Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Terrific Happy-Sugarfest Gift !!!

Today is the first day of our Ramadan fest, also known as Sugar/Candy fest. It comes after one month of fasting.

And, today, I got an extraordinary gift via e-mail from my former research group (BDA) in Amsterdam.

Heyyy! Daniel, Maikel, Suzanne, Age!!!!
I like each of you very much!
Thanks a lot for the big surprise! IT was something I will never forget!

The gift-message is:
uggh. DJ Vis even cannot spell my name, but I will ignore it once :D

Just below is the gift:
Yeahh, it is a photo. The portable board in the big office of 7th floor of building C of University of Amsterdam at Nieuwe Achtergracht 166; and a plant..

Then, you zoom into the photo to get what is interesting about it:

It is a Zamioculcas (also known as ZeeZee plant): Gift of Suzanne when she visited my place last year during a Ramadan dinner (iftar). I left it into her office when I left Holland.

Today, in the morning, I asked Daniel if the plants I left there were doing OK. He referred to this plant and wrote to me:
"That larger plant is doing well. I felt she (Suzanne) should care for it better, so I labeled that plant "Fiona II". Apparently, that works, now it is getting sufficient water"

And I got the gift photo in the afternoon: Yeah the ZeeZee plant has that label as Daniel told me; and it looks very OK. Apparently, Daniel's trick seems to work :D, Suzanne takes it as a second daughter..
The Board
Thanks again! I had just e-mailed Daniel today a photo of mine from our swearing-in ceremony where I appear in the military officer clothes. It looks he printed it and posted in the middle of the board. "Mr. T says Hi" wrote on the top..

And then, Maikel, Daniel, Suzanne and Age signed the board ;-)

Well, lots of signatures are missing. They even have a report on this on the right side of the board:

and Thanks God! Thanks for the opportunity to have my post-doc there, with such nice people around!

Facebook vs. Hyves

I was stubborn to not to open an account in Facebook.. I was in "I do not have time for such stuff" mood.

Things changed few weeks ago in military service.. The military-friends (as we refer them traditionally) there were talking about a group they initiated in Facebook special for us. They said they even put some photos. That's why I put an end to my stubbornness (what a word with so many double letters!), and opened an account during a weekend break in the city (Balikesir)..

Now that I am home thanks to the official 1-week holiday in Turkey for Ramadan (sugar) fest, I have time to "play with" my Facebook account.. I have added tens of people from our lieutenant-candidates as my friends, and also some other friends from netherlands, or from my university..

One surprising thing was: none of my dutch friends have facebook account - my search could not find a match to any of their names (the only exception is Tjeerd, who happened to get an account only few weeks ago)..

I discussed this shortly with Tjeerd yesterday: we agree that the real reason behind should be HYVES.NL.

Yes, there is a dutch social network tool: "we use Hyves ( www.hyves.nl ) in the Netherlands as a social-networking tool" as Tjeerd says. I checked the website: it already has about 7.5 million members!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Yet another (temporary) farewell & Where is my home?

Third-Lieutenant Candidates at Packing
Next week is our Sugar (Ramadan) Fest- the fest we have after the fasting month (Ramadan) is over. That is why I have a 9-day-break to my military life!!. It is weird to stay somewhere else after staying in the same place for 45 days with the same people around.

One of my funs in the military service is to have short visits to the other bedrooms on our floor for short chats (There are 12 on our floor, each with 4 people). I was having one of such visits on thursday night when I saw some of us (ı.e. the third-lieutenant candidates) being busy with packing things to get ready for 9-day-leave: : luggages around in the room, some clothes on beds to be put inside; half-ambiguous looks with some happiness signs on faces.

Well, farewells always make me emotional. Packing is an obvious sign of a farewell (albeit a temporary one in this case). I went outside then, and had a sit in the dark in front of the building. "Why do you look so thoughtful?" asked Egemen, sitting accross with Ihsan. "Well" I said "you may find it weird, but witnessing people packing made me a bit sad"; and I got a big laugh from him in return, implying a "the weirdest-feeling-I-ever-heard" comment.

Where is my home?
Of course, all of us are happy to leave the military complex: we will be with our families/ beloved ones, away from the discipline-rich environment of military service. Everybody looked forward to be home: but it was a bit weird and confusing for me.

