It's been about a month since our last (first) TurkeyReport. It's
been a very busy month. To simply say that Mark and Meredith have
each started work, their apartment is looking a trifle more like
home, and that Ankara isn't as foreign a city is leaving out the
million and one (milyon ve bir) details that make up daily life.

Let's get the hard stuff out of the way...

    Work is all too consuming. The computer environment at BUPS is
    suffering from 3 years of unplanned growth and no maintenance,
    and teaching even a very small group of students is very demanding.
    More than the current problems at BUPS, the biggest change, and one
    that can be applied to almost every aspect of living here, is the
    Turkey Factor. Things we might take for granted in the US in terms
    of the business of doing business--ordering things, finding out who
    manages a particular task, contacting vendors, etc.--all undergo
    a mysterious force which randomly twists and spins the results in
    unexpected directions. Sometimes the force takes the guise of great
    attentitiveness and consideration, so you suddenly get a call from
    someone saying you need to arrange a driver to pick up the load of
    "something" that you don't need for two weeks, because it's ready
    right now. The force may manifest itself by making staples as common
    as raindrops, but staplers unobtainable.
    For the last few weeks I've also been undergoing a much more
    "personal" adjustment, as the local micro-flora and fauna battle
    over my body. I hope that a permanent DMZ has been declared, with
    the help of a multi-pharmaceutical peace-keeping force.  [Anyone want
    to do a long term epidemiological study on the affect of powerful,
    broad spectrum antibiotics available as common over-the-counter

    While fortunately not ill, I've too been battling with something
    of a plague. My students came back from their summer vacations
    two weeks ago, and they are just beginning to emerge from a sun-
    and relaxation-induced haze. I left the first week approaching a
    migraine. To backpedal a bit, my departmental chair had encouraged all
    the new faculty not to push the students (i.e., to teach them) in the
    first week. Armed with my American optimism, I went into classes ready
    to roll. To make a long story short, I've never faced such complete
    passivity in my life. In addition, there were discipline problems
    galore--ringing cell phones, giggling-behind-the-notebook stuff,
    showing pictures of what-I-did-over-my-vacation. The second week
    was much improved, but I'm still struggling over how to integrate
    my teaching style (based on a highly participatory, democratic
    classroom) with these students' learning style (based largely,
    it seems, on rote memorization, spoon-feeding, and minimal analysis).

Now onto the more interesting things....

    I've started to make rock climbing a more regular activity. For
    about 7 months before leaving NYC I had been going to an indoor
    climbing gym in NYC or going climbing at the 'Gunks (one of the
    premier climbing locations in the US, near Poughkeepsie, about 1
    1/2 hrs from NYC). When I was (endlessly) researching moving
    here to Turkey, I contacted someone via the Internet who was
    writing on the rec.climbing newsgroup from a Turkish address.

    For the past 3 weeks, Ender Batur has taken me to some of the
    local climbing spots. He's Turkish, but his English is terrific.
    Ender is quite safety-conscious (he said that he's a bit extreme in
    his usual group) and I was comfortable with the way he climbs. We
    took it quite easy the first weekend, but as we've gotten used to
    each other's style we have tried some more interesting routes.
    We've been going to a popular local spot, about 1/2 hour's drive from
    the center of Ankara. To put that into perspective, 20 minutes out
    of the city any you're on 1 1/2 lane paved roads snaking their way
    through tiny villages (still part of the city of Ankara), avoiding
    goats, sheep, and on-coming trucks. In another 5 minutes, you're
    off the pavement. Finally, the road rises and twists it's way up the
    small valley between two broad hills. The hills are a dun tan color,
    with swathes of black from recent grass fires. The crag faces Ankara,
    about 10km to the beginning of the city smog, and you've got about
    a 270 degree view from the ground. Closer to you, the only things
    to see are a single farmer's house (nothing cultivated in sight)
    and the road with occasional produce trucks. It's not particularly
    beautiful landscape, but the location and scope are impressive.
    There's a steep hillside covered with thin knee-high grass and plants
    with burrs (all a uniform tan color). Boulders that have broken off
    the larger formation lay scattered, poking up from the grass like
    miniature Easter Island heads. The actual climbing is a group of
    volcanic rocks jutting up from the hillside.
    It felt very good to actually get outside again. I'd completely stopped
    climbing, or any other kind of exercise except packing and moving boxes
    for the last few weeks before flying out, and it was nice to see that
    I vaguely remembered what to do. There's nothing like hearing the call
    to prayer echoing from dozens of mosques while you're halfway up a route!

