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Sunday, 01 September 2013

Batman, Turkey - Page 2

Written by Maria Estrella Aggabao
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Luckily, across the street next to the Turkish style mini-mart, I spotted a dolmu?, a little van  that transported people back and forth to select destinations throughout the day. It was cheap too:  6 lira (about $3.00) to travel 30 minutes in an air conditioned vehicle. Istanbul had the same. On the back of the van in big letters were the words BATMAN – HASANKEYF.  I hurriedly crossed the street to the van thinking I would hop on and get some relief and go. As I peeked my head inside, I noticed a boy about 10 years old sitting in the first seat near the window. He was alone. I asked him if this was the van going to Hasankeyf and  he confirmed in Turkish that it was.  Like a salesman in training, he accompanied his response with a shy but pleasant smile. The boy jumped out of the van and stood outside soliciting potential passengers walking on the sidewalk. The dolmu? was a convenient form of transportation like a carpool service running almost constantly.  The problem was that you had to wait until all seats were filled before leaving for your destination. For passengers that meant waiting a few minutes or up to an hour depending on how long the driver wanted to wait at one spot for the vehicle to fill up.  

I went inside the air-conditioned mini-mart and bought myself a survival pack:  a bottle of water and an even bigger bottle of Ayran, a combination of yogurt, water, and salt. It’s a national Turkish drink said to help tolerate the heat.  I killed a lot of time in the mini-mart devoting my time looking through the Turkish-brand candy and snack section. The heat, though, seemed to have put a halt on my appetite. 

I glanced outside at some point and noticed the dolmu? started to fill up. Grandmothers in their long black dresses and stunning wrinkled faces piled into the bus with their grandchildren. Seats were filled with couples, old men, different generations of families, newborn babies, and then, me. Loads of bags with goods, vegetables, and fruits piled up in the back. I grabbed a seat in the rear. Sitting next to me was a well-dressed man in a pink polo shirt, white shorts, and sunglasses. He looked at his Iphone incessantly (Iphones are somewhat rare in Turkey because of its high price tag.) There was a middle-aged couple sitting to the far left of me. The woman’s hair was beautifully wrapped in a headscarf, her skin was glowing brown, and her eyes dark with black eyeliner.  She was chatting with her husband I assumed. His face, like most of the passengers, was shiny and sticky. He barely looked at her, but was nodding his head constantly to the sound of her voice. 

We were like passengers eagerly waiting for our plane’s take off. We sat side by side packed corner to corner. Our patience was truly being tested. The driver, however, dapper in his clean newly bleached- looking white shirt and salt and pepper hair, stood outside waiting patiently smoking one of his many Marlboro Classic cigarettes.  Apparently, one passenger was urging him to wait. His friend, his arkada? , would arrive shortly. Drivers followed their own time table and unless under major scrutiny would be the only one to decide to stay or go. Apparently, he took the passenger’s word for it. 

Soon after, I began to hear comments being thrown around by irritated passengers. Some had been waiting for more than 30 minutes. They wondered how much longer it would be for us to wait in this heat and how ridiculous it was that we were waiting this long in the first place. Most people spoke Kurdish which was the prevalent language in this part of the country. I, too, spewed out my own comments. Mine, however, were only in my head in English, just as potent nevertheless. In between my silent rants, I daydreamed about my comfy bed in my cool hotel and how I wished I were there at that moment. 

A minute or so went by when we saw a man carrying a large checkered tote bag running wildly towards the van. His shirt was wet on the back as was his floppy hair. He ran onto the bus and wiped off his forehead with a handkerchief relieved. 

(Page 2 of 3)
Last modified on Sunday, 01 September 2013

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