Monday, 30 May 2005
For secular holidays and national events, many schools and government buildings display large Turkish flags and pictures of Ataturk.
The following is from Bakirkoy, European Istanbul and was most likely put up for the 19 May holiday
The picture is more surreal than the life-like images of Ataturk usually displayed.
Fatih was generous enough to let me stay in his apartment in Bagilar, near the airport in European Istanbul. Fatih was a classmate of Umut’s in Mersin University. He was fun to stay with and I saw a part of Istanbul I had never been to before. Here is Fatih, Umut and Beysun in Ortakoy:
In Istanbul I also met Kerem and Fati
Kerem is a friend from Mersin, who did his military service in Afghanistan and is now working for a zip manufacturer in European Istanbul.
Fati, an Istanbul native, and I first came into contact when she worked for the University of Santa Barbara Extension
, one of many foreign education institutions my company deals with. Last week we finally met face to face over mocha in the suburb of Moda, Asian Istanbul.
Fati is now the corporate communications head for BSH Turkey
, whose main brands include Bosch, Siemens and Profilo. Her American boyfriend has spent the last year developing Moda Jewels
, an online shop selling Turkish jewellery.
From last weekend: Umut and Beysun's wedding was held in "Rakkas" a multi-purpose venue located in an old Ottoman mansion on the Bostanci coastline, Asian Istanbul. I felt very privileged to be at the ceremony.
Also at the wedding were Mutlu, Fatih, Tuncay, Cuneyt, Gokhan, Ozge, some of Beysun's and Umut's relatives and others I had met previously.
It was a great night, as the following photos hopefully show:
The celebrant presiding over the civil ceremony at the start of the evening
Beysun looking radiant (with the 500 lira hairstyle: the standard fee in Istanbul to prepare a bride's hair)
An amateur in between two professionals
The cake (using the 'candle' feature on the camera)
Umut hearts Beysun
The wedding car
Friday, 27 May 2005
Taking a leaf from the Turkish tradition of displaying flags for national days and important events
, I decided to hang up my Australian flag in tribute to the recently deceased former king of Australian television, Graham Kennedy
The pipeline from Baku, Azerbaijan to Ceyhan Port, Turkey has just started flowing with oil
. It is a major logistical achievement and has huge potential economic benefits for the Caucuses.
The Ceyhan Port is located around 100 km east of Mersin. One day I may have to visit, just to say I've been there and to see how large the pipeline actually is. The oil will take several months just to reach the other end of the pipeline!
Thursday, 26 May 2005
I haven't had time to do a full rundown of the Istanbul trip/wedding, so that will have to wait.
Tonight, at 21:45 Turkish time, much of the world will be glued to their TVs watching the European Champions League final
On Sunday, there was another major soccer event in Istanbul, an event with far greater local ramifications. Fenerbahce beat Galatasaray 1:0 to win the local league title.
By the time the game began I was on the bus to Mersin. However, whilst in Besiktas, on the European side, I did manage to see a special ferry service take a boatload of Galatasaray fans (or hooligans, if you prefer) across the Bosphorous to Kadikoy, the game's location.
Following are a few photos. Note the real tough heroes on the roof (sarcasm intended).
Tuesday, 24 May 2005
This morning I arrived back in Mersin from Istanbul via an overnight Varan Turizm
Umut and Beysun's wedding and the rest of my time in Istanbul was wonderful and I will write more and upload photos later.
Istanbul is preparing for soccer's European Champions League final
to be held this Wednesday (25th). There are many official sponsor signs and advertisements promoting the event.
On the way to the main airport is the following large banner, featuring "Civil Engineer Aziz Yeniay, Mayor of Kucukcekmece" and "Dr. Architect Kadir Topbas, Mayor of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality", each holding the Champions League trophy:
Can anyone please tell me what "Welcome To Be Champion" means? Is it even English? How crazy for such a high profile sign to be incoherent. I guess it is the thought that counts.
Thursday, 19 May 2005
Tonight I'm jumping on the bus to Istanbul for my former flatmate and good friend, Umut's wedding to his long-time sweetheart, Beysun. Umut and I shared a flat in Mezitli, a coastal outer suburb of Mersin for nine months in 2001-2002.
