For a long time now, I have been thinking: “It's a good thing nobody reads or cares about the things I write here apart from a handful of people. After all, the things I write are controversial; and I do not wish to be engaged in fruitless, vexatious squabbles. This way I write as I wish without getting tangled in people's angry posts. If I can succeed in finishing my book one day, I'll get back to interaction with people.”
Nobody, that is no national newspaper, no journalist took notice of me even after the third round-the-world tour. (Well, that's a lie. There were a couple of people interested. I didn't like them and rebuffed them :) But as I said, maybe this is a good thing for me. I get worried when I see my "Illegal?!" article got 24 views on Linkedin.
I write the articles but my husband looks after the photos. I do not know how to use Twitter either. I mean I have no idea of how to use it effectively. I just put a title, give the link and put a couple of hashtags and names. Last night, I left it to my husband to tweet the “Imaginary Milk Threats” article. “You find the names to attach, you are the public relations man,” I said.
He sat down in front of the laptop. He is searching for people. He looks at their interests, the next thing he looks at are the number of followers the person has. He sometimes shows the people he finds to me, or I put my head in to have a look at who he is looking at. He showed one guy and then remarked “He is a nobody.”
The guy had 130 followers or something.
I said, “Thank you for making me a nobody!” After all, I am worse than that guy when it comes to “followers”. I barely have 32.
“That's how we talk among us at the office,” my husband tried to explain to save face.
I understand perfectly well. Who would Public Relations people go after to be known or heard? Of course after the people who can influence crowds.
I didn't mind anyway. I am used to digging wells with a needle. I don't go after “collecting” people. I don't try to inflate numbers by inviting everybody I know to join my networks. I do not wish for empty crowds. It's my pride.: To have so little followers. I am a proud NOBODY!
Appendix: I may be a “nobody” to most people, “somebody” to some people, I know that I am “a very important body” to at least two people in the world. And those two happen to be the most important for me. So all is in order, all is fine.
Note: If I become somebody for more people one day, I guess I will then be a proud SOMEBODY too. As I wish to have an impact on the world, to have some influence to change some things.
Last night when I went to bed, I was thinking about this piece I wrote on what words served. It is common wisdom that the tone of your voice is an important factor too.: It determines what people hear. Okay but then... When I asked that woman why I couldn't take the milk, there was no tone of argument in my voice. -Because as I said, I genuinely did not wish to take the milk, I only wanted to know the why I couldn't.- So there was no reason for her to perceive what I said the way she did. Then why didn't she, how come she didn't get what I meant?
And this morning... It dawned on me! The woman did not answer my question and kept saying "You cannot take it," Becaaauuuse, hold on tight, she did not have the answer to it! Not that she didn't hear me, not that she didn't understand me.
It's so often we overlook the fact that some people are robots. Especially people working such jobs. They are turned into robots by working at such jobs. The woman there has no idea why she is doing anything, she does not ask herself such questions. She does not question the "authorities" who train her for the job. She keeps confiscating stuff but it probably has never occurred to her to ask a “why” question, she is simply executing orders and making a living for herself and family.
"Critical thinking" lessons should be given at schools. Are there such courses at some universities, in certain departments? Well... That's not enough. We should start early in life, start teaching kids to think for themselves and To Question! I believe the ability to ask the right questions is a very important trait.
Last night when I went to bed, I was thinking I should have asked that man... I should have asked him what they thought I'd be doing with that obviously milk-looking-like liquid? That obviously milk-looking-like liquid which they obviously could test for explosives? What was the "threat" a less than a 100 ml milk could cause to "security"?
And when the man told me that we were in the most secure place in the world, I should have told him that I did not want this much security for myself when there were REAL bombs exploding in places on this Earth, when FLESH and BONE people like me were fleeing their homes because of REAL wars. I should have told him I didn't want to dodge the slightest risk of danger to myself.: by taking away the tiniest drop of milk from middle-aged couples with a child, by taking away the milk that had already been checked on a previous flight, even when there was no specific reason for alarm. That I DON'T wish to pay for THIS -for this cretinish act of theater devised by paranoid minds for IMAGINARY “70 ml MILK-looking-like liquid THREATS”-, when there are millions of people in desperate need of VERY REAL security in the world.
