I had a dream last night.
There I was, waiting to pass through immigration at Istanbul New Airport. I watch, at a socially-acceptable distance, of course, as the person in front of me has his passport stamped and I step up to the counter, smiling widely as I hand over my passport and kimlik.
“Where are you going?”
Ah, yes, Australia with its 352 covid-19 cases. Australia who, along with its forward-thinking neighbor to the east, New Zealand, seem to have its shit together, despite their half-assed lockdown (Australia, not New Zealand because Jacinta Ahern is a Goddess who locked that country down faster than you could say ‘feesh and cheeps’!).
“Is it essential travel?”
Long pause while he stares at his computer doing secret stuff.
“What will you be doing in Sydney?”
What will I be doing in Sydney?
“First stop? I am buying clothes. T-shirts without awful prints. Blouses without ugly flowers or wildly inappropriate slogans. Bras with underwires! UNDERWIRES!!! Undies that aren’t white cotton or completely trampy (for there is no in between). Once I have filled my empty suitcase with clothes I will hit the supermarket and I will stockup on essentials like Dairy Milk chocolate and Tim Tams.
I will then eat my weight in bacon, ham and salami while washing it down with a good Australian wine (which means I’ll single-handedly be keeping the Australian wine industry afloat).”
Sensing I’m losing the agent I continue. “VEGEMITE!”
“Vegemite is a prohibited item.”
“NO IT’S NOT!!! YOU’RE NOT TAKING MY VEGEMITE AWAY FROM ME!”
I try to make a run for it but don’t get far and am tackled by two guards carrying semi-automatic weapons. They drag me away kicking and screaming while taunting me with a very Seinfeldian, “NO VEGEMITE FOR YOU!”
I wake in a pool of sweat and realizing that I am NOT actually travelling anywhere anytime soon, burst into very real tears and go make myself a cup of çay … with milk (because I’m a rebel).
All bok aside though it’s Daughter’s 18th birthday and we’re supposed to be in Sydney now celebrating with family and friends. Instead we are here in our little home on the outskirts of Mersin and wondering when the second wave will hit (and don’t kid yourself people… it WILL hit!).
Turkey had it all under control. I was incredibly impressed with how the Government handled itself when the first case was reported on 10 March 2020. And then it hit the fan. Intermittent lockdowns were put in place which still enabled much of the economy to splutter along somewhat but slowed the numbers considerably. School was cancelled for the remainder of the school year and, after a rather rocky start, online classes began. Under 19’s and over 65’s were not allowed to leave their homes but here in the Village that didn’t mean an awful lot. With no school, kids were running around like headless chooks and don’t think you can tell any of the over 65’s here what to do. Hell to the no! They’ll give you a tongue lashing that will send you scurrying under the covers (not me though because most of the time they yell in Arabic and I have enough trouble understanding them in Turkish). Edit: Before the keyboard warriors come at me AGAIN… Mersin has a large population of Arabic decent… no they are not migrants or refugees and just because “your wide circle of friends and their grandparents” can’t speak Arabic it doesn’t mean a good god-damn to me or to anyone else frankly. The Turk’s family do speak Arabic. Why? Because they can. Why do I speak Italian? Because I can. Why do you speak whatever language you speak? Because you can… so shut your pie-hole, Karen?
All right, all right, I will admit that many people did do the right thing but if you were ever out wandering around the Village at 5AM (which I often was with My Hurley Dog and a mask… me not the dog) it was like Times Square on NYE out there. Sticking it to the man! Our neighbour’s even had an elaborate birthday party for their one-year-old twins. Half the village was there, for feck’s sake. There was music and dancing and a jolly good time was had by all. I thankfully wasn’t invited and wouldn’t have gone because, you know, there’s a pretty dangerous virus out there, but that’s another very dramatic story for another time — and trust me it’ll be totally worth it.
Us yabancılar (aka Daughter and I) have been taking this shit seriously though. Daughter hasn’t been allowed out AT ALL! I am, of course, the worst mother in the whole, wide world but I’m good with that if it means she’s safe. All her friends have been out. All her friends have been doing exactly what they always do, ignore the rules and do whatever the feck they want, because they’re all spoilt, self-indulgent, brats (because that’s what they are, Karen). Daughter and I have gone weeks at a time without leaving the house relying on The Turk to do our shopping or to ensure we weren’t dead and being eaten by our numerous kediler. For those concerned we did have enough toilet paper, in fact we still have enough toilet paper. Phew!
But then the restrictions were lifted and the new cases have doubled in a week. Here in Mersin there have been clusters which is rather worrying as Mersin had relatively low numbers.
Masks are mandatory in shops and you need to get your temperature checked before entering many places now. There is hand sanitizer or kolonya available for everyone and God help you if you cough. Allergy season has taken on a whole new meaning for The Turk and Daughter, that’s for sure.
Today Turkey stands at a total of just under 180,000 cases with 22,000 currently active and nearly 5,000 deaths. And just to reiterate, mostly because too many people here don’t seem to grasp the severity of covid-19, in the past week new cases have doubled in Turkey. DOUBLED! Clearly something’s not working.
Wear a mask, wash your hands and stay safe my fram.
And one final little tidbit, Karen, Vegemite is NOT “black salt spread”. Wars have broken out over less!! (FYI this is also humor not a declaration of war).
Final edit: Yes I had a Karen come at me. It was fun. I enjoyed it immensely.
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Why *did* the numbers go up, I wonder, if nobody was respecting the lockdown anyway? Maybe enough of us *were* respecting it. My impression from our brief excursions in Şişli is that fewer people are wearing masks now
I think once the lockdowns were lifted people believe the threat to be over and are much more relaxed.
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Thanks Jane great piece and sums up completely X
Good to see a post from you Janey and know you’re OK.
We’re waiting for the numbers to rise next week. IMO they were still too high to consider relaxing the lockdown, but then I’m not in power, frantic about the economy or massaging figures to make them look good. Masks, gloves, sanitizer and handwashing are all second nature, though trying to mask up and glove the dog is impossible. She hasn’t been well, but we got her treatment and she was given a clean bill of health today.
As an over 65 in Bozburun attending to the rules and the gendarmes enforcing them on the streets, as soon as a 20 to 40 year old entered the premises, off came the masks without thought. All it takes is one who is asymptomatic.
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Granted, the situation in Japan isn’t as bad in terms of numbers, but I’ve been experiencing a lot of similar things. The lockdowns are intermittent, to varying effect, they just opened things up again rather quickly and case numbers have been shooting up. Me and my foreigner friends have been taking things rather seriously, but I can’t say the same about the local population! All the recent clusters are from clubs and hostess bars (eye roll). Stay safe!
You too x
Yet again, I sat down in my comfy chair, held my hot chocolate close and closed my eyes in the delicious anticipation of what was not disappointing and very much enjoyable. Yet again, my old (meaning from long ago, not age of the years which you have graced this planet) neighbour, you have made me smile, burst out laughing in fits of glee and chortle with joy at your colourful descriptions of your life and that of those around you. Even the statistical information was somewhat interesting.
I still miss your neighbourly company. I can’t fathom that Miss A is now 18! Bless you all 💕.
From what I’ve read — not by mainstream media but from people on “the front line” (doctor’s, first responders). The problem with COVID-19 is that it’s basically a cold virus. Masks don’t keep it out well, and we were told from the very first that everyone will get it at some point. The other problem with cold viruses is that they mutate and a month later you can get another one.
I doubt anyone expected the voracity of disease lurking inside pandora’s box. I wish you well finding a way to visit Australia.