WTF is going on with Turkey?

Twitter is gone.  YouTube is gone.  I am wondering how many more posts I will be able to get out before the death sentence is handed down on all social media applications.  Facebook?  Definitely.  Google?  Probably.  WordPress?  It has been blocked before so no doubt it will happen again.  Why not just close down the internet?  Even as I type this I realise that this is no doubt something that the Turkish Government has considered.

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I have had a lot of emails and messages from friends and family worried about our welfare.  I do not know what the news channels are telling you back home but Turkey is perfectly safe right now.  Mersin is safe and we are still safe.

Will it be safe tomorrow?

I just don’t know.  Council elections are expected to go ahead on Sunday and I think the outcome of those elections will bring much of what is going on here in Turkey to a head.

Also if you are interested in a little conspiracy theory with your breakfast go ahead and Google “Tomb of Suleyman Shah”.  This should keep you occupied while you are eating your Corn Flakes. 

So what do we do?

Get on with daily life.  School, home, friends, family. 

My thoughts?

Better to keep my trap shut!

We are watching history here folks.  The destruction of a country that has been blessed with so much but thanks to the corruption of a few I expect many more lives will be put in peril.  

Right now I can still blog.  I can still get onto Facebook.  My emails are working.  I will continue to update the blog over the coming days so keep checking back for updates.  

When Animals Attack

I had my first run in with a scorpion early this morning.  At least I think it was a scorpion.  It certainly looked like one.  It might have been a mutant crab but I am going with my first choice which was scorpion. 

My Hurley Dog and I were walking along a rocky outcrop near the deniz when he started crazily barking in one spot.  Me being me and incredibly stupid gave the rocks a nudge (which on reflection is possibly not the best thing to do in a pair of thongs) and out popped this weird-ass looking mutant waving its nasty-ass looking tail stinger thingy and snap snappy claw thingys which makes me think it was a scorpion.  I jumped out of the way pretty quickly and it skedaddled in the opposite direction from the screaming Aussie and her half crazed Hurley Dog. 

I got home and reported my near death experience to The Turk who pointed out that within a week of arriving in Australia he was nearly bitten by a Red Belly Black Snake and had been bitten by more spiders, ticks, snakes and other various insects while living in Australia than he had in the 40 years of living in Turkey.  Furthermore he had been chased by an emu, kicked in the stomach by a wallaby, stung by a jellyfish and he was pretty sure that a drop bear was conspiring against him while at the koala park.  He said that if Steve Irwin wasn’t safe in Australia then nobody is safe in Australia so I need to stop whinging about one measely little scorpion – the one thing in Turkey that could (maybe) kill you! 

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I agree that The Turk copped a bit of a beating from the natives during his 12 years living in “Strayla” but does that mean that I am going to cop the equivalent while living here in Turkey?  Crikey!

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This Post Comes with a Warning Label . . .

The Turk and I went for a BBQ at his cousins this afternoon – late lunch, early dinner, a spring fling, pre-daylight savings, pre-summer when its too hot to BBQ type of BBQ.  There was a lot of food and a lot of neighbours and family enjoying the said food as well as partaking in the home made raki and wine.  This means I have “taste tested” copious amounts of homemade wine and anything that is said in this post cannot be used against me.  I know I am tipsy as I just took My Hurley Dog around the block and walked into a truck.  It was a stationery truck but a truck nevertheless so my warning label will stand.

I am going to take a crack at the Daily Prompt.  I have never done one before (I think) so here we go.

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Whatever will be, will be.  The future’s not ours to see.  Que Sera Sera.

I have often wondered about what the future holds for me and for my family.  I have been to psychics many times over the years, mostly as a bit of fun, and usually these psychics were charlatans however I do remember going to one psychic many years ago who told me that I would not marry my Mr Mediocre.  He told me that I would travel back and forwards to a very hot country to visit my husband’s family.  Being half Italian I assumed it would be Italy and I imagined living in Tuscany a la Diane Lane in Under a Tuscan Sun  This psychic also said I would have one child – a girl.  Well I guess he was right on both counts (except that it was Turkey and not Italy), although I was devastated when he told me that Mr Mediocre was not my soul mate.  He explained to me that each soul that we cross does so for a reason, either to support us or to teach us a lesson and that my Mr Mediocre was a lesson that I had to learn and until I learnt it we would cross paths in each life until that life lesson seeped into my teeny, tiny speck of a brain.

