12/13/07

Fear of the cold



We Turks are a chronically cryophobic nation. We shun cold drinks believing they’ll make us ill, we shy from open windows thinking air drafts will send us to our doom, we loathe cold water in a shower or at the beach, we believe going outdoors with wet hair will cripple our constitution, we crank the heat up in our offices and homes and gaze with horror at those who dare venture outside unless stuffed into five layers of clothing. So what is the origin of our irrational obsession?

First of all, there’s our love of all things easy, our love of keyif (roughly translatable as "a pleasurable state of idle relaxation"). Contrary to Europeans or Americans, who generally have cultures in which hardship and overcoming obstacles are welcomed and even sought after, we have a culture in which all things soft and easy are relished instead. The fewer obstacles there are, the better for us. If someone is working on something we say ‘kolay gelsin’ (may it be easy). We are all too fond of indolence, and anything that stiffens the body, stimulates the system and gets the heart going is considered an annoying and unwelcome nuisance – and the cold is the greatest nuisance of all to our sense of keyif. (1)

Another reason we fear the cold is because of ridiculous old wives’ tales we learn from our mothers. Right from the earliest years Turkish kids are actively ‘protected’ from the cold, as if it were a dangerous menace that must be averted at all costs. We’re taught from a very young age that instead of learning to strengthen and inure ourselves to unpleasant things by facing them and thereby developing immunity to them, we should always avoid those things instead. And so we continue putting on layer upon layer of clothing and popping antibiotics like they’re tic tacs as we get sicker and sicker all the time because our immune system is kept weak from over-protection and pampering.

Our strange national obsession with the cold can be fully summed up in the microcosm of a bus ride in winter. First we’ll close all the windows, even though we’re all packed in like sardines and thus more than warm enough thanks to our collective body heat and excessive clothing. Yet we still close all the windows because we actually believe that feeling a breeze on our faces makes us ‘cold’ (we’re also anemophobes after all), merely because of the simple disparity in temperature felt on one part of the body vis-à-vis the rest of the body. The discomfort of feeling the breeze itself will thus be misconstrued as ‘being cold’ in general, and so the window will be promptly shut (or never opened in the first place) with the automatic knee-jerk refrain ‘üşüteceğiz’ (we’ll ‘catch cold’). And yet we fail to realize that closing all the windows makes us all the more susceptible to getting infected, because it provides the perfect stuffy and static environment for microbes to be breathed and coughed and sneezed out of one respiratory tract and into the other. And so when we finally catch an infection and get sick we say we ‘caught cold’, even while we continue to assume we’re protecting ourselves from ‘catching cold’ by closing the windows. So we actually believe it’s the cold itself that makes us sick, not the contraction of germs that our fear of the cold facilitates. In other words, we’re getting sick because of our fear of the cold!

Another belief we have is that the more clothes we have on, the warmer we’ll be, unaware that we’re actually restricting the blood flow in our body and thus making ourselves even colder. Then, when we get colder because we have too much clothing on, we react by stiffening and tensing our bodies, which makes us colder still, to the point where we now start shivering and our teeth start chattering. Include the fact that most of us are already cold just from fearing the cold even before we’ve left the house, and you’ll see that our phobia verges on a crippling hysteria.

So what should we do to combat the cryophobia? 1) dress lighter – a good jacket with one layer underneath is all you need, 2) take a cold shower every morning, it’s good for you, 3) don’t overheat your office, home or car, instead wear a sweater and keep the heat low, 4) let your face and neck be exposed to the cold, it’s invigorating, healthy, and you don’t get sick from having a cold face and neck (really, you don’t), wear a beanie on your head if it’s really cold, 5) for goodness’ sake, OPEN A COUPLE OF WINDOWS ON THE BUS! 6) don’t take antibiotics unless you think you might be dying, 7) remember, mother DOESN’T always know best, 8) drink more water (you don’t realize you’re dehydrated in winter), 9) learn to enjoy the cold, it’s good for you, 10) keep your body loose and stop being such a whiny little baby.

(1) For more on this topic go to The Art of Keyif

12/8/07

The Crazy Blooded



Delikanlı is a term generally applied to 15-to-25 year-old Turkish males, but which also has a more specific meaning that refers to a particular kind of Turkish male, replete with a rigid code of behavior that defines the delikanlı as something more than an adolescent and closer to a sort of young Casanova-meets-ruffian type of working-class-neighborhood Lothario.

Literally meaning ‘crazy blooded’, the term delikanlı represents an ideal applied to morally-upright, charismatic, tough young men who stand apart with their groomed looks, machismo, stoicism, haughty independence, rebelliousness, honesty, fortitude, bravado, and also a touch of impishness. If one were to seek delikanlı comparisons in popular Western culture, such names as Pushkin, Heracles, Lermontov, John Wayne, Romeo, Marlon Brando, Mercutio, Theseus, Rimbaud, Neal Cassady, Hamlet, and Muhammad Ali might come to mind.

The essential rule of ‘delikanlılık’ (crazy bloodedness) is to be weighty (‘ağır’). That means a delikanlı never runs except in an emergency, or laughs unnecessarily, or speaks more than he should. The delikanlı abides by a strict moral code of defending the weak and standing up to the strong, never averting confrontation, but also not getting into niggling fights just for the hell of it. He’s a ladies' man, and always boasts a harem of girls who are all supposedly mad for him. Yet he always has his eye on his next conquest, and thus becomes her belalı (literally, her ‘trouble’) – meaning that, even though the girl is not yet ‘with’ him, he has the right to fight any other guy who shows interest for that girl. There are two types of girls for the delikanlı: the ones you marry (‘evlenilecek kız’, i.e. virgins) and the ones you have fun with (‘eğlenilecek kız’, not virgins). He takes care to present a stylish, handsome look, without being foppish, and he generally holds a conservative outlook on life, being patriotic and god-fearing, but with his own independence and freedom of spirit coming before all else. After all, he is a sort of law unto himself, and he is the stuff of local lore and legend, the one people tell exaggerated stories about and whom his best friends have male-crushes over.

A neighborhood delikanlı’s day may go something like this: gets up at 11 am, cigarette, mother makes him fried eggs and sucuk, another cigarette, out on the street he jumps into a game of football and the kids let their abi (big brother) score a few goals. He’ll light one more cigarette after that, comb his hair in a parked car’s rearview mirror, play Iddaa, grab some lottery tickets, then jump in his white Tofaş Şahin with his crew, turn the music up, and go cruising in Taksim or Bağdat Caddesi.

