Thursday, 29 April 2010

A little day trip

I set off at 7.45am today to visit MrAyak's new business.  Going was a piece of cake. I caught the dolmuş to the main road...and waited just a few minutes for the bus to Bodrum.  Mr A was waiting for me and we set off to the hotel.  Coming back was more difficult....I missed the bus in Bodrum by 2 minutes and waited half an hour. When I got to the road to the village to wait for the dolmuş I'd clearly just missed one and waited more than an hour, so was glad to finally get home.

The hotel is lovely and Mr A's hamam, sauna and massage rooms are very nice indeed.  They had a lot of cleaning to do but he and Mehmet have worked really hard to get it all spotless and ready to go. There are still things to buy, but until they start earning money they can't invest in anything else.  The last two weeks has seen no customers at all, due to the package deals being cancelled along with the flights.  Customers will start arriving from Sunday onwards, but the hotel will only be 30% full for May.  June through to September is fully booked, so it looks promising.  Mr Ayak has been talking to managers of adjacent hotels who do not have their own turkish bath facilities and they have agreed to send customers...for a commission fee of course.  Anyone living in Turkey will know that almost every business in the tourist industry works on a commission basis.  We may not always like the system, but that's how it's not likely to change.

I'm posting up a few pics here of the hotel and Hamam.  Mr A took them and some are not as clear as I'd like them, but they may give you some idea of what it's like.

                                             Hotel and Grounds

Apologies for the way I've posted the following pics...I can't seem to get it right but the pics in order are:
Outside the entrance to Mr Ayak's Turkish Bath and Sauna (me posing as a customer)
One of the Massage Rooms
Reception Area   (me posing again with Mehmet)

(There are various other rooms, but the photos didn't come out) 


Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Shop cheaply...make do and mend.

I go into Milas a couple of times a week to get food shopping, when I'm on my own. I have to make more than one journey as it's impossible to carry too much up the steep hill once I get off the dolmuş.  I do have a shopping trolley and in normal circumstances this would be the ideal solution.  However, my one attempt at using it along these steep and uneven lanes, caused one wheel to drop I don't bother with it now.

To avoid spending too much time browsing around the shops and being tempted to spend more money than I can afford, I set myself a time limit.  I usually catch the dolmuş at 10.00 am, which takes 15 to 20 minutes into Milas, then I make sure I get the return bus at 11.15am.  An hour is usually sufficient.

Yesterday I rummaged through my wardrobe to sort out cooler clothes as summer seems to be here now, and came to the conclusion that my body-shape keeps changing.  Maybe some of you of a certain me...will have noticed how one's top half becomes more rounded and one's hips seem to become narrower? So my tops are fine because they are mostly loose anyway, but some of my trousers and skirts don't seem to fit properly anymore.  We are lucky to have loads of tailors and dressmakers here in Turkey and I've mentioned before how inexpensive it is to have clothes altered.  So I decided that I will take one item at a time to be altered to fit, so I won't need to buy anything new. 

This morning I took my favourite cut-off linen trousers to the terze (tailor) I usually use, and thought I may have to leave them and collect another day.  She said to come back in an hour, but I mentioned that I had a bus to catch at 11.15 and I would return on Friday.  No problem she said...come back in 20 minutes.

I went off to do my shopping at my regular supermarket, and to my pleasant surprise there were offers on almost all the items on my list.  When I returned to the terze 20 minutes later, my trousers were not only taken in both sides, but beautifully pressed as well.  She did a wonderful job and it cost me just 5 lira (about 2 pounds).  Much cheaper than having to buy new ones.

When I returned home, I picked some of the leaves from my grapevine.  Most people here pick them later when they are bigger, but I prefer them at this stage. Even though they are smaller they are much more tender.   I made up some stuffing mix, which I've used before here and stuffed the leaves, along with some bell peppers and large tomatoes.   I also bought some green beans at the market on Monday and cooked up some green beans in olive oil.   I found a small red cabbage in the market and made up a big bowl of coleslaw with the cabbage, chopped onions, peppers, grated carrot and mayonnaise.  

These recipes cost almost nothing.  I probably have enough to last me for a week and as they are dishes which I love, I won't get fed up with eating the same thing every day.

Mr Ayak phoned today and suggested I catch the bus tomorrow over to the hotel where his business is situated.  He thinks it's about time I had a look at the place and even though customers are not due until the end of this week, he seems a lot more cheerful and optimistic. 

I'm looking forward to seeing it and I'll let you know all about it when I return.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Sorry, I just have to ..... up some more pics of Billy. Today he had a picnic in the park with a couple of little friends, the last of his birthday celebrations.

Communication problems

Late yesterday afternoon I lost my internet connection.  TTNet absolutely infuriate me.  They have a helpline which I've used many times, and if you press "9" when you get through you can speak to someone in English.  They attempt to speak English back...but it's not always easy for them to understand me or vice versa...but we struggle through and eventually...sometimes...we sort out the problem.  Often they say they will check my line and someone will call me back.  No-one ever calls back.  So at a later stage I go through the whole procedure again, until I actually get someone on the other end who can actually rectify the problem...or not as the case may be.  It's not easy!

Well this time it would seem that the helpline number was also unavailable.  I could have then called their head office landline but unfortunately my landline is outgoing local calls only.  And I was almost out of credit on my mobile phone.  So I searched for my English sim card which I use on my trips to England, and luckily there was enough credit on it for me to make a quick call to Mr Ayak.  He spent most of the morning ringing various people who said they would test the line.  He was also referred to Turk Telekom in Milas and spoke to someone there.  Early afternoon I was connected to the internet once more...5 minutes later a man from Turk Telekom rang me and asked if I had connection...I said yes thankyou.   Half an hour later I lost it again.   Fortunately Mr A rang me a little later and I explained what had happened.   He also said that he had just discovered that the hotel reception had lost their internet connection at the same time as I had yesterday.  They were also re-connected for half an hour then lost it again.

So...obviously this was a general problem....not just me. Mr Ayak phoned TTNet again. He asked them if this was a general widespread internet problem.  "Oh yes" they said "we will sort out the problem and you will be re-connected as soon as possible"

What I really do not understand is why TTNet took almost 24 hours, after many calls from Mr Ayak, to inform him that this was not just a problem with my connection.  Sometimes I just feel so exasperated at their incompetence.   And the worse thing is that no-on complains....except me of course!