Umut comes from Fenerbahce
territory in Asian Istanbul but studied at Mersin University where he was top of the class (and faculty?) for his year. Studying 20 hours a day does get places.
Umut and Beysun met at tourism and hospitality high school in Alanya, southern Turkey. They remained together, even when they were physically apart, studying at university in different cities.
Umut is a kind and hard working person. I wish Umut and Beysun a great wedding and wonderful marriage.
This quote in a recent email from Mum, sums Umut up well:
Have a good weekend and wish Umut all the best for us. He is a great fellow and we will always remember his generosity to us when we were in Istanbul.
, an Australian newspaper, has an interesting article on the Mallee Park Football Club, a largely Aboriginal sporting club from my high school town of Port Lincoln.
Dad used to play cricket for Lincoln South, so I supported Souths in the footy. Mallee Park was always the most talented side and it shows: they have produced 8 current AFL
players. My brother, Liam, umpired some of the current AFL players.
Every night after school as many as 60 kids play what Jack Johncock calls rough and ready on the Mallee Park Oval. There is one football, no teams, no rules and the objective for the five-year-olds is not to get bashed.
So they learn how to dodge their 59 opponents. The eight-year-olds work on quick disposals before they're tackled, and the 12-year-olds do all of the above, plus kick the goals. But then they, too, get bruised when they train with the A-grade side twice a week.
Then on Saturdays those five-year-olds play against kids twice their age, and by the time they turn 12 they have played 100 games.
According to Johncock, it is why this amazing club at Port Lincoln on South Australia's Eyre Peninsula has produced so many champions.
Read the full article here
. If you are asked to register to read the article, go to BugMeNot
As an aside, the Aboriginals (or "Aborjin" in Turkish) are one of the top subjects brought up when Turkish people (particularly the young) find out I'm Australian. I believe a book about Aboriginals is part of the Turkish school curriculum.
Wednesday, 18 May 2005
One could almost make a separate newsletter out of the terms and conditions at the bottom of my latest QANTAS frequent flyer newsletter.
Terms and Conditions:
* On-road costs will be included in the prize. On-road costs
for each prize vehicle means dealer delivery costs,
compulsory on-road costs, stamp duty, compulsory third party
insurance and registration for 1 year in the winner's State
or Territory. Valued at $5,000.
^ For full terms and conditions visit qantas.com/winalexus.
Entry is open to Australian resident Qantas Frequent Flyers
aged 18 years and over. Promotion commences 1/04/05 and
closes 11.59pm 30/06/05. 2 vehicle prizes drawn each month
with 3 draws in total. Each point credited to a member's
Qantas Frequent Flyer account and listed in their Activity
Statement during April 2005 results in an entry into Draw 1,
during May 2005 results in an entry into Draw 2 and during
June 2005 results in an entry into Draw 3. Draws take place
at 4pm at 15 Grosvenor St, Neutral Bay, NSW, 2089 on 10/05/05
(Draw 1), 10/06/05 (Draw 2) and 8/07/05 (Draw 3). Winners
notified by mail and names published in "The Australian" on
17/05/05 (Draw 1), 17/06/05 (Draw 2) and 15/07/05 (Draw 3).
Max total prize value $682,800. Prize excludes optional
extras and accessories not stated, comprehensive insurance,
fuel, personal, ancillary and related costs. Winners take
delivery of prize vehicle from nearest authorised Lexus
dealership. Promoter is Qantas Airways Ltd ABN 16 009 661
901, 203 Coward St Mascot, NSW 2020. Authorised under NSW
Permit No. TPL05/02200 VIC Permit No. 05/650 SA Licence No.
T05/824 ACT TP05/0841 NT 05/672.
***** Valid only for new bookings made by Qantas Frequent
Flyers in conjunction with this offer. Packages must be
booked directly with Skimax, and paid for within seven days
of booking. Prices are per person based on two people
travelling and staying together. Car hire does not include
optional insurance excess waiver of NZ$19 plus GST per day.
Car hire includes LDW insurance, chains and racks, unlimited
kilometres and GST. Offer does not include airfares. Standard
conditions of the supplier apply. Please enquire for prices
outside these dates.
