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Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Coffee

I am quite adaptable when it comes to food and drink.  There are lots of things I miss from the UK, which I can't get here, but I will just search until I find a substitute. 

One thing I cannot find though is decent coffee.  The packs of filter coffee here are bitter.  I do drink a fair amount of instant coffee.   I used to buy Nescafe Gold Blend here.  It's a well known brand of course and more expensive than the rest.  However, it tastes nothing like Nescafe Gold Blend in the UK.   I've tried all the other "gold blend" instants here, and strangely the one I've settled for is the Migros (supermarket) own brand of "gold" which is actually about a third of the price of Nescafe.

But when I say I've settled for it...that's exactly it...I honestly can't say I enjoy it.

On my trips to the UK I usually bring back a supply of filter coffee and had been using my electric filter coffee machine daily until it packed up about a month ago.  I used to have a small cafetiere which I hadn't used in a while, but couldn't find it so I've been getting by with Migros instant.

Yesterday we went into Milas to buy a new microwave oven.  We found one for 99 lira (about 34 pounds)in Migros, having compared prices eveywhere, and this was the cheapest.  (I have decided only to buy cheap electric appliances from now on, because expensive doesn't last any longer).

While we were looking for the microwave we came across a lovely little filter coffee machine for 35 lira (about 12 pounds).  It takes up very little space and is very efficient and clean. 

It makes one large mug (or two regular coffee cups) of filter coffee in less time than it takes to boil a kettle.

I'm actually very surprised to have found such an appliance in Milas, a traditional Turkish town of tea drinkers.  I've never seen a normal sized filter coffee  machine here...although there are hundreds of different types of electric tea makers.

The shop assistant looked quite surprised when I picked it up.  I think I may well be the first customer to buy one.  She took it out of the box to check it and hadn't a clue how it worked.   I have a feeling the rest of their stock will stay on the shelves gathering dust for years.

How wonderful it was to get up this morning and drink good coffee.   It's the little things in life that make us happy isn't it?

What little things make you happy?

Monday, 28 November 2011

Dicing with Death

Mr A and I had been discussing all things electrical yesterday.

I received a couple of comments on my last blog post about whether the electrical supply to our house is faulty and whether this had contributed to so many appliances giving up this year.

Mr A and I had come to this conclusion around the same time as your comments arrived so we knew we had to do something about it asap.

New electricity cables have been underway in the village for a few months.  Maybe this has something to do with it?  Mr A was about to phone the electric company in Milas this morning to arrange for an electrical engineer to come out to check our house.

By coincidence, engineers are working outside our house this morning...attaching cables to the newly planted pylons.   As you can see from the photo, they are again working without any safety equipment or harnesses.  It makes me feel quite dizzy to watch them.  Mr A asked if they would check our house today.

As they are clearly not bothered about dicing with death every day of their working lives, we were happy to let them fiddle about with the electric supply to our house if they could solve the problem.   Rather them than us!

So two engineers have now checked thoroughly and according to them there is no problem with the electricity supply to our house, or inside it.

I guess I have to accept what I've been saying for years now...electrical appliances in Turkey are crap!

Saturday, 26 November 2011

OK...enough now please!

It seems like this has been the year for my electric appliances to give up.

Already since this summer, my toasted sandwich maker broke.  I had to have a new element fitted to our electric oven.  The coffee machine, electric kettle, toaster and iron all died on me.

Today my microwave oven decided it would like to join all its friends in the electrical appliance graveyard.

It appears to be functioning in every respect, other than actually heating anything.

I' ve done a bit of googling and it would seem that the obvious problem is that the magnetron has given up.  According to various sites, this is the most important part of the microwave oven that is responsible for heating.  It's also about 95% of the cost of the microwave, so it's not worth getting repaired.  And we all know of course that microwave oven repairs are not safe for DIY.

So, I guess another trip to the shops is in order.

BUT the mobile phone is still working by the way, albeit that it needs a new battery because it's currently having to be charged every day.

I always believed when these things happened, it ran in "threes" (one of my late mother's old wives tales)...obviously that's a load of rubbish in my case.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Just 32 days...