Yes, I should have told him all these... Unfortunately, I'm not that quick-witted. My mind works only after the fact. (But it works at least, that's what's important ;) I have to keep on thinking on the matter. I have to write. Writing serves to clarify my mind. It reflects my thoughts, so that I can elaborate on them, refine them. Yes, it takes time. It takes effort. But is worth it. I am accumulating these answers. So that next time when the opportunity arises, I can pull them out of my stockpile readily and use them. And perhaps, my hope is that someone reading these lines may use them; or the things I have written stay in one corner of his mind and he discusses with kith and kin. That's what writing is for: It serves to think and it serves to spread ideas. And of course it serves to keep record.
We are returning from the US via London to Italy. We landed in London. We are following the “Transit” sign. We came upon a security checkpoint.
Now... I cannot understand the logic behind making someone who has just come off a plane and taken two steps within the airport that is under their control go through a control. But, the “authorities” might have their own reasons. Perhaps they do not trust the control on the other side and say “Let us check once more.”
Well, if we had a bomb, why didn't we blow up the plane we came on? Perhaps we have a grudge against the English, let's say we want to harm them especially. But then, what's the difference between blowing up a plane that is taking off from England and that which is landing in England? I cannot see the point but maybe it's just me. Of course it might be that we intend to have an explosion at the airport and not the plane. Or their fear may not be the trustability of the control on the other side but that we somehow manage to get bomb material within the two yards that we walk to get to the transfer plane. As I said, that area is under their control but whatever... It's impossible to make a guess at where paranoid thoughts will go, so let me not even try. We passed through the detector at London transit.
There was a 100 ml. milk bottle in my purse. They got it.
“It's milk for the girl,” I said.
“You cannot take it.”
“Why?” After all, they had let me keep the same bottle and the same milk in America.
“How old is she?” asked the woman.
“3,” I said automatically. She had just turned 4 that day.
It had to be in a certain type of bottle and until 2, explained the woman.
As if children stop drinking milk after 2! Whatever... I meant to throw the milk away anyway, not that I want it. They say “Toss anything that has been left out of the fridge above 4 C for two hours.” It's been 10 hours. I am not keen on making my daughter drink spoiled milk. In fact, I was going to empty the bottle in the toilet on the plane had I been able to get up from my seat, but I could not move because I did not want to wake her up.
Anyway... I left the bottle with the woman and was going on my way...
Wait! There... There stood a machine in front of me. In the US, they had put the milk inside a machine for 30 seconds and given it back to me. It was the first time I was seeing such a thing. So here, the machine in front of me looked exactly like the one in America. If the Brits had the same machine, why didn't they put the milk, scan it and let me keep it?
When I have questions, I get stuck. So I turned around. Asked again. “Why can't I get the milk? They passed it through a machine in America and gave it back, isn't that machine over there the same thing?”
“You cannot take it!” the woman shot back.
Did I ask you if I could take it that you answer me saying I cannot? Okay, I don't take it, I don't wish to anyway. I want to know the reason. Out of curiosity.
The woman repeated the same thing. “You cannot take it.”
And I repeated the same thing. “I don't wish to take it anyway. But as you have the same machine as in America, why don't you use it? Why does it stand there as an ornament? Why can't I take the milk here when I could in America?”
Fortunately, there was a guy sitting there and he got what I was trying to say and answered my question. “Every place has different rules. Controls do not have international standards. Besides, every place can change the rules in time as we have different alarm levels. England is not under a special alarm currently but we keep the controls tight always. I can say you are at the most safe place here.”
I felt like asking the man “Can you guarantee that our plane will land at Rome Airport without crashing due to a technical error or due to weather conditions?” But I didn't do it of course. I cannot say I liked his answer or approved of it but at least I had got the answer I wanted and was satisfied.
Am I a difficult person? I don't think so. But I'm sure I'm not a standart person and they do not encounter people like me so often. I want answers to my questions. To whatever I ask. But people do not understand what questions are for. They do not see questions as questions, they see questions as questioning. Questioning their authority. It's not totally incorrect either, I question that too. However, I question their logic first. Instead of giving me a reactionary answer like “You cannot take it,” it would be nice if you listened to the words and answered the question that was being asked!
This wasn't the first time. I'm afraid won't be the last.
Last week at the market... “6 Euros” read the sign.
I am having a look at shoes. Not that I'm interested, I have so many. Then I saw snow boots for Lara. I checked the size. 28. When I find reasonably priced things, I buy.: Thinking she'll grow up and she'll be using them anyway. I took out money from my wallet and handed it to the man. There was some change, I wanted to make sure I didn't count it wrong, “Okay?” I asked.
“Children's shoes are 10 Euros,” he said pointing his finger.