*** Based on two adults sharing a room. Availability is
limited. A non-refundable booking fee of $4 applies to each
booking. To be sure of earning your Qantas Frequent Flyer
points, always remember to quote your membership number when
making a booking and at hotel check-in. A maximum of one room
per member applies to earning of points. Consecutive stays at
the same hotel will be considered as one stay, regardless of
the number of check-ins. Points cannot be split between two
or more members occupying the same room. Ready Rooms is
operated by Qantas Holidays, ABN 24 003 836 459, Licence No
2TA 003 004.
# Triple points will be awarded on a two-night minimum stay
at qualifying rates. A maximum of 1,800 points will be
awarded per stay. A maximum of one room per member applies to
earning of points. Consecutive nights at the same hotel will
be considered as one stay, regardless of the number of
check-ins. Points cannot be split between two or more members
occupying the same room.
^^^ Offer subject to availability. Not available in
conjunction with any other promotional offers.
~ Requires 4 AA batteries which are not included.
~~~~ To be sure of earning your Qantas Frequent Flyer points,
always remember to quote your membership number when making a
booking and at rental pick up. Points are not awarded on tour
rates - retail and wholesale, government rates, travel
industry rates and some corporate rates. Minimum of one day
rental. Points are earned on time and kilometre, excluding
GST, insurance and any other miscellaneous charges.
#### The promoter is WTH Pty Limited (ABN 15 000 165 855)
trading as Avis Australia, Level 2, 15 Bourke Road, Mascot
NSW 2020. The draw will be held at 10am on 26 August 2005 at
Legion Interactive, Level 9, 100 William St, East Sydney NSW
2020, and the winner will be published in The Australian
newspaper on 2 September 2005. Total maximum prize value
$46,045. For full terms and conditions call 136 333.
Authorised under NSW permit number TPL 05/01761, VIC permit
number 05/453, ACT permit number TP05/0718, SA permit number
T05/829, NT permit number NT05/545
~~ Allow up to 30 days for points to be allocated to your
** For full terms and conditions visit
3pmarketing.com.au/qantas. The Promoter is Smartpack
International, trading as 3P Marketing (ABN 75 102 583 399).
The promotion commences at 12:01am on 4/3/05 and closes at
11:59pm on 27/2/06. Only Australian resident Qantas Frequent
Flyers aged 18 years and over are eligible to enter. During
the Promotional Period, there will be 4 'Draw Periods' with
one 'Draw' for each Draw Period. There will be a total of 1
prize in each Draw. The first valid entry drawn in each Draw
will win 100,000 Qantas Frequent Flyer points. Maximum total
nominal prize value is A$6,400. The Draws for each Draw
Period will take place at 4pm on 01/06/05, 01/09/05, 01/12/05
and 28/02/06 at 15 Grosvenor Street, Neutral Bay, NSW 2089.
The winners will be notified by mail and their names
published in The Australian on 10/06/05, 09/09/05, 09/12/05
and 19/03/06 respectively. Authorised under NSW Permit No.
TPL05/01926, Vic Permit No. 05/553, SA Licence No. T05/747,
ACT TP05/0740, NT05/602.
## Each voucher is redeemable for one piece of Netball
Australia merchandise only, at the official merchandise
outlet of Netball Australia at the venue on 29 June 2005 (to
a maximum value of $50). No change or credit provided for any
unused value. A payment can be made when selecting
merchandise valued at more than $50. Vouchers cannot be
combined with other vouchers towards an item costing more
than $50. Merchandise choice subject to availability. Voucher
cannot be used at the conclusion of the event.
~~~ Plus $5.50 transaction fee per booking.
~~~~~ You can only book Award seats on Jetstar services with
a 'QF' flight number QF5000 - QF5995.
On Sunday I met Kamber dede (Father's Father) my friend Orhan's grandfather. Kamber dede usually resides in Adana although, recently, due to poor health, he has stayed with Orhan's family in Mersin.
Kamber dede is 83 years old, making him one of the last people born in the Ottoman Empire, prior to the formation of the Turkish Republic in 1923.
Kamber dede's daughter's grandchild is 23 (older than Orhan, his grandchild) and will probably become a parent in the next few years. If Kamber dede is still alive then, he will have the opportunity to see his grandchild's grandchild. How many people have that opportunity?
I wish Kamber dede the best of health!UPDATE (2007-07-24):
Sadly, but not before time, Kamber Dede passed away earlier this month. Basina sagolsun!
