Saturday, May 28, 2005

Toastmaster Seniors of Ankara

Today was an extraordinary day for us, for senior Toastmaster members of Ankara. We had our first monthly business lunch in Goksu Restaurant in Ankara city center, after a long period of interruption.

I was an active member of toastmasters group in Ankara. We were a group of highly qualified, highly educated professionals at middle age between university degree to senior managers at about retirement threshold, even after. I received my CTM degree in Toastmasters after completing my 10 programmed public speeches. What is CTM?, so go to above ref. web page again,

Toastmasters group is a group of highly intellectual men and women, from all parts of the world, from all disciplines, business person, academicians, who are in need of perfecting their public speaking capabilities, There are three Toastmasters clubs in Turkey. Ankara group meets in Turkish American Association, Cinnah caddesi every Tuesday at 1900 hours. Almost half of the members are expatriates. Izmir and Adana Toastmasters are closed to public attendance since they are formed by American personnel in Turkey.

In many international business cities you can find Toastmasters clubs. These are not necessary in posh clubs, sometimes in reasonable pubs in London, although there are Toastmaster meetings in exclusive clubs in The City, Paris, Frankfurt, Milan, Moscow and in the US Senate. In Washington DC, you will find many TM clubs. I have attended one Toastmasters in a reasonable pub in Hammersmith in London twice. I also attended two different Toastmasters club meetings in Virginia.

In Japan, Hongkong, Singapore, it is too difficult to join one of those Toastmaster groups. They are too exclusive, very expensive, very distinct. If you want to find TM clubs in the world, then go to "Yahoo" or "Google", type "Toastmasters" and surf in many individual TM clubs in the world.

These clubs are generally open to public, unless otherwise it is clearly stated. Guests are not supposed to speak unless they really wish to stand up and speak. For members they should speak impromptu in table topics and programmed in the second half.

Toastmasters club is the place where you spend two hours with your friends, to improve your public speaking capability, to share your life experiences.

I hope to continue our monthly business lunches in future.

Your comments are always welcome !!!


Years from now then, this was the "longest" computer- letter(e-mail), ever I read on the screen without "a breathe" !
Your way of writing, use of english, optimum lenght of the stories were your "success" at first "sight"...
One more thing: If you'll had the opportunity to make a "book" from those lovely tiny stories; I will be encouraged to make a "book of poems"; which I wrote until today :-)))

Best wishes, with all feelings of friendship.......

Esref Ilhami YEGEN, Ankara

Hi Haluk
A toastmasters club. What a good idea, to encourage the reticent individual to get on their feet and entertain others with their own brand of wit and wisdom.

Public speaking is not really so difficult if you are well prepared. The easiest form is the eulogy read from the lectern at the front of a church, or the best man's speech at a wedding. In those instances you have a captured audience.

With the eulogy there is always respectful silence while you read (always carry and read from notes in this instance) your
reminiscences of the late departed.

The best man at the wedding reception is expected to inject a little humour into the occasion and here again it is wise to have notes to hand, for there is nothing worse than misjudging the timing of the punch line. The pregnant pause before the birth will prevent a verbal miscarriage.

The bane of most `first time' speakers is the heckler but to the seasoned orator, a heckler is welcome, as he/she often opens a new line of discussion, which the speaker can hold on to and throw back with such force as to cause the rest of the audience to treat the heckler with derision and reinforce the speaker's argument.

A toastmaster is, by definition, not a public speaker but a person who introduces speakers.

My paternal grandparents were in service in a magnificent hall in London;The Apothecaries Hall. Grandmother was the head housekeeper, a stern matronly women, held in awe by maids and lower orders `downstairs'. She was responsible for maintaining order among the staff and organising banquets for royalty and personages of the higher echelons of society. My grandfather was the head butler and one of his duties was that of toastmaster.

Sadly I was too young to even peep through the doors of the banqueting hall but my parents told me how he would stand erect, straight as a ramrod in his resplendent livery (he was an ex- guardsman) and introduce a dignitary such as an Archbishop by announcing, in stentorian tones (if the Prince of Wales was in attendance, as was often the case): "Your Royal highness, My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen pray silence for the Most Reverend and Right Honourable the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury" etc, etc but those were the days of opulence and respect, mostly gone and forgotten. Whether for the good or bad is a matter of individual opinion.

Getting back to speaking in public: One of our illustrious members recently embarked on reading to a gathering. A poet. NO she's a poetess and I'm a sexist and don't care, for I place my opposite sex on a pedestal of devotion in the sanctity of respect. We enjoyed her occasional poems up to the day she was persuaded to read in public.

I believe she was a trifle reluctant to take to the podium but thankfully overcame her nerves and since that time the bud has blossomed for the enjoyment of all and long may this flora continue to grace our literary flower arrangements.

To conclude: My Lord (yes, we have one at t2w)ladies and gentlemen, pray silence for our good friend Haluk, who has shown us another interesting medium for displaying our communication skills. As always

Wings, UK

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Fever of Kilimanjaro

You all know "the Snows of Kilimanjaro" written by Ernest Hemmingway. Have you ever seen Mount Kilimanjaro? Let me see the hands up. Just a few. Anyhow I am one of those happy few.

How about perils of that mission?? What does it cost to me to see Mount Kilimanjaro? AIDS, Ebola, SARS, any other?. This is the story of that explains the cost of that travel to me.

In year late 70s, I was chosen to participate to an UNIDO United Nations International Development Organisation in-pant training seminar in one of developing countries. The chosen developing country was Tanzania. We were approximately 50 engineers who were selected from various counties, to come together to see the country and make necessary brain storming for future developments.

I had plane change in Roma, and AdisAbaba and arrived to Arusha Tanzania. Arusha is the second biggest city of Tanzania in Highlands. It was close to famous safari sites, Ngorongoro and Serengeti natural parks, Manyara lake. Meetings were held as usual. We gave speeches as usual. The most important parts were safaris in the natural parks.