For sure, I missed to be away from the military life, I missed my family: but I was confused: living in the Netherlands just before my military adventure; I guess I have more missed to be in Amsterdam, at Funenpark 41 in my place, rather than to be at my home in Istanbul. I missed to have dinners with multi-national friends there, to be at BDA group at the university in Amsterdam or at UMC Utrecht and to chat with colleagues/friends there, to walk in train stations, in the city, to get on Bus 11 at Utrecht, or to take tram 26 to/from Rietlandpark in Amsterdam, to have visits to friends in Delft, in the Hauge; to spend some time in Amsterdam parks with water birds around, and all-in-all to cycle..

Poor me: I could not see Fiona :( :(
I guess those feelings explain why I had that dream in the very morning of that night: a dutch-associated dream.

I heard Suzanne saying something, and she was entering into a room on the other side of a corridor. I guess she was changing Fiona's diapers there. I shouted her "How is Fiona?". And made an attempt to see the little baby.

Poor me :(. I then heard the alarm of my watch: It is 06:15 : time to get up, shave and make your bed/ cupboard tidy, and rush for military gathering.

I was really sad for few minutes to miss the opportunity to see little Fiona in my dream :)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Cyclists: Another Source of Happiness

People always asked me in Holland if there was any cyclists in Turkey during the everyday life. "No, never ever" I said. "Only children in summer time, for fun, in front of their houses".

Well, this was valid for Istanbul, and I thought it was the same all over Turkey.

Luckily, It wasn't. But, this, I have realized only when I came to this small city few weeks ago.

I always appreciated the role of bikes in dutch people. I always envied them. That was why I was very happy- as in the case of seeing a magpie- when I saw cyclists in this small western city of Turkey.

It is not like you see only few. You can see a cyclist passing through in every 10 minutes or so (which may sound very rare compared to Holland :) ). They are not children; they are all adults who even sometimes carry some bags with their bikes: exactly dutch (and danish) style! Moreover, It is not unusual to see bikes parked here and there.

Spotting bikes and cyclists in the city centre makes me smiling since:
  • it reminds me of Netherlands; my (Johan's) bike there, my cyclings etc....
  • it makes me proud to see that people here are aware of the advantages of using bikes. I guess it only need some municipality-based official encouragement to make it more common here.

A Magpie: A Source of Happiness

I have hardly been in any other turkish city other than Istanbul. And, Istanbul is quite poor in terms of bird 'content'. We only have sparrows, pigeons, crows, and pinkish pigeons, whose english name being laughing dove (Streptopelia senegalensis) -as I have just learned via googling-.

It was the beginning of this week. Morning. I guess I was busy with making my bed/my cupboard/ my desk tidy as you can get strange punishments in the military service otherwise (eg. Your 9 AM- 6 PM weekend breaks are cancelled if they have any trace of untidyness)

I, without any reason, looked at outside at one time. It was there. It was real. It was exactly the same as the ones in Denmark and Netherlands. It was walking there.

Alas, I was alone in our 4-person bedroom, and I did not hear any humanly voice at our floor (probably everybody was already at the breakfast). So, very unfortunate that I could not share my happiness with anybody else :(

It was a magpie. Yes, exactly the same as the ones I tried to photograph in Amsterdam; the exact replica of the ones I saw everyday multiple times in my dutch life. The black-and-white bird from the crow family.

I never imagined to come across a magpie here in the small turkish city, Balikesir. I had seen them during my Denmark stage for the first time. I had realized their similarity to crows, and thought "they must be danish version of crows" , and stopped thinking about them.

In the Netherlands, however, I had an increasing interest to all those birds in nature. It was Maikel who taught me the name of this bird and the other birds from the crow family (jackdaw etc). Seeing a magpie here was like building a path to our chats with Maikel on birds, a path to my very nice moments in the Netherlands, a path to dutch life, dutch weather (especially if the weather is always 30-35-40 degrees here without any rain all month), a path to all dutchy stuff. It was like all the holland was squeezed in the form of a magpie in the front side of our building here..

I found the following magpie (pica pica as Maikel calls it) photograph on the internet. I wish I could photograph the one I saw. But, this is more than impossible as it is not allowed to have a camera within the military complex.

the other stuff

So, my military service is going well; the difficult part is over (training on the field). It is really very nice to meet many more people. Actually, the most attractive part for my for my dutch stage was to have the opportunity to meet new people there. I like meeting new people, new worlds.

I had a quick look to the A Touch of Dutch, Kelly's blog, Tjeerd and Nina's blogs to feel the dutch atmosphere here. I just very much wonder if the people who follow this blog are doing OK, how their life is going etc.

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