Despite the subject of my last post, I like to keep BacktoBodrum upbeat and positive. There are plenty of disquieting stories in the press about this country I have chosen to call home, but to me that is all they are - articles in the news, I have little or no experience of what they document. My life here in Bodrum bumbles along pleasantly; book clubs, writing group, Greek lessons, archaeological and literary lectures, lunches and coffee with friends, knitting, cooking and dog walking. You get the idea - so what happened to me last week is rather strange. I wasn't going to write about it - in fact for 3 or 4 days I began to think it hadn't happened and I'd either dreamt or imagined it. Jake and I set out for our mid-morning walk, later than usual because the weather wasn't very inviting. We'd only gone about 200 meters when my eyes started to water. They often do this in the wind so for a milli-second I didn't think anything of it but then my lungs started burning and I could hardly see. I'd noticed a puff of smoke billowing from the football pitch and scenarios starting whizzing through my mind. I was convinced I was breathing in tear gas but there was no noise, no crowds of demonstrators to be subdued. I took a few steps forward but realised I wasn't going to be able to breath so turned on my heal and ran home. Strangely the dog was unaffected and didn't take kindly to having his walk cut short and resisted all the way. The street was empty so no one witnessed this crying, choking, middle-aged woman dragging an angry dog up the street. A surprised husband wondered why I'd returned so quickly but my explanation wasn't given much credence. This was Bodrum on a Thursday morning after all. My throat was sore for several days and despite all my herbal remedies I couldn't shift it or the annoying cough that came with it. I searched the local press to see if there had been a silent demonstration but couldn't find any news. On Monday evening I mentioned it to Chris, fount of all knowledge, owner of The Bodrum Echo and she had the answer. The police had been practicing! On Tuesday morning's walk I noticed a police van at the football pitch and looking in, saw rows of body armour lined up. A good opportunity to find out what they were up to and point out that they were guilty of poisoning an innocent dog walker. They admitted that they'd been practicing with pepper gas and that the wind had unexpectedly blown it further than expected but they were so apologetic that I had to smile rather than be annoyed with them. I even got three "sorry"s in English. When I told my daughter, she could only laugh that the only time in my life I've been pepper gassed, is when I'm walking the dog in a deserted street. I could make light of this whole experience but when put in the context of incipient "homeland security" laws, it has left a very bitter taste to go with the sore throat.
|I'm not sure what photo is a suitable accompaniment to being gassed but |
this is how my throat felt.