Support Global Voices

To stay independent, free, and sustainable, our community needs the help of friends and readers like you.

Donate now »

Turkey is Typing…Moving: The Physical and Political

With six days until the parliamentary elections in Turkey, Turkish bloggers this week are avidly watching the news outlets; speculating on the political future of the republic. And while the country prepares for a new political move, many seem to be moving themselves as our coverage of the past week of the writings of Turkey illustrate.

Let's begin with the physical moving aspect of this week's agenda. Turkey and My Foreign Perspectives tries to voice the desire to move:

Every year around this time, I feel like relocating from Istanbul or leaving Turkey. Does the summer weather ever make you feel at a crossroads in life or restless?

Bea also gives us a wonderful list for any expat trying to make their way in Turkey, plus….she has some interesting experience in this arena to take to heart if you are hiring movers:

Don't trust your household move to just anyone, or you may find disappointments ahead. Your sanity may be tested if your movers have never moved a piece of furniture or act like they haven't.

When I made my first move in Istanbul, I lived in an apartment with staircases so wide you could drive an army though them. But, the stairs weren't big enough for a double-size mattress! Go figure.

The movers couldn't figure out how to get the bed down the stairs. Well, master mover, with over 120 moves under her belt, showed them how, and then even picked it up and told the head guy ahead to get going.

It was like I had turned on a light switch before it was invented. They couldn't believe I could do such a thing.

Continuing with our expat bloggers in Turkey and their struggles to assimilate, Carpetblogger has just bought a new home and gives the answers to the pressing questions:

Was it hard to buy? Well, technically, it's not ours. Sales to foreigners have not been approved by the local municipality for about a year now. This is not a legal hold up — there's no law preventing foreigners from buying property in Turkey. Indeed, everywhere else in the country (and the city) it's a relatively straightforward process. But lots of foreigners want to buy in Beyoglu, there are lots of cool old houses, lots of nice views, lots of redevelopment projects and thus, lots of political and economic reasons why powerful interests might want to make it harder for people with access to easy credit or a lot of cash to buy. But the fact is, no one knows what the real reason for it is or when it will end. Since plenty of foreigners still want to buy, smart lawyers have figured out ways to set up trusts until sales are moving again. When that happens, we can have the deed in our name. This is not without risks, but we believe the risks are manageable.

And with a new house….there are always the worries of new risks, especially when their are problems in the neighborhood:

As the owner of an old wood house, I have more than a casual interest in fires. So when my bedroom was filled with red and blue strobe lights from firetrucks at 5am this morning, I got up out of bed almost as fast as I did when the terrorist cat woke up the Carpetdogs.

Because Turks cannot resist a spectacle — from a minor car accident to a five alarm five — the whole neighborhood was already standing in the street, commenting, speculating and selling. The television cameras were there, as was the Simitci (guy who sells sesame covered bread-rings called simits, the ubiquitous Turkish street food). Women I had never seen before — or failed to recognize since they were less covered up than usual — held children by the hand and everyone was chatting while three trucks’ worth of fire fighters went to work.

Athanasia's Daily has also moved into a room in a women's apartment, she explains:

But as you may have noticed I said “room”, not house. Because the place I live is a small room which has its own kitchen and bathroom. The apartment has around 20 rooms and it is open only to girls (or let's say to “kariyerli baaayan” in Turkish). There is security in the building. I pay around 350 euro per month and this price includes all things concerning the room like electricity, water, internet connection etc. The room has a bed, a wardrobe, a table and a refrigerator. You only bring your clothes and your private stuff. In Turkey apartments like this are very rare. There are hostels for students or flats for rent but these kinda places which mix these two are rare and I guess their numbers should increase. So I like my place. But. There is a problem. A big problem. Males are not allowed to visit. Even dads and brothers. Still at least for now I am happy and dont think about this issue.

Me and Others details the negotiations with his landlords over an unexpected raise in his rent:

i have a mild character. i believe in negotiation. and i dont think not taking everything you believe you should have taken is the greatest loss in your life. i prefer to focus on what i can take for an affordable cost which might be money, or time, or emotional stress etc. so i went to talk to the old couple yesterday, and we had a mild conversation. i didnt step back from my offer but open the cards maybe more than i should and told them i am going to move away not this month but the other month. but after taking this out of the box, i focused on this fact and told them to be more sensible about their ridicolous raise. i didnt step back from my legal %10 offer, but told them that this shouldnt be something for the court to solve and we should agree at that very table.

i was determined to sit there till morning if necessary. there were times when i saw that they got annoyed with my cool tempered persistance, that i didnot step back from my initial offer, but i believe i really handled the situation beautifully and cooled them down saying that we are neigbours and we have developed a fine relation in the last two years and that kind of crap.