Yet, unfortunately, the lovable delikanlı has changed and become more sinister over the past couple of decades. With the eddying growth of urbanization and the expansion of ghettoized swaths in the big cities, what was once the noble and innocuous local delikanlı has since undergone a transformation that reflects the emergence of a scarred underclass of disenfranchised and unemployed urban youth, whose sense of alienation and estrangement from the mainstream has been exacerbated by growing socio-economic inequality and the concomitant rise of classism and regionalism (Westernized/Istanbullu/European vs. eastern/southeastern Anatolian; fourth-generation-and-above-Istanbullu vs. uncouth migrant, etc), all of which has led to a new mutant delikanlı, one with the machismo intact, but now with the unsavory qualities of aggression in the place of rebellion, violence instead of fortitude, bullying in lieu of leadership, and ferocity rather than charisma. Like the graceful elf who became the tortured orc of Tolkien’s mythology, the delikanlı of our violence-ridden and greed-gratifying society has become a menacing presence.

It’s come to the point where there are even youths defining themselves as neo-delikanlı (yuppie delikanlı types) and even active anti-delikanlıs as a backlash to the corruption of the once esteemed ideal of the delikanlı, which has now become virtually synonymous with the brutish and offensive maganda (<-click for="" i="" more="" on="">maganda
s). The wanton rapacity and irresponsible extravagance of the nouveau riches who have benefited from the last 20 years of political and economic liberalization in Turkey has bred an antipodean underclass of bitter resentment from those who have seen none of those same rewards and windfalls, whose members are shut out of the benefits of wealth and success and nepotism, shunned by the well-to-do folk and the beautiful girls they see all around them, driving their SUVs and smiling seductively at them from billboards, tantalizing them from TV screens. All around him, the first or second generation Anatolian delikanlı witnesses those who make easy money, and spend even easier money. He watches with envy from newspapers, gossip magazines and socialite TV shows how the respect and recognition he craves lies in the quick and gratuitous acquisition of money or fame, and how the system works to the benefit of those who can do this, respecting this above all else, above dignity, above hard work, above honor. And so there are one of two paths open to the ghettoized gecekondu dweller: to shun the system and immerse oneself in traditional (Islamic) roots to create an alternate order, or to use the system and claw your way up with brutality, force, fear and crime, to do whatever it takes, break whatever law needs to be broken to be someone, anyone, a tough guy, a character everyone will fear, armed with a knife until one can afford a gun.
The effect of this transformation is naturally reflected in popular culture. As one will see in the most popular television shows of recent years (most notably ‘Kurtlar Vadisi’) the delikanlı is now almost invariably an aspiring mafia boss, one who conquers and humiliates and kills his rivals, one who is filthy rich, one who is brutal and irascible, and one who always has a harem of pretty girls who worship and serve him, as if they were the expected reward that followed naturally from these qualities. The young mutant delikanlıs who murdered Hrant Dink, or the old priest in Trabzon, or the three Christian evangelists in Malatya, and even the ones we see on TV every year harassing female tourists in Taksim square, have millions of admirers in this culture, and millions of people seeking to emulate them.

The mutant delikanlı is here to stay as the line between delikanlı and maganda becomes even more blurred. After all, the delikanlı is an apt reflection of the society that created him.

12/1/07

Yasaklar, Türk usulü (TURKISH)



Yassah gardaşım!
İnsanlar gibi soyu maymunlara dayanan bir hayat türünün yasalar icad etmiş olması elbette kimseyi şaşırtmamalı – hele Homo Sapiens Sapiens’lerin ta kendilerini (ne de olsa ‘Bildiğimizi Biliyoruz’-muşuz). Yine de bu yasaların ‘Bildik Bileli’ varolmasına rağmen insanların birbirlerine hala şenpanze gibi davrandıklarını, birbirlerini kesip biçip doğradığını gördükçe, bu yasalar da olmasa ne haltlar yiyeceğimizi tüylerimiz diken diken olmadan düşünemiyoruz. Anlayacağımız, yasalar ve beraberinde getirdiği yasaklar da olmasa, artık herşey Hobbes’ı bile şaşkına çevirecek bir kaos ve kargaşa’ya sürüklenirdi... Yani heryer devlet hastanesi veya kale arkası tribün gibi olurdu. Korkunç.

Neyse, sağ olsun yasalar, ülkemiz tıkır tıkır işliyor... yani, tıkır tıkır olmasa da tıngır mıngır yarım yamalak biyerlere gidiyor işte. Üstelik bizim millet kadar yasaklardan çekmiş az millet vardır herhalde. Siyasi yasaklar, dini yasaklar, töresel ve toplumsal yasaklar, kurumsal yasaklar... Üstelik kendine bu kadar yasaklar uygulayan bir toplumun aynı zamanda yasakların çiğnenmesini neredeyse ulusal bir hobi haline getirmesi de bir başka enteresanlık. Yaya geçidi desen önce araba geçer, kırmızı ışık desen palavra, sigara desen içeriz de sokağa atarız da, tek yön desen gireriz, inşaat yasak olsada gecekondumuzu inşa ederiz, girilmez derse gireriz, yazarlar linç edilmez dense de linç etmeye çalışırız... Hepsini de inadına yaparız, gurur duyarcasına. Neticede bir sorun var: hem yasak çok, hem takan yok. Yani ya yanlış yasakları uyguluyoruz, ya da doğru yasakları yanlış insanlara uyguluyoruz... ya da ‘yasak’ kavramının özünde bir sorun var.