I raised my head. On the next bench, there were children shoes and the sign said “10 Euros.”
I said “Okay” and got the money back so that I could take out a 10 Euro bill to hand him. In the meantime, to explain myself, I said “But it was here.”
“No!” the man retorted. As if I was lying.
“I got it from here,” I said.
“No!” he repeated.
“I got it from here!” I said emphasizing.
“No!” he keeps saying. “10 Euros.”
Did I say “It's not 10 Euros”? If you say so, it is so. I'm not going to forcefully get something that you say is 10 Euros for 6 Euros. I'm not going to get the box and run away with it pushing away the crowd! If you say that something I thought was 6 Euros is 10 Euros, I think if I want to buy it at that price and either leave it or give you what you want. In fact, I am buying it. I said “Okay” and reached for my wallet. Why do you need to treat me as if I am a liar? As if I am lying to cheat you so that I can have 4 Euros more in my pocket! Why don't you instead think of the more logical alternative explanation? Is it so difficult to explain this as a misunderstanding? People come and go, people get things in their hands to have a look and then put down those things somewhere. Obviously someone left it on the other side by mistake. It's that simple.
In the end I said it. “Someone might have put it here, but I got it from here.” And he unwillingly said “Sorry” and I got the shoes but I felt like leaving them saying “Shove it up in an appropriate place.”
Of course no need to take such things personally and react. Plus, I've got the perfect shoes for our Antarctica trip next year! Allah kısmet ederse... God willing.
Moral of the story: I know “It's not what you say, it's what people hear.” (There is even a book by that name. I'm sure there are many other books explaining these things.) It's unfortunate that it's not what you say. Especially for someone like me who is stuck on words. I just wish people learnt to use words properly and used words as tools to communicate instead of interpreting meanings, divining intentions of the other and reaching conclusions. Actually, I do these too: I interpret, I reach conclusions, I read the character of people from what they say. The only thing in my defense is that I explain my reasoning to the other person when I do such things. So that if I make a mistake somewhere they can point to the exact spot where we start to deviate. I have yet to find someone who can argue on that level. All arguments seem to go “I believe this, this is true, you are wrong.” Even if we listen to and understand all what the other person says, we do not move an inch from where we stand. As if we'd “lose” if we accepted others have a point too. Not that we have to move an inch, we just need to listen and at least try to understand. Instead, all our “conversations” with a person of a contrary opinion seem to stay at the level of personal, emotional, with people on both sides holding on to their positions as supporting a football team. I hope one day humanity will learn to get past being defensive/offensive and assertive, and live together with people of differing opinions.
OR, my other hope is that one day we will group into like-minded people from all over the world and we will form “countries” with those people. Thus everybody may be ruled the way they see fit and live happily ever after.
OR, if not, you change countries by changing group until you find the place you belong. From whence on you may live happily ever after.
“You'd end up alone in a desolate island if you go on with this,” said my husband upon reading the last sentences above.
“Yes, just like me here,” I said happily. “I'm not in a desolate island but I am in a nice isolated corner of the world with the two people I love.”
“Wait till the other one grows up,” he said.
“She already is causing problems,” I replied. “She thinks she is grown up. I know there will be more disagreements to come. Still... I guess and hope I'll be able to get along with her.”
Carlo said that I had concluded so nicely when I wrote “live together with people of differing opinions” and I should leave the piece at that. There was no need to go for living happily ever after.
Actually, that part was meant as a thought-experiment. For the reader to imagine how it would be if it were possible to live with only like-minded people.
Carlo claimed that was an impossibility.: As even with people you agree on most things, there would be topics which you would think differently.
True, but the important thing was to think the same “in general.” I have always thought everybody should be able to be governed by the party they vote for. Why not? Of course there is a public space and the trouble is what to do with that public space. Still... People should be able to “choose” their own laws with which they want to be governed. Maybe someday, our “rulers” will come up with a couple of alternative “constitutions” and let everybody make their own choice. Specific, tailor-made laws to the person. Of course you won't be able to have the right to kill and lie etc. Still, you'll have a range of freedom.
“How can you set up countries with like-minded people? You cannot leave a country and go to another if you don't like it,” protested my husband.