Monday, 26 April 2010

A few Billy Birthday pics

Billy had a wonderful first birthday...three days of celebrations in fact!

Early on Friday morning, his mum and dad arranged all his presents in the sitting room, and Stella switched on the webcam so that I could see him come into the room and watch him open them.  It wasn't the same as actually being there of course, but at least I could see him!   So here are a few pics (you can actually see me on the laptop in the background in a couple of the pics ...totally mesmerised!)

And a couple taken later...out in the park on his new tricycle and having his picnic lunch

Checking out his birthday cards:

Time for birthday cake! exhausted little boy:

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Poppy....What a difference 7 months makes

This is Poppy on the day that we rescued her. 
Not a very clear picture I'm afraid...taken in my days of one-use disposable cameras.

 I had just spent hours washing her and removing ticks and all sorts of other horrible things from her hair....well in fact she didn't actually have much hair as you can see.
She also had some nasty infected sores which I treated with antibiotic cream and which took several weeks to clear up.

She was so fragile and timid.  At first I thought she was very young...she was just so tiny, but the vet we saw the next day said she was in fact somewhere around 3 years old, and that she had clearly been badly treated and malnourished.

And this is Poppy today.   These are rare pictures of Poppy as she is terrified of cameras.  On the whole she is much less timid and more confident than she was seven months ago, but it took a lot of coaxing on my part to get her to keep still enough to be snapped....after which she promptly did a nervous wee on the floor!

Once I'm more proficient with the camera I may  find it easier to catch her unawares and take some more.

Friday, 23 April 2010

National Sovereignty and Childrens' Day

Today isn't just Billy's birthday, Shakespeare's birthday (and  the day of his death), and St George's Day, it's an important national holiday in Turkey.

The following is taken verbatim  from Todays Zaman (so make allowances for their translation)

April 23 National Sovereignty and Children's Day, which marks the foundation of the Turkish Parliament in 1920, is being celebrated with a series of events throughout Turkey and Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus on Friday.

State officials headed by Parliament Speaker Mehmet Ali Şahin paid a visit to Anıtkabir, modern Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk's Mausoleum.

High-level state officials observed a minute of silent and sung the National Anthem.

Later Şahin signed the Anıtkabir Special Register and wrote: "The Turkish parliament, which has been working to reach the level of contemporary civilizations, will keep working with a great determination in accordance with your (Ataturk's) principles."

Groups of children from different schools are putting out their massive shows at the May 19 Stadium in Ankara.

Students, scouts and folklore dancers made a ceremonial march in the beginning of celebrations in the stadium.

April 23 is the only children's festival in the world.

It was on April 23, 1920, during the War of Independence, that the Grand National Assembly was inaugurated in Ankara and Mustafa Kemal Atatürk laid down the foundations of a new, independent, secular, and modern Republic of Turkey.

He also dedicated this day to the children of the country to emphasize that they are the future of the new nation and since then, April 23 National Sovereignty and Children's Day is celebrated in Turkey as a national day. The importance of April 23 as a special day of children has also been recognized internationally and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) endorsed this important day as the International Children's Day.

Every year on this date, children from all around the world come together in Turkey to enjoy Children's Day celebrations and festivities in a hope that these memories of friendly atmosphere will contribute to a future of enhanced brotherhood and peace among nations.

Happy 1st Birthday Billy

Dear Billy,

Here you are ...just a couple of hours old.  I can't believe just how fast this year has gone.

It seems like only yesterday that I was in England with your Mum for 6 weeks.  Two weeks leading up to your  birth, when we went for many long walks, and she bounced up and down on her exercise ball...just to help things along.  And then four wonderful weeks with you before I reluctantly returned home.

I've only been to see you once since then, in October when you were six months old, and I marvelled at the progress you had made.

Thanks to the wonderful invention of the webcam, I can at least see you often and watch you grow and change.  Although it breaks my heart that I can't just reach out and give you a cuddle. But it does give me so much pleasure to see your lovely smile, and I really appreciate your Mum finding time to do this when she is incredibly busy.   You had your  first haircut on Wednesday and Mummy came straight home, switched on the webcam, and showed me.  Just a little thing...but being able to see these little milestones means so much to me.

It had been my intention to be there to celebrate your special day, but unfortunately volcanic ash and the disruption it caused, put pay to that. 

I did order your birthday present...a wooden train set...several weeks ago, and it was delivered to Uncle Martin's house.  He has kindly wrapped it for me, bought a card and dropped  it off  in time for you to open this morning....and your Mummy will be switching on the webcam so that I can watch you doing this. a beautiful, happy little boy, who has brought so much joy in to my life...and sadness too that I can't be with you as often as I'd like....Happy Birthday darling Billy. I miss you and your Mummy so much and I hope it won't be too long before I see you again.

With lots of love from Nanny Linda xxxxx

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Turkish Cookbook

I have just stumbled across a wonderful Turkish cookbook, whilst I was searching google for a recipe, so I thought I would post the link here Binnur's Turkish Cookbook.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Things growing in the garden

A bit more practise with the camera...please humour's still early days!

Here's Beki on guard duty by the perimeter fence:

I was about to produce a photo of a tiny baby tortoise...half the size of my hand...Poppy was standing watching me....she moved towards the tortoise who promptly did a wee on my hand and I dropped the camera.  Fortunately no damage done to the camera or tortoise....but no pic I'm afraid.


This is a post just to say how much I have appreciated the thoughtful words from everyone both on here and on Facebook, over the past few days.

I woke up quite depressed and tearful this morning....and almost as if my daughter is telepathic...she picked just the right moment to skype me so I could chat to her and Billy on webcam.

Of course Stella and I are really disappointed that I'm not there right now.  We've both been having a hard time recently and we so looked forward to lots of cuddles and precious time well as being able to celebrate Billy's 1st Birthday on Friday.

But as she says...Billy won't really understand that it's his birthday...and we can save the cuddles for later, when it's safe for me to travel.  She's a wise and wonderful girl, my daughter.  I am so proud of her and love her to bits!

