The Tarkan Concert Explained

For the last 3 or 4 songs of Tarkan’s concert on Sunday night I walked around the vicinity of the venue. The concert was held on a dirt soccer pitch next to the main Mersin stadium and across the river from work.

The stage was huge with the speaker stacks to the left and right lifted up by cranes. A giant screen or two allowed the ladies to examine Tarkan’s hairstyle and clothing up close.

From my count, there were 9 semi trailers and 3 tour buses patiently waiting behind the stage to take the stage and crew to the next concert destination.

The petrol company and Koc subsidiary Opet are sponsoring Tarkan’s “Full Force” concert tour with Full Force being an Opet brand name. The Full Force banners were, dare I say it, in full force around the concert perimeter. When people bought 60 million TL of petrol at Opet service stations they received a free ticket. Commercialisation of Turkish music is quite common and it seems there is no such thing as ‘selling out’.

With the petrol/ticket offer and the low price of 15 million TL for tickets bought separately it was no surprise Tarkan fans completely filled the pitch. The fans were largely female of course. I don’t know if his female ‘worshippers’ realise Tarkan ‘plays for the other side’, so to speak.

Fans were also watching from the top of the stadium stand, the upper-level apartment balconies, across the river and on the bridge behind the stage. Across the river near the military base there were hundreds of people. One of the soldiers standing at guard was even jiving his hips.

More police than a NATO summit (well, not quite) surrounded the concert. The riverbank closest to the concert was blocked off to all but police and a selected few children. I guess those children were their sons and daughters!

The concert covered the usual hits and I could recognise (but not name) most of the songs. Tarkan’s latest single ‘Gunduz Gece’ is a cover of a Turkish classic. I guess his svengalis found it difficult to produce another original hit.

At various times pyrotechnics, glitter and fancy lighting decorated the stage.

The second encore completed the concert. Shortly afterwards two vans sped from the backstage area and a few minutes later a white sedan cruised away. I guess Tarkan was in one of these vehicles. I’m sure his management have the after concert escape sequence well and truly proficient by now after several years of practice.

The shops near the stadium sold record amounts of drinks and associated products. Huseyin abi’s shop sold out of small bottles of water and certain brands of cigarettes and nearly finished off the cans of coke.

That was the Tarkan experience. I have now seen Turkey’s most famous living human in person. I will let you guess Turkey’s most famous dead person… I don’t plan on seeing him, well, at least for several decades!

It is amazing how people find this page

A week or so back I added the ‘Meme Tracker’ to the bottom of the sidebar. The Meme Tracker tracks the Google search terms used by people to find my website.

One of the recent search terms used was ‘marijuana’ ‘in’ ‘turkey’. It turns out this website is currently ranked 1st out of almost 65,000 matches for this set of search terms.

For those who want to know, I’m sorry but I can’t help you look for marijuana in Turkey proper, only in cyberspace.

On an unrelated matter, tomorrow I will write my observations from outside the Tarkan concert Sunday night.

Ostrich Iskender and Adana Kebabs II

I am writing about the kebabs as promised previously, whilst the the music from Tarkan’s support act (some cover group) is in the background.

On Thursday I received a telephone call from Hakan. He informed me the AIESEC Adana summer tour was starting tomorrow and asked if I wanted to join. The tour was to visit Adana on the first day followed by Sanliurfa and Mt Nemrut.

Because of the very short notice I could only go the first day. Besides, I had already visited Urfa and Nemrut previously. I was mainly interested in meeting and having fun with the trainees AIESECers.

After taking the train, I first chatted with Buket at work’s Adana office.

The Adana part of the tour involved Ataturk House, the Omer Sabanci Cultural Centre, the Sabanci Mosque, Adana kebab for dinner and the evening at ‘Flame’ nightclub.

As an old trainee and one who had lived in Turkey for a few years, Murat asked me to give a few speeches to the entourage that mainly consisted of foreign trainees. At Ataturk House I spoke about Ataturk and at the restaurant the subject was Adana kebab. My last words were “Kebab is Adana and Adana is kebab”. One AIESECer in the nightclub actually asked if I was a guide- very flattering!

At the nightclub a full boat race (drinking game) actually occurred. This is the only time I recall a boat race competition reaching a conclusion. It was nowhere near as professional as at Australian AIESEC events but it was fun anyway. My team was knocked out in the first round.

That night or, more accurately, that morning, we stayed in dormitories, men and women in separate complexes in different neighbourhoods. At 6:30 am I woke up and left for Mersin.

The highlights of Adana were meeting the trainees and AIESECers. It is great to mix with a group of young people from many different parts of the world. I met and chatted with many people including Aaron from Sweden. Just last week he was at a meeting with Loz. It’s a small world!