...until I see my gorgeous grandsons again.

Playing so nicely together

Have a good weekend everyone.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

A pleasant Tuesday...and more about the mobile phone.

The saga of the new mobile phone continued today.  The second replacement phone appeared to be working OK.

Again, I spent a couple of hours setting it all up and making sure it was able to do what I wanted it to.

After all this fiddling about with it, the battery had run low by this morning, so I plugged the charger in...and...nothing.  It wouldn't charge.  We had a couple of spare chargers and tried those but still it wouldn't charge. 

So off we go to Milas once more to the phone shop.  The guy in the shop told us that the person who repairs their phones had gone out  so we would have to come back later.  I suggested he call him on his mobile phone (if he had one that actually worked) and ask him to return to the shop.  I was informed that he hadn't taken his phone with him (maybe it wasn't working?).

We sat and waited for about 10 minutes, having been offered tea, as is the norm.  Mr A was getting very irritated by then.  I was already angry, but what can you do?   There was another customer in the shop about to buy a secondhand phone.  Mr A suggested he thoroughly tested it out before parting with his money.  This comment prompted the shopkeeper into action.  He took my phone and trotted across the road to another shop and asked the man there to take a look to see if he could solve the problem.  We followed and waited while he dismantled it, prodded and poked it with various tiny tools, and reassembled it.  All of which took a further 45 minutes.   It still wouldn't charge.

By this time the repairman in the other shop had returned so we crossed the road, gave him the phone, and he proceeded to dismantle, prod and poke, reassemble, etc.  Not once, but several times.  He did manage to get it to charge at one point, but only when the phone was completely dismantled.  He seemed rather pleased with himself and I honestly think he believed we would accept this!   Until I firmly informed him that I had no intention of taking the phone apart every time I wanted to recharge it.

By now another half an hour had passed...more tea in the meantime....and I had had enough.  I insisted on a refund and it was reluctantly forthcoming.

Coming out of the shop, Mr A suggests we look for a phone in another shop.  I was not amused.  I said I would rather be without a phone than have to go through this over and over again.  I repeated myself twice to make sure he got the message.  But he's a man...he doesn't listen...and before I knew it he was inside another phone shop with an identical phone in his hand, asking the price.

As it transpired, after Mr A and I both tested and retested the phone thoroughly, we established that it worked, it charged, it switched on and off with no problems, and it seemed to be in better condition all round.   AND it was 10 lira cheaper than the previous two phones.  We bought it, and as I write, it is still working.  But call me a cynic if you like, I'm not totally confident that it will continue to do so.  Watch this space!

It was market day in Milas and we stocked up with vegetables and fruit.  I love the vegetables at this time of year...spinach, brocolli, enormous cabbages, purple carrots and green beans.  And mandarin oranges are in abundance and very cheap.

 We also needed to get some vests and socks for Mr A.  It's getting colder and we realised this morning that he was down to one vest and two and a half pairs of socks.  Before returning home, we stopped for delicious cheese and spinach gozleme.

Apart from the hassle with the phone...quite a pleasant day.

Monday, 21 November 2011

A pleasant Monday and another trip to the Dentist

You may remember that two months ago I found a super dentist in Bodrum who charges "normal" prices in Turkish lira rather than the inflated prices in Euros charged by the posh Bodrum clinics.  Instead of being fobbed off by the expensive dentists telling me that my tooth could not be repaired but would have to be expensively crowned, bridged and whatever, my new dentist insisted he could rebuild my tooth.  He made a very good job of it too.

However on Friday a bit of the filling came out, leaving the tooth very sensitive so I phoned to make an appointment to see him.  As it happened Suleyman had another appointment with the same dentist today, so he and Gwen picked me up on their way from their home in Aydin.  Mr A decided to come too.