I'm pleased to see that ships have been sent to rescue some of the many people who have been stranded due to this disaster.  And in particular that 500 troops on their way home from Afghanistan who were stuck in Cyprus, were airlifted yesterday and are being collected by the ship Albion from Santander this morning.  Of all the people who are facing difficulties at this time, I think most people would agree that these brave soldiers deserve to get home as soon as possible.

My friends who I mentioned before, who were due to travel on Friday, are still waiting on standby.  They have had difficulty getting through to the airline on the phone and have had to make a round trip to the airport each day to put themselves on standby every time a flight is cancelled.  My friend considers herself lucky however, as she has an apartment in Selcuk, so at least has somewhere to stay when so many others don't.

I'm very concerned that airlines are putting pressure on governments to re-open airspace before they should.  I sincerely hope they don't bow to this before the time is right.   Safety...not money...should always be top priority.  I certainly don't intend to fly again until I am absolutely sure that it's safe to do so.

Anyway...the purpose of this post was really to show my appreciation of the kindness I have experienced from people I am happy to have as friends.

Thankyou xxx

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Sombre Sunday

Well, as anticipated, my flight was cancelled.  I had expected to be awake all night checking the Turkish Airlines website, as the report yesterday of the airports closure being extended to 7.00am this morning, meant that being 9.00am here, the time I was due to leave for Bodrum would be a last minute check and dash before setting off.

But later in the evening the time was extended again until 1.00pm today, and as my flight was due to take off from Istanbul at 1.15pm, it seemed unlikely it would happen.  Sure enough several minutes later my cancelled flight was posted up on the website.  I have to say that I am impressed by Turkish Airlines prompt updates on their website..they have been very efficient during this difficult time.

I had to make a decision about whether to phone the airline to go on standby or apply for a refund.  Bearing in mind that my friends who were due to leave on Friday are still stuck here, having been told they will be added to the standby list on Monday ONLY if the airports open today, with no guarantees about when they will get away, I felt I would be fighting a losing battle.  It seems that this situation is going to get worse before it gets better, and there seemed little point in accepting standby, only to find that if I was lucky I might actually manage to arrive in England only a matter of days before I was due to return on 2nd May.

My brother in England is kindly going to get in touch with Expedia, with whom I booked my flights.  They won't accept refund requests by email.  It has to be by telephone, and as my line is local calls only, it's impossible for me to phone England.  In any case their website says that their call centre is experiencing high activity, so it will be a nightmare getting through.

My return ticket for 2nd May will have to be cancelled, and as it's a non-refundable ticket I was expecting just to receive a refund of taxes.  However I noticed on the Turkish Airlines website this morning that this date is within the timescale for which they seem to be offering full refunds...but it's a grey area so we'll wait and see.

So the entire trip has had to be abandoned at this point in time. It's very regrettable but in a way I'm relieved not to be flying at this difficult time, and even if the airports open, travelling is going to be absolute chaos for weeks ahead.

Mr Ayak is still sitting twiddling his thumbs, with no customers.  It makes me realise how much the knock-on effect of this volcanic ash is going to have on so many people, businesses, etc. all over the world.  It will take a long time to recover.

I'm sadly going to miss Billy's 1st birthday on Friday.  I'm upset.  Stella is upset.  Fortunately Billy is too young to understand, and he will no doubt have a wonderful time.  I just wish I could be there to share it.

The plan is to wait until this disastrous action by Mother Nature has subsided and things are back to normal...or as near normal as possible...then I'll re-book my trip and again look forward to spending precious time with my lovely daughter and grandson.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Sad Saturday

I am sad today.  In fact I shed a few tears this morning while I was on the phone to Mr Ayak.  It seems unlikely I'll get to England tomorrow, or for the foreseeable future, the way things are going.

And there is Mr Ayak, sad too, sitting in his business premises with no customers...because they're all stuck in the UK and other parts of Europe.  This is a real problem for us.  Mr A is committed to paying rent on these premises because he has signed a contract.  If there are no customers, there will be no business, and no business means no money to pay rent or anything else.

But then you start to put things into perspective.  I'm relieved that there are no flights and that safety has been put first.  I feel sorry for those people who are stranded and unable to get home of course.  But I am also a little irritated at some of these people who have appeared in some news reports, who are moaning about it.  One man even said he thought the airlines should take a chance and resume some of the flights!  What is it with people like this?   Do they really not understand the implications of flying in these conditions?  Or are they so wrapped up in themselves and how something affects them personally?

There are disasters and tragedies happening every minute of the day all over the world.  More than a thousand people have lost their lives in the recent earthquake in China.  Our soldiers are still being killed and maimed in Afghanistan.   These are the important things in life.   This is what makes me really sad.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Frantic Friday

Yes I'm frantically checking the news and Turkish Airlines website to see if there is any change in the UK airport situation.  To be honest I'm not holding out much hope of being able to set off on Sunday.

My friends who visited on Tuesday, and were due to fly home this morning with Turkish Airlines did of course have their flight cancelled.  They thought that as soon as the UK airports re-open they would be put on the next available flight from Istanbul, but that's not the case.  They will be put on standby and will wait indefinitely, having to continually ring a helpline to find out when they can set off to the airport.  I guess I will have to do the same if my flight is cancelled on Sunday.

Mr Ayak's partner, Mehmet, has been delayed another 24 hours.  Not that it makes too much difference as far as the business is concerned, because the hotel customers haven't arrived, due to being stranded in the UK.  Mr Ayak saw little point in going back to the hotel this morning, and decided to wait until tomorrow to collect Mehmet and travel with him.   However a phone call from Mehmet this morning informed Mr A that Mehmet had arranged for his  brother to send  the personnel uniforms by cargo direct to Bodrum, and they needed to be collected and paid for this afternoon.  This was something that Mehmet should have been paying for, amongst other things, but of course he's not here yet.

So another frantic trip on the motorbike to Milas to get more money, and Mr Ayak set off to Bodrum, and is staying there, having told Mehmet to make his own way there tomorrow....hopefully he will arrive with some money to reimburse Mr A...who will then pass it on to me as I need money for my trip.  Hmm...that's if the trip actually happens!

So's been a frantic day...every time I check the latest news on the airports, I have to phone Mr A to let him know, because he is sitting and waiting to hear if any customers will actually arrive in the near future.