These two parks are shared by neighbouring Kenya and Tanzania. You can visit the parks from both countries. You spend almost a fortune in Kenya in 5-star hotels, whereby to can have the same service in mountain cottages with full luxury, same wild animals maybe even more in Tanzania but spend an increment of the fortune you will be spending in Kenya.

We had our ammunitions, which were Kodak film negatives and our photo cameras. Our 4-wheel drive LandRovers took us to the centre of the wild animal show in Ngorongoro crater. Many lion families, elephants, rhinos, monkeys, all wild and misterious African world.

We spent the night in nearby park hotel in cottages. Outside they were cottages, inside it was one luxury hotel room with shower, TV, phone and all others.

In the park hotel bar, there were professional African women of all types, at all ages. African and Asian members of our group had immediate communications with them. Me? No.

In the evening, a big buffalo landed on my door, and left a huge natural fertiliser. I could not sleep due to that natural fertiliser smell. That was nothing.

On our way home, we had a round trip on Kilimanjaro crater by regular passenger plane, viewed the trackers at peak. We had a long flight on a huge desert and then River Nile.

Within one week upon my return home, I got high fever. Almost 39-40 degree Celsius, or 102-104 degrees Fahrenheit. Our family physician gave me standard antibiotics. I didn't work. I spent one week in hospital. I explained my physicians my last two weeks in Africa. Africa?? After many blood and other tests, it was found that my high fever had nothing to do with Africa but due to local infection, Simple Salmonella-B, which was cured with simple one bottle of antibiotic, Bacterim in 1-week dose.

Be sure that there is not much more extraordinary journey to the expedition to Kilimanjaro, the beauty of the mount will pay all your money, time, effort, post-travel costs to reach the crater.

Ernest Hamingway was right to be there. This is the best place to read his books, especially "the Snows of Kilimanjaro". I wish to return to Kilimanjaro once again for 1-week tracking. Who would organise??

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Money with Sand

Early in the morning, I wake up and sit on my PC to write a story from my past list. I have a long list of stories. I take a small note for each future story, in order to write it later. During day time, I make some draft variations of the chosen story. These stories are from my past experience, sometimes a travel, some event description, something worth telling to my colleagues, to my wife, to my kids while driving them school. These are my little reasons for more communication.
That draft story lies on my screen, in word format for a few days. My local colleagues read and tell me their impressions when we meet. I know that I should rewrite some of my stories. One of them is Kilimanjaro fever. I am not comfortable with the structure I drafted for the story. I do not know how to rewrite.

I am not so sure how good about my story in Moscow about an old lady, since I got no response, no feedback. Good or bad, if you receive a pesponse, that means good. Maybe I should rewrite it.

One day when these short stories will hopefully reach to 100 in number and I will try to bring them as a book. Earlier I tried to write a novel. It is impossible for me. It is another talent. I am a simple storyteller, a simple narrator, nothing more.

I have one other story for you this time. As usual this is a true story of mine. I had various drafts on my mind. I told the story a number of times when I was with my school friends. Once I told the same story in my local Toastmasters meeting. I tried to create a number of different versions. Until now it is all told but not written. This is my first try. I hope that you will like it. If you do not like the way I tell the story please do let me know so that I try another draft.

In late 90s in Ankara. I applied for early retirement. In our procedures, if you start early and if you pay enough premiums for your old age pension, then you can deserve to get your retirement at relatively early age, you receive a monthly salary and still continue to work for another salary.

You remember the park scene at the end of the old Movie "It is a mad mad mad world" where the actors try to collect money which was blown out in open air, breeze takes all money. Films are usually based on true stories. I could never imagine that the same money blown in the air would be my experience one day.

On the specific day, I got my new ATM card and went to the nearest public bank ATM machine to collect my money. I had valet on my left hand, my ATM card on my right. I put the card in get the salary out, all clean new 22 each 10 bucks. Money bunch was on my right hand together with my ATM card. I tried to put ATM card into my valet. Money lot released from my hand into soft breeze. Lots of money all around me, on the air, all released my money. I was helpless. My money was free to go in the soft wind.

I was really terrified. My monthly salary was about to go with the wind. I was about to loose all of them and wind would take all of them and probably will disappear soon.

Fortunately street was empty, not much people was around. Car drivers were cleaning their company cars, and street was covered with that dirty wash water. Money fell down on that dirty water. I collected them all. They were wet, and covered with sandy dirt.

Anyhow I took them all to my office, put them on radiator. They were dry a few hours later. I took them to another bank, where my private bank account is located. I asked the lady in charge to put the money into my bank account.

She could not operate the counting machine, since it could not be operated. She couldn't understand whey machine stopped. She counted my money by hand.
She said unbelievingly, "How interesting that money was covered with sand?".

I told this story first to my school colleagues. They laughed a lot. My contractor friend said he would never had that experience, since he would never let anyone any machine to take his money. My public director friend would not need same experience since he would have someone to do this job on his behalf. My banker friend does not bother to collect money, since he has lots of them.

Now I have a procedure while collecting money from ATM machine. First I collect the incoming money and immediately put them into my pocket. Then I collect my ATM card and place into my valet, and valet into my pocket. Now it is time to count money if that is correct.

Once one of them said, "Haluk, why do all these strange things happen to you?" I do not know. Maybe that is a special warning that is why I should write them down.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Nothing is changed, but I am.