Monday, 16 May 2005
Inspired by Jeff
, each week from now on I'll have an "Ataturk Picture Of The Week".
Even though he died several decades ago, the founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk is loved and adored in Turkey. There are statues and pictures of him everywhere.
The following picture is from my friend, Orhan's calendar. The 2005 Turkish Notary Association calendar has a different picture of Ataturk for every month.
May's picture features Ataturk (second row, third from left) with the teachers and students of Ankara Girl's High School after their final examination on 24 June 1933.
19 May is in red as the day is an official public holiday called National Youth and Sports Day
. Although it is a holiday, most private businesses will remain open.
Sunday, 15 May 2005
Dragos's sister has sent a link to an interesting story on the little-known Balkan people, The Vlachs
During breakfast this morning, Dragos and I heard the sound of a marching band approaching. The band lead a long parade of youth celebrating Turkey's National Youth and Sports Day.
The actual day is 19 May (Thursday). The council must have sensibly decided to hold the march today to minimise traffic disruptions.
It was on 19 May, 1919 when Ataturk arrived in Samsun (northern Turkey) during the war of independence.
Young martial arts participants with their mothers walking on each side:
Last night my new flatmate, Romanian AIESEC
trainee Dragos, arrived in Mersin on the Adana train. He has settled in fine so far. After a walk along the coast to the centre and back home, Dragos reheated a delicious (but extremely fatty) pork dish his Mother cooked a few days ago in Romania.
Cheese and brown bread accompanied the pork.
Saturday, 14 May 2005
On the right hand column, below all the other links, I have added BBC
news feeds for the Middle East and Europe. The news stories are updated often and I hope the service is useful.
I used RSS Digest
code from the RSS
I have replaced the Middle East and Europe feeds with a general news feed, including a brief description of each story.
Friday, 13 May 2005
The prior advice
was from a friend. This time, it is from a previously unknown person who sent me an email:
I saw your advertisement on your website and I thought that you were a carefull person.
But if you claim thatyou are a carefull person who walks around,travel around the world you are not right because you dont write about negative things in the places you went and I always see you complaining about the things in Turkey I did not like the way you write everything as I think you write one sided .I want you to compare the things that is happening around Turkey and think about it firstly and than the reactions of the people and be brief please about what you want to mean .If you are in the aim of writing bad things at first think about the events in your country or another country of the world .if you add this e-mail on your website ı will be your sites member and in this way you may claim that you were optimistic about Turkey and show it to everybody .
The other week I signed up to Skype
, an Internet telephony service that is taking on the world
The big thing about Skype is calls to other Skype accounts all across the world are free. Also, the sound quality is meant to be good, much better than previous free or cheap internet telephony providers. If you have a Skype account leave your handle in the comments. My handle is "taheny". All I need now is a headset and I'm set.
PS: interesting and disheartening to see the UAE has blocked Skype's website
Even now, 6 months after transferring my blog from http://users.chariot.net.au/~jktaheny/blogger/blog.htm
still ranks my old website address above this one for most searches. It is annoying, as I want visitors to come here and read 'Joe's up to date Ramblings'.
After some contemplation, today I added a Robots.txt
file to my old website. In theory, the following piece of script should stop all search engine robots visiting the old blog:
If the text works and the search robots (including Google) don't visit my old blog, I hope and expect it to drop out of the search rankings to be replaced with my current blog. We will see.
for Robots.txt advice, I came across the Whitehouse's Robots.txt page
with over 2000 lines of text. This many lines in a Robots.txt is not uncommon for large websites (whitehouse.gov has over 600,000 pages
What I did find strange was almost all the pages contained in the text were Iraq-related. Here is a random screenshot:
I know Iraq has been a major issue, but surely, most of the Whitehouse web pages are not Iraq-related. If this is the case, why does the Whitehouse not want many Iraq pages spidered? Are they embarrassed by the mess they have made?UPDATE:
The Whitehouse/Robots.txt/Iraq issue has been covered many times before
The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT
) has recently revised their extremely cautious Turkey travel advice
. Reading the advice, one could get the perception that Turkey is a terrifyingly dangerous place to visit. In my experience, the opposite is true.
On a funnier note, DFAT accidentally released the following travel advice
for Perth, south western Australia's main city and the most isolated city in the world:
This is a message to let you know that Perth is dangerous at this time of year. xxx.