One really lovely thing happened today though.  I checked my postbox whilst I was in Milas to find a huge parcel full of Cadbury's chocolate from a dear friend in England.   What perfect timing!   I was in desperate need of Cadbury's chocolate...better than Prozac any day!

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Thankless Thursday

This ash from the volcano in Iceland is causing so much disruption isn't it?

Now all British airports are closed, and I'm desperately hoping they'll be open again before I'm due to fly to London on Sunday.

It could be worse of course...I could have been travelling today and found myself stranded in Istanbul.  I feel so sorry for all the thousands of people who have found themselves in this predicament today.

I've just spoken on the phone to the friends who visited me on Tuesday.  They are due to fly back to the UK tomorrow morning, so it's very likely that they will get as far as Istanbul, and be unable to go any further.

At the hotel where Mr Ayak's business is situated, customers were due to fly in from the UK today, and again tomorrow, and of course they won't be arriving.   In any case, he decided to come home in the early hours of this morning.  He rented an apartment for personnel.  This is a requirement in any business within the tourist industry...the boss has to provide accommodation for his employees.  Unfortunately it has only two rooms, and will accommodate four people, and there are five including Mr Ayak, two of whom are female.  So as Mr Ayak lives closest to the business, he will have to travel to and from home every day.

He has heard from Mehmet who assures him that he will be continuing his journey tomorrow and should arrive in Milas late morning, so Mr A will collect him and they will set off and make another attempt at getting the business off the ground.

So please everyone...keep your fingers and everything else crossed for that Mr A's prospective customers will arrive from the UK...and that I will manage to get to see my daughter and grandson on Sunday.

The great Ataturk

The subject of the Turkish language came up in the comments section on my last post, and it made me realise that I ought to do a post about Ataturk's reforms.  There is so much written about this great man...a man way ahead of his time...and I could spend hours googling all the information about him and his's fascinating stuff.

There is a website that I frequently visit,  run by a Turkish tour guide called Burak Sansal, who is passionate about this country.  He writes so well and I know I can't do better, so I have his permission to copy this page for those of you are interested.  It's a long post...but well worth the effort of here goes:

Atatürk was a military genius, a charismatic leader, also a comprehensive reformer in his life. It was important at the time for the Republic of Turkey to be modernized in order to progress towards the level of contemporary civilizations and to be an active member of the culturally developed communities. Mustafa Kemal modernized the life of his country.

Atatürk introduced reforms which he considered of vital importance for the salvation and survival of his people between 1924-1938. These reforms were enthusiastically welcomed by the Turkish people.

1922 Sultanate abolished (November 1).

1923 Treaty of Lausanne secured (July 24). Republic of Turkey with capital at Ankara proclaimed (October 29).

1924 Caliphate abolished (March 3). Traditional religious schools closed, Sheriat (Islamic Law) abolished. Constitution adopted (April 20).

1925 Dervish brotherhoods abolished. Fez outlawed by the Hat Law (November 25). Veiling of women discouraged; Western clothing for men and women encouraged. Western (Gregorian) calendar adopted instead of Islamic calendar.

1926 New civil, commercial, and penal codes based on European models adopted. New civil code ended Islamic polygamy and divorce by renunciation and introduced civil marriage. Millet system ended.

1927 First systematic census.

1928 New Turkish alphabet (modified Latin form) adopted. State declared secular (April 10); constitutional provision establishing Islam as official religion deleted.

1933 Islamic call to worship and public readings of the Kuran (Quran) required to be in Turkish rather than Arabic.

1934 Women given the vote and the right to hold office. Law of Surnames adopted - Mustafa Kemal given the name Kemal Atatürk (Father of the Turks) by the Grand National Assembly; Ismet Pasha took surname of Inönü.

1935 Sunday adopted as legal weekly holiday. State role in managing economy written into the constitution.

On assuming office, Atatürk initiated a series of radical reforms in the country's political, social, and economic life that aimed at rapidly transforming Turkey into a modern state. For him, modernization meant Westernization. On one level, a secular legal code, modeled along European lines, was introduced that completely altered laws affecting women, marriage, and family relations. On another level, Atatürk urged his countrymen to look and act like Europeans. Turks were encouraged to wear European-style clothing. Atatürk personally promoted ballroom dancing at official functions. Surnames were adopted: Mustafa Kemal, for example, became Kemal Atatürk, and Ismet Pasha took Inönü as his surname to commemorate his victories there during the War of Independence. Likewise, Atatürk insisted on cutting links with the past that he considered anachronistic. Titles of honor were abolished. The wearing of the fez, which had been introduced a century earlier as a modernizing reform to replace the turban, was outlawed because it had become for the nationalists a symbol of the reactionary Ottoman regime.

The ideological foundation for Atatürk's reform program became known as Kemalism. Its main points were enumerated in the Six Arrows of Kemalism as republicanism, nationalism, populism, reformism, statism, and secularism (see the Principles of Atatürk). These were regarded as "fundamental and unchanging principles" guiding the republic, and, as such, they were written into its constitution. The principle of republicanism was contained in the constitutional declaration that "sovereignty is vested in the nation" and not in a single ruler. The nation-state supplanted the Ottoman dynasty as the focus of loyalty, and the particulars of Turkish nationalism replaced Ottoman universalism.

Displaying considerable ingenuity, Atatürk set about reinventing the Turkish language and recasting Turkish history in a nationalist mold. The President himself went out into the park in Ankara on Sunday, the newly established day of rest, to teach the Latin alphabet adapted to Turkish as part of the language reform. Populism encompassed not only the notion that all Turkish citizens were equal but also that all of them were Turks. What remained of the millet system that had guaranteed communal autonomy to other ethnic groups was abolished. Reformism legitimized the radical means by which changes in Turkish political and social life were implemented.

Etatism, or statism, emphasized the central role reserved for the state in directing the nation's economic activities. This concept was cited particularly to justify state planning of Turkey's mixed economy and large- scale investment in state-owned enterprises. An important aim of Atatürk's economic policies was to prevent foreign interests from exercising influence on the Turkish economy.

