Wednesday, 30 March 2005


Although I had heard the term 'podcasting' many times previously, the concept did not sink in until I read a story on the BBC website: 'Podcasters' look to net money. The article is fairly comprehensive, very interesting and raises a number of points to ponder, such as:
It [Podcasting] is totally going to kill the business model of radio

Podcasting is something I may look to do in the future to complement this blog.

Monday, 28 March 2005

The Petrol Price Keeps Rising

Petrol is almost 2.50 YTL (US$1.85) and diesel, almost 2.00 YTL (US$1.48) per litre. This is extremely expensive but I doubt the price will be going down at any stage soon.

One good thing, though, is the petrol stations don't have to keep adding zeros to keep up with the old lira.

Huseyin Abi Is Not Well

Today I walked to Mersin's public hospital (Devlet Hastanesi) to see Huseyin abi and give him a bunch of flowers. Huseyin abi hurt his back in a fall in Adana. He has been in hospital for 2 weeks and does not know when he will be out.

Huseyin abi is staying in one of 6 beds in his room in the brain surgery section of the hospital. Apparently, the back patients stay in this section. When I received his SMS, I thought he was having brain surgery! His hospital room is okay but the toilets are disgusting for a place that should be hygienic and clean.

I hope Huseying abi gets better soon for his and his family's sake.

Only In Turkey...

Where can you find large pictures of skimpy ladies next to a mosque entrance?

Camlibel (my suburb), Mersin, Turkey.

The "Park Camii" sign points to the entrance of the "Park Mosque" where the man is standing. The skimpy ladies are actually advertising shoes from the Turkish "Shoe & Me" shoe store.

The Smoothie To End All Smoothies

From Saturday evening:

2 bananas
1 kiwi
1 carrot
1 orange
250 gm pistachio icecream
fresh mint
juice of half a lemon
2 desert spoons of sweetened, condensed milk
soda water

1) Slice fruit and add all ingredients into a jug.

2) Blend

Note: the drink was delicious although normal water would probably be better than soda water.

Spring Has Arrived

Daylight savings (summer) time began today and the Australian wattle is in blooming around Mersin.

Friday Night

Orhan and I had a few beers at the "Blue Sky" pub in "Antik Han" (Ancient Caravanserai) in the centre of Mersin.

For 6 new lira it was 2 Beck's beers, nuts, carrot sticks and popcorn.

Afterwards we went I our separate ways home.

The port was still operating at 11 pm on a Saturday night.

The new coastal development includes the ubiquitous fountains.

Sunday, 27 March 2005

Songs From The 80s

Orhan wanted me to give him a list of songs from the 1980s so he could make a CD. As a 21 year old Turk, he has not received much exposure to foreign (non-Turkish) songs of the eighties.

I started making a list and then could not stop. The list is not strictly from the 80s as there are a few songs from the late 70s and early 90s. For me some of the songs are cringe-worthy; all are memorable.

A-ha: Take On Me
Abdul, Paula: Rush Rush
B-52s: Love Shack
Bad English: When I See You Smile
Bananarama: Venus

Bangles: Walk Like An Egyptian
Basil, Toni: Mickey
Benatar, Pat: Hit Me With Your Best Shot
Big Audio Dynamite II: Rush
Blondie: Call Me

Bowie, David: Let's Dance
Branigan, Laura: Gloria
Carlisle, Belinda: Heaven Is A Place On Earth
Carnes, Kim: Bette Davis Eyes
Charlene: I've Never Been to Me

Concrete Blonde: Joey
Cooper, Alice: Poison
Cross, Christopher: Ride Like The Wind
Crowded House: Don't Dream It's Over
Culture Club: Karma Chameleon

Dayne, Taylor: Love Will Lead You Back
De Burgh, Chris: The Lady In Red
Dead or Alive: You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)
Dexys Midnight Runners: Come On Eileen
Devo: Whip It

Dolce, Joe: Shaddap You Face
Duran Duran: Hungry Like The Wolf
Easton, Sheena: Morning Train
EMF: Unbelievable
Europe: The Final Countdown