I do not know whether I learnt my lesson with Mr Mediocre or whether we will cross paths again in our next lives.  I can say that when I returned from Turkey pregnant with Daughter he was engaged to another woman, the woman that he courted while he was with me, the woman that he went on to marry.  He also made many other presumptuous statements about our non-existent future and relationship but I will not repeat these statements as Mr Mediocre did go onto marry this Jezebel (sorry young lady) and they do have children so I do not wish to disparage their relationship (although I cannot imagine either of them would ever come across this little blog). I am pretty sure that if I did learn a lesson that day it was to never trust Mr Mediocre again!

There are many things I wish I could have changed in my life, things that I wish I had known up front.  Had I had known that my mum was going to pass away I would have asked her more questions, she should have told me more stories about her and about her life.  Had I had known my dad was going to leave me so quickly I would never have left his side.  I would have laughed when he laughed and cried when he cried.  Again if I was to learn a lesson from my parents it was to never let anyone feel forgotten and to treasure each moment as if it was your last moment together.  Finally had I had known that Daughter would grow up so quickly I would have spent more of that precious thing called time with her giving her all the love that I could have.  F*ck work she needs me more.

Right now I will enjoy my time here in Turkey.  It’s a beautiful evening (albeit a little windy) and The Turk has just called me to relax on the balcony.  He is reading his paper.  I have been re-reading Pride and Prejudice and will probably have a giggle at Mr Collins expense as I sit with him.  I will hum a little Que Sera, Sera and I will wait and see whether what will be, will be.

God I miss bacon

Seriously.  I was sitting at my desk this morning writing an email and I swear I could smell bacon.  Thinking about bacon right now is making me drool.  Literally drool.  God I miss bacon.

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Bacon is without doubt the best food on earth.  There are not many foods that can evoke this type of enthusiasm from me this early in the morning but bacon definitely takes this prize.  So versatile that it can be used for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  It can be eaten on its own or adding it to anything else will only enhance the original dishes flavour.  Salad?  Yep throw in some bacon.  Roasts?  Spread bacon across that bad boy sizzling away.  Sandwiches?  Burgers?  Omelettes?  What can’t bacon improve?  God I miss bacon.

I don’t miss pork.  Never a big fan.  I do love crackling though.  God I miss bacon.

Ham.  I miss ham.  I miss The Turk’s pizza.  His pizza was seriously the best pizza in Sydney.  I miss ham and God I miss bacon.

I thought I had tracked down some ham at Migros a couple of days back.  They were selling Jambon which means ham in English.  Nearly wet myself.  After examining the packet I still thought it was ham.  I got it home.  I was wrong.  It was beef ham?  WTF??  God I miss ham and God I miss bacon.

There is a piggery in Antalya I could go to.  Antalya is, I think, a 6 hour drive from here (but 30 minutes on a plane).  Would that seem excessive?  To jump on a plane to purchase bacon?  Would I bring it back as hand luggage?  Would they even let me bring it on the plane?  God I miss bacon.

I hate bacon jokes.   I hate bacon meme’s.  They are cruel.  They are everywhere.  Every time I open any social media a joke or a photo of bacon appears.  It is akin to torture for a person in my peril.  God I miss bacon.

The Turk tells me I am being overly dramatic.  Yes, yes I am.  God I miss bacon.

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What on earth has Stanley been up to now?

He has been at it again our Stanley.  This bloody cat appears to have used up another of his dokuz lives.  I found him, yet again, hidden away meowing at the top of his lungs, this time in our bodrum (basement).  What the bloody hell is wrong with him this time?  After a quick examination I could see he has broken little cat wrist.  This has got to be the clumsiest cat in the Village!