Although all of the Kemalist reforms were unsettling to traditionalists, it was the exclusion of Islam from an official role in the life of the nation that shocked Atatürk's contemporaries most profoundly, and discontent continued to focus on the regime's secularist policies long after the other reforms had been generally accepted. The abolition of the caliphate ended any connection between the state and religion. The religious orders were suppressed, religious schools closed and public education secularized, and the Sheriat (Islamic rule) revoked, requiring readjustment of the entire social framework of the Turkish people. Despite the protest that these measures provoked, however, Atatürk conceded nothing to the traditionalists.

In 1924 the Grand National Assembly adopted a new constitution to replace the 1876 constitution that had continued to serve as the legal framework for the republican government. The 1924 constitution vested sovereign power in the Grand National Assembly as representative of the people, to whom it also guaranteed basic civil rights. A unicameral body elected for a four-year term by universal suffrage, the assembly exercised legislative authority, including responsibility for approving the budget, ratifying treaties, and declaring war. The new constitution did not provide for an impartial judiciary to rule on the constitutionality of laws enacted by the assembly, but rather empowered the elected legislature to alter or defer judicial decisions.

The President of the republic was elected for a four-year term by the assembly, and he in turn appointed the prime minister, who was expected to enjoy the confidence of the assembly. Throughout his presidency, repeatedly extended by the assembly, Atatürk governed Turkey essentially by personal rule in a one-party state. The Republican People's Party (RPP) was founded in 1923 by Atatürk to represent the nationalist movement in elections and to serve as a vanguard party in supporting the Kemalist reform program. Atatürk's Six Arrows were an integral part of the RPP's political platform. By controlling the RPP, Atatürk also controlled the Assembly and assured support there for the government he had appointed. Atatürk regarded a stage of personal authoritarian rule as necessary for securing his reforms before entrusting the government of the country to the democratic process.

Nevertheless, opposition existed. Specific misgivings about Atatürk's personal dominance took early form in a grouping of his old associates called the Progressive Republican Party. Some also felt that Atatürk was carrying the reform program too far, too fast. Atatürk was willing to experiment with a multiparty system, and in November 1924 he replaced Inönü as prime minister with Fethi Okyar, who represented the new party.

Scarcely had this experiment begun, however, when an uprising broke out that quickly spread throughout the Kurdish region in southeastern Turkey. Although sometimes characterized as an expression of Kurdish nationalism, the revolt was led by a hereditary chief of the Naksibendi dervishes, who had been disbanded as part of Atatürk's secularist reforms. He and other dervish leaders urged their Kurdish followers to overthrow the "godless" government in Ankara and restore the caliph. Atatürk recalled Inönü to the prime minister's office in March 1925 and rushed legislation through the Grand National Assembly that provided emergency powers to the government for the next four years. Special courts with summary powers were established, and the Progressive Republican Party was outlawed. Meanwhile, the Turkish army swiftly extinguished the revolt.

A plot to assassinate Atatürk was uncovered in 1926 and found to have originated with a former deputy who had opposed abolition of the caliphate and had a personal grudge against the President. A sweeping investigation brought before the tribunal a large number of Atatürk's political opponents, fifteen of whom were hanged. As a result of the inquiry, some of his former close associates were sent into exile. This action was the only broad political purge during Atatürk's presidency. Whether there were specific connections between the Progressive Republican Party, the Kurdish revolt, and the assassination plot remained a subject of conjecture among historians. The pattern of organized opposition, however, was broken, and Atatürk's rule and the single- party state were never again seriously challenged. Another experiment with multiparty politics was made in 1930 in the form of an authorized loyal opposition party, but this effort degenerated into factionalism and was quickly ended.

With the clothing reform, women stopped wearing veils; they started to wear modern women's clothing. Men started to wear hats rather than the fez.

With the reforms of Atatürk, Turkish women, who for centuries had been neglected, were given new rights. Thus with the civil code passed, Turkish women would now have the same rights as men, could be appointed to official posts, would have the right to vote and to be elected to Parliament. The monogamy principle and equal rights for women changed the spirit of Turkish society.

Following the reform of the script, which was meant to be a kind of nationalism in the cultural field, Atatürk concentrated his attention on history. He established the Turkish Historical Society in 1931. Here, Turkey's history was thoroughly examined and evaluated.

The New Calendar, Weights and Measures, Holidays and Surname Laws and many other reforms were achieved as well. An example of this is the Weekend Act of 1924, the International Time and Calendar System of 1925, the Obligation Law and Commercial Law of 1926, the System of Measures 1933 and the Surname Act, 1934. According to the law passed by the Grand National Assembly in 1932 Turks took surnames and the Nation's leader was given the surname of Atatürk, "Father of the Turks".

History records few instances of a government's altering the language of its people as drastically and imposing that language as forcefully (and, on balance, as successfully) as in the Turkish case. Atatürk considered language reform to be an essential ingredient in the creation of a new Turkey and of new, modernized Turks, and he viewed the revised Turkish language as one of the ways to create a new national identity.

Within the Ottoman Empire, the Turks were merely one of many linguistic and ethnic groups, and the word Turk in fact connoted crudeness and boorishness. Members of the civil, military, and religious elite conversed and conducted their business in Ottoman Turkish, which was a mixture of Arabic, Persian, and Turkish. Arabic remained the primary language of religion and religious law. Persian was the language of art, refined literature, and diplomacy. What little Turkish there was usually had to do with the administration of the Ottoman Empire Turkish not only borrowed vocabulary items from Arabic and Persian but also lifted entire expressions and syntactic structures out of these languages and incorporated them into the Ottoman idiom. Thus, pure Turkish survived primarily as the language of the illiterate and generally was not used in writing. Ottoman Turkish, on the other hand, was the language of writing, as well as the language spoken by the educated elite.

Its multiple origins caused difficulties in spelling and writing Ottoman Turkish. The constituent parts - Turkish, Persian, and Arabic - belong to three different language families - Ural-Altaic, Indo-European, and Semitic, respectively - and the writing system fits only the last of these. Phonological, grammatical, and etymological principles are quite different among them.

During the nineteenth century, modernist intellectuals began to call for a reform of the language. They wanted to fashion a language that would be easier to use and more purely Turkish. Thus, the principle of Turkish language reform was intimately tied to the reforms of the 1839-78 period. Later in the nineteenth century, the demand for language reform became political. Turkish nationalists sought a language that would unite rather than divide the people. In the writings of Ziya Gökalp (1924), Turkish nationalism was presented as the force uniting all those who were by language and ethnic background Turks.