“Why not?” I asked. “You can do that on Internet groups. There are too many groups at this point, but in time you might bunch them together, put all similar ones under one umbrella. You may set up... how many, let's say as many countries as there are today, about 200 groups. You mass-relocate all these people and voila!” But of course people then would start fighting over which group would live where. They'd say “Why should the liberals/republicans/right-wings etc. live in Africa? We are the ones who deserve to live in Europe/North America.” That could be solved easily by a raffle. Still... Relocating so many people did not seem realistic even to me. So I had to come up with other scenarios:
Well... No need even for that. We'll all be in our houses in front of our computers, laptops, ipads, smart phones and whatever will be coming next, so no need for relocation. Those people who have a life outside their homes, like those doing the deliveries to us who order everything online, like the farmers who need to grow food to eat, they might be given other benefits and exemptions. Ah, and of course there is the trouble when you want to travel. Well... No need for travel either in the next century. There is something called Google Earth if you have not heard of it(!). You do all that virtually. Every experience will be simulated and you may program your own trip, specifically catered to your wishes perfectly. If you want some surprise, you outsource it to a designer who programs the trip on your behalf and you live the life of a written character.
Okay. I guess this is enough science-fiction for me. You people... And especially the governing body... Learn to live together with people of differing opinions or at least learn to keep your distance without plucking their eyes!
Upon seeing the photo of tour guides wearing aprons written “Unlicensed guiding is illegal”, my anarchist side rose up again.
So what?... Basing arguments on “illegality” is stupid!
I would like to remind all such people that definition of "illegal" changes over time. Man-made laws are not like laws of nature. They're not written in stone or by a higher authority above mankind. There were many things that were legal once upon a time, which we cannot think of accepting today. (Like slavery, like women not having the vote...) And you can be sure there will be many illegal things today that the future generations will look upon horrified.
When you base your arguments on “Ah, that's illegal” you are resorting to authority. You are using mob power. Whereas interactions between people should be voluntary.
Governments get the monopoly of violence on the grounds of the law behind them. But there has to be a justified ground for laws too. And I don't believe there is a justification for a law to state who can work as a guide and who cannot. That's getting way too much into human affairs. Governments don't need to regulate everything, make decisions and choices for every little detail of our lives.
I believe you are trying to say that it is a matter of quality. That licensed guides are certified, therefore better. Okay. Let people know this, let people be aware that there are licensed guides who have passed through some tests and there are unlicensed ones who work independently; but let people be able to choose which they prefer. Give people the freedom to make their own decisions.: Instead of dictating and using “power”. People hiring guides are adults. They can live with the consequences of their actions. (It's not as if an unlicensed guide is going to kill them! I mean s/he can of course but then a licensed guide can too as that would be an extreme case of delirium. And people with bad intentions trick, rob and kill others no matter what; they don't need to pretend to be guides. Albeit, the reason you go out on the Sultanahmet Square is not your fear of the tourist's life, your concern is that somebody else gets your job, gets your bread. That is very understandable too but the solution is not you blocking the subsistence of another by legislation power. That's not nice at all.)
People hiring guides are adults. They can make their own decisions. If they are not happy with the services of an unlicensed guide, they hire a licensed one next time. Does the government have to determine and dictate who can work as a guide and who cannot? Really? Why don't they also dictate who can talk to a foreigner? While they are at it, why don't they dictate what the licensed tour guides can say, what they can talk about and what not? Seriously... Come to your senses.
I'm sorry, licenses are a way to extort money.: To provide for the associations/institutions organizing certain groups. If you want to belong to an instituion, if you believe they are doing a good job and you want to be a part of it, that's fine. But if people do not want to be institutionalized, don't force them to do that just to exercise some profession. Seriously... It's wrong. If you ask me, it's wrong even for professions like medicine, architecture, engineering where human life is directly involved. If someone has proved herself/himself in an area and can stand on one's own feet, they should not be obliged to register to a chamber or association or institution. List the names of famous architects, Frank Lloyd Wright, Frank Gehry, Antoni Gaudi come to my mind. Would these people lag behind the day, do you think they'd not update themselves if not forced by an outside force? Do you think they'd not be able to get jobs if they did not register to a chamber? Were there chambers in Michaelangelo's in Mimar Sinan's times? Maybe there were, I don't know. I know that I don't see such things as necessary. List the worldly renowned doctors. I'm sorry I cannot come up with any name as I have not had any involvement in the field but I recently came across a Turkish heart surgeon Haldun Karagöz, because he has sailed around the world, I can say that I'd go to him without a second thought for myself or any of my beloveds if necessary. He doesn't need to still belong to a doctor's association. Same goes for my gynecologist Ramazan Mercan. I would avoid the many others who are just as well trained and certified. These things are a matter of trust. Establishing trust. If a person well-known in his field does not update himself, he'd lose his reputation anyway. AND, I'm not saying nobody should register to a chamber at all, -even the well-knowns are welcome to do as they wish, they may register out of a sense of belonging, out of loyalty etc.- I'm just saying they SHOULD NOT be FORCED to, SHOULD NOT be OBLIGED to.
