Monday, January 16, 2006

back home

Chapel Hill, USA

I just thought I'd let anyone still reading know that I got home safely. The last couple of days in Turkey were a little bit crazy but still good. I went to a couple of sufi gatherings and did my christmas shopping. And then I left Monday morning, although at 1:30 in the afternoon, not at 9 in the morning as I had thought. So it was good that I got it mixed up that way instead of the other way around, but I still felt stupid. It was snowing on my way to the airport! There were no missed flights, and no lost bags and they didn't discover the honey that I was bringing back so I have to say it was more sucessfull than the last time I tried to enter the country. And no I did not get bird flu.

I think that I have a good amount of interview data, documents, and statistics and now I just need to wade through the documents and statistics and write it up. Easier said than done I guess. If you want to read the finished product you should let me know after April 21st.

I have no plans to leave the country again...although I recall thinking that in August and I was gone again less than 6 months later, so I probably won't be writing much this semester. Thanks for reading.

Friday, January 06, 2006

the rooftop adventures of Efdal and Katie - part II

İstanbul, Turkey

I had my last interview today. It was with some officials who work for government of the greater municipality of Istanbul. And since Istanbul has a population of maybe 15 million, they influence the lives of more people than the governments of some countries. Anyways, since the people I was interviewing didn't speak english Efdal kindly agreed to come with me to translate. Waiting in the 6th floor office with a great view for the guy to get back from lunch Efdal asked if they might let us go up to the roof to take pictures. I told him to ask, but only after the interview so they wouldn't get mad.

The interview went really well, Efdal is a really good translator and they talked to me for an hour and a half or so. And then, they did let us go up on the roof. No ottoman chimney's on this roof, but it had an amazing view, and the sun was setting which made it even better. After a couple of weeks spending hours a day on busses and getting frusterated with the city, all I needed was one look from the rooftop to remember that it is one of the most (or maybe the most) beautiful cities in the world.

On the way back to the asian side we visited on of Efdal's friends. The first time we visited him I whacked my head on his very short doorway. And he still remembers me by that it seems. Anyways, this time in addition to his workroom I got to see the room where he puts his finished artwork which was amazing and really peaceful.

The research is done. There offices are all closed this weekend and then I leave. Hopefully I have enough information.

Monday, January 02, 2006

oh the library

İstanbul, Turkey

Today was one of those very frusterating days. It mostly has to do with my trip to the library, more specifically the Atatürk library in Taksim. I managed to find it easily which was exciting, and then after asking people found the small room with the İstanbul collection. So far, so good. The librarians didn't seem to speak any english, but the student of one of the librarians did and so they gave me the catalogue (or book listing the titles) and let me look through it. I found a bunch of things that looked interesting after going through the entire catalogue. But then they closed for lunch and made me leave for a while.

Upon returning from lunch I figured out their shelving system and found most of the things I wanted. After skimming all of them I had decided that 5 were really good. But at that point I had already spent 4 hours there, which had used up an attenion span or two, was feeling ucky and couldn't concentrate, and didn't really have time (since I now have four more research days) to really read them and take notes. So I asked if I could photocopy things. Simple request right, the books are all available to the public, nothing private. So the nice old man librarian went off to find the form and about half an hour later I got it. They wanted not only my name and university and project, but my place of birth, the names of my mother and father and my passport number. Since I haven't memorized my passport number and I didn't have it with me they made dissapoving sounds and told me that maybe if I brought my passport in tomorrow they might let me photocopy some things. So I may be able to get permission to photocopy, and even if I do they might not let me photocopy as many pages as I would like. Darn the beurocratic library! gahhh!

My mother tells me that this is unfortunatly normal for doing research in Turkey, and that I have now been initiated. I guess that makes me feel slightly better. And apparently without knowing it I visited one of the hardest libraries for foreigners to get into when I was here last year and Efdal took me to the library at the Sulimaniye.

And I've just had two people call me because they heard I had a frusterating experience and one knows someone at the Atatürk library and is going to go back with me, and another has a friend that worked for the municipality that I can talk to. I guess maybe I'm getting back on the up part of the research rollercoaster. This is crazy. I really need another week. I think that toward the end of the week I'll finally have contacts in the municipality and then I'll have to leave. Ah well

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year!

Istanbul, Turkey

Happy New Year to one and all! I have a cold and so I haven't really done much at all in the past few days. For new years eve I was at Aylin's house and another family came over and we had dinner and watched a Turkish new years program and then they went to bed before midnight. So I stayed up and watched more tv (although this time in english) until about midnight when I switched back to the Turkish station to see the countdown. I'm not good enough with the Turkish numbers to count down in Turkish. There are some advantages to being in an appartment on the 14th floor of a building, one of which is that it gives you a great view of the city and the fireworks that people shoot off. For a while they were going off everywhere I looked. It was exciting since I love fireworks.

And now because it is a new year I feel the need to be political (something I've left out of my blog). Friday I met up with a guy that is an activist in Istanbul as well as a graduate student working two jobs on top of that. He and others have been working for five months to organize the European social forum, and then they hope to have the first Turkish social forum in November. They are talking to farmers and workers all over the country and getting them involved. But he told me that they can only do so much unless the US changes its policies. The words he's like to share with people in the US - "break it, smash it!" - *using nonviolent means*. Talking to him and hearing his energy and enthusiasm was really inspirational for me, because sometimes I forget that activism is more than sitting in meetings and talking about process without ever doing anything. And it gives me hope, that if we can all leave our egos in last year, that we could really make enough changes in the US to let the people in Turkey (and everywhere else in the world) make changes in their countries. Talking to him also reminded me that activists in the US are not the only ones. We often fault leaders in the US for putting us in places where we don't belong because we are supposed to right the wrongs of the world, remove the dictators, etc., but as sometimes I think that as activists we also forget that people are organizing in other countries too. We Americans are not the only ones trying to change the world, people across the world are trying to change the world and we can be more effective if we remember that.

And I know I said it once, but I think I'll say it again...Happy New Year!