As a Perth Council spokesman commented in reply
The weather is a bit dodgy
Thursday, 12 May 2005
If visiting London
wasn't enough, I am in for another jolt when my new flatmate, Dragos, arrives in the next week.
Dragos is a Romanian AIESEC
trainee coming to Mersin to work for Intertim, my boss's business associate's company.
For most of the past three years I have lived by myself, in my own private castle, doing what I want, whenever I want it. The freedom has been great. When Dragos comes, I will have to share the house, share the fridge, consider him instead of just thinking about myself, introduce him to Mersin and Turkey and make sure he settles in comfortably.
I am really, really looking forward to the challenge, lifestyle modifications involved, learning experience and fun I will have when Dragos comes. I can't wait!
However, before anything happens I have to rearrange the house...The Final Countdown
is on until Dragos arrives (and the song is also currently playing on the computer).
Tonight I was going to leave the office early, get a haircut, go for a walk and do a load of washing. However, I have an mp3 CD containing almost 400 megabytes of music playing on the computer.
Orhan very kindly prepared the CD of my self-selected 80s music list
The memories... I'm only part of the way through the CD and I hope I'm I can drag my self away from the office before the five or six hours of music finishes.
Musically, I didn't actually develop my tastes until the 1990s and I'm much more of a 90s person. However, for most of 00s I've been away from "civilisation" (for civilisation, read: English-language music variety), only exposed to current pop schlock and the odd hit and memory.
This lack of exposure to non-mainstream English-language music has lead, funnily enough, to a greater appreciation of 80s music. Getting old could also be a factor in this musical change :-)
On another musical note, Peter, the other Australian in Mersin, has ordered a Creative Zen Micro 5 GB MP3 Player
. Once he gets it, I will have a look and see how it goes. For a person whose CD player fell of the fridge and who has a limited selection of CDs in Mersin, an mp3 player with a decent hard disk (5 gb is enough for more than 1,000 songs) looks very attractive.Mp3 Killed The CD Star
(An adaptation of the song name currently playing on the computer: Video Killed The Radio Star
.)UPDATE (02:00, 2005/05/12):
I haven't been able to Bust A Move
and I'm still here listening to the final moment of the CD. Some of the songs I have't heard for years.
It has now just finished and I'm off home to bed!
On Sunday work's
employees from both Adana and Mersin convoyed (no hitchhiking) to Findikpinari
northwest of Mersin for a picnic.
The barbecued marinated chicken, sucuk (Turkish sausage), onion and green peppers were delicious.
We ate under the shade of a carob tree with spring daisy and poppy flowers, orange orchards, tomato houses, beehives and the odd tortoise providing company.
The ladies posing: (from the left) Ummuhan, Buket, Sebiha and Hatice.
Chef Serkan. Note the three barbecues used.
A lone poppy surrounded by daisies. Under the vegetation in the top right of the photo was a small tortoise.
Wednesday, 11 May 2005
I have modified the blog template in order to improve the blog. The sidebar is thinner and there are added lines to both the sidebar and in between posts.
I have also added a Bloglet
subscription. On the right hand side, under the photo you can add your email address to the box and press the subscribe button. Every day I post you will automatically receive an email with the first line or two of the story and a link. Thank you to Turkish Torque
for the idea.
PS: Joe's Ramblings is best viewed with a Mozilla browser and a 1024x768 or larger screen. Some of the formatting in Internet Explorer browsers and smaller screens is less than optimal.
A few minutes ago I heard a sound similar to a baby hip and shouldering the office glass. I walked over to see the following squashed against the front door:
Some like it kinky...
Sunday, 8 May 2005
Whilst in London I had to buy the following:Thorntons
is my late English Great, Great Aunt's favourite brand of chocolate. The "Turkish Delight" in Australia and the UK is very different to the real stuff and is normally coated in chocolate.
I first met Jeff when he was a trainee teaching English at the Turkish American Association in Adana
during the summer of 200
. He is a prolific commentator on Joe's Ramblings and has now started his own blog at http://jjcary.blogspot.com/
in preparation for his time in the Syria and Jordan this summer. I look forward to reading about his adventures in the upcoming months.
