Thursday, December 29, 2005

the rain in spain...

İstanbul, Turkey

It's been raining all day and I left my umbrella at what I currently call home. So I got very wet which I'm sure didn't help my fight not to get this cold. But me and my flintstones vitamins will prevail! And tomorrow I shall bring my umbrella when I go out.

I had two interviews today at Boğaziçi university. One was with an old friend of my mom's and one was with the professor of one of my advisors. Yay for connections. I'm currently trying to get an interview (or maybe more than one!) with people in the municipal government. Keep your fingers crossed! I really need to actually talk to someone in the government here.

Yesterday I talked to a professor at Marmara Unıversity. They have lots of different campuses in İstanbul, and I thought I had found a bus that went to the right one, but it turns out it was the wrong one. Fortunatly I was going there from someplace else and so asked directions and some very nice women put me on the correct mini bus and I got to the correct campus. And the interview was really good.

Nothing really exciting going on though. I spend lots of time on busses going to interviews, waiting for interviews, and sleeping and that's about it. But I did find the english language books in the Boğaziçi bookstore today which was very exciting. And I would recommend Good Omens for anyone who hasn't read it. Stay dry

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

I didn't get lost!!

İstanbul, Turkey

I've returned to İstanbul, and it makes me really happy. I took the bus from Ankara on Monday. Since this wasn't the night bus, and I was awake I actually got to see what it looks like from here to Ankara. There was snow on the ground most of the way, and most of it is mountainous, or at least hilly. As the trees have no leaves the mountains/hills look like they had thinnıng hair that was standing straight up so you could see their very white scalps. Anyways, it was a pretty trip. And I've discovered that if they show action movies it isn't really necessary to understand Turkish.

On arriving at the bus station I had to take a taksi to Aylin's house. I had forgotten what it's like to ride in a turkish taksi. Almost as good as a roller coaster (although I've only ever been on one roller coaster). But they are crazy crazy drivers.

Alikan (Aylin's son) is now two and a half, and while still the cutest kid ever he has entered the terrible twos, which seems to be a little bit trying for his parents. The cat is still an attack cat, and seems to like feet, which reminds me of dillon. The bed I slept in before is gone and now they have a couch that pulls out into a bed. It's very comfy.

I went to the kapılıçarsı (grand bazaar) today to visit Hasan. I managed to find a bus stop, get on a bus that took me to Kadıköy so I could take the ferry to Eminönü as planned. No getting lost or getting on the wrong bus! I have also continued my tradition of buying the best cookies ever to get bus change. It was so exciting to be back on the ferry. I can't really think of any good words. Hasan is doing well, and sitting in his shop (he sells carpets) I felt like I'd never really left. I also visited Murat (he sells brass and copper stuff) and had a slightly one sided discussion about why americans move out of their family's houses at 18 or 22 and how that leads to people feeling more isolated.

And here's the real shock. I took the ferry back (yay!) and after getting on the wrong bus and then being sent to another where I realized I was being dyslexic I got what turned out to be the right bus. I got off at the right stop and found Aylin's building. I don't think I've ever gone some place for the first time in İstanbul and not gotten lost. Although now that I've said that I'm sure as soon as I walk out the door tomorrow I will be lost.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

conferences and tea

Ankara, Turkey

I woke up this morning thinking that I had no plans, but as is often the case in Turkey that was not true for long. Standing in the hallway trying to wake up the mother (her name is Nesin) and older son walked past and told me that Belgin had been trying to calling all morning. Turns out she wanted me to go to a conference with her on Sufism and Women. So I put on some clothes and went. The conference was in this huge conference salon as they called it. There were four people speaking including Cemalnur, Dr. Gursoy, and an american guy. It started on standard turkish time (late) with the singing of the national march. I have to say that in terms of people singing along to there national anthem/marches Turkey defiantly beats America. It's in a range that most people can actually sing in with no bloody high notes. I felt a little bit awkward standing there though.

I'm sure that the conference was very interesting, but I only understood a fourth of it. When the american guy started talking it took me a minute to realize that he was actually speaking english. Aylin was translating for him which was very exciting. He went on about the women that had been close to the prophet, and took too long to make his point. He ended up making it as they were telling him he was out of time. When cemalnur spoke I could get the feeling of what she was saying, but none of the words. I think it helps that she talks with her hands.

Afterwards there was tea, because that's what's done and I got to see most of my sufi family. It was really nice to see them all again. And it was great to see the look on their faces because I hadn't told them that I was going to be there. Yay for my sufi family. I'm excited about going back to Istanbul and seeing all of them. In case you are wondering, I was adopted into a sufi group when I was in Istanbul in May and the teacher of the group is cemalnur.

