Thursday, May 24, 2007

Turkish fieldwork notes: lost time

Kurdistan/Turkey fieldwork notes extracts

This post details a typical, wasted day, in which I lost so much time to one thing after another that it was entirely unproductive and quite dispiriting.

At 9pm on the 12th of May 2007, I believed that,
human and nature are conspiring against me. I lost another hour or so failing to find a map and another two hours or thereabouts to proselytising Muslims, then when I finally got to the district I was going to, a rainstorm arrived at the same time and made a visit to the one site accessible within the time available impossible, as the dirt roads became unusable; I am going back tomorrow though.

I think I've given myself a cold from not sleeping enough, fuelled on a diet of kebab and lahmacun. I felt washed out and had a headache this morning; I really didn't want to get out of bed and subject myself to another unproductive day.

I got up and out and checked my e-mails. I went to the office of the Greater Diyarbakır Municipality, which yesterday I'd been told would be open, to find it "closed", with staff there but not seeing anyone. The security guards sent me to the Directorate of Culture, which had staff in and was running activities, but which told me to come back on Monday.

As I was on my way to find a bus to Lice, I saw the tourist information office; stupidly, I went in. I asked for a map and, while finding three maps that were little or no help, the staff asked me if I were a Christian... Maybe an hour later, I escaped.

Having escaped, I was being sent up and down the street parallel to the city walls, everyone confident that the bus to Lice left from somewhere else. I asked someone who turned out to be a delivery driver where I could find it and he told me to get in and have a lift from him once his workmate had got back...

About an hour of deliveries later, I'd had another hour of proselytisation, interspersed with Hizbullah proselytisation and repeated requests that I just pass my time with them rather than visit the places I want to, cheerfully telling me just to 'do it tomorro' and, when I asked when I would do what I already had planned for tomorrow, telling me to 'do it later', which is what he said about anything I had planned for my last two weeks in Turkey, which he'd evidently managed to make extensive plans for during the drive.

Finally, I got the bus to the bus station and the dolmuş to Lice. I bought a return ticket for the last dolmuş home, then crossed the road to the cafe; as I was crossing, it started to rain and I could see it was raining heavily elsewhere.

The locals invited me to sit down and got me tea as I explained why I was there and they told me that, because I'd arrived so late, only one site was within my reach and that was inaccessible because the rain turned the dirt road into unusable, boggy muddy traps. ('Yağmur, çamur, e!')

So, we chatted for half an hour or so, then one of the kindly older men took me for lahmacun down the road. It was really good; I only wish they'd believed me when I said I could only eat two, instead of giving me four and seeing one-and-a-half go to waste. We went back, had another quick tea, then I came home.

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