Dear Colleagues,

In year 1987. I purchased brand new Ford Taunus 1.6 passenger car, personally upgraded my status from poor local Anadol Station. Car was new. Driving was so smooth, so wonderful. We planned go to Istanbul on the new highway. On a Sunday morning, we left home early, approaching the highway entrance. My wife was on my right. Kids were at the back seat. Singing all so happy. But a big truck was going ahead of me, creating huge exhaust fumes entering into our car. I couldn't pass him since there was "No pass!" Warning sign. I try to obey to traffic signs but this time, but due to huge truck exhaust in our car, I passed the truck and a traffic police car stopped me. "Park your car, your driving license?? Your car papers??" Penalty "55" something. I paid traffic fine many times earlier, mostly speeding etc. This time I wanted to check if I could reduce the amount. "Is there anything we can do, Sir??" Saying something loose to mean many things. Policeman in the car asked "How much cash do you have ?" I said 20. "OK, give me 20 and leave!!" I asked a receipt. He said "Are you kidding?? What receipt?" Yes I gave 20 with no fine receipt, but I wished to pay 55 afterwards.

This summer I worked in Koc Holding Entek plant for their 30 Mwe new extension project as owner's engineer. No summer holiday, no seaside all summer. In September we completed the work at site, activities almost in routine, then me and my wife decided to go to Mediterranean coast to stay with our close relatives for a reasonable summer holiday for 1-week. Our spending was reasonable. Weather was still hot. Sea was warm. Schools are open so no crowd around. Empty seashore. We spent one week. Then kids arrived at the weekend. I should return to Ankara on Sunday night. My eldest said, "Father lets us go from a different route, via Manavgat, Akseki, Konya. Road is new. Scenery is beautiful." I agreed, so I slept half way at the back seat and then took the driving in Konya. At Ankara entrance I was stopped by traffic at late night at about 0130AM. Not only me but many other private cars coming from long distance. Routine paper controls as it appeared. I had no fear since my papers were all in order. No speeding, no dangereous passing. But I had 1-week old beard. In relaxed summer mood I had no shaving. So I could be a shop-owner, not an nfluencial public employee. One officer took the initiative and said, "Your right- front parking light is off". Fine is 32mTL something." I said nothing, agreeing to pay the fine. "You have any cash?" Now he changed the procedure. I noticed the red flag. That is the code for asking cash money. In accordance with new legislation, there is no cash traffic fine payment on the spot. That means something you should understand and respond in order to avoid high penalty. I said "I have no cash with me, driving all night" Officer scrutinised once again. "Let us see your past records. Hello operator, here is driving license, give me the past records". The other end replied in the wireless, "No records this year, all clean". I try to drive very carefully taking no risks. Officer started to write the fine, probably in vain, at late hour, all pain no gain for himself, while there was easier and much cheaper solution available.

The next morning I accessed to my local bank's Internet banking web page and paid 32mTL with one tick. Now I feel more comfortable. I believe that I did the best thing. You also think so ?? I am not accusing the system. They are trying to improve themselves but there can be some foul apples in the basket. On the other hand I do not know what I would do if the fine were 100 or 1000 or more. What do you think??


Dear Haluk Bey
First, you shouldn't have deprived Turkish cows of the pleasure of eating your car. Anadol has always been known to be such a treat for the cows, some say fiberglass is what made Turkish beef so tasty. However, you are entitled, as we all are, to a car made of recycled Japanese steel.

Asking for a receipt for the bribe was a brilliant idea. Apparently the policeman didn't want to go in the Guinness Book of Records as the dumbest cop in the world. But I think you should pursue this idea. If you can persuade bribe takers to issue receipts, which would make bribes taxable, everyone would win. If I form the Turkish Government some day, which is highly unlikely, please remind me to ask you to join me as the Finance Minister.Best Regards

Ata Guven, Vancouver, Canada

Friday, May 20, 2005

Face to face verbal communication is the secret of success (Moscow 1976)

Dear Readers,
I believe that "Communication" is an art. "Communication" is everything. "Communication" is the difference between human being and the rest of other living creations.

I was in a technical training program in Moscow in year 1976, pure romantic Brezhnev years. I still believe that Moscow was real Moscow at that time, not like now similar to the rest of the world. People were real believers of their system. I was one of a few westerners in the capital. I was trying to learn Russian, however they were more eager to speak English with me, same as trying to speak other foreign languages. Therefore I had no chance to speak Russian.

I was staying in University Hotel (Gastrinistza Universitetskaya) close to Moscow University. It was cold- very cold winter. Full of snow everywhere. But Russians were all comfortable with snow and cold. They had big stone houses, all district heating, excellent public transportation, and accommodation for everyone, food and secure jobs for everyone. They had no idea of the outside world. They had vodka, they were happy.

By the way, they had also extraordinary art, ballet. Russian ballet.
The next day I arrived to Moscow, I went to Bolshoy theatre to check program and ticket availability. There were a long waiting line, I do not know now how long. It was day and night. A long line. For opera, for ballet performance, for any symphony orchestra performance. I could not understand how people could stay in that line for so long, even sometimes for nothing.

I lost all my expectations to see a real Russian ballet in Bolshoy Opera house. It was impossible for me to buy a ticket. Blackmarket could work but I had no enough practise in Russian.

I checked our hotel facilities. We had a service bureau to help foreigners. Service Bureau had one director Tovarish (Comrade) Nina, and three lady staff, Victoria, Natalia and Galia. Victoria could speak English, Natasha Spanish and Galia German, although they could speak other reciprocal languages fairly in case of emergency.
I had good communication with Victoria. Victoria was helping me to familiarise Moscow. She was married with kids, doing her service job in the hotel service bureau. I asked her if service bureau could help me to buy ticket to Bolshoy, whatever ballet, opera, and concert. It was impossible. Answer was "Nyet!!"
They had a few tickets for every performance allocated for special foreign visitors. The distribution was unconditionally left to the Director Lady Tovarish Nina. Tovarish Nina was unapproachable. She was on top of everything. She had all power for everything including distribution of Bolshoy tickets.

After one month in Moscow, I was completely helpless. I would not go to Bolshoy. I tried everything, connections, embassy, even blackmarket, and no hope. For ballet, you could not bribe Russians. It was more valuable than any other worldly possession. They could stay days and days in a ticket quoe to purchase one ticket for any performance.