My dentist has put some kind of fluid onto the tooth to "calm it down" plus a temporary dressing and I will return again on Thursday to have the tooth rebuilt.  He explained that there was always a possibility that this might happen the first time it was done because it was so badly damaged.  I asked if it was perhaps better to have it extracted, but he insisted that he would make every effort to save the tooth, even if it took several attempts, and that he will not be charging me for any of this additional treatment.  He says he is determined to get it to the stage where it will last at least a couple of years.  I'm very happy to have found this dentist and wish I had discovered him before.  When we were chatting I discovered that  he had been in practise in Selçuk before he moved to Bodrum, at the same time that we were living in Selçuk.  In fact his surgery was just around the corner from where we lived!   I wish I'd known.   Isn't it a small world?

Suleyman and Mr A spent some time drinking tea and chatting and Gwen and I browsed the shops.  We all met up for lunch and then Suleyman dropped us back home.   A pleasant day with good company.

Before we set off today, Mr A popped into Milas to return the "new" (secondhand)  mobile phone which wasn't working.  He was under instructions to accept no excuses and to insist on a refund.  It didn't quite work out that way (now why does that not surprise me?).  Apparently the shopkeeper said he couldn't refund the money as he didn't have any...hmmm.  Mr A stood his ground and when it was clear that no money would be forthcoming, he made a very loud fuss and refused to leave the shop.  Eventually the man gave Mr A another phone...identical to the previous one.  Only this one was brand new, retailing at 370 lira...about 130 pounds).   It must have been some fuss that Mr A made because we only paid 160 lira for the previous phone and the shopkeeper let him have the new one at no extra charge.   Result!

The phone is working perfectly.  I have worked out how to make and receive calls and text messages.  That's as far as it goes for me.  It does, however, do lots of other things.  These are the product details:

Compact modern design featuring sophisticated stainless-steel covers, glossy black finish, and rounded edges.
Integrated 2 megapixel camera with 8x digital zoom
Music player, FM stereo radio, and video player
Access your email on the go and send messages with attachments
Store music, videos, and photos with up to 2GB microSD card expandable memory.

....but of course all of that goes way over my head.  You never know though...maybe in time I'll learn how to use all these extra gadgets.

Now if someone invented a phone that could do something useful like the housework and ironing..I'd be first in the queue to buy one.

Mobile Phones

I've never really liked them but like the majority of people on this planet, I've become used to my mobile being part of my life.

I can't be doing with anything too sophisticated or clever though.  I'm not interested in iPhones or similar contraptions.  I don't need my phone to be able to do anything other than allow me to make and receive calls or text messages.

Mr A on the other hand is obsessed with them.  The more complicated the better as far as he is concerned.  So naturally it was a big decision for him to make recently, to sell his iPhone (it may not have been an iPhone..I don't really know...but it was an all-singing/all-dancing phone) to raise more money to spend on the garden.  He is now using a cheap, simple, secondhand mobile, but I'm sure that when he's working again, a newer one will be top of his to-buy list.

I've therefore had a very simple Nokia for the past 7 years that does the trick for me.  Last year I dropped it and damaged the screen.  Mr A was all for persuading me to upgrade to a cleverer model, but I managed to get a new screen installed and was happy.

Yesterday morning, I discovered that the screen on my phone was blank...nothing at all.  I used the house phone to ring the mobile and it was still working, but of course I can't make calls out or send/receive text messages because I can't see anything.

There are plenty of mobile phone shops here to choose from so we set off to Milas yesterday afternoon to look for a new phone.  We spent hours in and out of shops, with Mr A trying out and testing numerous phones...complicated ones...whilst I just kept getting sneers from the assistants every time I produced my old Nokia and asked for a similar one.  

I stood my ground and eventually found a phone which did pretty much the same as my old phone...albeit that it was a slimmer version.  It was new, the price was OK, but it had no box or guarantee with it, so I wasn't too happy about buying it.

We then retraced our steps, visited all the shops again, looking at secondhand phones.  By this time, I was getting fed up with Mr A trying out all the super-dooper contraptions and insisting that they were just what I needed.  

He produced a secondhand Nokia, which he said was a brilliant phone.  The price was good and feeling under pressure and just wanting to get a phone, I gave in and bought it.  I inserted my sim card. Tried it.  It worked.  So we set off for home.

Of course this phone has far too much clever stuff on it which I will never use..but after an hour or so I managed to work out how to phone and text, which will do for me.

