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Middle East » Turkey » Central Anatolia » Ankara
February 8th 2008
Published: February 10th 2008
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Picking up where I left off a few entries ago, there are a few more things I should add about the headscarf. Başörtüsü, I am told, refers to the headscarf worn (often by older women) which allows the hair to be visible around the top of the forehead, by the neck, etc. The türban, which is at the heart of this debate, is something different. The word turban makes me think of hairy Sikh men wearing UFO-shaped lengths of fabric twisted on top of their heads. Here in Turkey, türban has come to mean a başörtüsü worn over something-like-a-swimming-cap, which completely hides all hair from sight.

I was also (wrongly) under the impression that the new rules would allow female university students to wear their headscarves in the classroom. Those students do now have the freedom to wear their headscarves around campus - into smoky dining halls, smoky computer labs, up and down smoky hallways, and just about anywhere else they please (I have seen türban-wearing women smoking, by the way. It's a perplexing contradiction, as I believe Islam does not permit this vice). However, before entering a classroom, they must de-headscarf, and de-something-like-a-swimming-cap. All that taboo female hair must
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The president's building is the tallest one on campus, and centrally located, making it a convenient landmark. And, wow, that's how you build a fire escape...
be on display during lecture time, a sexy distraction that I'm not sure I'll be able to handle! I mean hair, real, Turkish hair!
(I just let out a nasal, funky "ooo-ooooooo-ooo-ooooooh" that would make Prince blush)

So, the good news is I've found a solution to this debate:
I will start wearing the türban, for 6 reasons.
1. This will spread equality by demonstrating that the garment can be embraced by people of both genders.
2. My wearing of the headscarf, as a non-Muslim, will help to de-politicize it. It is a garment for all people, everywhere!
3. Protection from those harsh, wintry Anatolian winds.
4. By donning the controversial accessory, I'll demonstrate that Americans still have a sense of humor. After seven years of the shamefull - and many would still argue ILLEGAL - regime of George W. Bush, we still have the ability to laugh. His administration may have tarnished our standing in the international community and irreversably damaged our future as a nation, but it has not completely broken us as human beings.
5. I will save money on haircuts. Although, by doing so, I will miss out on interesting experiences. The Turkish torch and
SignsSignsSigns

I'm glad that they remembered to mention that...
thread treatment is quite surprising, as is the no-pain-no-gain style face, head, neck, and shoulder massage which is unleashed when you least expect it - y'know, during a haircut.
6. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I will display my own sexual modesty, for the good of Turkey. I'm not saying that Turkey's women are in danger of losing control of themselves simply at the sight of me. In no way do I mean to imply that Anatolian hearts start thumping everytime I walk into a room. Still, is it a coincidence that this headscarf debate has grown to a heated level since my arrival in the country? You decide...

Moving on to somthing completely unrelated, let me comment on something that I find particularly comical. Some of the Turkish evening news shows score their broadcasts! That is, a serious story about a house fire, an arrest, a natural disaster, fighting in faraway lands, or whatever else, will be set to epic music appropriate for a movie like Braveheart. Being someone skeptical of traditional media sorces to begin with, this added spice, this theatrical frosting is just too much for me to take.

Six people died today in Gaza
food, billiards, internetfood, billiards, internetfood, billiards, internet

A fair amount of campus socializing seems to take place here. This is where I am right now - can't remember the name of this building...
(cymbol crash!)... conditions in Kenya continued to deteriorate (rumbling kettle drums)... and American president George W. Bush (slide whistle & cow bell)... meanwhile, Prime Minister Erdoğan (soothing, dignified strings, building meaningfully)...

I've been reminded of this because Ahmet, my new roommate, likes to watch a fair bit of TV, as far as I can tell. He arrived two days ago, with a nasty cold, and found me in the same state. We've been drinking juice, sniffling, and coughing together - trying to make the most of our final weekend of freedom before classes begin. I keep my pocket dictionary ever close by.

My new favorite words are:
dilbilgisi - grammar (lit. "language-knowledge" or "language-information")
&
şişe mantarı - cork (lit. "bottle mushroom")





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I'm trying to get through this book, but my Türkçe is just not quite ready yet. I've read and re-read about five pages. I think I'll have it by the summer.
My dorm buildingMy dorm building
My dorm building

Yeah, it's not that exciting, but my mom likes the details. This one's for you, mom.
My roomMy room
My room

I'm finally experiencing dorm life. Yippy.
View from my window.View from my window.
View from my window.

I have to open this window regularly so that I don't turn into jerky. My room is more of a sauna than a bedroom - all the time. Still, better too hot than too cold... Apart from the sprawling western edge of Ankara on the right, it's not an awful view.
puddles...puddles...
puddles...

You're never to old for playing with puddles. I tried to get the top of the arches, but they wouldn't fit in the frame. Deal with it.


11th February 2008

Ah the dorm is precious! Almost looks like a cute suburban development house... At least it's not ancient and rickety so that none of that evil winter wind can intrude on your comfort. Feel better!
22nd February 2008

Hillarious! Thanks for your wittiness Jim! :)
13th March 2008

dear marco polo, we are so appreciated that you have come to our country .it gives us such a pleasure that i cant explain . And i am quite happy that you have some "brilliant" ideas about our big problem which is named "türban". As we all know USA is known as a "country of freedom"and what i think is that you should bring us some democracy like you are doing in Irak. before critisizing us you should look at your own country and see whats going on ?
13th March 2008

Response to Vildan
Well, now... I sense just a mild trace of hostility in your post. Let me first address the türban issue, once again. I meant to cause no offense with my blog. I had intended to spread a little light humor over the widely controversial issue. I have found that it is a very polarizing issue here, one hotly debated on the evening news every night. You have misunderstood me if you thought that my words were in anyway a criticism of Islam or of Turkey's fine society. I am simply trying to make sense of this complicated issue, and enjoying doing so in this fine democracy, where public opinions are (for the most part) freely expressed. As for the USA/Iraq/comments, I feel that you are addressing some unrelated subjects. At the same time you are assuming that I fit into your idea of what it means to be American. It would be naive to believe that in a nation of 300,000,000+ people, vast ranges of differing opinions do not exist - especially on something like the war in Iraq. Furthermore, by attacking me rather than presenting your own arguments, you are committing a logical fallacy, known as "ad hominem." Please revise your arguments and explain how you feel about the türban issue. Thank you for welcoming me to Turkey, though I must say it is not the warmest welcome I have received.
18th March 2008

ok, i think i owe you an apology for my words because they were a bit harsh. "hostility" is a very unpleasent word and i dont want to be known as a hater. sorry for that. what i think about "türban" issue is that people should be free to wear it. thats a person's own choice. but in our country some people force others to be what they want, which is smth i am opposite of. i think that people should respect other peoples opinions, political thoughts, religions, ethnicity. we should be really free to express our opinions not partly. but this is not possible and i dont think it will be. welcome again

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