Now to the subject of the parliamentary elections in Turkey. Many of the Turkish bloggers who are watching the situation give link after link to news commentary on the elections (and even post the slogans for each party), but even with the news coverage so far, it isn't much as International Musings points out:

Turkey is in a tense situation. You should think that foreign news agencies are watching the elections closely. But no real attention as far as read the European or USA press. Yes, IHT comes up with articles but the rest is marginal.

Taking all the news articles into account, International Musings offers his suggestions for the election outcomes:

I strongly believe that the AK party will gain around 35%-40% of the votes. Mainly from rural areas but also from the new middle class in urban areas. And from people who are saying that they are against the AK party but secretly support them. Also don't underestimate the Turkish people who are living abroad. They often see the big picture, and progress which has been made in Turkey. Next to these factors, people will understand that the first priority of a country in crisis is the macro-economy, the micro-economy will improve as well with more years of AK party in the government. Looking at the high unemployment, especially under young people, they will not vote for an MHP-CHP possible coalition. People want Pavlov: security, freedom, shelter. And it looks like that the AK party did a great job in this, but have still a long way to go. Stability is the magic word of the AK party.

Erkan's Field Diary on the other hand writes about the unusual way that some of the election candidates gain their candidacy:

Party leaders and their relation to their hometowns are interesting. Maybe they don't spend much time in their hometowns but those are where they start their career or return for a new start.
I guess the best Mesut Yılmaz could be the best example at this moment. He is an independent candidate in Rize, his hometown. After a miserable failure and resignation from ANAP, he restarts his political career. Mehmet Ağar had a blow in the Susurluk scandal but he recovered in his hometown, Elazığ, where he got the majority of votes and got elected as an independent.
Deniz Baykal will also be nominated in his hometown, Antalya. Though I guess he could be elected in many places where CHP is powerful.

Even with the outcomes unknown, it is clear that the image of the Turk and their ideals is greatly in flux as The White Path notes:

Do you now what the biggest nightmare of a secularist Turk is?

It takes place mostly when he takes a vacation to visit some place in Europe or North America. He packs up, wears his stylish jeans and t-shirt, puts on his iPod, takes his elegant girlfriend and boards a plane. During the flight, he chats with one of the European or American passengers on board. At some point this indigenous Westerner learns that this chic couple is from Turkey and he confusedly asks, “Hey, don't you guys wear fez or turbans in your country, is this your national dress?”

That's is a big insult to our secularist Turk. He gets really nervous, but calms himself down a bit, and then takes great pains to explain that Turkey is indeed a modern country and it has nothing to do with “the Arabs” and their culture. “We are a Western nation like you,” he insists, “when will you get that?”
Haunted by these questions, and after several days of pilgrimage in the temples of modernity, our secularist Turk returns home. Right after he gets off at Istanbul Atatürk airport, he comes across terribly unpleasant scenes. On Turkish streets there are men with beards who prefer mosques to nightclubs, and women with headscarves who, as their role model, take Prophet Muhammad's daughters – and not, say, Britney Spears. “These ignoramuses are the reason why we haven't become a real Western nation,” says our secularist Turk to his girlfriend. “I hate these cockroaches in those black veils.”

The hatred against anything that is Oriental – and, sometimes, simply Islamic – soon becomes an obsession for our secularist Turk. The more he reads newspapers like Cumhuriyet or listens to politicians like Deniz Baykal, the more he is convinced that Turkey is facing a lethal threat from these “Islamists” who are conspiring against the brilliant foundations of the Turkish Republic. Fear becomes his major theme.

Top Links of the Week:
1. Mavi Boncuk detailed the word origins of Kiosk.
2. Chronicles of a Turkish Girl continues her search for true love with a new dating service and a conviction that she may not find the perfect Turkish-American.
3. The last link today is from Amerikan Turk…and I just had to post the whole thing:

Never eat cherries in the the dark!
Words to live by..


Anonymous said…

I have to ask….”Why?”

Murat Altinbasak said…

You always want to see what's inside.. which should spawn rule #2 about eating cherries:
“Never eat them whole. Take a bite, look inside, then eat the rest.”

1 comment

Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices!

Submitted addresses will be confirmed by email, and used only to keep you up to date about Global Voices and our mission. See our Privacy Policy for details.

Newsletter powered by Mailchimp (Privacy Policy and Terms).

* = required field
Email Frequency

No thanks, show me the site