However...there is a problem.  If I switch it off I can't switch it back on again.   I was pretty annoyed with Mr A for persuading me to buy this bloody contraption, but more annoyed with myself  for allowing him to talk me into it.  NOTE TO SELF:  Do not take Mr A with you when you want to buy anything in future.

At almost 8pm last night, Mr A set off for Milas to take the phone back to the shop.  I asked him to just get me a refund.   It was closed, but he spoke to a man in the phone shop next door who said it must be that the battery was dead.   So he bought a new battery.   When he arrived home, he inserted the new battery, put it on charge and guess what?  You still can't switch on the bloody phone!

And to top it all...for some unexplained reason...the screen on my old phone has now reappeared.  So I'm back to using it and Mr A has been instructed to take the new purchase back to Milas this morning for a refund and not to return until he has my money in his hand.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Norman Wisdom

I've just watched a documentary "The Unforgettable Norman Wisdom", recently shown on ITV.  It brought back  memories for me of being taken to the cinema as a small child by my father to see his films.  He was my Dad's absolute favourite performer.  A brilliantly talented man who died in 2010 at the age of 92.  He had a sad and difficult childhood, and overcame many obstacles to become one of the greatest entertainers of the 20th Century.

So I thought I would post up a link to the video HERE  in case you haven't seen the programme.  It's just 22 minutes long.

I particularly loved the scene towards the end of the video when he received his knighthood from the Queen.

Enjoy.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

The most irritating TV ad ever...

We haven't had a television for nearly two years.  We don't miss it.  Mr A likes football and when big matches are broadcast he prefers to watch in the men-only teahouses because there's more of an atmosphere.

Any other programmes we want to see we are able to catch-up on our laptops.

I have to admit to being hooked on UK soaps.  Eastenders, Corrie and Emmerdale.  But what irritates me most about ITV programmes these days are the sponsorship ads.  

The advantage in catching-up online is that usually the ads are cut out.  However, I tend to use Youtube for the soaps as they are posted up pretty quickly after broadcast.  Or I use Expatshield and go directly to ITV iPlayer.  Unfortunately in this case, the sponsorship ads still appear.

The sponsorship ad for Emmerdale, produced by an online bingo website, makes me want to scream.

They have used real people...those that use their bingo website.  Their ad is trying to tell a story.  It's all about real people getting together, doing real things like go-karting, hot air ballooning, messing about on a beach, etc.

The reality of course is that these people don't do REAL things.  They sit in front of a screen, in isolation, playing bingo.  That's what irritates me...as well as the annoying jingle!



Are there TV ads that irritate you?

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Obsession

I thought Mr A would be pleased to have finished building the fence this week and was pretty sure he would have had enough of sawing, sanding and hammering.

Not so.  He has become obsessed with making things out of wood.

Having driven the final nail in the fence on Sunday afternoon, he asked me if I would like a couple of shelves in the kitchen.

I've been asking him to put up shelves since we moved here so of course I said yes.

I now have two deep sturdy shelves built into a recess which now house my microwave oven and pots and pans, freeing up much needed work surface and cupboard space.

I didn't see Mr A at all yesterday until around 9pm.  After breakfast he set off for his shed and there he remained all day, sawing, sanding and hammering.  He is buıilding a picnic table for the garden.  He informs me it's practically finished and the "unveiling" will take place in the morning.

His next plan is to make a shoe cupboard for the balcony...and then he tells me he is going to build a table for the kitchen.

Will this enthusiasm for carpentry ever end, I ask myself?  Or will he keep going until he replaces all our furniture?   Hmm...we could do with a new wardrobe.....

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Distractions

We all need to be distracted at times from ordinary everyday life and I'm no exception.

Winter can be pretty boring, particularly when you live in an isolated village such as ours.  It's easy for me to find myself stuck in the house day after day, and the longer it goes on the more difficult it becomes for me to motivate myself to get out and about.

