Monday, 14 September 2015

Wheels


Acclimatising to Turkish village life always takes me a couple of days after a trip abroad. I’m reluctant to get into the car, especially when I’ve just been on a traffic-free island. Driving in Bodrum in the summer is a chore to be avoided but the fridge was bare so a shopping trip was unavoidable and the 32 degrees on the garden thermometer ruled out the bicycle.   The main road to Mumcular has been getting progressively more pot-holed as the thin layer of pre-election promissory tarmac wears away and it may be a coincidence, but as another election approaches, a layer of gravel has been spread over the whole road in anticipation of another meagre spraying of tar.  Gravel is probably a too grand a word for the white crumbly aggregate, which turns to a thick white cloud as each vehicle passes.  This white dust hides small stones that ricochet between passing vehicles. Local wisdom holds that a finger placed on the windscreen will prevent said stones from shattering the glass, thus most drivers are negotiating the friable road surface with only one hand on the wheel and if you consider that using a mobile phone is almost mandatory here when driving , you can imagine why I’m reluctant to get behind the wheel.  On Sunday, I sat at the T-junction leaving our village. In the distance a white mass was billowing towards me at great speed. I decided to sit and wait for it to pass, which it did but maybe my presence caused the driver to consider moderating his speed.  As he sped past me, his previous straight trajectory starting to wobble and in a second the car was imitating a snake crossing our swimming pool (yes, quite often).  If he hadn’t had the misfortune to divert towards the only fenced field, he might have got away with just a load of maize in his bonnet, but the concrete corner post that brought him to an abrupt stop, severely shortened the length of his car.  Amazingly both driver and passenger were already crawling out of the wreck when I arrived and were scratching their heads as to why one minute they’d been speeding along and the next they weren’t. The Turkish news has a phrase for this kind of accident. They say the driver “direksiyon hakimiyetini kaybetti”, i.e “lost control of where they were going’.  You will see this phrase in almost every accident report, as if “losing control” is just something one does on a regular basis and a valid reason for totalling one’s ride. 
I was sad to see that the smashed-up car was a Renault 12, the stalwart of village life. Many a family swapped a few donkeys for a Renault 12 in the 1970s and treat them in a similar way.  Anything can be put in or on them. They are as happy on a paved road as in a field and they need very little money spent on them in maintenance.  Many of the Renault 12s you see around here are a good 30 years old and though they rarely come on the market, they’ll still change hands for several thousand TL.  Where the donkey wins, of course, is that if the driver “loses control”, it can usually make its own way home. 


20 comments:

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    1. Too much reliance on that old chestnut.

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  2. B to B, So this doesn't only happen in Istanbul? (When it happens here, it usually wipes out some pedestrians, too.)

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    1. When 34 plate cars come here, they often drive and park on the sidewalks so I can see why pedestrians are in danger

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  3. Great writing! I'm glad you're ok, and hope that you are keeping a smile on your face. Poor people, although if they were driving on gravel fast they probably had it coming to them... We have potholes in our "road" too (an affectionate term the locals use for what PF and I refer to as our "Paris Dakar"). The local council fill them up with blobs of tarmac every couple of years, and the place ends up looking like it's covered in giant splodges of chewing gum.
    So Turkey went for a French car as the reliable workhorse? Here in the South of France it's a little van called the Citroën C15 - generally driven by a retired local with flat cap and a fag hanging out of the corner of his mouth and a belly flopping over his waistband.

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    1. Yes, we all fell in live with the Renault. Made here under licence.

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  4. No wonder you are wary of driving on the roads, and we think our roads here are bad!

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    1. Both roads and drivers are bad. Double whammy.

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  5. Glad driver and passenger were okay - and perhaps they'd be safer on a donkey! I hate the thin coverings they put on the roads in the streets of Turkey. In Fethiye, we've suddenly got lots of action on our new harbour - a work in progress since 2008. :)

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    1. I used to find that road down to Gemiler really hairy when it was coated in gravel

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  6. On our first trip to Turkey way back in different century, John and I went for a country walk and got horribly lost. As we stood by the dusty road side wandering where to turn, a battered old Renault crammed with a family of three generations pulled up next to us. The driver sensing our predicament offered us a lift using a combination of broken English and rapid won’t-take-no-for-an-answer hand signals. Poor old Grandma was ejected from the front passenger seat and bundled into the back. We climbed into the front with John half perched on my lap with his left buttock jammed hard up against the gear stick. How the family laughed at the silly Brits as our saviour sped us back home. It was just one of those glorious moments that stay in the memory forever. Be careful on these roads, Annie. They can be lethal!

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    1. That you got in shows you were meant to live here.

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  7. direksyon - driving wheel

    not that I don't find 'where they are heading' to the point in a way!

    engin

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    1. Sorry for my sloppy translation, Engin. But you got my drift. Thanks for taking time to comment, I like getting feed back very much.

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  8. I think our Renault 12 survived our ownership intact - I wonder if it is still alive and in one piece on the roads of the peninsula? On BBC News there was another story about a bee-hive-lorry-disaster .... that brings back more memories. Take care out there!

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    1. I bet your Renault is still going strong and I thought if you two when I saw the news.

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  9. Oh, what a nightmare - one of the reasons I don't drive anymore in Turkey - glad no casualties - do take care xx

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  10. Missed your great way with words, B2B - haven't had much time for blogging recently. This is brilliantly described - as usual, with not a word more than is needed. Axxx

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    1. I hope you can find time for at least a few blog post a month Annie. I would miss them if you stopped posting.

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