Photos From Today’s Picnic In the Mountains

Today, the company held a picnic at Aslankoy (near Gozne) in the mountains north of Mersin. We were hoping for a picnic in the snow but the only snow we saw consisted of small patches on the side of the road.

Serkan and Bulent (Nesibe’s husband) tend the onions, sausages and lamb chops. The lamb chops in Turkey are flattened with a mallet, as opposed to those in Australia which generally are not.

Natraj applying to work for Coca-Cola

Serkan and the sheep

I’m featuring a few photos of Serkan as he will leave work in a few weeks to do his military service. Serkan has worked for IES for many years (6 or 7 I believe) and has been a great friend and colleague.

Natraj, Buket, Serkan (holding lamb) and myself

The other picnic attendants walking along the road with Serkan doing his best John Travolta impersonation

All signs point to Joe.

What I’ve Been Reading

I recently finished reading The Riders by Australian author Tim Winton.

‘The Riders’ was a gripping novel and I finished the bulk of its 377 pages in 3 consecutive evenings.

This book is set largely in Europe although the main characters, a man, his wife and their daughter, are Australian. It is thoroughly researched and the author showed intimate knowledge of Greece, Ireland, Italy and the Netherlands amongst other locations.

The characters were also very well developed.

‘The Riders’ could have been an amazing novel instead of an excellent one if only I could make more sense of it.

I agree with the first Spotlight Review (scroll down the page) at almost to a word.

Overall, I highly recommend people read ‘The Riders’ although it could have been better.

A New Flatmate and Bad-Lik Rock Bar

Natraj and I now have a new flatmate: Levent. Levent originally comes from Mardin and is a train driver.

Levent brought with him a smaller but newer TV and accompanying satellite dish and receiver. We now have access to hundreds of TV channels, mainly in Arabic, Italian, French, Turkish and other languages but also including BBC World!

The last and only previous Mersin flat I lived in with an English-language television channel was at Denizhan 2, Mezitli in 2001-2002.

Levent moved to Mersin from Adana a few weeks ago and first met Natraj at the Bad-Lik Rock Bar in the Antik Han complex in Mersin’s centre.

Cousins Cigdema and Alev run Bad-Lik and the bar has a fun and liberal atmosphere. Every Friday and Saturday night a live cover band plays Turkish and foreign rock, although the band hasn’t played recently as the bar is changing their kit. Live music should return in two weeks’ time.

Every visit to Bad-Lik has been memorable. From the cover band playing Wicked Game, one of Mr. Bockleberg’s (my high school Tech Studies teacher) favourite songs to meeting the Philippino sailors to Peter singing and acting out Jailbreak’s lyrics last night.

I think I have found ‘my place’ in Mersin.

Go Boonie!

I look forward to shaking Boonie’s hand when I visit Australia.

At an Adelaide Oval test cricket match between Australia and England (in 1999?) there was a spectator on the hill under the scoreboard who looked similar to David Boon (retired cricket player).

The crowd, particularly the Poms, kept buying him beers and having their photo taken with him. Every time he was bought a drink he stood up, sculled the beer and threw the cup over his shoulder to the roar of the crowd.

When he went to the toilet and when he exited the ground he was given a standing ovation by thousands of other spectators. It was as if the real Boonie was there!

That day was one of my funniest ever times.

I was also lucky enough to have observed Boon’s last ever day of test cricket versus Sri Lanka at Adelaide Oval on 29 January, 1996. On the day, the crowd on the hill under the scoreboard kept yelling ‘give Boonie a bowl’. Unfortunately, he wasn’t given a bowl.

Coincidentally, Sunday is the 10th anniversary of his test match retirement.

Boonie is truly a legend!

More Flag Burning: An Australia Day Post

What’s in a piece of cloth? Plenty, it seems…

Today, 26 January, is Australia Day, Australia’s national holiday. This day commemorates the 1788 arrival of the first settlers to begin the colony of New South Wales.

Many people, myself included, believe Federation Day (1 January) should be made Australia’s national holiday. On 1 January, 1901, Australia’s colonies united to form the country of Australia.

1 January (as opposed to 26 January):
a) includes all of Australia, not just New South Wales;
b) has had more influence on day to day modern Australia (via the constitution); and,
c) is less painful to Aboriginals, Australia’s first inhabitants

Relevance, influence and inclusiveness should be enough to change the national holiday.

Following the huge event that was 2005’s attempted Turkish flag burning in Mersin, Australia Day 2006 has brought two Australian flag burning stories:

Police seize burnt flag artwork

Police say they acted after members of the public complained about an exhibition called Proudly Un-Australian by artist Azlan McLennan.

