Friday, August 26, 2005


Dear Colleagues,

Please do remember that Cappuccino is consumed early morning in Italy. If you drink Cappuccino in the afternoon, for sure that you are not Italian. Cappuccino is a type of coffee made with boiled milk, full of sugar, and creme, and cacao added at the end. It is for early morning energy for business people who cannot make breakfast. In the afternoon, it is expresso time.

In the evening, choose a dense dry red Chianti wine, then Grappa, and finally expresso with no sugar. Expresso, dark and heavy, similar to Turkish coffee but without foam, sand and sugar.

I didn't tell you my story last week in Roma. Did I? No. OK, then.

I had a very important meeting that morning with an important Italian engineering partner. There is important renewable tender in Turkey as requested by an important business group, and we should have a reputable experienced engineering partner to work together. We shall tell them how big, how reputable, how competitive partner we are. They will tell themselves likewise. We shall market the project. The first meeting, the first impression is very important. I am staying in Hotel Mediterrano, close to Centrale Statione- Central Train Station. That morning I woke up very early. Shower, toilette, careful shaving. Dark black business suit, white clean pressed shirt, red necktie, black stockings, black belt, black polished shoes. Small hand bag for documents. All done.

I left my room for breakfast. I must have a good heavy breakfast- telling to myself. I took the elevator, from 4th floor to down breakfast lounge. The Italian waitress working in the breakfast lounge smiled and said "Bon Giorno", - Good Morning. I said "Bon Corno". She gave me "Courrierra Sera" newspaper. Popular Italian newspaper. I got it and said "Gracia Mille"- Thank you very much. She asked "Cappuccino?", I said "Si"- Yes. I was proud of my excellent Italian. I chose some breakfast items and sat down to the table at the middle of the breakfast lounge.

I was at the centre table. I had a short look at my surrounding. All Japanese. Let me correct myself, all Japanese girls. All Japanese young beautiful girls. If you are with Japanese in a restaurant, in a hotel, or in any place, that means that you have the best buy for your money. "I have the best hotel choice, for sure" I said to myself, and continued to review my newspaper Courriere Della Sera, trying to understand the headlines.

However why all these beautiful young Japanese girls are smiling to me?? It is not so common that Japanese smile at you. Even worse if young beautiful Japanese girls are smiling at you. Watch out! Be careful! Something is wrong.

I noticed that they all had a badge on their chest, "Io parlare Italiano"- I learn Italian. They are students or members of an Italian learning class. They are here in Roma for making Italian language practice. They are all looking for an Italian to speak Italian to practise. However that morning, in the hotel breakfast lounge, I am the only available one to make Italian language practise.

Beautiful Japanese girls and me with dark black business suit, drinking Cappuccino at the appropriate time frame, reading an Italian newspaper. An Italian businessman for sure. I felt an extraordinary natural charisma upon myself, not matching in any other time. I was trying to estimate what my school friends would do in this very important moment. They would certainly forget the business meeting, and dedicate themselves to the Japanese girls to teach them Italian.

I finished my breakfast. All beautiful young Japanese girls were still smiling to me. I stood up and headed for the elevator. While waiting for the elevator to come, one beautiful young Japanese girl caught me at the elevator door. We entered the elevator together. She asked "Quella piano?"- Which floor? What was number "four" in Italian? I showed my four fingers. She understood my Italian, smiled and pushed the 4th floor button. Then she started speaking in Italian in a very fast pace. She said what a wonderful adventure to be in Italy. City of Roma was beautiful. They saw Vatican yesterday. Italian people were so kind and helpful contrary to the popular belief. I was saying "Si" -yes! , from time to time.

Then we reached 4th floor. I left the elevator. She stayed inside and said "Bon Journo" Good day. She went down to the breakfast lounge so happy, for making Italian practise with an Italian businessman that early morning.