They ordered pizza tonight for dinner. I think pizza here might be more exciting. They put corn on their pizza! And the um italian kind had secuk (turkish peperoni if you will) on it. And the mom (her name is made visne (sour cherry juice)! I guess I talk about food a lot, but I've decided that when I get back I'm going to figure out how to make some of the turkish food I really like.

It's Christmas eve, and although I'm going to have the whitest Christmas I've had in a long time it doesn't seem at all like Christmas eve. But I hope you all have been good this year and maybe santa will visit you. Because I still believe in santa; as my mother says santa is the people that love you. Happy christmas eve!

Friday, December 23, 2005

interviews oh interviews

Ankara, Turkey

I had three interviews today and they all went really well. Yay! I kind of don't feel like I should be talking about what people said in my blog though, so if you want to find out about them you can read my thesis someday insallah.

I'm now staying with a family that is friends with Canguzel's family. However, I am very bad with names, and turkish names are once again proving to be worse than american ones and so I know the daughter is named Ozge but I can't remember the names of the rest of the family. But I have to say that the four year old is really cute and I feel bad because I can't talk to him.

Anyways, today Ozge was very nice and came with me to all the interviews. And I got to meet her friends at this chinese resturaunt that also had sushi. She goes to an international school, as does her brother (the 16 year old one, not the 4 year old) so they both speak fluent english which is really nice. Some day I really will learn turkish!

While I was at METU (middle east technical university) I got to see Claire and Oktay which was very exciting. Claire (who is brittish but now speaks fluent turkish) is in the process of starting up a dissabilities probgram at METU which seems to be a challenge, but also very rewarding. Apparently it's the first program like this at a Turkish university, but now there is another one that is starting up as well.

At the state planning office once again I talked to a woman I had already talked to and then the man I was going to interview was very late. Ozge left and eventully he showed up at about 5:30. Apparently there was some problem with the licensing of his car and something and he had to wait 3 hours. He gave me a ride home after I interviewed him which was really nice of him. It was kind of funny though. The neighborhood I'm staying in is confusing, and so he stopped somewhere and asked for directions, which turned out to be bad. So he went back to the same place to try again. We did find it eventually, but the directions he got the second time were exactly the same as the first time, and still wrong.

I was very late getting back and so missed dinner, but they saved some for me. And it was manti!!! Manti is my favorite turkish food, or perhaps food in general by the way. If you haven't it's turkish dumplings in a yougurt sort of sauce and well, it's really good. And it was homemade! Yay!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

what a long strange trip it's been

Ankara, Turkey

The walkabout is over, so you'll just have to think of the title as My research trip: A most unplanned adventure. I don't seem to be doing well at staying in the country.

I don't know where to start. But I've just discovered how to put the keyboard on the english setting instead of the turkish setting, which seems to be a start. It's been a long crazy trip and I've already had my first interview, although have only had 6 hours of sleep in a bed since I left.

The flight to philidelphia was all nice and normal, but then my flight to munich was delayed by 2 hours. First the plane got there late, then the caterers (whose food wasn't good anyways) took too long and then they had to fix the navigation system, test it extensivly and do some paperwork. In short, by the time we had landed in Munich my plane for Istanbul had already departed. So the lovely people of Lufthansa rerouted me through Berlin and then I got to take a turkish airlines flight to Istanbul. I have to say that turkish airlines beates US airways on food, hands down. But then, is that really a surprise?

I got met at the airport (at 8:30 pm turkish time) and taken to the ulusoy bus station. The bus left at 11, and there was a bit of confusion as I tried to explain that Canguzel's mom, Inci, had my ticket, but would be getting on the bus in about half an hour. The guy was nice and decided that I could stay on the bus. Inci did get on the bus later and explained everything. It was really nice to see her. There was some falling asleep and then some snow. We stopped half way there (2:30 am) at a rest stop and had some yogurt soup. And then I remembered why I love turkey so much. The bus arrived at 5:30 and we got to Inci's appartment/house at 6 where I got my sleep in an actual bed.

Some sleep, food and a shower can do wonders for a person. And then I had my first interviews. I don't think I'm asking the right questions. And I was trying too hard to stay awake to think of some better ones. But they were really nice and told me I could come back Friday if I have any questions, and also found me someone else to intervew Friday. So it should come out okay.

I can't think of anything profound. The icicles at the rest stop last night were 1 meter long and it's been below 0 (in celcius) since I got here. It's kind of nice to see snow. I'm still a little confused on what time it is, and how I lost a day, but oh well. Another interview tomorrow, hopefully it will yield more information.