Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Bu sana ibret olsun

Us yabancıs often find Turkish warning signs amusing, in large part because there are so few of them -- Want to fall off our ancient castle? Feel free! It's not like we're going to put up a railing or anything -- and because those that you do see are largely ignored. Case in point: The admonitions to wait for the gangplanks to be laid down before leaping off the ferry. As if.

But two signs I saw this week on a trip to the Princes' Islands particularly jumped out at me. The first, inside the St. George's Monastery on Büyükada (roughly translated from Turkish):

Do not write your petitions on the walls or the icons.
We have a box for petitions.
Write them on a piece of paper and put them in the box.
Who knew there was such a problem with monastic graffiti?

And the other, along the island's shoreline:
Yüzme bilmeyenleri denize girmek tehlikeli ve yasaktır.

It is dangerous and prohibited for those who do not know how to swim to enter into the ocean.
Why, that's practically right up there with "Caution - contents may be hot" on a cup of coffee. Who says Turkey isn't getting more Western by the day?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Can I have a power outage with that pizza?

Their timing may be unpredictable, but power outages--and the dropped Skype calls, suddenly cold showers, and fumbling around for your cell phone to provide a little glow since you couldn't possibly be expected to keep a flashlight and batteries on hand, now could you? that go along with them--are a reliable fact of life in Istanbul.

And though far too localized to create city-wide community spirit--it's not at all uncommon for my apartment's electricity, water, and/or Internet connection to go out while that of my neighbors, whose house I could hit with a rock if I had any kind of arm at all, stays on, or vice versa--our mini-blackouts do knit us yabancıs closer together, as we load up our laptops or bathrobes to use the Internet or shower at someone else's house. They also somehow seem to lead to ordering pizza.

After a cranky day at work today, a chance phone conversation led me to invite a friend over so he could use the Internet while his power was out, which in turn converted an evening with no plans into a nice one of drinking wine and ordering from Domino's (I know, I know, but they have a two-for-one deal)--a "tradition" initiated one time when our electricity went kaput, though only after much befuddled wondering how in the world we could order take-out without the Internet. Ah yes, that little thing with the numbers and the buttons and the ring, ring, ring. How quaint.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Just another day

Maalesef, I did not get to run around getting tear-gassed this May Day, instead "celebrating" Worker's Day by... working. (After going to much trouble to get to the office in the first place, since so many of the roads in my neighborhood were blocked off.) My friends report that it was "boooring" compared to last year, despite the workers' historic return to Taksim Square. And they're not the type to say that in order to make me feel better about missing all the fun.

Just a few photos, then, of the morning scene, captured on my way to work:

Union members laid red carnations in memory of the 37 demonstrators killed on May 1, 1977.

At this point in the day, the police were doing a lot of standing around.

And in a brilliantly photo-op-ready PR move, they even handed out the flowers.