Friday, 30 September 2016
Adorned, prettified, bedecked and on a bike.
Last weekend had me looking frantically for a bicycle pump. My bike had sat unused for at least six months and the tyres were flat - not in a calm, smooth, toneless, low-heeled, unfizzy, unchanging way - in a deflated, airless way. You can see I've been reading the thesaurus again and it's all due to the Süslü women's bicycle ride on Sunday 25th. 'Süslü' is translated as 'chic' in most English language Turkish publications, but it really means adorned or decorated. Someone in a monochrome Chanel suit would be 'chic' but she wouldn't be 'süslü'. Add a pink feather boa, a pair of fairy wings and a couple of balloons and then she would be 'süslü'. I held off writing this blog post because I couldn't think of a good word, but hopefully you get my drift. My bike was more süslü than me but I managed some fake flowers in my hair and a charity shop Christian Lacroix jacket, worthy of an early episode of Ab Fab. And why were we dressing up and riding through the streets of Bodrum? Because 4 years ago, Sema Gür, a teacher in Izmir wanted to encourage women to ride bikes, without having to invest in all the lycra and padded gussets that usually go with the sport.
This year 28 cities and towns staged a 'decorated women's bike ride' and as a non political event it managed to highlight a number of important issues including the right for women to ride a bicycle - a freedom recently withdrawn in Iran. The right to wear what we want, whether it be shorts or a hijab. The demand that bicycles be given safe space to ride, rather than taking our life into our hands every time we take to the road in Turkey and the general appeal to get out of the car and on to two wheels.
Cars were stopped for our ride and we were preceded by a traffic cop on a motor bike so for once we experienced perfect riding conditions. My ride was cut a bit short as I realised that my newly blown up tyres, unlike my enthusiasm, were gradually deflating and I had to push my poor bike the last few hundred metres home.