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I know how he did it too.  You may recall my brother in law (forever called Vito) is building apartments that abut our home and all the the Village Kedi’s have been climbing on the construction to gain access to our balcony.  They come sneaking into our house at all hours sending My Hurley Dog into a frenzied state leaving him dazed and confused (particularly if it is one of the cats he intensely dislikes).  I suspect Stanley was navigating across the construction work and without a tail to balance he has toppled over the side.

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Back to the vet for him today.  The Turk is going to be pissed – again!

Oh No!

Last night I woke at 1:30, rolled over and saw The Turk was missing from his usual spot.  I padded down the hallway to find him asleep in front of the television which was blasting a Turkish soap (no wonder I couldn’t sleep).  I switched off the television but left him there – bugger him for waking me up – and got back into bed.

Still sleep alluded me.  I could hear a puppy whimpering outside.  I got up again and opened my balcony door to investigate.  As expected the boy that lives over the stone fence has brought home yet another puppy.  In the past 4 weeks he has brought home 5 dogs.  His first effort was 3 puppies that cried all night and his mother no doubt made him get rid of them.  The second effort was a boxer dog – nice looking dog – fully grown.  It jumped the fence and disappeared sometime in the night.  This third effort is a German Shepherd puppy.  It cried most of the night and will no doubt jump the fence when he is older but perhaps the boy has learnt from his mistakes and will ensure the garden is secure.

Again I climbed back into bed.  I looked at the clock – now 3:00.  I must have dozed because I woke again at 4:15 to the distorted sounds of a cat in agony.  Holy crap!  I jumped up and spotted Kedi at the end of the bed.  He heard it too because he was standing ramrod straight trying to pinpoint the sound.  “Murroooeewwww”.  Bloody hell!  It sounded like it was dying.  I opened the back balcony door and looked over – nothing.  I went to the front balcony and looked over – nothing.  Crikey!

I was obviously making too much noise and I woke The Turk who growled at me and went to bed.  I was standing at the front door when I heard the sound again.  It was coming from right outside!  I learnt my lesson with the Village Kedi’s and I always make sure that the downstairs door is locked – no more sex in the stairwell thank you very much – but obviously one of them got past me.  Opening the door I find Stanley standing in the stairwell crying.  “Shush,” I whisper to him.  I ushered him down the stairs and out the front door.  He was a little put out and sat there with his back to me.  I shut the door and walked back upstairs when “Murroooeewwww” again.  Shit!  I ran up the stairs, past my front door to the roof.  Nothing up there but some boxes.  I stare at them.  Shit!  Shit!  Shit!

After a little investigation this is what I found –

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This little guy and another 4 like him along with mama hiding upstairs in a box.  Stanley must be the father as they all have similar gingery markings.  Obviously the loss of his tail did little to subdue his manhood.

The Turk is going to be pissed when he gets up.  Why?  The bloody cat had its litter in The Turk’s toolbox – he is going to lose his shit!  He is not a fan of the cats at the best of times but when he makes this discovery – yikes !

I think I might grab the dog and make a run for it.

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Five things in Istanbul

Daughter was five the first time I took her to Istanbul.  Usually we would travel straight through to Adana but as she was a little older it was time to explore her second (now first) home.  I have mentioned to you before that when Daughter and I travel together it is her job to find us 5 things to do together and 3 of them have to be free or a minimal cost.  This encouraged Daughter to want to learn about each city we visited and to have a better appreciation at each location.  It always worked beautifully with her and even now she utilises this skill regularly to learn more about a place or thing.

Daughter’s list of five things to do in Istanbul:

Basilica Cistern  

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This is always number 1 on our list and each year this still is our first stop in Istanbul.  Why?  It is an extraordinary underground water cistern containing 300 plus marble columns to keep the ceiling up.  It’s atmosphere is made more unique with “creepy” lighting, the occasional surprise of really cold water dripping from the vaulted ceiling and ghostly shadows this place is mysterious enough for Daughter to be enamoured with exploring every inch.  Hint: Each time we go there Daughter has to re-discover the Medusa Head in the north eastern corner.  Throw a coin and make a wish.