I had only communication with Victoria who could speak English. One day I had an idea. I should speak with Lady Director Tovarish Nina direct with her own language. Since she is in the service bureau, she should speak at least one western language. Which one?

French. She could speak French. She had French major in the Moscow University.
I had taken some French courses in my university but forgot almost everything. I had to refresh myself as soon as possible to communicate directly with the service bureau director Tovarish Nina. I checked my other foreign colleagues. We had one engineer coming from an African region with French cultural influence. He had good command of written French but he was speaking French in his own local West African dialect. Anyhow it was a minor problem. I should polish my French understanding as soon as possible. So I asked him to teach me some important French phrases for ice-breaking.

I practiced those phrases for one week in my free time. One early morning, when Tovarish Nina arrived to her office, I entered her office and I saluted her in French.

"Bonjour Madame, mon nom est Haluk d'Ankara en Turquie. Comment allez-vous?"

I addressed her "Madame Nina". Madame Nina was very happy that day. She could speak her foreign language with a foreign visitor. She told me her youth in the University, as guide to French party members, her meeting with famous French pop singer Gilbert Bécaud, her current job, her family, her husband, and her kids. She was not Tovarish any more, she was my French Lady Madame Nina and I was in her special foreign guest list in the hotel.

Later in the day, I asked ticket for Bolshoy. I was expecting only one ticket to Bolshoy. She gave me one ticket on each remaining week of that month I had in Moscow. Bolshoy theatre was a temple, not matching anywhere else. You should take a round trip to Moscow, just to see any performance whether it would be a ballet, an opera or any concert performance. Thank you very much Madame Nina.

My Favorite Restaurants

You read newpaper commercial evaluations of commercial restaurants every Sunday. Today I will tell you about uncommercial restaurants, in other words "company or public institution canteens" in the local market as well as those in the global world where I visited during my last 30 years of professional life. Those places are normally not commercial since they are basically formed to serve the company employees for their lunch.

Some of them (universities) charge a symbolic figure.

Here are my favourite local uncommercial restaurants, in Istanbul,
Yeditepe University, Kayisdagi Campus Academician restaurant, excellent sea view, excellent sea food.
Hakimevi- Tarabya, formed to serve the official legal (Judge) people who are staying in the guesthouse, wonderful view, Sunday brunch is popular in wintertime, Registration necessary.
Bosphorus University Academicians restaurant, wonderful view as well as environment, excellent food.
T. IsBankasi Towers main employee restaurant, once Camis General Manager invited me to have our lunch. You have light (diet) and normal menu to choose.
ENKA Istanbul head office special restaurant, once invited for lunch. We had extraordinary sea fish and white wine.
Küçükyali Istanbul Municipality restaurant, no alcohol, but delicious grilled meatballs (Izgara köfte)

In Ankara
Hakimevi (Judge's House)- the best in its class, Sunday brunch is popular in wintertime.
METU Academicians restaurant, two banquets for selection one for fixed menu, one of best environment, excellent food. There are two more in the campus, one in social building and one in the congress centre but they are not comparable with the major centre.
Gama Industry company in Ankara, company canteen in the basement, 3-course excellent food, no-nonsense list. Fish on Fridays. Decision-makers come to the canteen at 1300 hours. If you are newcomer, better have your lunch between 1230-1300 hours.
Guris Construction company Golbasi head office canteen. 4 course excellent food.
Pasiner company canteen, main course from nearby commercial restaurant, green salad and fresh fruit by the canteen employees from the daily open markets, dessert from nearby desert shop. Kebab on Saturdays.
Turkish Sugar Corporation Etimesgut campus guesthouse, best "Begendi" kebab ever tasted.
Ankara Baskent Ögretmen Evi, Teachers guest house in Ankara,
GES Elektrik, Hasanoglan warehouse, excellent Antep kitchen.
ODTU Alumni Visnelik, good atmosphere but do not expect extraordinary food, membership necessary.

Somewhere in Turkey,
Koc Holding Entek CCPP power plant company canteen, open salad buffet, desert, excellent food, barbecue on Fridays, lots of meatballs, salad and watermelon.
Sabanci Kentsa Izmit, main employee restaurant in recreation area, excellent food, next to swimming pool,
Soktas Textile plant in Söke, excellent food,
Batman Tüpras Refinery guest house, excellent traditional food,
Hopa thermal power plant canteen, excellent traditional blackSea food,
Orhaneli Thermal Power plant, excellent mezze in dinner,
Soma Thermal power plant, excellent fish food,
Yenikoy Thermal power plant, excellent traditional food,
Akçakoca ÖgretmenEvi, teachers guest house, excellent open buffet brunch,
Brown & Root Engineering, company canteen, Wimbledon London, excellent lunch,
Fiat-Avio Torino, Italy, small amount wine tolerated, excellent Italian food, spaghetti certainly,
GE Nuovo Pignone, Florence, small size wine bottles available, excellent seafood,
Siemens Erlangen, one-glass beer tolerated, excellent red meat dishes, their executive restaurant is extraordinary. You get excellent service, plus cognac,
Babcock & Wilcox, Cambridge, Canada, good fish food.
Patrick Lumumba International University in Moscow Russia, extraordinary red meat.
Diar-El-Zor, Syria sugar plant, wonderful kebab,
Diar-el-Zor Boukoutra machine shop in Syria, Extraordinary special East Indian food, since the subcontractor and his employees are from Bangladesh. Wonderful Indian spices,
ELIN head office in Vienna Austria, reasonable amount white wine tolerated, wonderful red meat food.
ABB Finpong Sweden, in Christmas time they serve hot punch at entrance,
ENKA Tenghiz Kazakhstan site, employee canteen, excellent traditional Turkish food, extraordinary service,
Aramco, Dharan, Saudi Arabia, the longest open buffet I have ever seen,
Be sure that excellent restaurants are not necessarily commercial. There are also excellent restaurants, and not commercial; the employees of those institutions make them special.