Frankie Goes To Hollywood: Relax
Gaye, Marvin: Sexual Healing
Hart, Corey: Sunglasses At Night
Hawkins, Sophie B.: As I Lay Me Down
Higgins, Bertie: Key Largo

Hot Chocolate: You Sexy Thing
INXS: New Sensation
J. Geils Band: Centerfold
Juice Newton: Angel Of The Morning
Katrina & The Waves: Walking On Sunshine

Lauper, Cyndi: Girls Just Want to Have Fun
Lewis, Huey and the News: The Power Of Love
Lipps, Inc.: Funkytown
Loggins, Kenny: Footloose
Los Lobos: La Bamba

Madonna: La Isla Bonita
Madness: Our House
Martika: Toy Soldiers
MC Hammer: U Can't Touch This
McFerrin, Bobby: Don't Worry Be Happy

Men At Work: Who Can It Be Now
Morrison, Van Brown: Eyed Girl
Moving Pictures: What About Me
Myles, Allanah: Black Velvet
Naked Eyes: Always Something There to Remind Me

Nena: 99 Luftballons
New Order: Blue Monday
Newton-John, Olivia: Physical
Ocean, Billy: Get out of my dreams, get into my car
Opus: Life is Life

Palmer, Robert: Addicted To Love
Parker, Ray Jr.: Ghostbusters
Poison: Nothin' But A Good Time
Pop, Iggy: Candy
Pretenders: Don't Get Me Wrong

Proclaimers: I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)
Rabbitt, Eddie: I Love a Rainy Night
Run DMC: Walk This Way
Scorpion: Wind of Change
Simple Minds: Don't You (Forget About Me)

Split Enz: Six Months in a Leaky Boat
Soft Cell: Tainted Love
Spandeau Ballet: True
Starship: We Built This City
Taco: Puttin' on the Ritz

Tears For Fears: Shout
The Buggles: Video Killed the Radio Star
The Church: Under the Milky Way
The Cure: A Forest
The Pointer Sisters: I'm So Excited

Toto: Africa
Vanilla Ice: Ice Ice Baby
Vapors: Turning Japanese
Waite, John: Missing You
Warrant: Cherry Pie

Wilde, Kim: Kids In America
Deniece Williams: Let's Hear It for the Boy
Wilson Phillips: Hold On
XTC: Dear God
Young MC: Bust a Move

Saturday, 26 March 2005

All Is Not Well At My Old Primary School And In The Town I Was Born

I was born in the Ceduna District Hospital on the West Coast of South Australia (click for map) and from grades prep to 5&1/2 I went to Ceduna Area School. My Grandparents live in the house I grew up in.

Although, Ceduna is on the coast, the town is isolated. With a population of 4000, it is the largest town for 300 km in any direction. When I was growing up, traffic lights, fast food chains, dual-lane roads, bridges, tunnels, rivers and multi-storey buildings were fantasies, only lived out on the annual or by-annual trip east. To get to Adelaide it is an 800 km drive.

There has always been a large aboriginal population in the Ceduna area. Unfortunately, like in many rural areas of Australia, the aboriginal and non-aboriginal populations have not always seen eye to eye. Recently, the racial problem seems to have reached a crisis point.

Let's hope positive and long-term strategies can be put in place to minimise the area's problems and allow people to live in harmony.

Friday, 25 March 2005

Flag Stories, Part 3

Whilst visiting the BBC story on the 'flag burning issue' (recently updated), I stumbled upon a fascinating article concerning the similarity of the Indonesian province of Aceh's flag with the Turkish equivalent. Here is the Acehnese flag:

If one burnt an Acehnese flag in Turkey I don't think the Turkish authorities would believe the person was protesting against the Indonesians...

Thursday, 24 March 2005

Funny And Annoying Sleep Patterns

Recently (the last 2-3 weeks) I have been sleeping lighter than usual. Before I wake up I have these semi-conscious thoughts. The thoughts are not of any particular nature or subject, just what was on my mind before I went to sleep. Consistent poor sleep has lead to headaches and tiredness during the day.