With the establishment of the republic, Atatürk made language reform an important part of the nationalist program. The goal was to produce a language more Turkish, modern, practical, and precise, and less difficult to learn than the old language. The republican language reform consisted of two basic elements - adoption of a new alphabet and purification of the vocabulary.

The language revolution (Dil Devrimi in Turkish) officially began in 1928. In May 1928, numbers written in Arabic were replaced with their Western equivalents. In November the Grand National Assembly approved the new Latin alphabet that had been devised by a committee of scholars. Many members of the assembly favored gradually introducing the new letters over a period up to five years. Atatürk, however, insisted that the transition last only a few months, and his opinion prevailed. With chalk and a portable blackboard, he traveled throughout the country, giving writing lessons in schools, village squares, and other public places to a people whose illiteracy was suddenly 100 percent. On January 1, 1929, it became unlawful to use the Arabic alphabet.

The new alphabet represents the Turkish vowels and consonants more clearly than does the old alphabet. Composed of Latin letters and a few additional variants, it contains one symbol for each sound of standard Turkish, which was identified as the educated speech of Istanbul. By adopting the Latin alphabet, Turkey turned consciously toward the West, severed a major link with the Islamic world, and rejected a part of its Islamic heritage. By providing the new generation no need and scant opportunity to learn the Arabic letters, the alphabet reform cut them off from the Ottoman past and its culture and value system. Specifically, this new generation could no longer be educated by the traditional establishment of religious scholars.

Non-Turkish words were seen as symbols of the past, and there was great nationalist enthusiasm, supported by government policies, to get rid of them. Purification of the language became a national cause. Dictionaries began to drop Arabic and Persian words and sought to resurrect archaic terms or words from Turkish dialects or to coin new words from old stems and roots to be used in their place. The Turkish Language Society (Türk Dil Kurumu), founded in 1932, supervised the collection and dissemination of Turkish folk vocabulary and folk phrases to be used in place of foreign words. The citizens at large were invited to suggest alternatives to words and expressions of non-Turkish origin, and many responded. In 1934 lists of new Turkish words began to be published, and in 1935 they began to appear in newspapers.

The mid-1930s saw the height of the enthusiasm for language reform, and some of the suggested reforms were so extreme as to endanger the understandability of the language. Although purist and zealot opinion favored the banishment of all words of non-Turkish origin, it became obvious to many that some of the suggested reforms verged on the ridiculous. Atatürk resolved the problem with an ingenious political invention that, though embarrassing to language experts, appealed to the nationalists. He suggested the historically preposterous but politically efficacious Sun- Language Theory, which asserted that Turkish was the "mother of all languages," and therefore all foreign words were originally Turkish. Thus, if a suitable Turkish equivalent for a foreign word could not be found, the loanword could be retained without violating the purity of the Turkish language.

By the late 1940s, considerable opposition to the purification movement had begun to surface. Teachers, writers, poets, journalists, editors, and others began to complain in public about the instability and arbitrariness of the officially sanctioned vocabulary. In 1950 the Turkish Language Society lost its semiofficial status, and eventually some Arabic loanwords began to reappear in government publications.

The long-term effects of the language reform have been positive, but at a price. Reading, spelling, and printing are now infinitely simpler than before, and literacy has spread because of this. Modern Turkish is more concise and direct than Ottoman Turkish, and hence better meets the demands of modern life, including science and technology. The language reform has to some degree closed the language gap that used to exist between the classes of Turkish society, and a certain democratization of language and literature has occurred. The cost, however, has been the drastic and permanent estrangement from the literary and linguistic heritage of the Ottomans. Although some pre-republican writing has been transcribed in the new alphabet, its vocabulary and syntax are now barely understandable to a modern speaker of Turkish. The loss of old words and their rich connotations has resulted in some aesthetic impoverishment of the language.

Language and language reform continued to be political issues in Turkey in the late 1980s. Each decade since Atatürk's death has been characterized by its own particular stance or stances vis-à-vis language reform or support for either a more traditional lexicon or a modern, "Turkified" one abounding in Western loans or indigenous coinages. Not surprisingly, language reform and modern usage were pushed forward during periods of liberal governments and de-emphasized under conservative governments (such as those of the 1980s). As for religious publications, they were not touched much by these reforms and continued to use an idiom that was heavily Arabic or Persian in vocabulary and Persian in syntax. In spite of the fact that coinages lack some of the rich connotations of the older lexicon, modern Turkish prose and poetry came into their own in Kemalist (1923-38) and, especially, post-Kemalist (since 1938) Turkey, as writers and poets created powerful works in this new idiom.

In 1922 the new nationalist regime abolished the Ottoman sultanate, and in 1924 it abolished the caliphate, which the Ottoman sultanate had held for centuries. Thus, for the first time in Islamic history, no ruler claimed the spiritual leadership of Islam; this was still the case in the late 1980s. The withdrawal of Turkey, heir to the Ottoman Empire, as the presumptive leader of the world Muslim community was symbolic of the change in Turkey's relation to Islam.

Secularism or laicism (Laiklik in Turkish) was one of the "Six Arrows" of Atatürk's blueprint for modern Turkey; these founding principles of the republic, usually referred to as Atatürkism or Kemalism, were the basis for many of the early republican reforms. As Islam had formed the identity of the Ottoman Empire and its subjects, so secularism molded the new Turkish nation and its citizens.

Establishment of secularism in Turkey was a process of distinguishing church from state or the religious from the nonreligious spheres of life. In the Ottoman Empire, all spheres of life were theoretically ruled by religious law, and religious organizations did not exist apart from the state.

The reforms bearing directly on religion were numerous. They included the abolition of the caliphate; abolition of the office of seyhülislam (Islamic ruler); abolition of the religious hierarchy; closing and confiscation of the dervish lodges, meeting places, and monasteries and outlawing of their rituals and meetings; establishment of government control over the Evkaf, which had been inalienable under Sheriat (Islamic rules); replacement of Sheriat with adapted European legal codes; closing of the religious schools (Medresses); changing from the Islamic to the Western calendar; outlawing the fez for men and frowning on the veil for women, both garments associated with religious tradition; and outlawing the traditional garb of local religious leaders.