Nasıl yasak lan?
Türklerde ezelden beri süregelen iki şey vardır: dil ve töre. Irkımız, coğrafyamız, dinimiz, devletlerimiz tarihte her zaman değişime uğramıştır, ama dilimiz ve töre anlayışımız istikrarlı bir şekilde devam etmiştir. Eski Türklerde ‘törü’ (töre) kavramı sonradan Moğolların etkisiyle ‘yasa/yasak’ (Moğolca ‘yasağ’) olarak günümüze dek gelmiştir (hatta Arapça ‘siyasa’ yani ‘siyaset’ kelimesinin de ukalalarca aynı kökten olduğu söylenir). Nasıl Cengiz Han’ın ‘yasağ’ı Moğollara itaat edilecek ve ölüm pahasına saygı duyulup sorgulamadan uygulanacak bir yasal temel sağladıysa, Türklerde de bu ‘törü’ anlayışı aynı işlevi görmüştür, ve bu iki ulusun Avrasya tarihine damgasını vuran o kendine has askeri disiplin ve siyasi yönetim anlayışının özünü oluşturmuştur. Yani ‘yasak’ her zaman ‘hanlık’ (yani iktidar) kurumunun halk’a tepeden uyguladığı bir yaptırım olmuştur. Hatta bu ‘yasak’ anlayışının Cumhuriyetimize dek süregeldiğini görüyoruz, ve bu dikotomik han/halk ilişkisinin bazındaki ‘yasak uygulayan/yasak uygulanan’ anlayışının toplumumuzda aşamalı olarak matruşka bebeği gibi aşağıya ve içeriye doğru tekerrür ettiğini görürüz. Koca devletten küçücük köy muhtarına kadar, kravat takıp masanın arkasına geçmiş, burnuyla ağzının arasındaki boşluğa kıl büyütmeyi hobi edinmiş, resmi hizmeti kendine mahsus görmüş her muktedir mahluk bir üstündekinin ona dayattığı ‘yassah’ları bir altındakilere aynı azim ve özveriyle saçmak için can atması da bu ‘yasak uygulayan/yasak uygulanan’ ikiliğinin ne denli toplumumuza oturduğunun bir göstergesi. Yani birşeyi yasaklamak bizim toplumumuzda bir insanın diğer insan üzerindeki üstünlüğünü ve iktidarını perçinleştiriyor. Hatta bir gece kulübünün kapısına mikrosefalik birkaç neandertal koy ve müşteriyi içeri alma/dışarı atma yetkisi ver, onlar bile birden kendilerine sanki evrim sürecinin uzaktan el sallayıp geride bırakmış birer maganda değil de, en saf Homo Sapiens soyundan türediklerine inanmaya başlarlar. İnanmıyorsan onlara sor bir daha gece çıktığında.

Neticede toplumumuzda yasak denen şey dışarıdan uygulanan ve kendi öz çıkarlarımızdan ziyade yasak uygulayan iktidar sahibinin çıkarlarına öncelik veren bir anlayış. Dolayısıyla bir zat kendini iktidar kurumunun tarafında bulursa, kendini yasaklardan da muaf görür, çünkü artık baskı uygulanan değil, baskı uygulayan taraftadır. Bu yüzden İstiklal Caddesinin trafiğe kapalı olmasına rağmen hale 30 saniyede bir (evet, saydım) araba geçer, ve bir kaç istisna dışında hiçbiri resmi hizmet aracı değildir. Kim bunlar peki? Dayısı/emmoğlu/görümcesi Beyoğlu Belediyesinde çalışan adamlar ve aileleri/arkadaşları filan. Yani herhangi yasak uygulayabilen bir iktidar kurumuna oradan buradan tutunabildikmi artık yasakları çiğneme hakkımız doğuyor, ve üstelik hakkımızmış gibi mağrur bir şekilde kendimizi başkalarından ayırt ettiriyoruz, üstünlük taslıyoruz, arkalarından korna çala çala, ucunda sigara sallanan kolumuzu camdan sallaya sallaya, kalabalık arasında boşluk bulduğumuz anda gaza basa basa. Bunun örneklerini daha birçok yerde görürüz: bir devlet memurunun size hizmet etmesinden ziyade sizin ona ayak işi yapmanız gerekirmiş gibi davranması; bir sürücü kursu eğitmeninin illada ilk sınavda sizi çakması ve bundan haz duyması; sigara içilmez denen yerde veznenin arkasındaki görevlinin yasaktan muaf olmanın verdiği tatminle fosur fosur sigara içmesi, vb. Peki heryer mi böyle?

Gavurung Yasağı
Biz kırmızı ışık filan demeden yolu geçeriz, gözümüz karadır... Oysa Danimarka’da kırmızı ışıkta sokağı geçmek bir yana, geçeni de uluorta azarlarlar. Yani her toplumda bir yasak anlayışı var elbet – neticede de olması lazım, yoksa bizim gibi sağı solu belli olmaz, birbirini sürekli katleden, maymundan türemiş, insan denen aç gözlü yaratık kendi soyunu çoktan tüketmiş olurdu bile. Ama Batılı ülkelerin yasak ve yasa anlayışında önemli bir fark var: onlarda ‘yasa’ anlayışı bizdeki gibi dışsal baskı unsuru değil, bilakis, içselleştirilmiş ve tam anlamıyla ‘özümsenmiştir’. Locke, Hobbes ve Rousseau gibi düşünürlerin etkisi, ve özellikle (Osmanlı’da olmayan) bir toprak sahibi aristokrasi sınıfının varlığı (ve bunun sonradan burjuvazi/orta sınıf olarak devamı), Batı ülkelerinde iktidar/kraliyet ile aristokrasi ve halk arasında bir ‘sosyal kontrat’ anlayışının ortaya çıkmasına olanak vermiştir (Magna Carta bunun ilk önemli öncüsü). Yani yasa, yasaklarla tepeden (‘han’ kurumundan) uygulanan bir yaptırım olmaktan ziyade ‘hanlık’ ile halk arasında ikisinin de beklentisi ve çıkarları doğrultusunda her zaman tartışılır, evrim geçirebilir ‘ortak’ bir olgu olarak algılanmıştır. Hatta bizdeki gibi yasa iktidarın himayesinde değil, bilakis, iktidar bile yasanın himayesindedir ve insanları iktidar bazında yasak uygulayan/yasak uygulanan olarak ayırmaktan ziyade herkesi iktidar gözetmeksizin barındırır ve eşitler.

Dolayısıyla bu ülkelerin birey-vatandaşı yasayı kendinin ‘dışında’ birşey veya ona zorla dayatılan ve itaat edilmesi gereken birşey olarak algılamaktansa, bir tüzel kişi olarak yasanın kendisinin bir parçası olduğunu ve kendisinin de yasada bir parça temsil edildiğini hissetmektedir. Yani doğrudan yasak dayatmak yerine ortak çıkarlardan hareket edilir, ve vatandaş kendisinin de çıkarına olduğuna inandığı için yasaları sadece kendi kendine değil, artık ayrıca kendisine uygular, dış baskı veya yaptırım hissetmeksizin. Neticede, örnek vermek gerekirse, Batılı birey-vatandaşın vatanperverlik anlayışında vergi ödemek en önemli unsurdur, çünkü bunun kısa vadede kendine bir kayıp olarak gözükse de sonradan kendisine, diğer vatandaşlarına, ve çocuklarına sosyal sigorta, sağlık ve eğitim hizmeti olarak geri döneceğini bilir; oysa bizim vatanseverlerimiz bayrak sallar, slogan/nutuk atar, ama vergiye gelince kaçıp kaçırmanın binbir yolunu arar, çünkü yasa her zaman kendisinin dışında, iktidar/hanlık kurumunun tekelinde ve birey-vatandaşın hürriyetini kısıtlayan, yasaklarla uygulanan bir yaptırım olarak görülür, sonuçta da vergi ödemeden vatansever olmanın altında yatan bariz riyakarlığı da aklımıza bile getirmeyiz.