On Saturday my boss was generous enough to shout me lunch. He took me to ‘Devekusu Doner’ restaurant, literally, ‘Ostrich Doner’.

There we both ate Devekusu Iskender. This consisted of sliced ostrich doner meat on pide bread with yoghurt and fresh tomato on the side.

The ostrich was delicious and tasted slightly different to anything I have eaten before. I will go back again in the future. That is if the restaurant is still around. Restaurants with different or exotic food don’t often last very long in Mersin as the locals are usually fussy when it comes to non-Turkish tastes.

To top my Saturday off, after lunch I shook hands with the Mayor of Mersin. He was visiting the office to discuss his son’s foreign education.

See related entry.

Breaking News: Some Action in the lead up to the NATO Summit

An explosion in Ankara and at least 3 people die from bomb blast in Istanbul. BBC article.

From Reuters, here is a chronology of the bomb explosions in Turkey since May 2002:

LONDON, June 24 (Reuters) – A parcel bomb exploded in Turkey’s capital on Thursday near the hotel where U.S. President George W. Bush is due to stay shortly, injuring three people.

Following is a chronology of explosions in Turkey over the last two years:

May 13, 2002 – A bomb rips through a park near the luxury Ritz-Carlton Hotel in the centre of Istanbul, with no reported injuries or fatalities. No group claimed responsibility.

Aug 27, 2002 – Two unidentified people throw a pipe bomb at an Istanbul office of the far-right Nationalist Action Party (MHP), damaging property but causing no injuries or deaths.

April 3, 2003 – A small explosion is heard outside the British consulate in Istanbul in the early hours but there are no reports of damage or injuries.

May 20, 2003 – A woman belonging to the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) detonates a bomb at a cafe in the centre of Ankara, killing herself and injuring another person.

June 11, 2003 – A Turkish man throws two grenades at U.S. consulate in Istanbul, shattering windows but causing no injuries. Authorities suggested he was mentally disturbed.

June 11, 2003 – A percussion, or “pop” bomb, is set off outside the U.S. consulate in Turkey’s southern city of Adana.

Aug 1, 2003 – Two explosions shake a Turkish Justice Ministry training centre in Ankara, injuring 17 police officers, two of them seriously. No one claims responsibility.

Nov 15, 2003 – 30 people are killed and 146 wounded when car bombs shatter two synagogues in Istanbul as worshippers celebrate the Sabbath. Authorities name two men from southeast Turkey as the suicide bombers, saying the attack bore the hallmarks of the al Qaeda network.

Nov 20, 2003 – 32 people are killed and many wounded in two explosions in Istanbul. One blast destroys part of the HSBC Bank headquarters and the other damages the British consulate.

March 17, 2004 – A Molotov cocktail is thrown at the British Council’s office in the Turkish capital, causing no injuries but some damage to property.

May 17, 2004 – Four small bombs explode outside branches of British bank HSBC in Ankara and Istanbul, hours before British Prime Minister Tony Blair is set to visit Turkey.

June 18, 2004 – Two small explosions apparently caused by percussion devices go off in Turkey’s western coastal city of Izmir. There was minor damage and one person was slightly injured.

June 24, 2004 – A percussion bomb goes off near the hotel in Ankara, two days before U.S. President George W. Bush is due to stay. Two policemen and a third person were hurt.

For a large country of 65-70 million with a colourful political past and bordering many countries, including Iraq, this is not that surprising. As you can read, most of the explosions were minor causing no or slight injuries.

I hope people do not cancel their trips to Turkey because of what they see on the news. I feel perfectly safe here and would not move unless the situation became infinitely worse.

Odds of winning the lottery are still far, far better than the chances of being injured or killed by a bomb in Turkey. The greatest danger here is still the traffic. That hasn’t changed…

A Hilarious Translation

Today at work I viewed a poorly translated document. It was an A4 table of different projects supposedly translated from Turkish to English. One of the columns detailed the type of project. Instead of “type” the column was headed “sexual“!!!!

In Turkish, ‘type’ means ‘cins’. However, ‘cins’ also means genus, sex, breed, gender, etcetera and somehow the translator chose “sexual” instead of “type”. Tomorrow I will try to scan and post a copy of the table if I can.

UPDATE [22 June 2004]: As promised here is the scan of the relevant section. More accurate construction project heading translations are:


Turkish Job Ads

Yesterday I purchased the ‘Hurriyet’ (‘Freedom’), one of Turkey’s leading newspapers. I bought the paper to:

a) practice and improve my Turkish

b) keep up to date with what’s happening in Turkey; and,

c) have a preliminary look at the job ads in case I need to find another job in the future

The top story concerned a whirlwind in Ankara province tossing cars in the air and killing 3 people. If my understanding of the headline is correct, this was Turkey’s first fatality-causing whirlwind.