In late 70s, we had social chaos in Ankara. I was in the 3rd year of mechanical engineering undergraduate program in Middle East Technical University in Ankara.
I decided to go to United Kingdom that summer for my compulsory summer training. My family supported me with their limited resources.
We purchased round trip to Paris by AirFrance. I got my passport and went to UK, first to London then to Wolverhampton in Midlands. I had a very useful summer training program in an U.K. company, learnt a lot. I spent some time in London, for British Museum, Buckingham Palace, Tate Galery.
I also had many pleasant memories with British girls, young, beautiful, generous, helpful, and all with mini or even micro skirts first time in history. All helpful to teach English to a poor eastern young student.
It was time to return home. My charter flight from London Gatwick Airport brought me to LaBougeot airport in Paris. The next AirFrance flight was from Orly airport a few hours later.

Orly situated on the other side of Paris. Charles DeGaule was still in construction. I took shuttle bus and had almost 1 hours to go to Orly.

Anyhow we arrived on time. I had enough time for check-in, fortunately no luggage to deliver, boarding pass, all done. I passed customs, passport control. I assumed to have some time to spend in Duty-free. Year 1970s, all duty free items were special for me.

While I was spending some time in duty-free, I heard someone trying to pronounce my name on the loudspeaker,

"Mr. Haluk Direskenelli, please proceed to gate number etc. urgently, this is last call for you".

They all pronounce my surname with double "L" which gives me a special Italian charisma, I don't know why.

Then I moved to the gate, handed my boarding pass. He allowed me to pass the gate. I was at outdoors, to the airplane. But that gate was for 2 different flights. Two different planes were waiting for the last passengers to board. Both ready and waiting. Which one to Istanbul?

There was a French mechanic in between, I asked him "Istanbul?" he either did not understand, or ignorant, he could not answer.

I decided to board the plane on left, looking for someone to verify. I climbed the stairs, no one available to ask. Then a young beautiful French hostess shouted in French "Where are you, we are waiting for you? Get your seat immediately. Fasten your seat belt? We are to leave as soon as possible, " sort of wording in French which I feel the meaning.

Immediately after, they closed the doors, we took off. But I had no idea where we were going. Right flight? I was getting scared to ask for verification.
After 10 minutes, we reached an appropriate altitude, seat belt off- sign. They started liquor service.

And I asked to that beautiful French hostess,
"Is this plane to Istanbul?" - response "Yes,"

"How about other plane?" - she replied "to Vancouver, west end of Canada".

After so many years, I could not go to Paris a second time and never step on Vancouver.

I still wonder what would happen if I had chosen the other plane.

However I could go to Vancouver, and decide to stay there.

Then I could go to a new local university, get married, get rich, get influential, I don't know. I could be first Turco in politics. I would certainly be bilingual even trilingual.

You never know which plane is correct plane to board.

Your comments are always welcome !!

Anger Management

Anger management! You want problem??
Here you got it !!- Road Rage!!

Last Friday, Teo and I decided to go to a fabrication plant in Corum Organised Industrial Zone, somewhere 240 km east of Ankara, Turkey.

Teo happens to be my friend for last 30 years since freshmen years of Ankara Middle East Technical University Mechanical engineering department. He had top public posts in Turkish Pipeline industry, then later decided to get retired and formed his own private company to service the pipeline industry.

The plant owner was also another friend of mine. We wanted to visualise the existing plant capacities and try to investigate if we can cooperate in order to fabricate some speacial pipeline products locally in this local plant as our sole exclusive subcontractor.

We agreed to meet early in the morning on Friday. Teo would pick me up at 0800 AM from my apartment, and we planned to drive almost non-stop to Corum OIZ to meet with our future partners for in-plant business meeting.
That morning was very cold. Although early April, it was snowing. I got up early, for cleaning, shaving and get properly dressed. I was ready with my proper business suit, with my documents, in black heavy coat. Missing item was my umbrella. I opened my car trunk, grabbed the proper size umbrella, waited for Teo to come. It was a small road with cars parking on both sides, leaving only one car to pass however it was for trafic on both directions.
Teo came on time with his new metallic Honda HR-V Jeep, I waived him to see me. He stopped in the middle of the road, to let me get in. I put my coat, umbrella, jacket, handbag at the rear seat, climbed to the right front passenger seat.

Then we noticed that a small Opel Corso, red color, with an angry young driver at the steering wheel, driving towards us, leaving nowhere to go, shouting and signing something awful.
Teo noted something as if saying and asking the other driving why behaving so insane.
The other driver got out of the car, leaving his wife or girl friend alone in the car, opened the rear car door, grabbed the heavy iron rod, which is probably the steering wheel lock to protect the car to get stolen. Coming towards us to threathen us to open the car direction. He was shouting "Nowhere in the world you can block the road in such-a-way !"

What to do?? I shouted to the other driver to calm down. There is nothing to get angry. We drove the car rearward, opened the car traffic. He returned to his small car, driving so angry, passed away to reach his hasty appointment early in the morning.

We had one loop drive and met the same red Opel Corso on the same red traffic light waiting for the green to turn on. Push him at the rear while driving?? No way, we let him go.
Later we had our review, whether to report the incident to the nearest police station?? or leave it and forget the incident as soon as possible.
We decided to leave the incident and let them to find his trouble in somewhere else.
Was that incident because of too much TV exposure?? So many crime series?? So many violence on the silver screen??

Since we are small contractors and we have the right to carry shot-gun legally to protect cash money and other valuables. So what if we were keeping it on board on that day and due to overexposure of threat, we would have decided to use, I do not want to think about that.
Then we executed the daily program, as we have planned earlier. Teo later interpreted that this road rage event was most probably because of his unsatisfactory early morning bed time activity. That could be the reason since the other driver was so young, so angry on that cold early morning, together with his beautiful wife who had so expressionless face during all that incident. What do you think?? Was that incident so simple??