Coinciding with the light sleeping, I always wake up in the same specific lying position. Previously I used to sleep on my side. Now I wake up lying on my back with my arms above my head. I am almost certain this has something to do with my poor sleep. The new sleeping position also reduces the blood flowing to my arms and when I wake up they take a short time regain all their feelings.

I really don't know why I am waking up in this new position. Falling asleep is not difficult and psychologically, I'm fine (well, that is what my other personalities tells me :-)).

I have tried sleeping in different positions on the double bed but I always wake up exactly the same. Tonight I am sleeping on the single bed in the lounge room. Hopefully, the different environment will help.

Wednesday, 23 March 2005

Burning The Turkish Flag

The second Turkish flag post in a row. This one is more serious.

This week, during the beginning of spring (Nevruz) celebrations in Mersin, some Kurdish protestors attempted to burn a Turkish flag.

In Turkey, burning or insulting the Turkish flag in anyway is illegal. The flag is held in very high regard in this strongly patriotic country. Read the army's response to the attempted flag-burning: Turkish Armed Forces Is Ready To Protect Its Country And Flag.

Although I do not agree with the protestors' aims, I believe they and everyone else should have the legal right to burn the country's flag. Burning a flag is not a good thing, but it should not be a criminal offence. This is one aspect of freedom of speech.

Banning flag burning is actually not uncommon. Many, if not most, other countries also share the practise. Even in countries like Australia and the USA, many people want burning the national flag outlawed.

A sign of Turkey truly maturing is when she legalises the burning of her flag.

Any thoughts?

UPDATE [2005/03/23]: This morning at work, Serkan placed a large Turkish flag in the office window. I asked why he was doing it and he said "protesto" (protest). He put the flag up to protest the attempted flag burning on Sunday. I thought it was a joke until I walked to the nearby weekly fruit and vegetable bazaar ("pazar"). On the way there were Turkish flags up on apartments and shops everywhere, all displaying their solidarity in support of the Turkish flag.

Below is a photo of a flag dragging that also occurred on Sunday. I'm not sure if it is directly related to the attempted flag burning.

More news stories related to the flag incident:
Three detained over flag burning
Right-wing groups incensed
Disrespect towards flag condemned
Military issues flag ultimatum

UPDATE 2 [2005/03/24]: Here is a photo I took this morning on the way from home to work. The flags are everywhere.

The flag issue has become large enough for even the BBC to run a news article: Flag-waving frenzy grips Turkey.

Other news stories:
Botched flag burning leads to patriotic backlash in Turkey
IHD calls for moderation in flag reactions
Two children claimed to throw flag to ground deatin (sic)

UPDATE 3 [2005/03/25]: The Turkish flag is constantly displayed on the television by most channels like it usually is on a national holiday.

The Financial Times has a good rundown on the issue and Seyda at Metroblogging Istanbul writes from a different angle.

UPDATE 4 [2005/03/28]:

Lawyers act in Turkish flag row:
Lawyers in Turkey's third city, Izmir, have filed a complaint against the country's most senior military officer.

The complaint says comments made by Gen Hilmi Ozkok, after two young Kurdish men tried to burn a Turkish flag, created hatred between citizens.

Enough is Enough:
We should wake up and realize that what we have been experiencing over the past several days was not a demonstration of respect for the Turkish flag. On the contrary, we have been busy establishing even higher walls dividing our people.

Sweet protest:

A pastry shop in Eskişehir has joined countrywide protests against a flag desecration incident that occurred during Nevroz celebrations in Mersin last week, preparing two baking tins of baklava depicting the red-and-white Turkish flag.

UPDATE 5 [2008/08/04]:

A witness in the Ergenekon indictment claims the flag burning in Mersin was organised by the Ergenekon gang. If this allegation could be proven it would make things very interesting...

Monday, 21 March 2005

Politics And Religion: An Interesting Mix

As I wrote a few five weeks earlier, Mugdat Mosque, Mersin's largest, is adding its fifth and sixth minarets. Today, whilst walking along the coast I noticed the mosque had a Turkish flag at the top of an unfinished minaret. I have never seen a country's flag (or any flag) on a minaret before.