Yasaklar Çelişkisi
Görüldüğü gibi, yasaklarla çelişkilerimiz devam ediyor – ve daha nice çelişki var. Mesela, niye kapalı yerde sigara içmek sağlığımıza aykırı olduğundan yasak da, televizyonun (bir iki istisna dışında) yüzde 95’ini teşkil eden estetik zevkden yoksun, kültürel anlamda tam bir çöplük haline gelmiş kanallarına milletin zekasına zararlı diye yasaklar getirilmiyor? Niye müstehcenlik cinsellikle sınırlandırılıyor da her kafamızı çevirdiğimiz yerde Hülya Avşar’ı görmeye zorlanmamız müstehcenlik ve hatta estetik kirliliği sayılmıyor? Niye bir insanın kendi öz dilini konuşması veya o dilde şarkı söylemesi yasaklarla sıkı sıkı denetleniyor da, toplu taşıt şöförlerinin yolcuların hayatını tehlikeye atarcasına arabalarını sürmelerine aynı şiddetle yasak getirilmiyor? Buyrun size kısa kısa birkaç yasak daha...

KISA KISA

1.Kullanmak (Içmek) YASAKTIR
Mantar, ot, hap, toz, çilek, jo, kafanı çekip keyif alacağın herşey yasak... tabii devlet tekelinde olmadığı sürece. Dolayısıyla en tehlikelileri – sigara ve alkol – serbest. Sağlığın önemli değil zaten, yeterki üretim-dağıtım-satım şebekesi devletin denetiminde olsun, paralar da cebinde.

2. Çimlere basmak YASAKTIR
Çimlere basılmaz zaten... uzaktan seyredilir, üzerine çöp atılır, çocuklar bisikletleriyle patinaj yapar, köpekler oraya buraya sıçar, tinerciler üzerinde yatıp kafa çeker, karabaşlar mangal yakıp ortalığı plastik torba ve pislik içinde bırakır, ama çimlere asla basılmaz, günahtır.

3. Para Kullanmak YASAKTIR
Bursa’da özel halk otobüslerinde bukart ve manyetik bilet kullanımına başlanmasıyla birlikte otobüslerin camlarına asılan anlamsız yazı: ‘Para kullanmak yasaktır’, sanki yanlışlıkla parayı çıkaran kendini birden Özel Tim tarafından etrafı sarılmış bulacak. Şöyle bir önerim var: ‘Para geçersizdir’. Hem silahlı polis müdahalesine gerek kalmaz, hem daha az salakça sanki.

4. Aşk ve Seks YASAKTIR
Yasak aşk... ebeveynlerin tasvip etmediği birliktelik, evli bir erkek/kadınla ilişki, aldatma, metres, orospu, porno, kerhane... ne yazık ki hepsi yasak. Ama üzülmeyin, size müjdem var: Aynı kişiyle ömrünün sonuna kadar bir eve tıkılıp dırdırı bitmez bir kayınvalide edinmek yasak değil. Ya-şa-sın.

5. Sigara İçmek YASAKTIR
Dünyanın en manasız yasağı... Sigara gibi iğrenç ve kesin ölüme sürükleyecek bir zehiri bütün gün akciğerlerimize doldurmamızı yasak etmek, intiharı yasaklamak gibi birşey. Herif zaten hür iradesiyle kendini kanser, kalp hastalığı ve erken bir ölüme razı etmişse artık neyi yasaklayacaksın? Güzel sağlıklı bir yaşamı mı?

6. Köprüde yürümek YASAKTIR
Evet, köprüyü yaya geçmek yasak. Yapman gereken şu: Sürdüğün arabayı köprünün ortasında durdur, hemen inip korkulukları aş ve kendini zabıta ve televizyon ekipleri gelene kadar kenardan sallandırıp arada bir feryad et. Kameralar varır varmaz ilan-ı aşkını milyonlarca Flash, Show ve Star TV izleyicisi önünde yap, göğsüne yumruk atıp feryad etmeye devam et. Ama sakın atlama, çünkü sen ne kadar hayat çekilmez sansan da kolundaki o jilet yaralarının tuzlu suyla teması HİÇ çekilmez. Üstelik o bile yasak.

7. Dinen YASAKTIR
Cennete gideceksen uyulması gereken bir sürü yasak var... ama dinsiz imansız bir kafirsen şanslısın, çünkü o yasakların hiçbiri sana bir anlam ifade etmez. Nasılolsa cehenneme gidecen, bari tadını çıkar.

7. Girmek YASAKTIR
Askeri bölgelere, üye olmadığın kulüplere, inşaat alanlarına, terkedilmiş binalara, damsız ve tanıdıksız barlara, izinsiz olarak kamu alanlarına, tekyön sokaklara, vizesiz olarak bir Batılı ülkeye, özel bir plaja, orada burada suya, gayrimüslimsen Mekke’ye, Kıbrıslıysan Güzelyurt’a, kim olursan ol Kuzey Kore’ye, kimliksiz, ehliyetsiz, parasız, dilekçesiz, izinsiz, vizesiz, tecilsiz, habersiz, sabıka kayıtsız, noter tasdiksiz... GIRMEK YASAKTIR! Insan gibi söyledik kardeşim, git hadi işine.

8. Korsan YASAKTIR
VCD, DVD, CD, MP3, DİV-X, bilgisayar oyunu, saat, tişört, blucin, kitap, para kopyalayan korsanlara artık dur demek lazım. Bundan böyle lütfen sokakta kolunda kanca, bacağı kütük, tek gözünde yama, omzunda papağan, şapkasında kurukafayla gezen herkesi ihbar edelim. Kıyafet kanunu elden gidiyor.

10. Reklamı YASAKTIR
Sigara ve içki reklamı yapılmaz çünkü bu tür sağlığı zedeleyici, ahlak bozucu, aile yıkıcı, hayat mahvedici, kanser ve hastalık körükleyici zehirli maddelerin kullanımı teşvik edilmemeli... sadece heryerde herkese açıkça satılmalı.