I forced myself to get on the bus to Bodrum on Friday to see Gwen and Suleyman.  They are at the Gumbet hotel for a few weeks, tying up loose ends and having talks with the hotel owners about a contract for the shop next year.  The hotel is now closed.  No guests, just a few members of staff, cleaning up.  It's like a ghost town.  So they met me at Bodrum bus station and we set off  for Oasis shopping centre.  It's one of my favourites..but mostly for window shopping rather than buying as most of the shops are expensive.  However, they do have a Marks & Spencer and although the prices are in Turkish lira they are comparable with English prices.  I picked up a couple of pairs of leggings, which look nice with long jumpers but also double up as longjohns under jeans when it gets colder.

We had lunch in Gumbet and then I went to buy some bacon and pork sausages from a supplier that Suleyman knows.  This was the highlight of my day of course and means I can satisfy my cravings for pork products.  This particular supplier also has pork chops, but I'd spent enough so they will have to wait for another visit.

Gwen and Suleyman will be going back to their home in Aydın soon but we've promised to make the effort to see each other during the winter months.

Distractions aren't always helpful.   Mr A is still working away at the fences in the garden, but he keeps being distracted by neighbours or men who happen to be passing.  Not happy with a 5-minute chat, Mr A sees it as an excuse to down tools, sit and drink tea.  Unfortunately this can happen several times a day, and these breaks can last anything up to a couple of hours.   Of course I don't begrudge him this time but I'm anxious about things being finished before he sets off to work for the winter.   Some of it can wait, but at the moment the garden isn't secure for the dogs.  There are still areas from which they can escape.  And the forecast is rain today, so it's a mad dash to get things done.

I managed to fiddle with my camera yesterday and we took a few photos of the garden:

Mr A hard at work

The newly levelled and cemented driveway, taken from the entrance

and the driveway looking towards the entrance


Newly erected walls inside the garden and wooden fence.



All of the fences have been made from scratch by Mr A.  Measuring, cutting, sanding and erecting.  Pretty good aren't they?

I'm really proud of him and what he has achieved.  Now if only he can get through today without any distractions he should be able to complete the fencing and the dogs will be safe. by the end of the day.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Budgeting.....

...Mr A is useless at it.  I'm the one in this marriage who has to be careful with money.  Winter is particularly difficult, and I pride myself on being able to economise.   I don't waste electricity or water, and I can make a chicken last a whole week with a bit of imagination.

Mr A, on the other hand, plans one day at a time.   If he has money he will spend it.  If he doesn't have money he will sell something.  We have many disagreements over his attitude towards money.  He appears to listen and promises to change his ways, but he has a short memory.

When he has money he will go out and buy the food shopping.  I give him a list...which he vaguely sticks to...but he is extravagant..he just can't help himself.  He will come home with all kinds of expensive food which means we live like kings for a week...then it's back to homemade soup.

He is still working on the garden.  He had enough money to do the balcony roof and rebuild the wall around the garden.  This was sufficient for the time being, but because he is still waiting to hear when he can start a winter job in Istanbul, he thought he would make some more improvements to the garden.  

He has built another wall to cut off the top of the garden (to replace the wooden fence which was demolished by the tractor delivering sand and cement).  But then he decided that all the chicken wire needed to be replaced and that he would build a wooden fence.   To do this properly, he would need to level off part of the uneven driveway with concrete.  But not happy with just repairing this, he thought the whole driveway should be cemented.

I know I shouldn't criticise him for his enthusiasm.  He has worked flat out for the past month and has made such a good job of it all that word has spread around the village and people are turning up daily to admire his efforts.  But I would rather he had made proper plans and budgeted for this work to be done over a longer period of time.

I would post up some photos but my camera isn't working very well.   (I'll give it another go today). 

Mr A could take lots of pics with his iPhone of course...except that he sold it last week to pay for wood and the last lot of cement and sand.

Even though I'm not always happy about him going away to work, I can't wait for him to get the call from Istanbul so that he can start work and stop spending money that he can't afford.

Having previewed this post before publishing, I think I must come across as being very ungrateful.  I could be married to a typical Turkish man who spends the entire winter in the teahouse.  At least Mr A isn't sitting on his backside doing nothing.

Perhaps I need to relax a bit more and stop worrying about things I can't change!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Amazing!