High Holiday Services in the Old City (conservative Muslim) of Ankara:
    A narrow maze of streets. Lost cab drivers. A dozen stops for
    directions--most of them wrong. Driving backwards up steep hills
    at night. Loud American disco music in the cab arguing with the
    tune of copper-workers beating out bowls. A well hidden, well
    guarded synagauge--we had to show passports upon entry. Two clocks
    on the walls, neither one working. Three impressive, mismatched
    chandeliers. Seating for about 250, occupied by 19.  A bright room
    with marble floors, Turkish rugs, water-stained painted walls and a
    ceiling that dips in a suspicious way.  Prayer books in Hebrew and a
    Turkish transliteration. Which is easier to follow?  Which is harder?
    Familiar words, unfamiliar tunes, new pronunciations. Spanish and
    Ladino verses in the customary songs. A five pointed star over the
    building and a Turkish crescent-and-star on the torah crown.

    A population of mostly 40s/50s, a few couples with children. The last
    Bar Mitzvah was held in 1992; there is currently no Hebrew school.
    The rabbi came imported from Istanbul for the weekend. Separate
    seating for men and women; women don't use prayerbooks because none
    of the female members of the synagogue reads Hebrew well enough to
    follow along.  Warm, friendly people. Dinner at a stranger's house,
    yet very familiar. Tea and pastry the next day with the synagogue
    members; the temple ladies play a mean game of Scrabble! Suddenly
    Ankara has become a much smaller city.

Random notes:
    Turkey is the only country I've ever been in where cab drivers
    routinely dress better than doctors. In Mark's medical experiences
    over the past week, the doctors have been routinely clad in jeans
    and T-shirts. Taxi drivers, however, wear ties, button-downs, dress
    pants, and loafers. Construction workers wear loafers too. Informality
    seems to reign among leisure-class women as well: at the synagogue,
    I was the only woman not wearing pants.

    Concepts of physical space appear to be different from what we're
    used to in the US. People simply walk much closer together, frequently
    looking as if they're holding hands. In addition, male-male friends
    and female-female friends typically walk arm in arm. Eye contact
    is more intense. We're getting used to kissing strangers on the
    first meeting.

    Cab Drivers (a fascinating topic, I know):
    Cab drivers treat their customers  with extreme courtesy and good
    manners. On the way to the synagogue, after the dozen stops, backing
    up hills, stripping the poor cab's gears, etc., many a New York
    cab driver would have tossed us out. In particular, since Ankara
    cab drivers charge for distance rather than for time, this driver
    wasn't making much money on us. Instead, he chatted with us as best
    as possible about our location, discussed the restaurants we passed
    by. Discussed the situation (our lost status) with other cabdrivers
    and the many, many people who gave us directions. Frequently cab
    drivers will offer you a cigarette.  And finally, when Mark was
    under the weather earlier in the week, the cab driver wished us
    "Gec mis olsun" ("May it soon pass") repeatedly as he took us to
    the campus health center.

    My (Meredith's) Turkish is improving fairly swiftly, though I would
    still like some verbs and prepositions to accompany my nouns.
    I'm constantly struck by the effectiveness of immersion, if also
    by its disturbing qualities. I simply understand so much more
    than I did a few weeks ago, and I feel my vocabulary growing
    day by day. Today we bought Turkish Scrabble to help us practice.
    Despite the improvements, I've made some good stupid/funny mistakes:
    I told someone I'd been in Turkey for "dort hasta" instead of
    "dort hafta" (5 medical patients vs. 5 weeks), and, embarrassingly,

    proudly told a crowd of Turkish elementary-school teachers that I'd
    learned left- vs. right-handed ("solak" is left-handed, "saglak"
    is right-handed. However, "salak," pronounced almost identically,
    means fool, clown, idiot, dolt, etc. Guess which one I said!).
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