Mersin Graffiti

If you know where to look, Mersin has its fair share of graffiti. The graffiti is usually basic and either personal or political in nature. For some reason, graffitying in English is common.

Following is a Turkish graffiti artist/vandal's work expressing their love for friends, Gulcin, Fatmagul and Sinem:

Did the graffitist write "you" to provide emphasis or because "I love you" is the most common form of the expression and the only form they knew? I suggest the latter.

What is Inspiring?

Inspiring is building your mission at FranklinCovey whilst listening to U2's Greatest Hits.

Turkey's "ANZAC" Day

Yesterday, 19 March, Turkey commemorated her victory at Gallipoli.

Thursday, 17 March 2005

I Knew Turkish TV Was Cr*p!

An interesting Turkish Daily News article that hints at a number of issues relating to Turkish television broadcasting, including the influence of the Supreme Board of Radio and Television (RTUK):

Some people blame broadcasters for poor quality television shows and claim they have an adverse effect on the society while television producers say they broadcast such programs because they are what the audience demand

Help A Friend Out

A good friend of mine has a website at problem is when some people visit it, they get the "This page cannot be found" vibe.

Could you all please click on the link and report back if you have a problem with the page?

Tuesday, 15 March 2005

Hamam Revisited

After work last night my boss, Mehmet abi and I went to a local hamam (Turkish bath). The wash, sauna, "kesa" ('sandpaper' massage), and muscular massage were very cleansing and renewing, although the muscular massage was not as painful as last time.

One of my first hamam times was at an ancient 400 or 500 year old hamam in Bursa for the 2001 AIESEC Top of the Mountain Tour. Here is a photo from that old time:

Yes, after the hamam the attendant wraps you in towels and you sit and relax, replenishing your fluids with a drink (soda water with ayran and a twist of lemon is a favourite for this time). You feel very clean and relaxed, except, it is also a favourite time for Turks to bring out the cigarette. The ultimate in cleanliness, except for the smell of cigarette smoke. Disgusting!

Monday, 14 March 2005

Hello London! Hello Pakistan!

I am more pumped and happier now than I have been in 2005. In the last week I decided to visit two different places for very different reasons:

a) Pakistan in June

In February Hani invited me to his Karachi wedding. Hani was an AIESEC trainee in Turkey during 2002. His family run a trading company of which is an integral part of. I thought about it for a while and consulted with my boss before reserving the flight. I always wanted to do the trip but it was a matter of pulling my finger out and living life instead of otherwise.

The wedding experience will be fascinating:
...another interesting tid bit about a sub continental wedding - is that the couple take their wedding vows (seperately) earlier in the day in a mosque (or at home - there's no emphasis on that) and the wedding function is basically a dinner from the girl's side - which happens that night.

Then it is up to the guy's side to choose a date (preferably w/in 3-5 days time) to keep the dinner from his side.

These dinner functions generally are clocked to finishing way past mid night (an inidication to that is the fact that dinner itself isnt' served before 1130pm or so).

Besides Hani and his wedding, I'm also really looking forward to visiting Pakistan because of:
* The food: curries, fruits, spices and other parts of the Pakistani cuisine
* Cricket
* Travelling on the trains
* Seeing Karachi and some of the country's north
* The culture and people
* The politics and intrigue of a country bordered by Iran, Afghanistan, China and India

All in all, I should have around 10 days in Pakistan.

b) London in April

A week or so ago, Lufthansa began a special promotion for their new, early morning flights from Izmir and Ankara. Flights to different cities in Europe ranged from US$133 to US$188. I considered utilising this extremely good deal but there were no flights to places I had not seen before, besides Moscow, which has horrendous visa hurdles to go through.

One evening I was chatting to Jen on MSN, when she suggested coming to London. I thought, why not. The following day I went next door to SESA Turizm and reserved my ticket. The US$166 flight cost is almost matched by US$130 in taxes!