My brother just sent me this Youtube video of a laser show on the front of a department store in Berlin.

It was made in 2010 so maybe some of you have already seen it.

I can't get my head around how these laser shows work but this video is utterly fascinating:

Sunday, 6 November 2011

100 Followers...and my Sunday

Today I noticed that I now have 100 followers of my blog.  I'm amazed that people would want to continue to read something that really started out two and a half years ago as more of a personal journal.

I did keep a written diary in a pile of exercise books when I first moved here in 1998, but unfortunately these were lost during one of our many moves.

A very big thankyou to all my followers.  Your loyalty makes me very happy and I always look forward to your comments and words of encouragement.

I've just changed my header photo to this one.....

It's taken from father-in-law's land just outside the village, looking towards the hill where our house is situated.

The little black mis-shapen circle marks our house (I don't know how I managed to mark the photo, but once I had, I couldn't change it or make it neater, so it will have to stay like this!)

Today is the first day of Kurban Bayram which I wrote about a couple of years ago HERE.   So to avoid witnessing the slaughter of sheep, I've remained in the house all day, while Mr A continues the never-ending work on the garden.

Feeling restless, I decided to move the furniture in the bedroom around...AGAIN!   I often move the bed to a different spot but today, for the first time since we moved here almost 3 years ago, I wanted to move the wardrobe to the opposite wall.  This meant removing suitcases from the top and emptying the contents, which ended up in the sitting room.

As usual I got stuck...wedged into corners..several times, simply because I don't plan properly.  I just go at it like a bull in a china shop.  But eventually I managed to get everything moved and the room looks much bigger as I've discarded a fair amount of rubbish.  Not to mention huge piles of dust from under the wardrobe.  So it's now spotless and spacious and I am content.

The rest of today was taken up with baking pastry.   Two quiches, jam tarts and a chicken pie.  And I've peeled some small onions and left to soak in salted water, ready for pickling tomorrow....my second batch since last week.  I love pickled onions!

Mr A brought home some sharon fruit yesterday.  I've never had them before and I tried one.  It was awful.  I've been googling sharon fruit and there seem to be different types, one of which is  very astringent...clearly the ones I have.  I felt like the enamel had been stripped from my teeth.

So I am wondering if anyone has any interesting recipes for these fruit....other than jam?  Please let me know.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Who says living in the country is peaceful?

I'm sitting here trying to browse the internet and I'm suddenly aware that this morning this part of the village seems to be the noisiest place on earth.

I don't just mean the noise from the cows, sheep, chickens and donkeys.  I can live with those..in fact I find them quite comforting.  It's everything else that's going on at the moment.

The washing machine is chugging away...it's on it's last legs so is getting noisier by the day.

Mr A is at the back of the house removing large rocks from the wall and throwing them down into the garden with a huge thud.

The woman who lives down below our house, who has learning disabilities, is being noisier than ever today.  She is always shouting or wailing at the cats or anyone else she takes a dislike to, but today she is excelling herself.  When she starts, my dogs bark at her.  She shouts louder...they bark louder.

Mr A has just shouted at her to be quiet.   She stopped for two minutes and then started up again.  Then her husband started shouting at her.  He is partially deaf so shouts louder than most people.  They are now both shouting at each other...and my neighbour has joined in.    Oh...and wait a minute...another neighbour has arrived to find out what all the shouting is about.

I am about to take myself off to the bedroom and plug in my headphones.

I crave peace and quiet.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Fatalism....

...or putting too much faith in Allah.

How many times have I mentioned the way the Turks put too much faith in Allah?  The way the majority drive like lunatics, believing that if they have an accident, it's not down to bad driving...it's all in the hands of Allah.  The way they don't worry about everyday problems, because they believe they have no control over their own lives.

This isn't an anti-muslim or anti-religious post.  I'm not out to disrespect peoples' faith.  But having read the following article in the New York Times today, it just confirms my belief that the people of this country bury their heads in the sand, and prefer not to take some responsibility for their own destinies:

Recipe for Disaster in Turkey’s Quake Zone
By SUSANNE GÜSTEN



Published: November 2, 2011


Sifting through the rubble of the apartment house in which his sister died, along with her husband, her young son and five other members of her husband’s family, in the earthquake in the town of Ercis last week, a young seismologist recalled his futile warnings about the safety of the building.