If there are fakes, if people pretend they are licensed while in fact they are not, by all means, fight them, fine them, punish them, put them behind bars or whatever. I support you till the end. Just don't ask me to approve of initiating force by obliging everybody who wants to do the guide get a license.
What are licenses for?
I first started questioning licenses after the never-ending hoops “authorities” put in front of me transcribing my Turkish driver's license into Italian. ( http://voluntaryist.com/wp/index.php/2015/11/04/zeynep-gulin-de-vincentiis/ )
Can anyone tell me what are licenses for in the first place? “They provide our safety,” you say? I'd say “Think again before you do.”
When I got my license, did I go right out into the traffic? No. Because I couldn’t really drive, didn’t have the experience or the confidence. I always had somebody with me for a while. Then, when I felt like I could drive I started going out on my own. Are there people without licenses driving on the roads? Yes, there are. Are there people with licenses, getting drunk and killing people? Yes, there are. There are even people with licenses, not drunk, but in a hurry, or upset, or just fine but in a moment of inattention, get into accidents, cause damage, and kill people. We may even find ourselves in such a position one day.
I have a sailing license. Can I sail a boat? No. My husband doesn't have a license. Can he sail? Yes. At the time I was getting my license, the test was 20 multiple choice question. Not that it would make any difference if it were 50 anyway. They were so simple and basic. As if that wasn't enough, the inspectors who were supposed to make sure you didn't cheat had a look at your answers and corrected you if you had made mistakes. I heard a rumor that in order for Turkey to get into the EU there was a criteria that a certain amount of people possess sailing licenses. Now, I don't want to assert this is true, but we all know that these kinds of things are pretty common and “normal” when it comes to things that have to do with government regulations.
Similarly... Are there licensed guides that are bad and cheats? I'm sure there are. Are there unlicensed guides that are good and provide everything a tourist needs? I'm sure there are. Besides, people are obliged to renew their licenses every year. They were fine one year and would not be fine the next if they do not pay their chambers their due? So please... Please take the dirty hands of the government off of all unnecessary human affairs and interactions. Treat people as adults and responsible beings; refrain from turning a society into a community of idiots who need a government to blame for all their problems or solve all their problems.
You may say "We don't like being blamed for everything either but we have to treat people as idiots who need a government to solve all their problems, because they are so! Majority of the people are idiots."
Still... Refrain from it my dears, refrain from treating people as complete idiots; give them some responsibility so that they have room and opportunity for growth!
Note: You may read the second part of this article here.
“Oh Prime Minister, why are you making fun of us now?” ("Ey Başbakan, bizimle dalga geçmenin sırası mı şimdi?")
That was the title of an article in a news site that is supposed to be an alternative to mainstream media. What has the Prime Minister done? He has said that they'd be making Diyarbakır, the capital of the “Kurdish” region in Turkey into Toledo. That they'd be reconstructing Sur so that it would become like Toledo in Spain, a special place with its architectural structure, a place where everybody would like to see.
Even though I liked the article, it was too criticizing, and not in a constructive way. I have to say I agree with the PM. When I went to Diyarbakır a decade ago I had said “You have the longest walls in the world after the Chinese Wall and you don't do anything about it! If it was anyplace else, they'd put up a counter here as in Dubrovnik and collect 10-20 Euros at the entrance” and this is something I repeat time and again. Diyarbakır and Southeast Anatolia is a painful topic to me as a three times round-the-world traveller. What I wish to say is... Even though it may seem an impossible dream right now, I whole-heartedly wish Diyarbakır to have peace and to be a world-known city with not only its architecture but with its people, its cuisine, its culture and historical value.
If there was anybody interested in really doing something about the region, if people wished for progress, they wouldn't be mocking the Prime Minister for saying such a thing, BUT holding him to his word. Just start a campaign asking “When is Sur going to be a Toledo?” and start counting days. Make pressure. I don't know... Maybe I am too simplistic. But I feel what's right is right. And one should strive to make that right the reality instead of pumping up negative energy. One should try to come up with solutions, with ideas instead of just puking hatred and beating the other side with a stick.
John Paul II has said “We should be talking about not what divides us, but what unites us.”
Unfortunately, that's very much missing in Turkey and all around the world.