Then what happened. I swear that nothing had happened. I went to the scheduled business meeting that morning for a potential renewable project somewhere in Turkey. I had three hour meeting with Italian engineers all dressed like me. I exchanged business cards with theirs. Lots af talk on renewables.

Later in the week, we have received some inside information from the Turkish end client. In the past they had an unfortunate experience with an Italian company who promised to generate certain amout of steam but never reached that figure, left the site and informally blacklisted. Client informally has blacklisted not only that company but all Italian companies. This is why Italian companies are so careful and sensitive in their contractual commitments.

I had also the clear impression of the power of the people in the meeting. They could not buy me a business lunch even in their company canteen. I returned to the city centre and had a humble pasta with" aqua minerale"- mineral water.

Instead of that wasted time in the morning, I couldn't think of myself, walking / wandering around with Japanesese girls in Roma, in casual dress, that morning, visiting Vatican, Sistine Chapel, Spanish Stairs, Colleseum etc.

At night, hotel lobby was crowded with many handsome young Italian men, and Japanese girls were more than happy to make practise in Italian language. Anyhow what is wrong for helping young beautiful Japanese girls to make some early morning language practise in Italian?

Your comments are always welcome

Haluk Direskeneli, Ankara based Energy Analyst

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Seminar on CE Marking

For at least more than a month, I am a part of seminars prepared by a project in Ankara which is funded by the European Union.

I joined to their early "Training of the Trainees" program, then I am invited to their Istanbul seminars on two consecutive weeks on Construction Materials as local consultant/ interpreter / assistant/ moderator, you name it. In Ankara I was just a simple participant this week, on Lifts to EU norms.

It is a great opportunity to participate to these seminars since I learn a lot. These are good opportunities to meet local business people as well as highly experienced foreign consultants.

Whether we shall be able to participate into European Union within next 10-20 or even 50 years, I don't care a bit. I am not a politician. All I care is to sell our products to member countries of European Union.

In order to sell our products to the member states of EU, we need to have CE marking certified by Notified Body of the European Union.

Since we are not a member, so we do not have any notified body in Turkey. So that means we need to find a proper notified body in EU member countries with reasonable prices for certification of our products to CE marking. That is the most critical point.

So we understand that this is the rule of the game.

GMEI in The White House

The White House in Ankara is a special restaurant for the academicians of Hacettepe University in their Beytepe Campus. GMEI is the ODTU Alumni Commission on The "Greater Middle East Initiative" working group to create thoughts on The Initiative from Turkish National point of view. It is a think tank to create thoughts on the Greater Middle East Initiative from Turkish point of view.

Members are senior graduates of the Middle east Technical University, each from a different department.

We had our meeting yesterday night in the White House of Ankara, 10 individuals all special in their professional activities. We had dinner menu, white Angora then an Italian red dry sek, coffee, and lots of talks. One of our senior members has participated to the special Loussanne meeting last week. We listened to his interpretation of the event. We had toasts.

We had our job distribution for the book we are preparing on GMEI. Later in the night we shared our experiences on various issues. We had some tentative travels together to foreign lands sometime in Sacrifice Holiday, maybe to Frinze, Italy.

It was an extraordinary night for each of us, although moonless but with hot summer breeze, and beautiful Ankara view. We wished to repeat more often.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Why write??

Yes why do I write?? Initially it was for my own files. After 30 years of professional business life, I had a habit to write every single issue to record, to track every single item for business purpose in future activities.

Then I was exhausted for making others getting richer and richer, in exchange of a slightly higher salary of average, in order to support wife and 2 kids in education. For 30 years, I worked almost non-stop.

One day, I decided not to work for others any more. I stopped everything. I refused all job offers. In negotiation if you can easily leave the negotiation table you can earn more. Indeed I am very good in my business profession, marketing industrial and utility size thermal power plants.

During last 10 years I used many softwares which were not used in my environment earlier. So that software capability gave me a certain competitive edge. Then I continued to support these softwares as their local marketing consultant. I have a shared office in the downtown, where I share office expenses with a close friend of mine. Hence I earn money.