11. Itiraz Etmek YASAKTIR
Özellikle futbol’da geçerli bu yasak. Bu tabii en çok Türk futbolunu olumsuz etkiliyor çünkü bütün futbol ekolümüz hakeme itiraz üzerine kurulu. Kaybettiğimizde hakem oyunlarına kurban gidiyoruz, kazandığımızda hakemin dört dörtlük yönetimini övüyoruz, hangi hakemin hangi maçı yöneteceğini bir hafta önceden tartışıyoruz, her verilen kararın ne gibi art niyetler içerdiğine dair kafa yoruyoruz, televizyonda saatlerce ‘ileri al, geri al, dur!’ misali didikliyoruz, Pierluigi Collina emekliye ayrılınca milletçe kahroluyoruz. Bir de itiraz etmek yasak olmasaydı artık her faul kararı mahkeme duruşmasına kadar giderdi.

12. Camı açmak YASAKTIR
Aman camı açma sakın, hava eserse hepimiz hasta oluruz! En sağlıklısı, kışın toplu taşıma araçlarında camları iyice kapamak ki o hoş eksoz/ter/et/ıslak çorap karışımı koku güzelce üstümüze sinsin, milletin ağzından burnundan soluduğu mikroplar iyice herkese yayılıp yerleşsin. Bir de n’olur n’olmaz yirmi kat giyinelim, ısıyı da sonuna kadar açalım. Her burnumuz aktığında da leblebi gibi antibiyotik yutalım. Çok sağlıklı.

13. Yemek YASAKTIR
Onu yeme bunu ye, bu bilmemne kanserini %18 önler, şu üç haftada iki buçuk kilo kaybettirir, o antioksidan içerir, bunda serbest radikal fazladır... her gün ayrı bir araştırma ve beraberinde gelen ayrı bir yasaklar listesi. Ama hala yumurta faydalı mı değil mi onu bile bilmiyoruz.

14. Cep Telefonu Kullanmak YASAKTIR
Uçakta, otobüste, hatta bazı sokaklarda ve binalarda bile cep telefonuyla konuşmak yasak, mesela İşçi Partisi’nin olduğu binanın girişinde. Diğer yasaklamamız gereken şeyler: telefon edenin telefonu açana ‘alo?’ demesi, ‘şarz’ kelimesi, polifonik melodiler, SMS’in sarhoşken kullanımı, şiirsel/derin/felsefik/pozmodern mesajlar, ‘kontürüm bitti’ mazereti, ve kızıl saçlı arı kıyafetli çocuk içeren bütün Turkcell reklamları – hele şarkılı olanları. Ihh.

15. Ateşli silah YASAKTIR
Tabanca filan bulundurmak yasaktır... maganda olmadığın sürece tabii, çünkü magandalara yasak uygulanmaz. Eğer silah kullanmak zorunda kalırsanız, bunun için en uygun yerler kalabalık coşkulu ortamlardır: düğün, maç, parti, sokak ortası, bar, kahve, restoran, gece kulübü, gazino, casino, meclis, hepsi uygundur, ve kullanımı erkek olduğunuzu ispatlar. Tabancaya uygun aksesuarlar: bıyık, beyaz çorap/siyah pabuç, altın yüzük/bilezik/kolye, siyah palto, Tofaş Şahin (kaçak mal taciri için Mercedes), tesbih, ve bol kepçe şeref-onur-gurur-namus-haysiyet filan gibi şeyler.

16. Kendimize Hakaret Etmek YASAKTIR
TCK’nın 301. Maddesine göre kendimizi küçük düşüremeyiz. Bu yasanın bizi yurtdışında küçük düşürmesi ise istihza sözcüğünün sadece tanımlaması değil, adeta parti şapkası takıp etrafımızda şıkıdım şıkıdım göbek atması gibi birşey. Yasayı özetlemek gerekirse: Biz melek, Onlar şeytan. Konu kapanmıştır.

17. Düşünce YASAKTIR
Aman, aklından bile geçirme, hele hele kelimelerle ifade etme, silahlı üniformalı adamlar gelip seni tutuklar. Eğer ne düşünüp ne düşünmemen gerektiğini daha iyi öğrenmek istiyorsan, Milli Eğitim Bakanlığı ve Yüksek Öğretim Kurulu her vatandaşa süresi 8 ila 15 yıl arasında değişen ‘öğretim’ programları sunuyor. Bu program süresince size her konu hakkında saman kağıdına basılı birer resmi kitap hazırlanacak ve programı iyice öğrenmenizi sağlamak için türlü sınavlara tabi tutulacaksınız. Kursun sonunda ise kimin iyi kimin kötü, kimin şehit kimin ölü, kimin barbar kimin medeni, kimin suçlu kimin suçsuz, kimin haklı kimin haksız, kimin Biz kimin Onlar olduğunu adeta ezberlemiş olacaksınız. (NOT: Bu programın içeriği ülkeden ülkeye değişebiliyor, hatta bazı ülkelerin programlarında öğrendiğinizin tam tersi öğretilebiliyor – diğer adıyla ‘Yalan’. Bu ülkelerden sakının.)

18. Eğlence YASAKTIR
Bu yasak genelde sizin eğlenmenizden kıskananlar tarafından uygulanır – mesela yan masadaki birbirinden sıkılmış ama yalnızlık korkusu yüzünden birbirinden ayrılamamış, alışkanlık gereği hala beraber olan boş gözlü genç çift; üst kattaki yaşlı, yalnız ve mutsuz komşu; hayatından bıkmış ev kadını; tatil köyünde birbirlerine karşı olan sıkıntılarını üzerlerinden atıp başka yöne savurabilecekleri bir hedef arayan, şımarık çocuklarının bağırtısından bezmiş genç anne-baba; kendisine verilmiş yetkiyi, iktidar ve güç ihtirasını yasak uygulayarak tatmin edebilecek, hayatı boyunca acısını çektiği eziklik hissinin üstesinden gelmeye çalışan godoş müdür/muavin/görevli; sınıfında kendisini tınmayan, hatta hayatında kimsenin kendisini tınmamasına kahrolan, düşük maaşlı öğretmen; zengin piçlere acı çektirmek isteyen varoşda büyümüş polis/bouncer/güvenlik görevlisi... vesaire.