The nationalist regime made attempts to give religion a more modern and more national form. The state also supported use of Turkish rather than Arabic at devotions and the substitution of the Turkish word Tanri for the Arabic word Allah. The opposition, however, was strong enough to ensure that Arabic remained the language of prayer. In 1932, for example, the government's determination that Turkish be used in the call to prayer from the minarets was not well accepted and in 1934 it returned to the Arabic version of the call to prayer. Most notably, the Hagia Sophia (church of the Holy Wisdom, the Byzantine Emperor Justinian's sixth century basilica, which was converted into a mosque by Mehmed II) was made into a museum.


All About Turkey © Burak Sansal 1996–2010, a certified professional tour guide in Turkey. Contact Burak at for all kinds of regular and/or private travel services throughout the country.

And Burak's website can be found here:

And my personal thanks to Burak for permission to post his work here.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Waiting Wednesday

Yes I really do feel like I'm waiting for things to happen today.

It started with the water.  Repairs to water pipes in the village have been going on for months now and we are experiencing water cuts every day.  Sometimes for just an hour or so, but occasionally for a whole day. It wouldn't be so bad if it was switched off at the same time each day..but of course that would make life too simple wouldn't it?   I was unprepared for the lack of water when I got up this morning, as I was ready to jump in the shower and I had a pile of washing to do. 

Finally it trickled through the pipes several hours later and although I managed a shower, the water was so slow that  the washing machine had to wait.  The power was also cut a fair number of times today, but just for a few minutes at a time.   Although this doesn't really cause problems as far as general household appliances are concerned, it is extremely annoying if I'm using my laptop, because I lose my connection and it seems to take forever to get it back.

I found myself waiting for Mr Ayak to ring.  He was so low yesterday that I was reluctant to ring him too early today just to say "how are you?" because I wasn't sure I wanted to hear the answer!

A couple of hours ago I was checking my diary and suddenly realised that it is our wedding anniversary today.  We've been married for 11 years.  I had completely forgotten all about it...something I've never done before.  Mr Ayak never remembers...but that's a typical man thing isn't it?

So I decided to ring Mr Ayak, but thought it best not to mention our anniversary, because he always feels bad when he forgets.   I rang...he answered and said "do you know what day it is today?"    "Err Wednesday"...I replied.   He then said "It's our anniversary.  I was waiting for you to ring because you always remember".   So I had to own up to having forgotten....but for once he had actually remembered!  So we both ended up laughing...which made us both feel a lot better.

He seems more positive today. There are customers arriving at the hotel tomorrow, and everything is ready for the business to get underway.  Although his partner Mehmet isn't due until Friday, they have employed another masseur, so there's nothing to stop the hamam being open.

Incidentally, I am slightly more reassured about Mehmet's predicament.  I was starting to wonder if he did in fact have connections with the PKK, but Mr A has heard that ALL the passengers from Diyarbakir (around 20 or so) have been detained until I think this is just the jandarma being extra vigilant...or maybe downright difficult!

And of course I am waiting for Sunday and my trip to England...I really need this break and it can't come soon enough.

Turbulent Tuesday (or a follow-on from Manic Monday)

So there was Mr the hotel, in the premises which accommodate his business venture, without Mehmet, his partner.

It would seem that Mehmet will not be released by the jandarma until Friday.  Now this makes me a little curious...concerned even.  If he is not connected in any way with the PKK...if he is just an innocent traveller from Diyarbakir...then why would they keep him for so long?  I asked Mr Ayak this question and his answer was simply "I really don't know"....and the tone of his voice tells me that he is exasperated and utterly fed up.

The hotel is not yet open and Mr Ayak has no accommodation.  Mehmet had previously agreed to sort out renting a house to be used for all personnel, which of course would have happened if he had arrived on Monday.  In the meantime, Mr Ayak, with no money, and the entire hotel including his premises having to be locked up for the night for security reasons,  slept outside.

When I spoke to him on the phone yesterday, he said that he hadn't much choice.  Either he borrowed petrol money to come back home last night and wait until Friday for Mehmet, or he went ahead and rented a house.  He had found something suitable and needed 150 lira.  This can't of course be the cost of a month's rent because you'd never be able to find anything to rent so cheaply, but obviously he had managed to do a deal with the landlord...presumably this was a deposit. 

Mr Ayak's cousin lives nearby,  but Mr A's pride won't let him tell his cousin that he has no money and nowhere to stay.  Of course if his cousin knew he would accommodate him until things are sorted out.  If this was a similar situation in England I would probably the cousin and tell him.  But I know how proud the Turks are.  For some reason they won't even let their families know if they are in dire straits...they'd rather put on a brave face and pretend everything is wonderful.  It's so frustrating..simply because they are more than willing to help each other when the going gets tough. 

I had two friends visiting yesterday.  Well one friend  from England who has a house in Selçuk.  She is on the verge of retirement and comes over several times a year and hopes to move permanently as soon as she gives up work.  She brought another friend with her.  We had a pleasant few hours out in the gazebo and I made mercimek soup for lunch and one of my banana cakes.  As it was market day in Milas they decided they'd like to have a look around before setting off back to Selçuk, so we caught the dolmuş into Milas mid-afternoon.  I showed them where the market was and said my goodbyes. 

I then withdrew 150 lira off my credit card..which is showing distinct signs of wear and tear now...and set off to the post office to send it to Mr Ayak.  Weighing everything up, I decided it was better to pay so that he could remain there and have a roof over his head.  I'm also a little concerned now about whether Mehmet will eventually turn there is little point in Mr A coming home and waiting for him until Friday.  And the thought of my husband having to sleep outside upsets me.  It isn't the first time he has had to do this.  There have been times in the past when he's travelled away from home to find work, that he's had to sleep outside, to save money.  He would never tell me about it until later.  He won't ask me for money unless he is absolutely desperate, and he knows that my credit card is our only means of obtaining money at the moment, and that the debt is increasing at a rapid rate.

I just stopped dead in my tracks yesterday.  I reminded myself that life is so short and we have to accept the bad times because they make us stronger and appreciate it when the good times finally arrive.

BUT... If I'm totally honest I am getting a little fed up with waiting for those good times to arrive...I wish they'd hurry up and get here!

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Manic Monday

Mr Ayak was due to set off to the hotel yesterday with his business partner, Mehmet, to get everything ready for opening.