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Grand Bazaar 

Daughter loves to shop.  Daughter loves souvenirs.  Daughter loves a brand.  And if Daughter can get a name brand without the name cost she will.  With hidden doorways and tiny exotic shops the Bazaar is a mini city in itself and getting lost in the labyrinth and chaos of the Bazaar is part of its charm, especially for kids.  Hint:  I make a visit to the Bazaar a scavenger hunt.  Deciding beforehand what “souvenir” Daughter wants she has to locate the treasure and barter with the shopkeepers.  Originally it was to practice her Turkish but now it is to bag a bargain!

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Constantine Walls

The walls were started by Emperor Constantine in 324AD and extended around the city to protect its people from invasion.  They were often attacked but when you are standing at the bottom looking up that these walls you wonder how on earth they were breached – and they were breached – notably by the Fourth Crusades and the Ottomans.   Start at Yedikule Fortress and you can walk for hours along or beside these gorgeous ancient walls.  Best of all – it’s free!  Hint:  There are so many other things to do along the way with parks, shopping and secret laneways.  Daughter would happily walk for hours and not complain (well not often anyway).

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Suleymaniye Mosque

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I clearly recall the first time I took Daughter here.  She was agog with its grandeur, its size   and its colour.  It was unlike anything she had seen before.  Entering the dome of the mosque she quietly watched the faithful at prayer – again so different to anything she had seen before.  After leaving the mosque we sat in the walled garden and talked about Islam giving her the opportunity to learn a little about their beliefs and lifestyle.  Hint: Returning home we purchased ceramic tiles and created our own masterpiece along the same styling as those seen at this iconic destination.

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Dolmabache Palace

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At 5 Daughter had dreams of becoming a princess and living in a palace and she insisted that we visit Topkapi Palace.  Unfortunately her idea of a palace did not coincide with what she viewed at Topkapi and we only ever visited the Palace that one time.  I did, however, take her to Dolmabache Palace the next day.  This was definitely a more romantic Palace and more to the liking of a 5 year old who expected grandeur and pomp.  Hint:  Viewing this Palace from the Bosphorus gives us an idea of its size and amazing architecture.  Cruising the Bosphorus is also another day trip in itself so give yourself lots of time.  At 11 Daughter’s interests have changed so Dolmabache Palace is no longer on our list.  This has been replaced with a trip down Istiklal Caddesi.  Why?  Shopping, of course.  Istiklal Caddesi is also great with its historic tram.  Don’t forget you need a card to ride it, they don’t accept cash.

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Bonus: Don’t miss the Whirling Dervishes at the Hocapasa Cultural Centre.  Daughter’s first experience watching that was enough to bring tears of laughter.  She was mesmerized and, upon returning to our hotel, tried as hard as she could to whirl and twirl but spent most of her time falling on her bum.

Children love to explore and to learn.  I think empowering your child to do the research gives them more appreciation and understanding of their surroundings.  Daughter is extremely lucky to travel to such destinations but if she does not learn about them, their history and their story, then there is no point in taking her there.  Frankly it would be a waste of my time and my money.

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Romeo and Juliet

I have got a good one for you today. It is a love story told so many times before, a family drama usually reserved for a Shakespearean play.  In fact I think homage to Shakespeare to begin suits:

Two households, both alike in dignity (or perhaps lack of dignity),
In dusty Mersin (I couldn’t say Verona), where we lay our scene,

And so on.

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This story is not about me.  It is about my brother in law.  Again.  He obviously has a much more interesting life than I do.  I’m going to have to go back in time a bit so bear with me.

Twenty five odd years ago Brother in Law (hereafter called Vito) fell in love.  Romeo and Juliet style.  She was a little bit older than him and was, perhaps, not quite suitable for marriage.  She had been married before and his family suggested to him that he wait until he can find a more appropriate wife. 