.“I told them to have it tested” for earthquake safety, Muhlis Unaldi, a Boston University student of seismology, told the Milliyet newspaper, referring to the four-story apartment building the Nalbantoglu family built a few years ago.


“But they did not have it done,” he said.


Now, he added, he could see from the rubble that the wrong kind of iron bars had been used to reinforce the concrete. When a 7.2-magnitude quake struck on Oct. 23, the building folded in on itself, leaving no survivors among those inside it.


More than 600 people were crushed to death in the quake and more than 2,600 injured. It was only the latest of more than 220 strong earthquakes that have rocked Anatolia over the past century, killing some 100,000 and injuring half a million, according to government figures.


Yet, in their lack of concern about building standards in the house they poured their savings into and entrusted their lives to, the Nalbantoglus were no exception in Turkey.


Two out of three buildings in Turkey are illegally constructed without permits or supervision, according to the national chamber of mechanical engineers.


Of the 18 million buildings in the country, 40 percent are not earthquake-safe, the chamber estimates in a comparatively conservative assessment — some experts guess that share to be as high as 70 or even 90 percent.


Greed and incompetence on the part of builders, as well as corruption and a lack of oversight by authorities, are the usual suspects cited in the public debate that breaks out after every quake, only to fizzle out again without noticeable effect after a few weeks.


Yet, even with builders after killer profit and many municipal authorities on the take, the question remains: Why do Turkish homeowners and tenants put up with it?


A survey conducted by the Anar polling institute found in 2005 that, at 56 percent, more than half of Turks deemed their houses unsafe in an earthquake, while 13 percent had doubts about their home’s resilience. Yet, in the same survey, 81 percent admitted they had never done anything about it.


A study conducted by Erzincan University found that 73 percent of respondents in the province did not know whether their current house was safe or not — despite the fact that most of them had experienced at least one of the Erzincan quakes that killed 650 in 1992 and 33,000 in 1939.


So why do millions of Turkish families, like the Nalbantoglus of Ercis, agree to live in slipshod buildings on top of an earthquake fault line, without calling in so much as a safety inspection?


Poverty and inadequate legislation are frequently pointed to, but some experts believe the problem is a cultural one.


“Fatalism is deeply embedded in the culture of Anatolia,” a sociologist, Yusuf Ozkan Ozburun, said in an interview in Istanbul last week.


“It is a feature of local folk Islam, caused by a false understanding of Islam” under which man has no influence on a world controlled by God alone, Mr. Ozburun said.


His analysis is backed up by an international comparison of religious influences on cultural attitudes conducted by the Sabanci University of Istanbul in 2009.


In it, the political scientists Ersin Kalaycioglu and Ali Carkoglu found that only 28 percent of Turks believe they can influence the course of their lives — the lowest percentage of respondents in 30 countries considered in the study. Catholic countries like Poland and the Philippines scored closest to Turkey in the survey, which included no other predominantly Muslim country. In the United States, by contrast, more than 80 percent believe that man forges his own destiny, and in Japan almost 60 percent agree with that view.

The emerging picture of Turkey is one of “a society in which fatalism and a perception that life is shaped mainly by metaphysical forces are widely shared,” the scientists concluded.


.In a similar vein, an Istanbul University survey of 1,100 survivors living in tent cities after the catastrophic 1999 Marmara quake revealed that more than two-thirds saw the quake as an act of God, fate or destiny, rather than as a natural disaster, with more than half convinced that it was an intentional punishment by God.


Consequently, most Turks rely mainly on prayer for protection against earthquakes and other disasters, as the Sabanci University study found.


“This fatalism, deeply rooted in the collective consciousness, leads to the inertia and inaction we see in Turkish society,” Mr. Ozburun said.


An incurious attitude and an unscientific mind-set are also among the national characteristics engendered in Turkish society by its deep-rooted fatalism, he added, pointing out that the Turkish word for “wonder” or “curiosity” carries a negative connotation and citing a slew of fatalist Turkish proverbs.