My sweetheart of last 30 years has her own obligations, other social activities, as well as sharing some reasonable time with me. Kids can take care of themselves.

Compared to my school friends who are mostly illiterate in internet, I am still in good shape in my marketing skills.

I do want to spend my time for my own expectations. I do want to walk in the woods every moring for two hours. I want to spend more time with my loved ones. I do want to spend my time in reading books of my choice, to listen to more classical music, more opera. I do want to share my experince with the younger generations, driving long hours to present a software workshop in a university free-of-charge.

I do want to spend time with my colleagues with shared same future expectations, for better life style of next generations.

Last 3-days I explored a new world. That is new network of cooks, home made cooks, business people, intellectual, sensitive, educated people of all sorts. Initially I made this blogger page for my own purpose to load my records for future use, and for the next generations to read. However while checking the other similar pages, I found a number of similar pages, all connected to each other.

Strange, these people they know each other. This is more than a email group, this is spontaneous. This is something different, different that any other formation in the past in web sites. They are openminded, they explain their feelings, they advise their accomplishments. I started to read these pages and write reviews.

It is so strange that I found so common understandings, common feelings. Some of these writers are very competant in cooking, home made cooking. I learnt a lot.

Am I a good cook? No, frankly speaking no. However I understand if a meal is good or not-so-good. I know some principles. I love good wine, red, dry sek preferable.

I am so surprised to learn that most of these people are so helpful in sharing their experiences, so capable of doing many things at the same time.

Why I write in English. It is my main intention to go global. I do not want to be a local, distant, remote part of the world, but I do want to be at the center of my own world, to respond to all globally.

I am grateful to all my colleagues who read my blogger and write their comments. Please do write your further comments at all times, and do let me know if you have any questions, or in need of any information assistance.

An Italian Restaurant

Have you ever been to an Italian Restaurant? You did. Let me ask you the question once more? Have you ever been to an excellent Italian Restaurant in Germany? You didn't. Ok then. Here is my story I hope that you will find interesting.

We had an appointment with a reputable big German contractor company. They were big, big, very big company in the long past, but due to inability they could not meet with new world order, they were supposed to get smaller at this time. We had partners whom worked in the same company in the past as site constructors, then decided to leave the company and started to work as subcontractors for the same big company at site activities.

Meeting was at 10 o'clock in the morning. We got train, fast efficient European train from Vienna, to Stuttgard one day earlier, spend that night in Hotel Ibis in downtown Stuttgard. Our colleagues came to breakfast. We had our strong breakfast as usual, in Hotel Ibis together with our local partners. Our local partners were from rural east Turkey, however they were born and educated in the efficient German system. Although it is apparent that they are not German, but they were more German than anyone on the street, fluent German language, a reputable engineering degree from German high education system.

We arrived to the offices in Heidelberg. That big big company was in one floor. Other floors were rented to new technologies. We were invited to a small office. Gentlemen who accepted us to meet in his office could not speak English. His superior joined us. He could not speak English either. Neither his staff. Our local partners could speak, but no way. You could never make business if you can not speak the same language. It is English, French, Russian, Swahili, whatever, but you should speak the same language direct and without assistance of any interpreter.

We concluded our meeting with no result. Either they will learn English, or we should make more practises in German. I can speak German, but that is only survival German. I have a few survival words and expressions in German, to ask road, to make shopping, to answer customs officers, to reserve a room in a hotel.

Since our meeting has ended with some sour feelings, they could not invite us to their company canteen for short and obviously cheap lunch. Anyhow that is also an indication of their purchasing power in the company.

We left the company head office. We were in Neustadt, wine country of Germany. It was about 14 hours in the afternoon. You may know or you may not know, restaurants are closed in Germany between 14 and 17 hours.