This summer Turkey is hosting possibly its two largest ever "sports" events for the first time ever: soccer's European Champions League final
and AC Milan
on 25 May
and a round of the Formula 1 Grand Prix
on 21 August. Both will be held in Istanbul.
I write "sports" in quotation marks because it is very difficult to classify Formula 1 as a sport. Money, politics, cigarette advertising and business seem far more important than competing on a level track. The same could be said for the Champions League, particularly since a club does not need to be a champion to enter (see: Liverpool :-)) and it can favour the losers of the larger leagues more than the champions of the smaller leagues, but that is another story.
I used to take an interest in the grand prix, particularly when a round was formerly held in my old city of Adelaide
, Australia. My first year of university, 1995, was also the final year of the Adelaide Grand Prix
. The roar of the cars could be heard from the exam room. Rumour has it, "Free As A Bird"
song was played in public for the first time ever when George Harrison
asked a nightclub DJ to play it whilst George was in town for the 1995 grand prix.
The Adelaide Grand Prix
was voted the best grand prix of the year several times. Generally, when a venue is the absolute best at an event, it normally keeps that event. However, politics and money got in the way and from 1996 onwards, the grand prix has been held in Melbourne. Not that I give a damn anymore.
As an interesting aside to the Champions League final, the venue, Ataturk Olympic Stadium's website
has links to the following information leaflets:Pick the odd one out
If you guessed the leaflet to the right, you are correct!
AC Milan (from Milan, Italy) is playing in the final and "Informazioni per il pubblico
" is in Italian, so why is the third leaflet "Spanish"?
Despite the politics I hope the grand prix round and Champions League final are both successful and bring great happiness to many Turkish and other people. My tip for the soccer final?
May the best, most entertaining team who dives in the penalty box the least win :-)
Saturday, 7 May 2005
Last Sunday, 1 May, I caught the train to Adana to visit my work's other office and say hi to Buket along with Liviu, Victor, Thomas and Rifeh at the trainee house.
In the space opposite the train station, a rally was taking place. I recognised DEHAP (the main Kurdish party) banners. A portable police fence surrounded the area. At the back (towards the east) were two groups of riot police, a trailer full of police dogs and several police tanks (yes, just like in the army). I would like to have photographed the different police vehicles and officers to put on the blog, but I did not want to face the risk of interrogation or other fun.
Thankfully, full use of the resources were not required that day.
1) I can understand the lyrics better!Mix FM
, the local DJ-less foreign (non-Turkish) music station is playing a few songs that would never make it on daytime radio in the English-speaking world. Most of the music is is the same 30 or 40 songs rotated, often similar beat house
and pop music. A few songs stick out:
a) One song, the title I'm not aware of, at various stages contains the spoken words "f%$k you
" repeated over and over again.
b) Another song Jose Nunez's Bilingual
contains the (again) spoken word phrase "You f%$king me makes me bilingual
" repeated four times in a row, twice.
As the radio at work is usually used for background music, I am likely the only person who understands the lyrics. I enjoy having a laugh and only wish my workmates could understand (or maybe I don't :-).
I wonder what would happen if the equivalent Turkish phrases were on the radio?
I must go now and listen to the music...
Wednesday, 4 May 2005
Ayse, a Turkish university student friend wrote an email to me in response to my blog, generally, and this post
, particularly. She asked if I could put her email on my blog and I have gladly done so:
I am sorry but I can not understand why you are in need of comparing Mersin/Turkey with other cities /countries of the world.That you are not satisfied with the situation you are in ,doesnt mean that you can show it to everybody on your ramblings.About 10.000 people will believe what they see,and in fact what they see may not reflect the reality.
You wrote that there were advertisement of shoes showing some naked models near a mosque in Mersin and said that:Only in Turkey ! Now,I want to say that Joe,is it normal for you tobe in a pub and to drink bear opposite of a cathedral?is not it ironic?
As you see in every areas of the world such kind of things may happen ok.I just want you to be more carefull while writing about Turkey.I thought that you love Turkey but I dont think like that as ı see your complains,if you really dont like you dont have to stay there.
Do you know that two weeks ago I watched a documentary about aborigines ,and then there were some Australian people walking there and they didnt want to let cameraman to take photos of aborigines.And the reason why they didnt want to show them to the world is that Australians feel ashamed of them though Australians made them to live in bad situations.