Monday, 20 February 2012
From Bust to Boom
On a wander around Metro last week I did a quick survey and about a third of the grocery items were either imported or made under licence in Turkey. In 1982, the economic austerity program introduced by the 1980 military government was in full swing. The strict monetarist policy, which included the promotion of exports and a rigorous restriction on imports, resulted in a drop in inflation from 130% to 29% over two years. Turkey forgot about its home market and concentrated on selling everything abroad. Today's supermarket chains were far in the future and shopping was done in the weekly market and small bakkal, (grocers). Bodrum was at the very end of most distribution routes and supplies were erratic. Choice was very limited. One week there would be no tea, the next no sugar. There was never any coffee and acquiring a jar of Nescafe became a quest akin to the search for the Holy Grail. The frequent power cuts necessitated parrafin lamps in each bakkal and gradually the paraffin fumes would infuse the dry goods giving the biscuits an unusual and alarming taste. My nearest bakkal was run by two brothers and I would try out my expanding Turkish vocabulary on them with varying results. After two days confusion over buying bread I consulted my dictionary to find that instead of asking for two loaves (ekmek) I had been trying to purchase two men (erkek).