Musings on my adventures around the world and my ties back in Texas as well as some of the the ideas I have to adapt and create to keep those places close to home.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The story of military service continues...

I thought I’d post an update on a past story. A while back I wrote about the craziness of Cem trying to postpone his military service. Well, his time is up. Cem is leaving Friday to fulfill his mandatory military service in Turkey. That does not mean that this is the end to the things that make me shake my head and question about this event. When I asked when he would be returning (a bit selfishly motivated – I’m losing my officemate who helps out whenever I get stuck with the Turkish or the geometry of a problem) I was told September…hopefully. ??? What??? Well it turns out that shortly after reporting for military service all college graduates (I think) have to take a test which will determine who becomes an officer and who stays in the lower ranks. Now at home, being an officer is usually a desired thing. Cem, however, is already plotting as to how he can fail this exam so that he won’t. You see while officers do actually earn a salary, they also have a longer required service. And if Cem, for whatever reason, doesn’t manage to fail then we won’t be seeing him again until next April. I wander if we’ll hear about it sometime before next September? As always, I was curious about just how this was going to work. Is there a set score? Theoretically. I also get the impression that they are just looking for the top whatever percent. So Cem has to make sure that he does bad enough that he’s not near the top at all. In my mind all I can think is that this sounds harder then actually trying to do well on an exam! But according to Cem and Umit (another teacher who will be leaving at the same time) there are plenty of college graduates who do not have jobs that will actually want to be an officer. So they shouldn’t have to worry too much. Let’s hope so. I want my colleague back as soon as possible!

Thursday, March 15, 2007


Wandering around Taksim after church Sunday I stumbled across one of what I consider the hidden jewels of this city when a protest or political rally forced me off the main thoroughfare. Tucked into a side street Ann Marie and I came across Petek Tursulari – a pickle shop. Now I know you’re thinking, "How can you have shop just for pickles?" But in turkey pickling is not just about cucumbers. Pickled peppers, pickled carrots, pickled beets, and pickled olives … along with some vegetables I couldn’t recognize in the jar.The colorful display is what caused us to stop. “What a great picture! I have to take that.” And as we opened the door to ask “photograph ├ž─▒kabilir miyim?”the two guys invited us inside with big smiles. As I snapped a few photos one of them was hurriedly slicing a pickle and offering us a taste. Yum! We exchanged a few sentences – Turkish, or my lack of it, limiting a conversation – and learned that their pickles come from Bursa, and that they actually export to Berlin.Who knew? And so with several more smiles and an olive sample for Ann Marie we parted from this pleasant interlude in a dreary overcast day. Perhaps I need to get detoured more often in this town. Who knows what else I might come across?