Turkish Delight

21:20 Monday July 2nd 2018

A middle aged man isn't supposed to cry uncontrollably for an hour. At least, not because he misses his mother. At least, not if it's only been a week since he last saw her. At least, not if it's 24 hours since her last email.

And he's certainly not supposed to do it in front of young children. Not when he's supposed to be an authority figure of some kind.

I should probably explain.

I'm in Turkey - again. Food good, scenery scenic, locals friendly if more than a touch parochial, mod cons minimal but comfortable, internet access close to non-existant.

Okay, I should probably explain a bit more.

Seven days ago, my friend and sometime employer Jamal contacted my by WhatsApp, saying that job offer he'd made six months ago, involving me teaching English to his various offspring by his two wives, while they were on an extended vacation in Iskanderon, a rural part of Turkey where wife number two lives, while simultaneously attempting to set up a longer term job doing the same kind of teaching to locals...

...yeah, that offer. Well it was all happening right now so could I leave on a jet plane the following day - at 07:10 hours from the unpleasantly unreachable Standsted airport, after 2+ hours on a coach and a sleepless night of panicked packing. On a airline that couldn't handle hold luggage, just a rucksack of essentials.

Well, we compromised. In the form of two airlines that <i>did</i> allow emigration-size luggage, on wednesday. From the easily reachable Gatwick airport. Just so long as I didn't mind (1) checking out the luggage at the connecting Izmir airport, only to check it back in again with a different airline at the same airport. And (2) a 14 hour stopover before the latter.

At Gatwick, you are permitted to carry up to 100ml of water (one fifth of a small plastic bottle) through security, just in case the water turns out to be a bomb. So once you've disposed of your bottles of water in the handy recepticles provided, you can buy identical (but more expensive) bottles of water in the waiting area.

Some airlines try to sell you stuff in flight - usually food and drink. Thomas Cook airlines try to sell you food and drink, and devices on which to watch movies and TV shows and incredibly boring documentaries...and then the media product itself. And their own brand of lottery tickets. And other things, all through the damn 2.5 hour flight.

They do this to families who've brought their own tablet devices, loaded with their own movies. Some of who inexplicably pay to dollar - well, top sterling - to watch episodes of Spongebob Squarepants and The Big Bang Theory on greatly inferior, airline rented devices.

So, at Izmir airport, I spent the first 15 of my 500 Turkish Lire (or is it Lira?) on a quite excellent toasted cheese sandwich at an open air cafe...and settled down with my 16.7kg hold luggage (of an absolute maximum permitted 15kg), and my 7kg hand luggage (of an absolute maximum permitter 5kg).

Ever slept on airport seating? I can attest that it's certainly possible. Just not for more than 10 minutes at a time. Now, I have quite a large collection of audiobooks, many of them classics that I'm always intending to listen to one day. Including Joseph Conrad's <i>Heart of Darkness</i>, which took up a good five hours - at double tempo.

It's about the bureaucratic insanity that comes with maintaining a colonial empire. And it's about the search for the mysterious "Kurtz", the kind of whackjob who can become hyper-charismatic to the subjects of such an empire. Really, it's a series of character sketches connected by a loose plot. It's worth the effort, just for them.

And so, onto the provincial airport of Hatay province, where I'm met, fed, and shown gratefully to bed by my host.

And a week later I suddenly can't stop crying. For a solid hour. Then suddenly I'm alright again, but those blog posts I've been putting off writing - I really feel the need to start writing them.

Maybe more on the last week later. There's no way I can post these as I'm writing - it's a rural area with almost no net infrastructure. There's electricity by pylons, and windfarms, and decent housing. But we are halfway up a mountain, and apparently there's wild pigs roaming around.

One thing: It happened as I was writing an email to my mother. One I didn't know when I'd be able to send. And I suddenly realised how much I missed her. Even though it's only been a week, and there's been SMS messages and a few emails.

I don't know. But someone once said most thinking is done by talking. This is my version of talking. So this is my version of figuring it out.