Sunday, 16 October 2011


the 33rd edition of the istanbul ("eurasia") marathon took place today. (main pic on the homepage not exactly doing a great marketing job, btw...)
it was a hazy, rainy day and as the tv sent us images of breathtaking views of the endless vastitude of housing blocks and roads; monumental palaces, bridges and traffic A.K.A. istanbul - an overexcited commentator was trying to interrupt participants doing their routine warming up, minutes before the start. a while before he had been praising the essence of the sporting event as "east embracing west -- europe reaching out to asia and vice versa" and he was now trying to ask elaborate questions. in english.
it will never cease to surprise me. the duly sense of heroicism turkish people attach to certain events. whenever they talk about their family, country, history - they never produce anything short of epic. try to smile and you will cause major offence. they are proud to speak up about their patriotism and express child-like disappointment if they are confronted with any kind of criticism (let alone critical approach) to one's own land / family / background of origin.
so the journalist approached a black, skinny man in red shorts - one of those marathon runners from northern africa you always expect to make it in the first 10 - and asked him in the loudest voice he had.
The poor runner kept on smiling, shaking his head - half in terror, half in embarassment
"i do not understand" he replied in french
"i do not understand!".
and this is generally the type of situation that encourages a turkish interlocutor to repeat the question twice - screaming even louder. which, punctually happened. prompting the main images on the screen to quickly go back to the bosphorous draped in grey, low clouds.
i will never get the way people here use the verb "to love". they overdose on it. really. how nice many might say. not really, i shall remark. especially when you hear it at work.
imagine starting a meeting with your manager / principal - sitting down, expecting to talk about schedule issues and hearing first instead.
"you know we love you very much.
we love you. i love you. very much. very much".
imagine wiping off a whiteboard and turning to the sound of "teacher. we love you" - uttered in the sternest voice. and with the sternest face. point blank.
imagine being delivered your coffee - accompanied by the sentence
"if you EVER leave. remember we love you. we love you soooo much. we love you. and we love your children. really" -- and always with the same, very resolute --- kind of homicidally serious face.
and you nod and mutter "thank you". and look up. look away. look somewhere else. like. to the side. like. behind them. behind all of these "i love you's". only to meet the most heroic faces of all. the constantly present portrayt of the Man himself: i.e. ataturk... looking at you surrounded by some god-like halo, his lips tight under a thick moustache.
and this vision - somehow - always manages to conjure the feeling that everything does make much sense. even the overdose on the L-word.

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