Our colleagues said, "Let us go to an Italian restaurant. They know us. They serve us now even at this inconvenient time". So we went to city centre, Altstadt, and walked down to the restaurant. It was " Italienishe Restaurant, AMBIENTE" with pizza, pasta, steak, and salad, all with Italian wine. We entered the restaurant. We were saluted with "Bon Journo" together with smiling faces. We were invited to a long table. All waiters were available for us. No one else in the restaurant. A stiff, strong Italian environment all around. Italian pictures, Roma Colosseum, Florence Ufficci, Milano Doumo, a low volume Italian opera at the background, LaBohema by Puccini. We got menus. All items were in Italian language.

We chose pasta to start, then salad, then an Italian steak. We chose dry, dense, dark red, Chianti classico wine, and then Grappa liquor. Then expresso with no sugar. We had wonderful Italian lunch. I said "Gracia Mille"- thank you, and they were responding "Prego" -you're welcome.

We were very happy with lunch, hospitality and environment. We ended our lunch. Thanked in Italian again to the owner of the restaurant, and we were about to leave.

Owner of the restaurant leaned on my ear and asked in stiff eastern local dialect of Turkish,

"Sir where do you come from?"

He is son of an immigrant from the east end of Asia Minor, born and raised in Germany, started as an apprentice in this restaurant in early 1970s, worked for the original Italian owner for last 30 years. When Italian owner decided to go home at retirement age, he received the ownership of the restaurant since then. That is the best Italian restaurant in the city. Ambiente im Herzstuk von Neustadt, Germany.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Fathers & Sons

Father, it is me, Haluk

Good morning, son. Good to hear you.

Did I wake you up? So early?

No I was not sleeping, I cannot sleep properly these days, and I was awake all night, reading,
Also it is not early. It is half past seven. How are you? Where are you?

I am in the office Pa.

Why so early, what’s up?

Nothing Pa, I have work to do, you know the latest project I have,
I am the new project manager, and everything is in mess.
I have to fix everthing and speed up the project.
I couldn’t stay at home.

No, No, what is up son? You’re hiding something,
Common say something, what is up?
You’re crying? Or you’re angry? Something wrong, in your voice? What is up?

I am not crying Pa, but I am angry,
Yeah, let me tell you what is up.
I have a friend, for 40 years, since my high school days.
We were in the same high school.
He has a very pretty young daughter.
Maybe a perfect match for your grandson,
She got her engineering degree last week.
I thought that, maybe, myself, my friend, our wives, she, him, we come together,
In a dinner maybe,
in our University Alumni club,
in its open-space restaurant
in the green grass garden,
sometime late in the night,
something simple to eat,
something to drink, white wine, then red wine,
we speak among ourselves,
they speak, her daughter, my son,
maybe something could happen later,

No need to be unhappy son, don’t worry, calm down, speak up, tell me what happened later,

All I want is his happiness, Pa, nothing but his happiness, that was a good match, she had no attachments, she was very pretty, she has a good degree, just a good match Pa, I wanted his happiness,

That is good son, certainly you want his happiness,

I reserved a table for six, yesterday night, I called my friend, I asked to bring his wife and his daughter, to celebrate her university degree,

We were in the restaurant at 0800 PM Pa, they came,
him- my friend, his wife and his daughter, pretty young girl Pa,

Your grandson didn’t come to dinner, Pa.
My son came late at home,
he said he was tried at his job,
I told him to join us for the night, just for a few hours, to be in our table, to be with us, to speak with the pretty young girl, just a few hours, no attachments, no commitment,
he has no attachment, she has no attachment,
and he didn’t come, he stayed at home,
I called him twice, why Pa,
he didn’t come, he preferred too stay at home, watch TV instead, why Pa,
All I wanted was his happiness, am I wrong Pa, what is wrong with me, Pa?

Don’t worry son, there is nothing to be unhappy, nothing so important, water passes in its own channel, time will settle down and erase everything, and you do your best my son.

