I am tempted to explore that in print after having visited a belediye [local authority] office this morning and having gone on to buy something at the sprawling sanayi [industrial estate] on the outskirts of town. The belediye building requiring our presence was a new building of grand concept, adequate building quality and typical manning. The first thing we noticed was the unmanned reception desk with its layer of telling dust, then we saw that the walls were hung with a collection of very interesting old photographs of the town and its surroundings. Also on display was a series of poorly framed appalling landscape paintings which may have also been intended to depict the town and its environs but with a little imagination may have been fair abstract representations of a town in almost any country on this planet or possibly another nearby. The office at which we had to do a little business had only one lady dealing with the public and she was very pleasant, though quite what she did on the computer for 20 minutes to undertake what must surely have only demanded typing in our names against an address remains a mystery; perhaps she was logged onto Facebook. Can you detect a little love/hate already?
Down to the sanayi. We were to buy a new car battery, so driving into the grid of narrow roads was essential. Had we been buying a screwdriver I would certainly have parked somewhere on the periphery and walked to the appropriate shop. Both Frau and myself love the sanayi for its many cupboard-sized workshops in which oily men and boys make lots of noise and in doing so perform small miracles of engineering. It is true that once in a while we have been disappointed but by and large we have been delighted with the service we have had there and have always found the workers of whatever age a delight.
It is true that I was frustrated the first few visits when I had prepared perfect scale drawings of the piece of machinery or furniture that we needed and, upon handing it to the usta [master craftsman], had to wait for five minutes or so while he frowned at it and turned it every which-way looking to make (Turkish) sense of the foreigner’s mad scribbling. The usta would invariably turn the drawing through a full 360 degrees in four separate moves and then flip over to the blank backside of the paper hoping, I suppose, for enlightenment. Then he would ask the simple question “What is it?” I would reply, via Die Frau, with a sentence such as, “It is the tremie bypass grommet for the lawnmower,” (or whatever) and follow that with an energetic mime of the machine in use, accompanied by some truly excellent sound effects and suddenly his face would light up in recognition and he would turn back to the drawing and immediately understand it perfectly.
Small jobs would be undertaken while we waited, drinking tea ordered from one of the nearby çay-wallahs but on some occasions, given an hour or so to wait, we would eat at one of the small lokantas squeezed in between the workshops. The service therein was never less than one might expect at the best restaurants in town and the food was simple but good. I did not say excellent, I said good. Oh, and cool, the better for the busy workers to eat quickly, very cool.
The noise inside the maze of narrow roads of the sanayi is horrific, especially when I am there. Whichever workshop we visit has a moped workshop next door in which an oily youth would be diagnosing a problem, or his cure of it, by winding the machine up to full revs without its exhaust. I think at least half of the mopeds leave with perfectly happy owners but without their exhausts.
Working at the sanayi
At the other side of our workshop will be somebody venting his frustration on a sheet of steel or some body part of a very large vehicle. If the beating doesn’t achieve the required results the piece in question may be subject to torture by any of a variety of screeching cutting or drilling machines.
The sanayi is also very dirty but that worries neither of us; it is not a place for dandies. I mentioned that the roads form a grid and are narrow. They are all narrower than the average roads of the town, and there is no indication as to which roads might have priority at the intersections. Given that and the tendency for most of the car repair workshops to be in the narrowest of the roads, driving in the sanayi is a nightmare.
To whom does an usta turn when it comes to test driving a car or scooter either before or after treatment? Of course the job goes to the young lad who is of least use in the workshop. A child fresh out of school, legally or otherwise, who learnt to drive or ride by watching his brother, probably an older brother but not necessarily. Off he goes, intent on displaying his manhood in terms of the noise he can generate and the speed he can achieve. In those congested roads heaven help the hapless immigrant from Europe who dares to venture therein with his timid manners and soppy concept of road safety. Driving anywhere in town is bad enough, but I truly hate driving in the sanayi.
We have often thought about taking tour groups around the sanayi. I am serious, I think most tourists who want to see more of the country than its beaches and bars would be enthralled by such a tour. They would see cars being rebuilt which in Europe would go straight to a scrap yard, see impossible loads being transported on scooters by those lads I described, hear the cacophony and see the chaos. I am very sure too that they would be welcomed by cheery waves just as much as in the villages up-country.
Here’s a bet, though. Were we to undertake such a tour I am positive that the local authorities would very soon put a stop to it. Believe me, I have experienced this before when writing articles; the local authorities do not want tourists to see, or hear about, the “underbelly” of the town or of Turkey. Tourists are to see the flowerbeds and palm trees of the town, the pretty boats on the waterfront and of course the beaches and the bars.
Yes, love/hate relationships are aplenty in Turkey but in my opinion that is a positive thing, comparable to our taste for the sugar-and-spice or sweet-and-sour of some foods. I’ll continue to eat my pork with apple sauce and spread Danish Blue on fruitcake, and no doubt we’ll continue to visit the belediye offices and the sanayi whenever necessary, though always with a certain amount of trepidation.