“It came like this and it will go like this,” is one of those adages of resignation to fate.


“Citizens do worry about earthquake safety, and rightly so, but they dither between fatalism and negligence,” Tugrul Tankut, a professor of civil engineering at Middle Eastern Technical University, told a symposium on “Turkey’s Earthquake Reality” in Ankara last year.


In addition, a tradition of authoritarian relations between citizens and the state had led Turks to rely too much on the state instead of taking initiative for their own safety, he said.


“No one says ‘My roof is leaking, the state must come and fix it,”’ Mr. Tankut said. “But when it comes to earthquake safety, people sit and wait, saying ‘My house is not quake-safe, the state must come and retrofit it.’


“There’s no difference between the two, yet that’s the way people see it, for whatever reasons.”


Nor can lack of funds, sometimes cited as an explanation for widespread acquiescence in shoddy housing, be a viable reason, the professor said, pointing out that earthquake safety measures add no more than 3 to 5 percent to the cost of construction of a house.


“People are always asking me: ‘Professor, when will buildings be earthquake safe?”’ he told the Ankara symposium. “The answer to that is very simple: This problem will be solved as soon as people are prepared to spend as much money on their safety as they spend on pink bathroom tiles.”


As for the building laws and regulations that are once again under public scrutiny and debate after the Van earthquake, many experts do not think tinkering with them will fix the problem.


Most people were unconcerned even with existing regulations, preferring to trust that God would protect them even as they built shoddy housing in unsuitable areas, Mr. Ozburun, the sociologist, said.

Mr. Tankut, the engineer, takes a similar view. “As long as the mentality remains the same, you can change the rules and the system as much as you like,” he told the Ankara symposium. “But in practice nothing will change at all.”

source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/03/world/middleeast/03iht-M03-TURKEY-QUAKE.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2&smid=fb-share











Best of the Web

I was recently approached by Pocketchange Lifestyle Blog to have my blog mentioned in their Best of the Web feature.  You can see it HERE

I'd never come across this blog before and when I had a look, discovered that it was primarily a shopping blog.  Not something I would normally look for.

However, it appears to be a useful resource, particularly their TIPS CENTRE which some of you might find interesting.

Anyway, apparently they get more than 3,000 visitors a day to their blog, so I was happy to have the opportunity to possibly increase my readership, and pleased that my blog was considered worth featuring.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Men and decisions

I'm sure Mr A is no different to most men as far as making decisions is concerned.

We go through a familiar process.  He suggests something and asks for my opinion.  I disagree and suggest something better.  He disagrees.  We have words.   He then tells me he will do what he wants.  I suggest (not always politely) that it's pointless asking my opinion if he's going to do what he wants anyway.  We have more words.  He then thinks about what he's going to do and eventually does what I have suggested...only he makes out it was his idea all along.

The unfortunate thing about this process is that it often takes days to resolve and for him to finally make a decision.  It's such a waste of time and energy and I am annoyed with myself for not being able to deal with it more efficiently.  Any ideas please?

He finished rebuilding the perimeter wall last week.  He is now working on a wall to replace the fence that was demolished by the tractor that was delivering the sand.  It's looking good.

He also thought it a good idea to replace the chicken wire that sections off the front of the garden with something more permanent.  He asked my opinion three days ago.  He suggested building another wall.  The problem is that we have almost run out of stone and he would have to go up the steep hill at the back of the house to hack out some more.  That in itself will be very hard work and time-consuming, not to mention pretty treacherous trying to get it down the hill.  I suggested that as we still have a lot of wood that he use that to build a fence.  He disagreed.  

He then suggested a metal fence.  I actually agreed that it would look quite good but I thought it would be too expensive.   Of course he disagreed so I had to prove the point by getting him to ring the metal suppliers to ask prices.  It's very cheap...he said.  I asked him to measure up the area to be fenced off and I did some calculations.  It wasn't cheap at all...it was damned expensive.

All these suggestions/disagreements/having words....has taken three days.  

This afternoon he informs me that HE has decided to build a wooden fence.

I give up!