I felt embarrassed Pa, he didn’t come, I felt lonely, I felt ashamed, I felt hopeless, and I am terribly sorry Pa, why does he behave like that? Is this because of me? What did I do wrong Pa? He feels satisfied when I am unhappy. He has a certain satisfaction when he makes me unhappy, why Pa. I spent all my life for him Pa. Why did he do like that?

Son, that is it, don’t worry, learn not to worry what your son does to you. He is a grown up man. He is 26. He is a professional engineer. He has a good job. He has his own problems with his own work. He knows what he does. Don’t worry. Don’t take it for yourself. Live your life. You did what you feel appropriate. If that does not work. Leave as it is. You can’t help if it is beyond your control.

But Pa, he goes after other girls, buying flowers, spending many hours with them, why not with this girl, why Pa?

I wish I know son, leave it as it is. Don’t worry.
You did what you had to do. That is all.
He will find what is right, what is wrong by himself
You cannot help him, leave him alone,
Your perfect match may not be his perfect match,
you did all you can, that is all,
When will you be coming? I missed you. Come sometime, we drink some, speak some, walk some. I have a very good selection wine, dry, red, I am sure that you will like it,

I will come soon Pa, as soon as I clear up my desk here, I will.
I promise to come the week after next week.
We walk together, and talk Pa, I promise I will come soon.

No need to worry, Son. That is life.
Yes, Pa, no need to worry.

Ankara, based on a true story.

Lady in Athens

I loved him very much,
we met in school.
We spent warm afternoons at the Acropolis,
where love found us.

We graduated together,
he from engineering
I from architecture.

We got married.
He worked in a plant,
and I worked at home, as homemaker.
We had a cute, beautiful baby daughter
and a reasonably happy life,
A car, a house, summer holidays.

Then he changed --
high profile job, more money, more power,
pretty young women all around,
women with no career
good time, fun time, any time ladies.
He had an affair,
hurt, but I did not take it seriously,
until one day he said "divorce!"
He said, "we forgot that we were married!"
He said, "we were good friends, but not lovers!"

I hated him
I hated he would leave me
I asked our daughter should stay with me, he accepted
I asked him to send me to a tour in Europe, he accepted
I asked him to wait until I got my driving licence, he accepted
I wanted him to wait until I find a job, he accepted,

I went to Europe,
I got my driving license,
I got a job as an architect,
then one day he left.

He packed his luggage,
as if for a regular business trip -- late in the night
This time I did not stop him.
He had an accident that night,
I did not go to his funeral,
I cried but would not let anyone else to cry.

Now, after 17 years,
hard work was my therapy,
I learned how to live alone,
Dealing with clients, worse than husbands,

I still miss him.
Our daughter now has her own life,
I am alone in my house,
with a company office,
big orders, big projects, big success, big money.

I paint, sculpture, seek time consuming activities.
I am in therapy, hoping for some peace of mind,
after 17 years,
I still ask myself, what should I do?
Should I try to stop him?
Should I beg him not to leave me?

Here in the last row of the tour coach late at night,
on the way to Athens
with all my university friends,
they are with husbands,
husbands of all sorts,
drunk, sober, successful, incompetent, funny, serious, exhausted
never mind good or bad.

I am alone with no one to love or hug,
I have money to spend in Athens,
to buy almost everything, every silly item, in Kolonaki.
drink and sing all night, in Plaka.

But no courage to go to Acropolis.
I wish to be in this Plaka tavern,
drinking white Macedonian dry sek wine,
sing the same song in two different languages,

"good to talk to you."
"thank you that I look like Elizabeth Taylor in 1960s."
"thank you that you say I am still beautiful at my age."

We had no divorce,
still I keep our common surname,
never thought to change,

where are you my love?
why did you leave?
why didn't I stop you?

But it is too late --
someone to love,
someone to trust to talk to,
to sleep with,
to travel with,

I am ready and waiting
And, next time I will never let him go.

Athens, 2004, based on a true story.