You ask: What do I think? I presume you mean: What would I do in similar set of circumstances. Well my friend, I'm an easygoing, happy go lucky character, who is not easily discomposed (not to be confused with decomposed) but there comes a time when enough is enough.
In your position on that morning, my first instinct would be to back up if the other driver made it obvious he was engaged on a direct emergency. Perhaps his passenger was in need of urgent medical attention.
However, confronted with a driver brandishing an iron bar, I would stand my ground and having no weapon to counteract his, I would use my vehicle as a shield and drive at speed towards him. This would place him in a defensive position and hopefully defuse his angersufficiently for him to explain his attitude.
But that's me. I'm renowned for being slightly mad. I would not advise others to follow my example because; unless you are pretty nimble on the pedals this action could have seriousconsequences and could place you out of favour with the local constabulary.
To sum up my true feelings here: I will give way to any road traveller, especially of the fair sex but I will not abide the bully. On the odd occasion I am at fault and another driver raises a digit or two towards me, in an uncouth gesture, I react with a raised hand in salutary apology and a smile, for we are all prone to mistakes and it takes only a moment to admit your error.As always
Wings, in UK

I do not know. It could be either way… A sight of an angry men in the street a bad sign or a good sign? It depends on your disposition. I may not like the angry young men, as their reaction may underline a serious trouble and put my life and property at stake….. But then again, he has something to get angry about and has the passion to get angry. On a cold morning, while he was late to work; you friend was blocking traffic and you were getting organized calmly.
In a more civilized society, the streets will be wide enough, or no cars will be allowed to park on the street so that two cars can pass without blocking each other.
What would have happened if an ambulance or a fire truck was coming the opposite direction?????
In my daily life and travels, I came across the same; felt the same threat on occasion. I have also witnessed the passionless, listless, withering young lives in parts of the world.
There was no anger there; but also no passion.
For my taste; I will take the angry men any day. You have to have passion to get angry.
And this world needs more passion.
Alp, Houston, USA

We called it "Road Rage" over here. The phenomenon has grown over the last decade with angered drivers toting knives or guns. Sometimes the incident escalates and the angry driver actually kills the source of the anger–how preposterous! Best thing is to diffuse or drive away.
I’ve had one serious encounter. A man talking on a cell phone ran me off the road because he was probably late for work. Not my problem, I thought. When I got to work, my pager went off. The angered man had, in his haste, wrapped his truck around a tree. Lucky for him, my professionalism prevented me from duct taping his hairy body parts and then removing the tape very slowly. He never did figure out why I was smiling.
Carol, USA

What do you think?? I think you have done a good job of viewpoint, but the there's a little bit too much telling and summarizing. You need to dramatize the scene more to make the reader experience it. But, it was a good start and a good story. I'm pretty sure you were asking for a critique of this. The two other replies treated it as a "road rage" question and I don't see something like this ending up on a writing forum, so I think it's a story you wrote. Also I would recommend some quoted dialogue, not just summarizing what people said.
Wilkins, Australia

Thanks for your email and sharing the anger management situation. I applaud your responses and commend your and your colleague’s wise actions!! In America, this kind of situation is more common than it should be, so much so that there’s actually a phrase for it: “road rage”. If I remember correctly, people have even been shot and killed for things like “cutting” in front of another car to get a better place in traffic. Anger itself is a normal and healthy emotion, i.e., since someone violated your position in traffic, but how you react is the key. When first reading your email, the first things I thought of were the Bible verses: be angry, but sin not… and …don’t let the sun go down on your anger.
I discussed your email with my wife this morning, while she was resting on the couch, still recovering from her surgery, and we discussed a couple of other principles from Proverbs which seem to apply. 19:11 – A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is glory to overlook an offense. Also, 16:32 – Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.
Sometimes when I’m very behind on getting enough sleep, I’ve found myself feeling very angry out of proportion to a situation. It’s my problem. Maybe as you suggest, this young driver was too tired to be responsibly driving. Maybe his wife/girl friend was sick. Maybe he’d just received some bad news, possibly related to his own shortcomings. Maybe he was on drugs, etc. I wondered if your father had any cases like this over which he presided as judge. Regardless, I’m glad you made it to your meeting safely and hope things work out well for you. Our warmest regards to your and your family,
Peter, VA

His wife probable had just mentioned to him, “What are two good looking studs doing out so early in the morning? Maybe I could warm them up, rather than have such a cold hostile bastard like you.” Upon hearing this he had no alternative, but to try to start a fight with one of you to show her how macho he was. Seeing you with the umbrella, he returned to car and told her that she was crazy, it was just two contractors. Now had you had a shoot gun this could have been another story. You could have had him strip in the middle of the road, and sit on the wheel lock with the umbrella over his head, while you propositioned his wife.
Too many possibilities. But, what about the pipe plant?
Collins, Ky

So Teo has passed “driving with intimidation” test. My Greek friend in New Orleans says so. Bogut, Ankara

Contract Negotiations in Italy (2003)

