Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Turkish Differences

There are many differences between Turkey and Canada and most of them are obvious. We anticipated some and some came as a surprise. Over the past few days I have had a growing awareness of how differently the Turks approach health and safety. It is similar to our enlightenment in Greece during driving; a curious mix of delighted amazement and horrified terror. I find myself wondering now, however, if we are perhaps just a wee bit too sanitized, regulated and rule oriented in Canada. Here are some examples:

While on our hike to Kayakoy the other day, we descended a rather steep cliff with glorious views. On the way down, the trail was at best, faintly delineated and more accurately precarious. The picture of Julia demonstrates the beautiful views but may I bring your attention to the fact there is no railing, no stairs and rather loose gravel by way of a track. If this was a park trail in Canada, there would be railings, signs, carefully constructed stairs and even then when some yahoo climbed over and slipped to their death, it would cause a grand inquiry.

While eating at a restaurant in the market the other day, we sat near the dishwasher. The picture shows his back as he hand washes the dishes. The water is coming from the plastic jug hidden by his body; a jug not unlike the ones we take camping. You know the kind, the ones that can deflate to a flattish state making them easy to pack? The jug is placed suspiciously near the river, leading me to believe the source of water may have been the river. This also leads me to believe the temperature of said water was perhaps room, which while it was quite hot that day could not possibly meet Canadian health codes.

My third example happened while I was at the waterpark in Selcuk. I was sitting on a lounger beneath an awning. It was the end of the day and two men were working at dismantling the awning. I was reading the end of a rather good novel so was oblivious to them for the first part of their mission. Finally, I became aware that one of the men was standing directly overtop of me some ten feet above, balancing on the awning frame and trying without success to loosen the canvas. When I noticed, I immediately stood up and began to move the lounger from beneath him. It was a murder novel, after all. Both men instantly insisted I could stay put, smiling broadly and indicating there was nothing to worry about. I reclined back onto the lounger in time to see the man on the ground inserting a large kitchen knife (point in, of course) into a long piece of plastic pvc tubing. Only the point could really fit so most of the knife was visible. At about this moment, the climax of my murder mystery ceased engaging my interest. Whatever could he be doing? As I watched, wide eyed, the man began to raise the pvc pipe up and it became apparent to me that the kitchen knife was headed to the gentleman standing directly overtop of me. I moved. There are so many things wrong with this one, I don’t know where WCB would even begin.

I am not making this stuff up, people. Today the jeep we were on picked up a pedestrian who hung onto the outside while we drove along the Cliffside roads. Yesterday, the bus (van) drove with its side door open while two passengers were standing in the doorway. They were hanging on, of course. It is frighteningly different, yet somehow I can’t help but be impressed that it all works. Everyone is responsible for themselves. You bear the consequences of your own behaviour. Again I wonder, are we too restricted by our own safety rules in Canada? Have we lot our sense of personal responsibility for our own safety?


Steve said...

Holly, interesting observations. There may be small differences between personal responsibility and personal safety though! While it is amazing to see it all in action, I imagine the half dozen people who are crushed underneath the bus every year in Turkey don't make head lines and are considered the price of of "progress".

It is nice to be able to enjoy these differences. There is likely a better balance somewhere between the two countries which would be better all around.

maryanncart said...

Loved reading your comments about Turkey...shortly before I found this, a woman from Turkey (Istanbul) was sitting on our couch! She is a post doc working at Childrens in the neuropsych lab. Lives on King Edward, as 3400 block! Studied architecture, too!! Have to have her over again! She has been here five years, wealthy family, came to Boston at age 15 NO ACCENT! I would be interested in her comments about your observations...ok if I show her? Wonderful picture of Julia...Love Mom

Mynnette said...

Holly- have you been in a vehicle( driven by Tom or bus-taxi driver) which speeds along the road oblivious to small children playing there?Interesting observations- sanitary and safety. Have you had Greek Tomatoes yet? Best I ever ate.Hugs to all- MSW