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.

Monday, March 30, 2009

tea time

Terraced tea slopes
Originally uploaded by ccarlstead
Along the coast of the Black Sea, as the hills rise away from the water, lies a land of terraced slopes and water filled valleys (not to mention many bridges – some picturesque and some I’m not sure I’d want to trust my safety to). It is here that Turkey’s tea industry lies. The slopes hold more tea plants then I can even begin to convey and on certain stretches of read you simply pass cay refinery after cay refinery. On this trip I leaved why some of the packets of tea in my grocery store proudly proclaim Rize Cay – it is not a brand name. It is the name of the town where the tea comes from. OF course in the town tea comes from there are plenty of tea gardens to sit down in and enjoy a glass or two. Mom and I made our way to one that was in a (small) botanical garden on the hill side overlooking the city. Quite a climb I must admit, after we figured out the correct path up. We finally made it up and got a good view of those terraced fields and, because we were tourists, a free glass of tea in the garden. How lovely! I think I’ll have a better appreciation of tea in this country now, even if I don’t drink it much at all.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

How difficult should it be?

Do you ever have moments when you know something exists but you just can't seem to find it? When, despite your best efforts on Google search you just can't seem to hit on the exact key words you need to pull it up? I got quite frustrated today trying to find sample advertisement that made claims based upon some sort of undisclosed statitiscal analysis. You know the ones that I mean...the 9 out of 10 dentists recommend, with better highway mileage than any other domestic car, more washings for your money....After over half an hour of searching I *finally* came across two that I thought would work out okay for my statistics unit. And I have to document them so that I don't completely lose them again in the future!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Quote of the week

It is known that there are an infinite number of worlds, simply because there is an infinite amount of space for them to be in. However, not every one of them is inhabited. Therefore, there must be a finite number of inhabited worlds. Any finite number divided by infinity is as near to nothing as makes no odds, so the average population of all the planets in the Universe can be said to be zero. From this it follows that the population of the whole Universe is also zero, and that any people you may meet from time to time are merely the products of a deranged imagination.

Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the Ends of the Universe

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Would you like a receipt?

No: let the trees grow
Originally uploaded by ccarlstead
Every time I go to the ATM machine I have to smile. And no, it’s not because I’m getting some money out. Although, perhaps in a way it is because I’m taking money out. What makes me want to laugh is the question the machine asks after I get my money. “Do you want a receipt?” I know, I know, there is nothing funny about the question. What is amusing is the way that they give you options. You can say “no” which is accompanied by a picture of a nice forest of trees. In other words, no thank you, don’t give me a receipt, I don’t want to use the paper and hurt the environment. Or you can say “yes” which is accompanied by a picture of some stumps of trees. An in, yes, print me out my receipt, I don’t care about the environment, go ahead and cut down those trees. It’s just interesting how the bank machine seems to carry an environmental message. Unfortunately I’m not sure how effective it is at all. Everyone that I have mentioned it to hadn’t noticed the images before I pointed them out. So perhaps the subliminal message isn’t working. But as long as they continue to use the pictures I’ll continue to hold back a giggle whenever I take out my money and chose “no, thank you, I’ll save the forest.”

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Practical Priest

Sunday when I went to mass I realized just how practical my priest (or church) is here. Last Wednesday was Ash Wednesday, and in a city where it would take 2 hours for someone to get to church by public transportation making a 7 am mass and still getting to work isn't exactly an option. When I am overseas I often resign myself to just missing the mid-week holy days. Well, shortly after the opening prayers on Sunday, the priest invited up anyone who had not had a chance to get ashes on Wednesday. Hooray! I actually got to have an official start to Lent (of course a few days late). I was a little confused when I went up and was given ashes on the top of my head. ?!? Then I thought about it. Perhaps (I'm speculating here) this too is a sign of how practical the priests are. Technically people are free to practice whatever religion they want here in Turkey. However, this freedom pretty much goes along with not talking about or making a show of being anything but Muslim. And surely walking around with ashes on one's forehead would be a clear indication of being Catholic. So I wonder if the priests were annointing the top of the head as a way of (sort of) protecting the congregation. Interesting to ponder...

Observations in the market

Last Friday I managed to get back to the Kurtkoy market on what ended up being a rather dreary and wet day. Very seldom do I need the full 1 1/4 hours allotted by the bus to do my shopping, and that day was not exception. The last half hour found me slowly sipping a glass of tea at the restaurant where I had ordered my take out for the evening (a cheese pide). With nothing else to distract me I found myself observing interactions in the market from the outside (or perhaps I should say from the inside?). During that time several things struck me. First, the major difference between the market in Turkey and the market I always went to in Guinea is that here, at least in the market I go to, the sellers are exclusively men. There are no women selling things. At all. I suspect this may be because the market does not quite function the same way. At least in Istanbul selling things in the market is a full time job. People buy goods to resell (it is not normal to sell their own produce)and it is a 7 day a week job. Every day these people set up their stall in a different weekly market. So on Friday they are in Kurtkoy, Saturday may find them in Pendik and the other days in some other area of the city. In Guinea the market was a much more personal thing. Men and women tended to sell the things that they had grown, made or harvested (although there were still people who sold dried goods which they had bought from somewhere else). And as life in Guinea was more about subsistence, the person who sold in the market was the person that was available. Sometimes the woman, sometimes the man, and sometimes the children.

The other thing that I noticed while starting through the window was that it is much more common to see women buying things here. That is not so different as anywhere, where the women are in charge of feeding a family. I was amused to watch several couples shopping together to notice that really all the man did was carry the bags. The women were even the ones who were dealing with the money (perhaps because it is the food budget?). The women here, though seem to look at going to the market as just a way to get food. There is not the same level of friendliness and visiting which took place in Guinea. I'm not sure if this is a Turkish-Guinean difference, or if it is just the difference between a weekly market and a daily one.

Having the time to stare out the window and just observe really made me realize how many different variations there can be to the fairly common world wide practice of going to the market.