Dear Readers,
In Italian train system, you buy ticket, and when you board the train, you should stamp the ticket. It is also the same practise in Dusseldorf in-city transportation, U-bahn etc.
We were in LaSpazia on the beautiful Mediterranean coast of Italy on 6th March 2003. An Italian contractor company has recently received a big order in Turkey to supply water treatment system. Italian Company wanted to subcontract some non-critical heavy construction of the plant to local companies. We have delivered a number of proposals, inquiries, corrections, modifications, price reductions back- and forth. Then they invited us to their head office in LaSpazia for final negotiation and contract if all agreed between ourselves.
We were very pleased to be invited. An ongoing economic crisis at home, company had to get smaller and smaller. It would be excellent to receive almost one-year order, almost a life kiss for all of us in the organisation. It was also an opportunity to upgrade ourselves, more communication with an international company, more technical expertise, more quality control procedures, more intellectual capital besides of incoming money.
We arrived to LaSpezia town by the seaside at evening time by Train from Milano via Cenova. Our client advised us to stay in Lolly Hotel, the best and the most expensive hotel in Town. It was raining. Anyhow we went to the seaside, watched and reviewed the sea port facilities. It is maybe one of the biggest seaport on Mediterranean Sea with Italian war ship repair facilities, and Fiat car exports.
We spent the next day in our client's meeting room. We clarified everything, price, delivery, quality control, except downpayment. They offered 10 percent downpayment, whereby we asked more since we were to purchase all necessary steel sheets from third party suppliers with upfront payments. We could not finance the project.
Our negotiation had deadlocked. In order to overcome deadlock, we decided to return home and investigate counter offer with more local internal financing. We thanked, and expressed our best wishes to our counter party, said all the best, and left the company. We called a taxi and headed for train station.
We were tired, displeased with the meetings, and unable to speak further. We boarded the train. We forgot to stamp our tickets in the train station. You should stamp your train ticket before you board the train in Italy. If you miss the train you may catch the next one next day.
Anyhow we had some small talk. We had a beautiful sunset on the Mediterranean Sea. We stopped almost all train stations on the way to Cenova.
Conductor came and asked our tickets. He noticed that our tickets were not stamped. He warned that we should pay fine, 5 Euros for not stamping the tickets. "I have to make job" in English. If we were Italians, then we should be paying 50 Euros. We objected first since he could stamp now with his manual equipment, he said- No way, you should do it before boarding. Ok, we paid our penalty but we had a sour feeling that this procedure was not fair.
We arrived to Cenova. Conductor changed. Some passengers left the train, some new passengers boarded. On the last minute before departure, a beautiful, young Italian lady with a heavy had drawn luggage has entered in hurry. She was exhausted in order to catch the train. She took of her coat, placed her bags, relaxed some and started to read her magazine.
New conductor has arrived. He checked our ticket and noticed our fine, he said nothing. Then he passed to the next passenger, beautiful but younger Sofia Loren. Our Sofia gave him her ticket. It was not stamped. It was too late for her while boarding. Who could write a fine in an Italian train for a latecomer beautiful Italian lady? Conductor assuming that we are foreigners and we do not understand Italian, he said in low volume Italian
Please my lady - please do not forget to stamp your ticket next time-
and he returned her ticket with no more preventive action. Actually it was not necessary to understand Italian since his warning finger was so apparent. Anyhow who could write a fine ticket to a beautiful Italian lady latecomer in hurry in an Italian train? I wouldn't.
Ankara, 19th May 2005

Crush Course to Reduce Culture Shock

Dear Colleagues,

My first business trip to the Canada was in early 90's. It was for a new order in Eregli Iron & Steel plant for BFG firing high steam output capacity steam boiler contract at home. My Canadian host company Babcock &Wilcox of Canada, reserved a hotel room in Cambridge Holiday Inn, and rental car reservation for transportation. They told me that I would have an easy time. Easy, for a Canadian national, Maybe !

I would go directly to the Hertz desk, introduce myself, show my local driving license, sign documents, get the car, drive to Cambridge, Ontario, and the Hotel, then I get a good- long good night's sleep, and feel fresh refreshed for my meetings on the next day.

What could go wrong? Since I was All fixed, reserved, prepared.

I landed at Toronto International around midnight. I cleared customs, and then headed for Hertz. Nearly an hour passed for clearing customs before I could head over to the Hertz Rent-a-Car.

The lady behind the counter approved my passport and local driving license.
Then she asked what type of car I would prefer.

Here were the reasonable choices and the most expensive one. I accepted the latter since I was travelling on my company's expense account.

Everything seemed to me normal, and reasonable. She said, the brand new Ford
Taurus was full accessory/fully accessorised, insuranced, and had a full
tank of gas. and gave me the car key and a directional map from Toronto international to the Holiday Inn in Cambridge. Everything seemed so easy.
----Good build up. We just know that nothing is going to be easy for a newcomer.

A company driver took me to my rental car in a big parking lot next to the airport. The biggest car lot I have ever seen in my life. Bigger than our soccer stadium at home. I was driven to the biggest parking lot I'd ever seen. It was bigger than a soccer stadium back home in Turkey.

All cars, no human. I was left with a big car, Ford Taurus latest, zero mileage, full accessory, air-conditioning, and full car radio set. However I was looking at the car desperately, thinking how to run. At 2 AM the lot was deserted. I was left in front of a brand new Ford Taurus. I had assumed that the car would have stick shift but when I climb in behind the steering wheel, I realised that it was an automatic. It was my first experience with such a car.

How am I going to drive this car, 100 miles or more to my hotel? I looked for someone to help me. At last, I saw a teenager at the other end of the car park, washing the returned cars.

I walked over and asked him to teach me how to drive an automatic car. He first had some
difficulty in understanding my foreign accent, then looked at me and said "Easy", /EASY!" without any humiliation in his voice. I appreciated him very much for his attitude. His attitute was helpful and I did not feel humiliated.

In my car, he briefly instructed me on the gas, brakes and the sticks "drive" position. Then he said "Good luck" and departed.

Feeling the effects of jetlag after a 12-hour flight over the Atlantic, I test drove the Taurus fives times around the parking lot and still not totally sure of my aility to drive, I headed for Cambridge.

Luckly there wasn't much traffic - but so many traffic lights and directional signs at the airport junction that I was confused and forgot what I'd read on the map..

At home it is easy. You just stop at a gas station and ask directions. Here, I couldn't find one. On the big 4-5-lane highway, I chose a direction, and luckily I made a correct decision.