19. Park etmek YASAKTIR
Aslında arabanıza bağlı. Eğer bu yasağı çiğneyecekseniz altınıza şöyle tank büyüklüğünde küstah bir jip veya kibirli kırmızı bir spor arabası alın, hatta mümkünse güzel bir kadın olun ve genzinizden konuşun, ördek gibi. Bu mükemmel karışıma kimse kıyamaz, o cici zenginliğiniz ve maddi üstünlüğünüz insanları hipnotize eder, size ayrıcalık tanınır, özür bile dilemeden arabanıza biner gidersiniz, insanlar da arkanızdan el sallar... hatta iki el birden... bir aşağı bir yukarı... sallayıp durur.

20. Dışkı YASAKTIR
Sokaklarda tükürmek, sümkürmek, işemek, sıçmak, kusmak, çöp atmak gibi faaliyetlerde bulunmamak sanki temel mantık kurallarının ilkidir, ama buna rağmen sokağımın tükürük, sümkürük, çiş, kusmuk, sıçmık ve çöp içinde olması bu tezi çürütse de aynı zamanda başka bir tezin de doğruluğunu kanıtlıyor: insanlar gerçekten maymundan türemiş... üstelik türeme süreci pek fazla yol da katetmemiş.

Sex and the city: Istanbul



As they say, when in Rome do as the Romans do, but first you should know how the Romans do it. We begin by taking a look at some aspects of sexuality in the city.

Like any major city, Istanbul is a temptress. It draws people in from all over, seducing each and every one with its beauties and its vices, its forbidden pleasures and its insincere promises. Naturally, in a city as diverse as Istanbul, there are many different approaches to sexuality, and among Turks in particular there are certain sexual idiosyncrasies which predominate and which may surprise many.

RECYCLED TABOOS

To begin with, girls from a conservative religious background in Turkey are taught from early on to consider sex something sinful and dangerous, something merely functional, only done for the sake of procreation, and certainly not something that could possibly be pleasurable. They are taught – often forced – to cover up and to shun the company of men (who are considered sexually incontinent, and thus dangerous), be it on the street, in school or in the workplace. Even girls from a relatively modern and secularist background will have hang-ups on sex as being something demeaning, shameful and dirty, often thinking that engaging in anything other than straight, missionary sex is something that would only be expected of prostitutes. For example, many Turkish girls frown upon alternative styles of sex which would seem normal in many sexually liberal societies (e.g. oral) and in every census it is found that the greatest problem among Turkish women is their inability to experience orgasms, which would seem a natural result of the disinformation, fear and taboos toward sex that is instilled in them from an early age.

When it comes to males, they’re essentially under the assumption that there are only two types of women: mothers (including their own future spouses) and whores. In other words, sex for males too is something that is still considered dangerous and vicious if engaged in only for pleasure and not within the confines of the institution of family and marriage. Thus it’s not at all odd to find men who will date a girlfriend while at the same time having sex with numerous others without feeling the slightest ethical concern, considering he differentiates between the women who are “pure,” “virginal” and thus marriage material, from the ones who engage in sex, which is something “impure,” “dirty” and “depraved,” but at the same time a need that must be satisfied. This attitude – a sort of sexual schizophrenia – even exists among relatively westernized, educated males, who will strictly delineate between the “girl to marry” and the “girl to have sex with.” The fact that often in censuses the number one problem cited among married Turkish men is erectile dysfunction is a telling reminder that many relationships – men and women – are suffering from these attitudes to sex whereby the wife is not seen as a sexual object of desire and pleasure but as a manifestation of the mother figure, thus complicating the process of having a healthy married sex life. A further look at the popularity and proliferation of foreign women (often called Natashas) as prostitutes in Turkey reinforces this sexually schizophrenic categorization whereby the woman is divorced of one part of her nature (sexuality) or the other (procreation/mother/wife).

SEXUAL PSYCHOSES

Even though the westernized and modern segments of society are more liberal and open in their approach to sexuality, it’s obvious that most Turks are still in a dilemma on the topic. In many cases these stringent sexual taboos have created a sense of sexual psychosis in Turkish society. Considering such attitudes, it’s often no wonder that we see such mind-boggling violence as “honor killings” where young boys are encouraged to kill their own sisters, often on nothing more than a rumor as to her “looseness,” or we see cases of adolescents blatantly harassing women in public, something which was most startlingly demonstrated during the New Years festivities in Taksim square when some Croatian tourist girls were molested, taunted, groped and even knocked over in the middle of the square by a mob of laughing revelers, all of which made the front pages in some of the biggest newspapers in Turkey. But this is just the most extreme manifestation of a widespread phenomenon of the objectification of women as either “mother” or “whore.” Many women are daily molested, followed, manhandled, verbally and physically harassed – and sometimes much worse. Women who are “modern,” who dress “openly,” or who are simply foreign/western, are often assumed by Turkish males to be “easy” and thus willing for sex and obvious targets for advances, even if it goes to the point of harassment and violence.

In a developing country of discernible have’s and have-not’s like Turkey where the income distribution gap is wide and widening, some parts of society have a standard of living and way of life on a par with the most modern societies, while other classes live distinctly different lives in which they have no possibility of accessing private schools and hospitals (which are the best in Turkey), in which they are increasingly conscious of themselves as the under-classes, as alienated and estranged elements of society in which they are between being rural and urban in a state of socio-cultural limbo. They are often ridiculed by the westernized elite as “kıro” or “maganda” (which mean something like "yokel" or "bumpkin") they are shunned and forced to live marginal existences on the fringes of the dominant popular culture, the culture that is upheld by the mainstream media, by the press, television, newspaper and magazine culture where every day the underprivileged see glamorous, scantily-clad women who inhabit a world beyond their reach. The sexual taboos and traditions they have been brought up with – many of them first or second generation migrants to Istanbul from rural Anatolian towns – clash with the sexually free, alluring, seductive life all around them, the models on TV, the glamorous girls in nightclubs where they’re not allowed in, the faces in the papers, in magazines and in the movies, everything that they can see but never have and never touch. The commodification of sex and its use as a marketing and advertising tool by businesses and media further add to the feeling of alienation and estrangement felt and instilling the feeling in large segments of the population of being cultural outsiders in their own country. The result is a societal psychosis whereby the fringe elements assume a counter-identity and an aggressive counter-assertion of their own sexuality which comes off even more extreme, alien and intractable. That which cannot be had is despised, dehumanized, yet desired all the more strongly for it precisely because of its exclusiveness.

WHO ARE YOU CALLING GAY?