His partially burnt flag was hanging outside of a Footscray gallery, in public view.


RSL denounces ‘un-Australian’ flag burning

The Queensland President of the RSL says he will be writing to politicians to urge them to make it a criminal offence to deface the Australian flag.

Police say a group of Indigenous people burned the flag at an ‘invasion day’ ceremony in inner Brisbane today.

Bill Mason says the act is un-Australian and the law needs to change.

“Well I’ll certainly be writing to our own State Parliament and the opposition parties to get a bipartisan or partisan agreement and if we can’t get it done federally, get it into Queensland anyway to make it an offence to deface, destroy national symbols,” he said.

“I think it’s absolutely disgusting and unfortunately it’s not punishable by law as an offence on its own, it may fall into some other category but it’s unfortunate.”


The RSL plays a valuable role in Australian society and the opinions of its representatives should be considered carefully and valued.

I’ve considered Bill Mason’s opinion on flag burning and I flat-out disagree with it.

This whinging over and censorship of the burning of Australian flags makes me want to go to Mersin’s main square and burn an Australian flag just for the hell of it.

If there was no hysteria about burning flags, I would never consider burning one myself.

2006_01_27 Update:

Azlan McLennan’s artwork before it was seized:

And, I even agree with the Prime Miniature on the flag-burning!

Road Melting and Whale ‘Vomit’

Two interesting news stories from Western Eyre Peninsula, South Australia, the area I come from.

Heatwave triggers blackouts, blazes

THE bitumen started to melt in Ceduna as South Australia sweltered through a third consecutive day above 40C.

The Far West Coast town was the hottest in South Australia with a peak of 46.5C at 4.30pm yesterday that had even the locals gasping.

“It sure feels like the hottest place in the state,” said Andrew Brooks, who works at Ceduna’s visitor centre

“We get a lot of hot weather here but today the bitumen is starting to melt because it’s really extreme. It’s taken a few people by surprise and even the locals are doing it tough.”

Whale spew find may net $1m for family

A family on South Australia’s west coast has discovered a rare specimen of whale vomit on the beach that is tipped to be worth over $1 million.

See related: Whale ‘vomit’ sparks cash bonanza

Wireless Is Coming To Turkey!

I would not be surprised if wireless internet access is a reasonably common in Istanbul but as I have not been there for a while I haven’t seen it.

The first time I recall wireless internet access anywhere in Turkey was at the Otantik restaurant in Antalya earlier this month.

I now read that the Kamil Koc bus company will add free wireless internet access to their buses (registration required):

A deal between Avea-partner Astech and Kamil Koç has led to new wireless Internet service on Kamil Koç buses, which will enable passengers to surf the Net free of charge on personal laptops while traveling. The Speednet IP9200 connection will offer nonstop connection on buses, despite rules that cell phones not be used on board. It was not specified whether the deal will remain exclusive to Kamil Koç.

Kamil Koc is one of the major Turkish bus companies. Unfortunately they do not serve Mersin.

I will buy a laptop computer soon and wireless is one of the features the computer will have to have. Go wireless!

News: Bird Flu and Mehmet Ali Agca’s Release and Re-imprisonment

The two main news stories of the past month in Turkey concern the spread of the bird flu through Turkey and the release of the convicted murderer Mehmet Ali Agca.

Bird Flu

Bird flu has infected 21 people in several areas of Turkey and claimed the lives of four children from the far eastern town of Dogubeyazit, bordering Iran.

Even though well-cooked chicken eggs and meat are still safe to eat, the Turkish people have reacted with alarm and panic.

One day at Umut’s large supermarket, they sold less than a kilogram of chicken meat in total! Yasemin’s hotel took chicken of their buffet and my local tantuni place in Mersin now does not cook chicken tantuni.

The chicken producers and retailers are suffering and Prime Minister Erdogan has urged locals to eat chicken. I’m doing my bit as this week I bought a roast chicken and happily ate it with Natraj.

The bird flu threat now seems to be fading so that is good news.

Mehmet Ali Agca

Mehmet Ali Agca is a nasty piece of work with powerful connections. He murdered a prominent Turkish journalist and after escaping jail attempted to murder the late Pope John Paul II in 1981.

His release from a Turkish prison is highly controversial as he only served five and a half years for the murder of the journalist. Upon release he was due to conduct his military service but today was found mentally unfit to serve. He has now been re-arrested and should remain in prison until 2010.

Read the Wikipedia article and Google News for more information on Agca.