On the road, I discovered North American country music. At first I thought I was listening to the same song being played over and over, later on I became a fan.

The next culture shock also was due to the discovery of air conditioning, at home we open a window and all our small roads we don't need cruise control either. By 5 AM, I arrived in Cambridge and found the Holiday Inn.

Traffic, wide roads, automatic transmission, powerful radio, music yes country music, as if it was non-stop same tune at first. The first time listened to country music and it was as if a non-stop same music. Then I loved and became fan of it.

What is air-conditioning?? At home you open up the windows that is it.
Car was almost double of my own car. I felt like a redneck truck driver.

What is cruise control? All non-sense for me. We do not have that long highway that time.

You could imagine my dilemma at 0100hrs. but imagine the drama if it had been six hours later. If it was snowing. Anyhow I succeeded in my mission, so I could congratulate with myself for showing the same pioneer spirit as those first intrepid North Americans when they coaxed their covered wagons westwards. I admire any person from a different culture who ventures into the mad, mad arena of the other civilisations. Perhaps, one day, I should sit down and write a travel book on ways to make life easier for new arrivals to an alien environment.

Anyhow sometime early AM hours are good for learning how to drive a automatic car, how to learn Canadian traffic signs, how to find correct direction, start how to enjoy North American country music.

Today here in my home country we have similar highways. My latest car has cruise control, air condition plus CD playing capability. Time changes fast.

Your comments are always welcome !!


Thank you for sharing this funny story with us, Haluk Bey, it's generally the other way around, imagine North Americans going to Turkey and having to learn to drive the stick shift. Not in a million years!

We Turkish-Canadians are a weird lot, actually, since we have the best of the two worlds, or maybe the worst of the two worlds. Akif Bey, of course, is an exception. He's a plain old-fashioned Communist, a cross-breed between John Steinbeck and Nazim Hikmet.:)) Joking, joking, I just wanted to wake him up from his summer slumber.

Having grown up with Hollywood movies I can't say it was a culture shock for me to arrive in New York, and then to Montreal. My ass was frozen, and I was miserable, but it's called the cold shock. I cursed daily for six months at Christopher Columbus for discovering this place, but then I had to apologize. For it was the Vikings that had discovered North America.

My first culture shock was when I first went back to the old country. I and my sister were happy to find seats on the last airport shuttle bus when they admitted another 50 people. They were not only sitting on top of us, but a suitcase had been placed on my head during the 1 hour ride into the city. I guess this is a subtle warning not to stick your head out of the crowd.

The second shock came when I went into the shower at the hotel to discover that there was no hot water. I tell you, there's nothing like a cold shower to wake you up and bring the best out in you like a cold shower. It's even more effective than that guy screaming at you in Arabic at 4 o'clock in the moring over high-powered loudspeakers. I'm only hoping that some day they may change the language to English, or even French, so I can understand why God is so mad at me. I'm a fully bilingual Turkish-Canadian, you know (bilingue).

In the morning I was sure nothing else could shock me. After all, even Suleiman the Magnificent had crouched over this hole in the floor, and I'm sure he had conceived of some of his most brilliant ideas in this position, like attacking the Hungarians. There's something very exotic about being so close to your innards, and I'm sure Yoga was not invented in India. The first asana was definitely invented by the Turks, as usual, the catalysts of civilization. And they say it's healthy, you know, except that Westerners' tendons and thigh muscles weaken due to disuse, and you may need a pulley hanging from the ceiling to pull you up. I think the next Nobel prize will go to a Turkish engineer that develops this idea. Otherwise the Fire Departments will work overtime after Turkey joins the European Union.

I was wrong. The 4th culture shock came when I discovered there was no toilet paper, and no water was coming out of that tiny little faucet either. Fortunately I still had a little bit of energy left to be able to shout for help to my sister, and she brought the Emergency Response Team from the Reception downstairs. I was very impressed by the cold calm Turks, my beloved old countrymen, exhibit in the face of an emergency. Buckets of water were brought from downstairs as if the team was already fully trained in this procedure. I learned later, of course, that water in Turkey is fully obedient to the laws of nature, and normally doesn't go above the second floor unless requested.

After our first bus experience, and we learned that our old countrymen also smoke in the buses, my sister was adamant that we rent a car to go to Marmaris. Now having been immunized to culture shocks I stared in cold silence as Turkish Hertz told us that the match box we were renting cost US$80 per day plus insurance. Another buffer against the shock was, of course, that my sister was footing the bill. The man at the counter didn't laugh when I suggested that the company change its name to Hurts. Turks take their jobs seriously, not like us Turkish-Canadians, and are pissed off most of the time. Ottoman Turks used to send their wives to work on the field so they could discuss important affairs of state in the tea shop, but that doesn't work in the modern economy any more. Therefore nothing pisses off a Turk more than a customer, the reason he's working. Don't crack a joke at a working Turk.

Having obtained my first driver's license driving an Army type Jeep, I love the stick shift. It brings out the predator in me. When I tried to roll down the window and the handle came off I decided I wasn't going to worry over such a small detail, since there were other things I had to worry about, Turkish drivers. Erroneous leftiness as they call it, hatali sollamak, seems to be the main reason so many Turks prematurely knock on the doors of Heaven, and God is too busy to look at anything else. With the judicious use of my headlights and the high beam, and the horn, I decided I was going to be the terror of the Turkish highways. As G.W. would say, "Terrorize the terrorists!". Turks are not used to drivers who use their headlights during the day, but me, I'm a Turkish-Canadian! They were clearly annoyed, but that means they see you clearly.

My sister thought the trip would take two days or more. She said they had made the same trip in my uncle's car in 3 days. After we arrived in Marmaris in little more than 12 hours she was a frozen stiff, and whiter than ever before. She had to spend some time in the toilet to recuperate. Fortunately, it was designed by the Europeans, not Suleiman the Magnificent.

ATA GUVEN, Vancouver, Canada