April will be 22 months since I have visited a country that is either:
1) English-speaking,
2) developed, or
3) non-Muslim

I can't wait to go and let my hair down for three days; visit an '80's disco; party; enjoy the beautiful sophistication of a (hopefully) mild and sunny London spring day; shop for items not readily available in Mersin (vanilla essence, body paint, bacon, fresh ginger); eat foods of a million different styles; consume vast quantities of pork, bacon and ham; admire the view from the London Eye; see Jen, Ryan, Tom, Erman, Chris & Karl and hopefully, Calvin & Sue, Carol & Danny; visit pubs and cafes; maybe see a show or concert; and enjoy multicultural London.

Of course, I will be mindful that London is one of the most expensive cities in the world and a Turkish salary won't go far, so my trip won't be too lavish.

On the return journey I will have 6 hours in Munich. I hope to see Nadja and Markus in this time.

If you are in London or Munich and want to say hello, drop me a line.


European Winter Throwing Cup

The European Winter Throwing Cup in Mersin finished this afternoon and the results are in. The Russians won both the men and women's overall team events as well as some of the individual events.

The event was held at the "Macit Ozcan Spor Compleksi" (Macit Ozcan Sporting Complex). Macit Ozcan is the current Greater City of Mersin Mayor. Yesterday evening after work, my boss and I drove past the complex, several kilometres to the north of Mersin.

I don't know how successful the event was, but I doubt it has suddenly put Mersin 'on the map', as such. I receive Google News Alerts whenever "Mersin" is mentioned in a news story. For a European athletics event, featuring athletes from 29 countries, there has been extremely little English-language coverage. Of course, there could be huge coverage in the other European languages, but somehow, I doubt it.

Previously, I had big plans to obtain a media pass and cover the Throwing Cup. However:

a) I didn't have the time to research the athletes and events properly, produce business cards and at least appear half-professional.

b) I want to save up all my holiday time for 2 future events I am REALLY excited about. I will write about these in the next post...

Spring Is Coming

The below photo, with yellow and purple flowers in the foreground and Taksim International and port of Mersin in the background was taken yesterday evening from Mersin's outer northern suburbs. The photo is not straight as, to get the low light photo sharp and not blurred by movement, I had to rest the camera on a rock.

Sunday, 13 March 2005

Manuel's Birthday Last Weekend

Last Saturday night (the 5th) I was in Adana for Columbian trainee Manuel's 25th birthday.

It was a good party with the other trainees and friends in attendance. Rifeh was also there after returning to Turkey from Tunisia. The vodka/Kahlua/milk mix I brought was a winner.

Following the party several of us went with Deniz to People Nightclub. Deniz had a business relationship with this club so it was free entry and drinks for us. I stuck to water. I hadn't let my hair down at a club for aeons so I enjoyed myself until the intense cigarette smoke and tiredness became too much. After the nightclub it was soup at a 24-hour restaurant. The tripe soup (not "iskembe", but something similar) was growing on me but not fast enough to finish the bowl. In bed by 6, just as the sky was lightening.

Friday, 11 March 2005


Nepal is a fascinating and extremely friendly but troubled country. Sandwiched between the two most populous countries in the world, China and India, Nepal contains 8 of the world's 10 tallest mountain peaks.

Nepal is also a very poor country. This poverty has not been helped by a 2001 royal mass murder, continuing Maoist insurgencies and an overbearing king.

Colin (on the right in the below photo), an English friend I met in Germany, is currently in Nepal volunteering as an English teacher.

Colin's email updates and photos are very enlightening. Following is an extract from his latest email:

I was in Kathmandu and Bhaktapur for the last 6 days. I travelled by plane, a 20 min flight versus a 7-10 hour bus ride and that's without many roadblocks, bandas (strikes) and suchlike.
Bhaktapur is beautiful. There was no traffic in the ancient centre. Nice. Nagarkot a walk down the hill to Chengu Naryaan - the oldest temple in the Kathmandu valley, with the Himalayas to the north clearly visible, although clouds scurried around their peaks later in the day. I got sun-browned and reddened. Nice.
I'm going to Darjeeling in North-eastern India tomorrow by train so it will be interesting, as it is my 1st trip of this nature.