Homosexuality is a complex issue in Turkey. But in a sexually repressed and conservative society, there is an aspect to Turkish conceptions of homosexuality which facilitates an overcoming of the very same repressive ideological systems which give rise to it in the first place: namely, that in Turkish homosexuality, only the passive partner in a relationship is considered “gay.” This can often be baffling to foreigners, but two men can have intimate sexual relations and the active partner can claim exclusion from the label of “gay.” This attitude is certainly not something new. In fact, it can be traced back to the ancient Greeks among whom homosexuality between two grown men was shunned whereas it was considered natural for a man and a boy to have homosexual relations – although this was more for pedagogic purposes than sexual, considering there was no public education system in the Greek polis. The onus among the Greeks was on sexual overindulgence, in line with the ancient Greek ideal of “sophresune” which roughly meant the ideal of “moderation,” or a “middle way” in all pursuits. Once the boy had become a man (i.e. had grown facial hair), the relationship was usually over (at least publicly).

The same attitude seems to have passed on through the years in Anatolia, through the time of the Ottomans (who prized young boys above girls – who belonged to the private sphere of the household – as did the Greeks) and into our present day. In fact, the words “oglan” (boy) and “ibne” (from the Arabic “ibn” for “son” or “boy”) show an obvious continuation of almost the same concept of homosexuality in present-day Turkey. The significance of this within the conservative segment of Turkish society is quite important, because it has meant that in a country where the women’s sphere is still mainly considered the private (home) domain and thus where premarital sex between youths is shunned, there has always existed the alternative option of homosexual sex which can be engaged in without the active partner taking upon himself the “stigma” of being homosexual, that is, an “oglan” or an “ibne.” This also explains the amazing proliferation of transvestite men who are courted by many a “straight” man for the purposes of sexual gratification (Turkey has the second highest number of transvestites in the world after Brazil). Indeed when we asked some of these men if they considered themselves gay, they immediately reacted with an emphatic “no” and stated that they never touched the other person’s penis, nor did they ever engage in a passive role, and thus excluded themselves from being categorized as homosexual.

SEX IN THE CITY

We have compiled some glimpses into the various aspects of sex in Istanbul in the following articles. You can read up on transvestites, homosexuals, historical contexts, the seedy underworld of mafia-run bordellos, or the slick nightclub scene, strip joints and erotic stores. Istanbul has a bit of everything, for better or for worse. It’s a good idea to know about what’s out there and be wary, but it’s even more important to remember that sex is simply fun, and sex in this city is no exception to that fact.

Neither here nor there: The Diplobratic Crisis



Many may well wonder what hardships or crises a Turkish diplomat’s kid could possibly have. You travel around the globe, usually living in countries with running water and no electricity cuts, you get driven around in duty-free Mercedes limousines, go to the best schools, are immediately guaranteed a particular status upon arrival in a foreign country, and when daddy becomes an ambassador, you have maids, butlers, cooks and chauffeurs to clean, clothe, feed and transport your pampered little ass to school, tennis, ballet, or other embassies to play with your diplobrat friends. And it’s all on the Turkish State’s expense. Sure, every now and again you had to dodge bullets from Armenian terrorists, duck rotten eggs and tomatoes from Greek Cypriots, or try not to be hypnotized by Marxist-Leninist slogans from émigré Kurds, but hey, luxury comes at a price – the price of a bulletproof Chevrolet and a few bodyguards to be exact (I don’t know the actual price, ask aforementioned Turkish State).

But that’s just where you’re screwed, because the diplomatic life is essentially luxury-on-loan, and when your father finishes his term in wonderland, he’s just another civil servant and you’re back in Turkey, sans Mercedes Benz, going to a school where your music teacher punishes your atonality with the blow of a metal rod to your bunched up fingertips (don’t laugh, it hurts), where your closest companion for at least the first two weeks is your good friend Diarrhea, where communists and fascists shot each other in the streets as tanks rolled by to implement the nightly military curfew, where you had one state TV channel on which the only black and white shows you could watch (if you had the miracle of electricity that night) were Candy, Flipper and Dallas – all badly dubbed – and where you never understood anyone’s Turkish, nor did anyone understand your heavily accented Turkglish. In other words, the diplomatic life is sort of an aristocracy-on-lease, and back in the 70s and 80s the poor diplobrat didn’t even have the opportunity to go to a 7/11 to buy a Hershey’s bar to alleviate the pain when that lease expired and he became just another son of a serf in civil servitude. I cannot alliterate this strongly enough. So how could you not feel sorry for us?

A Crisis for All Seasons
Fortunately, Turkey is no longer the hermetically sealed country it was when my family and I were going back and forth in the 70s and 80s, and as a result, any discrepancy in quality of life between the home country and a cushy foreign posting is almost negligible today. However, there are certain idiosyncratic qualities to the diplobratic character that arise as a result of this extra-ordinary lifestyle, and they present themselves in the form of crises – four crises in particular: namely, Identity Crisis, Legitimacy Crisis, Action Crisis and Existential Crisis.

Identity Crisis
This is the one which diplobrats secretly enjoy having a crisis about, because it differentiates them experientially from “normal” people, and that sort of differentiation is not only incontrovertible, it’s also desirable. What could be more delicious than telling someone who’s never even been overseas that you “don’t know if I feel American, British or Turkish” or that you’re “as much at home in London as I am in Istanbul or Brussels.” Considering this, it’s a wonder diplobrats don’t get the living pulp beaten out of them more often.

Needless to say, the identity crisis a Turkish diplobrat feels is essentially a cultural and national identity crisis born of the fact that their lives are often spent in liberal democratic countries where they have had access to “First World” amenities such as a liberal education, an open society, and generally relativistic moral attitudes which they find lacking in their home country where rigid moralistic values – both societal and political – a conservative populace, an underdeveloped civil society, and a rigid, didactic educational system all jar with the standards they have become accustomed to when abroad, and which they thus find difficult to identify with. Thus their “Turkishness” becomes questioned by themselves, but also by other Turks, who realize their different standards, behavior, attitudes and speech/accent sets them apart. When in Turkey, your sense of nationalist sympathy is dependent on the most personal and immediate effects of the day-to-day act of living there, regardless of whatever ideals you may have regarding nationalism in a broader, more ambiguous sense. You may be proud that Suleiman the Magnificent besieged Vienna, or that the Turkish army is among the strongest in the world, but your sense of Turkishness is questioned – and at times even despised – every time you have to use a public toilet, or the water gets cut as you stand all soaped up in the shower, or you have to deal with official paperwork in a government office. Nationalism is too close to the bone at home where there’s no distance in which to conveniently lose sight of all the icky quotidian details that can be filled instead with a more glamorous and ideal “Turkishness.”