Nothing's ever straightforward here. 

Mehmet should have phoned Mr Ayak the night before to let him know that he was on the bus and on his way.  The plan was for Mr A to collect Mehmet in Milas, and they would travel to the hotel together.  We later found out that he had attempted to phone several times, but unfortunately we'd had no network signal here for about 24 hours...hence no communication.  Yesterday when we finally had a signal, Mehmet's phone was switched off so we assumed that he was on the bus.

I decided to get breakfast but realised we not only had no bread...and not much else...but my purse and Mr A's pocket were both empty.  I found a packet of dried yeast in the cupboard and set about making some bread.  This isn't something I've done often but the end result wasn't too bad.  We used up the last of the contents of the fridge for breakfast.  

Mehmet owed Mr A some money for items which we bought for the hamam a month ago, so it was agreed that when he arrived, he would fill up the motorbike with petrol and the balance owed would be dropped off to me on their way, so that I could get some food.

Eventually Mehmet switched on his phone when the bus made a stop, to let Mr A know that he would be arriving in Milas at around 3pm.  Mr A, with only enough petrol to get to Milas, decided to set off early and wait.

At around 4pm Mr A phoned me to say that Mehmet had phoned him to say that the  bus had been stopped just outside Fethiye and that he had been detained by the jandarma!

Mehmet comes from Diyarbakir in the south-east of Turkey.  This is a predominantly Kurdish area and the city is sometimes described as the "unofficial capital" of Turkish Kurdistan.  Anyone living in Turkey will be aware of the constant checks by the jandarma on buses coming from  this area, and yesterday one such check was made and a PKK terrorist discovered and removed from the bus.  Unfortunately all other passengers on the bus (including Mehmet) whose journey started in Diyarbakir were removed and detained until checks could be carried out.

(If you want to read more about the area, have a look at Wikipedia here.)

So we had no idea if these checks would take hours or I said nothing in Turkey is straightforward.  But Mr Ayak had to be at the hotel yesterday.   As he didn't have sufficient petrol to go anywhere, I had to borrow the 3 lira fare from my neighbour, catch the next bus into Milas and squeeze enough money off my credit card to fill up the tank and to get some food.

Eventually Mr A set off, and I returned home.   I could be forgiven for thinking that this is a sign that things aren't going to go well.  Well it wasn't a good start was it?  However, I am so used to nothing in this country going according to plan...that I would probably have been surprised if it had all worked out the way it should have.

But today's another day.  Mr A is where he should be.  Mehmet will presumably arrive some time soon.  And I have a couple of friends from Selçuk coming over for the day to visit me which will make a change.

And....only 5 more sleeps till I see Stella and Billy!

Monday, 12 April 2010

An Award

I'm very happy to accept this award from Fly in the Web at French Leave.   I absolutely love her blog and if any of you haven't yet visited it, please give it a try.  She has a totally different "eyes wide open without rose-tinted specs" slant on living in France.

I did receive this particular award previously from Heiko and Prospero's Cellphone, so I don't want to repeat the task I had to perform, which is to list 10 things that make me happy, but they are listed here on another post if you want to have a look.

I don't seem to have anything much to write about at the moment.  There are days like that with blogging...I don't know if anyone else feels the same?  Days when you cannot write a thing...and others when you can't stop writing!

I'm going to use this opportunity though to pass this award on to a blog I've only recently discovered A Nomadic View.  Nomad is an ex-pat living in Izmir.  He posts lots of interesting snippets...something different every day.  And even though I've only just got to "know" him, he has been very encouraging with his comments on my blog, for which I am very grateful.  His sense of humour also makes me smile...and that can only be a good thing!

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Credit where credit's due

I posted up one of these pics yesterday along with others of our garden and the gazebo which Mr Ayak kindly worked on for several days...just to give me somewhere cool to sit in the coming hot months.  But I really should give him credit for all three of these photos of the almonds and grapes growing.  These are the kind of pics that I so enjoy on other peoples' blogs and are what I aspire to, now that I've managed to get my camera working.

It all looks so simple, but when I attempted to do the same, I realised it certainly was not, and I deleted my pathetic attempts.  However, I intend to practise until I get it right.

Mr Ayak's partner arrives on Monday and they will be setting off to the hotel near Bodrum to start getting ready for the opening of their new business.  There's an awful lot to do and Mr A is very stressed at the moment.  The work in the garden has, I think, helped relieve the stress and given him something else to focus on.   Unfortunately his stress, together with the worry about lack of money, has rubbed off on me, and I started smoking again yesterday.   I know...bad move...and I had managed a week without cigarettes...but the timing is wrong...I need to be a lot more relaxed to make it work.  Of course the lack of money means that I won't be smoking anywhere near as much as I used to...only 2 or 3 a day in fact at least cutting right back has to be an improvement. 

I'm so looking forward to my trip to England on the 18th.  I can't wait to see Stella and Billy.  Again the timing is not quite right.  I would prefer to be going with some money so I could at least pay my way and give my daughter and grandson a few treats.  I'm sure I'll manage something though...the credit card will no doubt take another hammering!  Stella is a very understanding daughter.  She never asks or expects anything of me.  She too struggles financially so she knows exactly what it's like to be hard-up.  We will no doubt be going for lots of walks and finding other things to do that don't cost money.  The most important thing is being able to spend precious time together....and you can't put a price on that!

Friday, 9 April 2010

My camera's working!

We've had a busy few least Mr Ayak has.  We bought a cheap fabric gazebo last year but the metal poles were very flimsy, so Mr A has been adapting it.  He's used some old wood we had lying about and built a sturdier frame, added the fabric top, and some sun curtains at the sides.  We went into Milas today and took the camera into a photo shop and it turned out that I had bought some dodgy batteries.  So now we have new ones and it's working fine.

Please humour me...I will probably be boring you to tears with photos over the next few days, as it's quite something for me to be able to upload the pics to my laptop and post them on my blog.  So here are a few to be getting on with.  There are pics of the gazebo, me, Beki and little Poppy (who won't keep still for the camera), some of the garden, which although has fruit trees, is still a work in progress...vegetables still to be planted.  There's also one of Mr Ayak, who was very reluctant to pose as he is not looking his best, having been working flat out since dawn.