Other stories concerned yesterday’s OSS exam and the upcoming NATO summit in Istanbul. One of the NATO stories profiled two people who will be protesting at the event. They were holding “BUSH GELME” (‘Bush don’t come’) signs. For those fluent in Turkish, a quick Google search of this phrase brings up almost 500 results.

Although tabloid in content, the Hurriyet is of better quality than most other Turkish newspapers. It is broadsheet in size and probably would be regarded as broadsheet quality in this country of low media standards. Perhaps the only non-tabloid content newspaper is the “Cumhuriyet” (‘Republic’).

The Turkish job ads are different to the Australian ads in many ways:

*Age and gender preferences are often explicitly requested. ‘Must be between 28 and 35’. Most ads requesting ages, requested young people. I guess they could then pay a lower salary.

*Many requested for male applicants to have completed their military service obligation. For males with an outstanding military obligation, it is almost impossible to be even considered for a professional position. Employers do not want someone who may be called up and taken away at any moment by the military.

*‘Be able to move freely’ is a requirement for some ads. In some conservative Turkish families, certain female members (for example: those divorced) are restricted in their movements by their families. These restrictions may encompass living in another town or staying overnight somewhere else.

*More jobs require fluency in another language (generally English) besides Turkish. Several of these ads were written in Turkish and 1 was in German.

*Afghanistan, Iraq and Sudan were listed as job vacancy destinations. The last two were in the classified section of the ‘Cukurova’ regional supplement. This supplement covers the Mersin, Adana, Gaziantep, Antakya and Sanliurfa areas and contains region-specific news.

*No salary ranges were mentioned.

*There were no government job ads.

If I ever look for another job in Turkey, my Turkish CV will be very different to my Australian resume. Besides the work experience and references tailored to each country or job position, the following will change:

Anniversaries, Exams, Conspiracies

Happy Anniversaries to me

This week in 2001 I first arrived in Turkey. This week i 2003 I came to Turkey for the second time. Much has changed in this time, particularly the prices.

The University Entrance Exam

Tomorrow, almost 2 million Turkish students will be taking the University Entrance Exam (OSS). A fellow employee and my boss’s daughter will be amongst them. The exam is very cutthroat. Some students have studied full-time for the past year just for this exam. Their whole future will be determined by this 3-hour exam. Some details on the exam are here.

The Answer to my Previous Printer Conspiracy

Tom, on his excellent blog, has pointed out this brilliant speech on Digital Rights Management (DRM) given by Cory Doctorow to Microsoft executives. Amongst many other things, Cory helps explain the conspiracy I experienced earlier in the month:

We have companies like Lexmark claiming that their printer cartridges contain copyrighted works — software that trips an “I am empty” flag when the toner runs out, and have sued a competitor who made a remanufactured cartridge that reset the flag.

Nuclear Mersin

In news just in:

The Turkish government is reviving plans to build a controversial nuclear power plant at Akkuyu, close to Mersin. This power plant has been in the planning for a long time and was last dropped following in early 2001 following the economic crisis. This is actually the first time I recall hearing about the plant.


Turkey Revives Plans for Nuclear Power Plant

Akkuyu plant details (not up to date)

A previous international campaign against the plant

I am licensed again!

Today I received my replacement South Australian drivers licence in the post. I had lost my original one several months again.

To obtain this replacement, I:

a) requested the sending of a form

b)visited the embassy in Ankara for a witness to my signature; and

c) sent back the completed form along with a credit card authorisation for AUD$11

The funny thing is the diplomat’s signature at the embassy cost AUD$20, almost twice as much as the licence itself!

Toygun has returned!

Last night I saw my friend, Toygun, for the first time in several months. In early November 2003 we visited Anazarbus and in December he started his compulsory military service. 6 months later he exited the army. Toygun described his military service as very boring as he didn’t have much to do after his initial training period.

Turkey is moving towards a more professional army with less reliance on poorly-trained military service conscripts. Compulsory military service is a huge waste of money and the resources used should be put towards far more useful purposes. Having said that, military service in Turkey does provide a great discipline and development tool. Toygun himself acknowledged the military turns boys into men. He now wakes up earlier and keeps his room tidier than before!

PS: Both yesterday and today the ADSL Internet access is very intermittent, making surfing the web or sending emails extremely frustrating. I can’t complain too much, though, I could be doing military service!


The Israeli High Court suspends the ban on pork sales in 3 localities. I would love to go there to celebrate by eating some bacon or roast pork or ham or…

The funniest and saddest part of the article is this quote from one of the local Jewish fundamentalists:

The High Court has driven a central nail in the coffin of Jewish identity in the state

Pork is not banned in Turkey and is freely available where there is a demand for it, including the tourist resorts and in large supermarkets of the major cities. Unfortunately, it is not easily accessible in Mersin. I do miss pork but not enough to go out of my way to find some.