Mersin sounds very boring, indeed, although my current city has the same drummers as Nepal!

Recently, since sacking the government, the king has cracked down on freedom of speech. A blog covering this is Radio Free Nepal. I hope Nepal can soon progress and become peaceful once again. Its people deserve it.

Special thanks to Colin for the photos and for allowing me to quote his email

Thursday, 10 March 2005

A Random Lounge Room Shot

Also from Friday night, a photo of my apartment's lounge room. The photo was an accident - I wasn't aware I had taken it.

Don't you love the furniture?

Would You Like A Bird With That?

From Friday night: a sign at a cafe in Mersin offering "Nest Kafe" for 1,000,000 old lira or "1 one" new YTL ("bir" in Turkish is "one").

I guess the cafe meant the well known multinational coffee brand that is also the generic word for instant coffee in Turkey: Nescafé.

Tuesday, 8 March 2005

Turkish Raki, Price Rises and Currency Highs

In the past week bootlegged raki has killed at least 15 people in Turkey. This has lead to a massive recall of all the current authentic raki bottles on the market to be replaced by bottles with different colour caps.

The motivation to produce illegal raki is fairly easy to find. Recently, the tax on a bottle of raki went up again. Now a 700 ml bottle costs 22.5 YTL (almost US$18 at today's rate), 65% of which is tax. For a poor country this is a lot of money.

Raki is not the only product or service to have a recent price rise. Other rises I have personally experienced:
* My last haircut (without a wash) at local hairdresser cost 5 YTL, whereas the previous one, including a wash, was 4.5.
* The cost to dry clean a pair of pants has risen from 3.0 to 3.5 YTL.
* A return Mersin-Adana train trip is now 5.0 YTL, up from 3.5. When I bought my ticket Saturday I gave a 5-lira note and waited, expecting to receive change...

In Turkey's hyperinflation past, regular and large price increases were the norm as the lira was always losing value (see table 2/3 down page). Correspondingly, wages also rose. However, in the past 2 or 3 years, both inflation and the lira value have stabilised. In fact, the Turkish lira is at its strongest against the USD since July 2001. This financial stability has helped keep salaries in check.

Stable salaries and rising prices result in a squeeze, causing people to either modify their purchases or go without. For an essential like raki, many people and restaurants decided to buy cheaper, for going without was not an option...

Saturday, 5 March 2005

The AIESEC Adana Trainees Now Have A Website!

See what the Columbians, German, Indian and Romanian are up to at:

UPDATE: The lads have now joined the wonderful collaboration nomadlife and their blog is now at:

My blog will be joining nomadlife as soon as non-nomadlife-hosted blogs are allowed.

Thursday, 3 March 2005

Some More Path Light River Reflection Photos

Looking upstream from the bridge at the river outlet.

The river bank.

The large light in both photos is from the corner of the residential military base.

'pictures of nude woman': Great Search Engine Ranking, lol!

This website is currently #9 out of more than 25,000,000 results on MSN Search for pictures of nude woman.

Sorry folks, there aren't any pictures of nude woman [sic] on this website. However, you are more than welcome to stay around and read the articles :-)

The River At Night

Last night, with outdoor wedding music in the background, I took the following photo of the new path's lights reflecting on the river.

Wednesday, 2 March 2005

Boxers For Christmas

Today I received boxer shorts for Christmas from Annie and David. The parcel took exactly 3 months to arrive from Australia to my office in Mersin, Turkey by sea mail.

Tuesday, 1 March 2005

The Marvels Of Internet-Based Technologies

Last night I ended up chatting away with Winnie from Hong Kong on MSN Messenger for an hour or so after she found my website via a Google search and then sent me an email. Winnie is matched to an AIESEC traineeship in Gaziantep and is due to arrive in May.

This simple exchange was the result of no less than four Internet technologies combining seamlessly: blogging, search, email and instant messaging. Even 10 years ago this exchange would have been unlikely.

In 10 years time, who knows what tools we will be communicating with?

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