“Noooo,” he cried, “I love only her.  I cannot, nay I will not live without her.” 

Believing he would rather die than live without his love he threw himself into the middle of the road and lay there until such time as his family agreed to the marriage.

Remember I was not here when this happened and am merely repeating the story as it was told to me but yes he lay on that road until such time as his parents, my in-laws, gave in and allowed this ill-chosen marriage to go ahead.

Vito and his love married and had two boys in close succession.  The love was, as feared, no longer as strong as it once may have been.  She became distant with him.  His eyes started wandering to greener pastures, lots of greener pastures.  But they stayed together for the sake of the children.  Was his family right?  Should he have waited for a more suitable partner?  Does he think back to those days and to his parents and think, “Damn it I hate it when my parents are right!”  I always hated it when my parents were right.

Vito’s wife never forgave his parents for their meddling (and I will call it meddling even though I cannot believe that my wonderful in-laws meddled and anyway is it meddling when they are right?) and she distanced Vito from his parents and the two boys from their grandparents.  Despite all of this she is the woman who wailed like a baby at my mother in law’s graveside in January (no doubt suffering from that unforgiving emotion called “guilt”) and yet had not spoken a civil word to her in years.  She is the woman who did not invite her mother in law to dinner or to family events and she is the woman who is, frankly, a bit of a bitch. 

Fast forward to 2014.  Vito’s eldest son is a credit to the family.  He has completed his university degree with honours and will find himself with a successful career.  He is in love with a girl who is considered quite suitable by his family and they are to be married as soon as he has finished his army conscription.  Their youngest boy is, well I am going to say it, just like Vito.  A little bit of a larrikin, he enjoys a night out with the boys, loves the raki and loves to have a bit of fun with the ladies.  Vito Jr has been courting a young girl (and at 17 she is very young).  He loves her.  She loves him.  Romeo and Juliet style.  He wants to be with her and she with him.  Unfortunately his family do not feel the same way and believe that she is unsuitable. 

“Noooo,” he cried.  “I love only her.  I will not live without her.”

Sound familiar?

Yep we are living witness to a Groundhog Day, Shakespearean drama of epic proportions.  I wonder whether Vito and his wife have sat down and thought, “Maybe we should learn from past mistakes.”  Or how about, “Let’s just let him live his own life, make his own decisions.”  I imagine I will be very opinionated when Daughter brings home a love.  I imagine I will hate him with murderous passion but I would like to think that I will let her make her own mistakes, sorry I mean decisions.

To finish this off it seems that the real answer is that the young lady in question does not like Vito’s wife.  Well she must just be lovely.  I am sure I will have a lot in common with her.  I said to The Turk that he should encourage Vito Jr to make his own decisions and follow his heart.  The Turk said I am a troublemaker.  I merely smiled.

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Contradictions (and a bit of a recap)

I wrote this a little over a week ago but due to some personal issues with my father in law as well as the current tensions in Turkey I felt it more appropriate to not post this at that time.  Turkey is in upheaval, yet again, and although tension is high I feel completely safe here in Mersin although there have been recent protests.  With elections looming all parties are throwing heated comments at each other and with the recent death of 15 year old Berkin Elvan it has become a travesty to bear witness to.

Officially it has been six months since we uprooted our lives and moved to Mersin.  Since I first met The Turk we would fantasise about moving to Turkey, whether it is for one year or forever but that fantasy was always put on the backburner as real life would interfere with our dream.  When my beautiful Dad passed away from that evil bastard that is cancer the dream of moving to Turkey was put back on the table but this time it was Daughter’s idea.  Having just lost her Granddad she wanted to spend as much time as possible with her other grandparents before they were taken from her too.  Her thoughts were, understandably, a little morbid but on reflection perfectly timed and we were all grateful to have had time with her grandmother, my mother in law, before she passed away in January.

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As an expat Turkey is a country of contradictions.  We live in a luxurious apartment with every modern convenience (just don’t mention toilet paper to me) but right next door my sister in law and her family make their bread over an open flame. Contradictions.

