Sunday, March 15, 2009

Encountering Politics-Turkish Style

In most tourist cities in Turkey, (or well, anywhere in the Mediterranean really) you will find something called "bar street" and as the name would suggest, it is there you can find any number of establishments for dancing, drinking and playing the dating game. 

Due to their close proximity, each bar is obviously in direct competition with each other and, if the truth be known, there is hardly much difference between any of them. The same menu, the tired and dazed faces behind the bar could be interchangeable, the same service and inflated prices (and yes, that is not an accident) and the vulgar decor is hopelessly predictable- dizzy, spinning lights and dark nooks. There is, in fact, no real variety between them and no one  bar is better or worse than any other. In the end, it all works out because, as there is little real variety, the clientele- which is, in fact, the only variable here- tends to shift easily from place to place.  A happy ending evenly distributed- from the business side  with a less than satisfactory result- from the pub crawlers vantage.

A stroll down a bar street can be a fairly nerve-frazzling experience. A young man with an open and  loud shirt showing his chains like Marley’s ghost  and a goatee/piercing/ tattoo or silly hat.  He is generally a very VERY extroverted type with great English and hip to the point of being on the other side of dodgy, attempts to lure the unsuspecting and gullible into the bar. The music is set on LETHAL-(The Greatest Hits of Eurovision, for example) and your chest vibrates like the top of a drum.

Campaigning in Turkey is a lot like a walk down any bar street. Unlucky you if you should be caught on the sidewalk as a campaign bus ( speakers on wheels, actually) comes driving up beside you. It is like being hit with intense X-rays for a few shuddersome seconds. An over modulated yet somehow screechy woman's voice screams deliriously about the [insert your own three letters here] Party which hits you like a ton of incomprehensible bricks. On the sides of these "noise-mobiles" are the grossly-enlarged faces of the smartly dressed politician with smiles and that dreamy glint of optimism in his whale-like eyes. And, then, as if God has heard your prayer, the van passes by and you are surrounded by others pedestrians with benumbed scowls and disgusted sour expressions. It must be how a vampire feels when caught in a beam of spotlight.

imageWhen a politician comes to a city to rally his supporters, he or she will inevitably hang an enormous- (and I mean, building sized) poster on the side of a tall structure of himself next to Ataturk, looking gallant and dignified as ever. There is a lot of mindless flag waving and, a week later, another politician comes and makes his noise, flies his banners and makes his promises. And somehow, poor Ataturk's face appears next THIS pole's face as well. Can they ALL have the same political ideology as the founder of the Republic? Is that possible?

The local elections are to be held on March 29th and local issues seem to be taking a backseat- I mean, how else can you explain nobody talking about  arsenic poisoning (AND shortages) in the city water supplies of the largest cities in Turkey? Instead, this election appears to be more of a referendum about the ruling AKP party. There is here in Turkey a deep-seated cynicism and general indifference to the outcome of any election. I still haven't figured out whether it is a realistic view or whether it is merely a self-fulfilling, self-defeating way of seeing politics. I will let you know.. but on the other hand, who can blame the voters for not having much faith in a system based on a bar street mentality?

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  1. you have a very interesting and accurate analogy here. why dont you write more and send less pictures?

  2. Thanks. Well, sometimes I write a lot of different articles and schedule them for timed release.. ( ever heard of "Windows Live Writer"? Very helpful) and sometimes I just don't want the pressure of having to come up with new ideas all the time. The photos and art tend to relieve some of that stress and keeps me from adding to the word debris on the net. You are very welcome to go back over my archives. YOu can find about 20 other articles that you could (possibly) find interesting.

  3. i didnt know you can post to blogger from windows writer.

  4. Sure enough.

    And it gives you a lot of nifty special powers (quite important for a super hero like yourself) You can actually post to multiple blogs from Writer and there are some good plug-ins too. (Not all of them work, I have to say.) It allows you to add and manipulate photos much easier than the editor that Blogger comes with. And best of all, for a cheapskate like me, it is free!


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