New Year 2003/4

Mersin

On the 31st, work finished at the early time of 4pm. I made my way home, cooked a great pasta dish with sucuk (a Turkish spicy sausage) and vegetables that Orhan came to share. I showered and finished and readied myself for the night. We caught the dolmus (minibus) to Orhan’s house and said hello to his parents, sister and Indian neighbour Sait. I also had time, before my train to Adana, to eat some delicious chicken and lamb shish and sample Tequila. Before we got to his place, Orhan did not know Tequila and described the spirit as “Mexican Whisky”. After Orhan’s place, I caught the 20:44 train (1,900,000 TL, 70 km, 75 minutes) to Adana, arriving at 21:59.

Cazara in Adana

Waiting at the station were Polish AIESEC trainee Magda, Mexican AIESEC trainee Ali and Turkish legend Nebi. A few minutes previously, Nebi had narrowly survived being hit by a car – the open beer bottle he held was still intact though! We walked to ‘Cazara’, an alternative music nightclub in the centre of Adana. Cazara is Magda’s haunt. Entry was 20,000,000 TL, including 3 drinks and unlimited snacks (popcorn, mixed nuts and carrot strips). Upstairs the DJ was playing, downstairs the band had yet to start. Downstairs we headed.

Music

The music on the downstairs PA was promising – they even played Def Leppard’s ‘Animal’. In fact, they played this song on the PA 3 times before of after the band. The relatively small room was very crowded. After a while, Maria, the Portuguese trainee arrived. The band started and played a good selection of western and Turkish rock. Apparently they are the house band. The singer is also the drummer, a rare combination. He is also an English teacher, so he actually sang the proper lyrics clearly. All night I was trying to remember who the singer reminded me of and yesterday I finally recalled – Bill Murray the actor (Groundhog Day). The other members consisted of bass, lead and rhythm guitarists and a female singer who came on during the second set. They did not accept my request to play ‘Stairway to Heaven’.

Midnight

The midnight countdown was a few minutes late but that was fine. People were having too much fun to worry about exactitudes too much. At around midnight I brought out the 250 ml bottle of Zubrowka vodka. Zubrowka is a famous Polish vodka from eastern Poland. The bottle has a picture of a bison on it and every bottle contains a blade of grass. Alicia, my Canadian friend, had given me the vodka as a gift when she visited in October – thank you Alicia. I brought the vodka to Adana because it is Magda’s favourite drink. She mentioned this fact in email on the 30th. I did not tell her I had a bottle. When the bottle was brought out she was surprised and delighted. It is coincidental that I have both tequila and Polish vodka on the night I meet Mexican and Polish trainees. Zubrowka and tequila are extremely rare in this part of Turkey.

After Cazara

At about 2:30 am downstairs was losing its vitality. The band had finished earlier and most people were leaving. Maria, Ali and I heading upstairs and outside. We entered a neighbouring nightclub for a while, however this place was almost dead. Virtually all places in the immediate area were dying. The time had come to start walking home. On the way to Maria’s place, I shouted the other a meal at the Stadyum Kebab shop. I ate liver whilst Ali and Maria had Adana kebap (3,ooo,ooo TL each). Salad, turnip, pickled chillies and pide (flat) bread accompanied the meat. At 4 am the food was well appreciated. After dropping Maria off Ali and I walked all the way along Baraj Yolu (Dam Road) to his place on top storey of a 4 storey building. On the way, the first bus of the morning passed us. At 6:30 am it was time for both the sun to dawn and for me to sleep.

The Next Evening

5 pm brought my final rising. Ali was cooking some delicious rice in kitchen. After the meal came time for the inevitable, delayed, not-looked-forward-to re-wearing of the clothes worn the previous night. The stale smoke smell my jacket, jumper and trousers contained could have neutralised nuclear waste. I said goodbye to Ali and caught the orange bus back to the train station in time for the 19:15 fast train (57 minutes, 1,900,000 TL) to Mersin. After another bus I was home. Orhan was there and we drank a cup of tea whilst both the washing machine cleansed my clothes and the water heated for my much-awaited shower.

That was New Year 2003/2004!