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We shop at Zara and TopShop, we get our coffee from Starbucks and we eat in nice restaurants.  We are surrounded by all our electronics to make life easier too from flat screen televisions, iPods and iPads meanwhile from my balcony I can watch the local women working on the farm across the lane for 30TL a day or witness children begging in the streets.  Contradictions.

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I smile at the faces of people around me.  These people are my family now but there are times I want to throw a brick at the shopkeepers who are so unhelpful as I am a yabanci or to the strangers who watch me as I walk by in my western clothes.  Yes I wear jeans and a t-shirt; no I am not a whore.  No I do not wear a head scarf; yes I have the utmost respect for your religion although I wonder do you have any respect for mine?  Before you ask, no I do not want to pay twice as much because I am a yabanci and just for the record I am not your ATM machine.  Contradictions.

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Adjustments were made by all of us over the past six months.  I think I have had it the easiest (well if you put aside the fact that I had no Turkish and now six months later I have little Turkish).  I had no expectations.  I know that things will not work the way that they did in Sydney and I was ready to accept this although I do get mighty peeved when the rubbish internet dies.  I think it has been The Turk who has had the most difficulty in adjusting – or should I say re-adjusting – to life in Turkey.  Having had the luxury of living in Sydney with its first world conveniences the littlest molehill can quickly escalate to the largest mountain.  I cannot tell you the number of times The Turk has said he wants to go back “home” to Sydney.  I guarantee before this day is over I will hear it yet again.  Cry me a river mate.

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Daughter is very content.  She has made some good friends, she has quickly learnt conversational Turkish (although apparently has a funny accent).  She is getting by at school and although she now has a nemesis she considers this means she is truly accepted by her class mates.  Her adjustments were mostly first world problems too.  Disappointments when things don’t go according to plan and realising just how damn lucky she is compared to so many.  Contradictions.

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Last Friday I had to return to the Emniyet yet again but I won’t bore you with that story today.  Anyway, while we were waiting to be interviewed I watched group after group of Syrian refugees lining up to speak to officials, to update their living arrangements or to ask for assistance.  I was shocked by the sheer volume of refugees coming through the door but The Turk has little sympathy for them.  I recently watched on the haber that there have been a few instances of racism against refugees in Turkey with most of Turkish society considering the refugees “temporary” in that they will return to their own country in due course.  There are in fact a few Syrian families that have settled into the village however The Turk does not interact with them in any way.  Recently a Syrian mother came to our door asking for a small donation and The Turk sent her on her way without a kurus.  Why?  What’s a few lira?  “If you give them an inch they will take a mile”.  His behaviour completely floored me firstly because he used one of my mother’s favourite sayings (a saying I have used on Daughter many, many times) and secondly because usually The Turk is the most generous person I know.  Contradictions.

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Turkey can be, and should be, extremely confronting, full of contradictions.  I have difficulties in accepting these contradictions at times and I guess this is a good thing.  I should never accept these differences.  I should ensure that Daughter never accepts these differences because once you have acceptance then you will never help change what is to come.

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Belediye Baskani

Do you remember the last Council election you attended or even the last Council meeting?  It was probably at the local school, there might have been a sausage sizzle or a car boot sale but that was pretty much it.  The only reason you knew about the looming election is the fact that you got some advertising in your mail box or maybe your next door neighbour reminded you.

Well that might be Australia for you but here in Turkey these elections are a huge deal. In fact it is not unusual for thousands of people come together to support their local member and to provide power in numbers.  Yesterday the Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi (CHP) held a meeting in Mersin.  Roads were blocked, polis were necessary, chaos reigned supreme.  This meeting could be heard kilometers away with the cheering, the support and the excitement that its members and followers generated.  Having already experienced a political meeting in Mersin I rightly decided to give this meeting a wide berth.

One of my sister’s in law is a member of the Council and is up for re-election on 30 March.  She just posted these photos on FB.  Like I said, it’s a big deal.

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