte x
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aborder on

Same in Thailand, booze is banned on election day for fear of bribes! Crazy when you consider in uk only 15% of population go out and vote! Yep, made the mistake of a holiday in morocco during Ramadan! Boy were we missing an ice cold beer! It's so interesting reading your impressions and life in turkey! I think I might a book about my dating in NYC, I do have some crazy stories from those days! At least I know who to ask for Istanbul advice :-)

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