It follows naturally, then, that when diplobrats are abroad, their nationalistic tendencies grow and their Turkishness suddenly becomes something cherished, something contrary to what is felt in Turkey. This sense of nationalism is usually ideational and ideal rather than something concrete or proactive. The nationalism of the diplobrat when abroad is a wholly selfish one that seeks to alleviate personal dilemmas rather than take any real action for the sake of a truly inspired goal. Thus this nationalist feeling is more of an affectation than a truly inspired belief, and it serves various functions, namely: 1) Something to belong to and be proud of in the face of one’s Otherness abroad, 2) An illusion that you belong to something greater than your sorry little individual self – a great history, a great country, a great culture, all of which seems that much greater the further you actually are geographically from that history, country and culture, and 3) The convenience of “Textual Nationalism”, i.e. the history and grandeur of your nation and country always seems that much greater, clearer and more easily digestible and believable on paper, as simulacra, be it in texts, maps or on screen(s). Put it another way, when you’re looking at a map of the Ottoman Empire in 1689 or a photo of a squadron of Turkish-built F-16s, you don’t see beggars, you don’t see gecekondu slums, and you certainly don’t see a 4-foot-5 public servant with a limp and a mole on her nose asking you for fifty passport-size photos and a notary certified copy of a copy of a copy of your high school diploma signed by the sub-assistant-under-over-director of the Department of Time and Paper Waste so you can apply to be considered for possible enrollment at a university or something. In short, it’s a convenient kind of nationalism.

Legitimacy Crisis
Another critical aspect of the diplobratic life is that of proving that they are something other than just diplobrats, that they can stand on their own merits, without wading in the shallow end of the tepid pool of a lifetime of privilege and comforts that have been granted them from birth, to prove that they have done their own thing, become their own person, achieved their own place in life.

When abroad, the diplobrat is given the comfort and security of home, family and money in an otherwise unfamiliar environment while s/he sees local youths and friends his age having to take up jobs to support themselves, thus living what is – especially in the diplobrat’s eyes – a vigorous, well-rounded, more “legitimate” life than they experience in their safe shell which offers little scope for them to venture out of, because 1) They don’t need to, 2) They don’t have the savoir faire of someone who’s lived there all their lives in their home country even if they wanted to, and 3) They’re conscious that they’ll only be in that country for a few years anyway, and that they have no rights as a citizen of that country, so what’s the point?

Throughout the diplobrat’s life, going in and out of schooling and university is also always facilitated by their unique status, meaning, overall, that the diplobrat often feels a crisis of legitimacy in the sense that everything gained, every virtue acquired, feels hollow and impersonal, almost by the bye, because it doesn’t have any blood, sweat and guts behind it. Most transfer from one school to another, foregoing the standard exams and hardships (especially in Turkey) that other students are expected to go through. The result is a sense of over-indulgence in benefit devoid of the satisfaction of self-accomplishment.

Even when it comes to travel, all the exotic locations, all the trips and journeys, they too are prearranged by someone else, spent in hotels, devoid of initiative or risk, and although having been well-traveled is in itself something to be proud of, this pride is always overshadowed by a sense of the fundamental inanity and illegitimacy of this type of tame travel experience. All this can give the impression of one’s life as being sterile, unadventurous and forever half-lived, thus leading to a general crisis of legitimacy vis-à-vis their own achievements and life in general. In other words, diplobrats must make an effort to unbuckle the safety-belt of their own privileged upbringing and take action…

Action Crisis
But “action” is a problem too. The consequence of a life of privileged opportunities and limitless possibilities resides, ultimately, in one question for the diplobrat: What do I do? There’s no dearth of options, no shortage of possible schools and universities in which to study any one of a hundred subjects, no limit to the number of possible career paths. Many often think of going into the diplomatic corps themselves, but that rarely pans out as they realize the diplobratic life is way better than the diplomatic one, where they’ll have to start out in some menial bottom rung and work their way through the ranks putting up with the caprices and complexes of officious ambassadors only to eventually achieve at the age of 50 – if they’re lucky – the living standards they had in the first place when they were diplobrats.

So what to do? How about some economics or law, maybe become an environmental lawyer, but just a year in that’ll be boring, so maybe I’ll switch to an art school to do some painting, the tuition’s a little high, but daddy’s got me covered… Actually I’ve always thought about making films, I’ll do some film studies in New York, maybe rent out a little flat – daddy can help me out. Actually, screw it all, how about nothing? Sit in a flat my parents bought and spend the time doing nothing, but a creative nothing: reading, writing, that sort of stuff. That’s it, an early diplobratic retirement, that’s the ticket. Professional procrastination… And maybe I can write something about being a diplobrat? Or should I be out looking for a job instead?

Existential Crisis
Naturally you don’t need to be a diplobrat to have an existential crisis, but it certainly helps. In fact, the previous three crises all commingle to morph into an overbearing existential one in a case of “three wrongs make…one big Wrong.” Years of deracination, countless encounters with different moral standards, religious environments and political systems, and a worldly and comprehensive Western education that focuses relativistic epistemology, all eventually and unavoidably lead in turn to the relativization of all values… The diplobrat learns in the most formative years that every faith is equal, that every difference should be tolerated, that although everyone has different ways of doing things and identifying with things, they’re all qualitatively equal. And so the obvious happens: An all-encompassing, all-engrossing Truth gets drowned out by a hundred little inane truths; an all-binding Cause and Purpose to life becomes doled out equally among everyone as “everyone’s little purpose in life”… and eventually this leveling perspectivism leads to the inevitable question: “If everything is equally worth doing, worth believing in, worth identifying with, even though they’re all different, then isn’t everything also equally not worth doing, not worth believing in or not worth identifying with?”

As a result of the diplobrat’s inevitable experiential over-saturation over the course of a lifetime spent in dozens of countries, schools and cultures in the space of 20-odd years, what you get is an ingrained sense of the banality of all difference, which inevitably leads to a sense of existential in-difference, and even, in extreme cases, an ontological void. And so, moral standards, cultural and national values, tradition, religion, all of it eventually becomes, for the diplobrat, irrelevant, if not total fluff. All Truth merely becomes truism. In fact, the diplobrat lives in a world of -isms, beliefs devoid of meaning in anything other than a solipsistic sense.

Here, There and Nowhere: Diplobratic Limbo
And so, neither here nor there, the diplobrat goes on through life, right through his or her 30s, in a sort of limbo, caught perpetually between an enchanted past and an ever-slippery future. It’s a hard mindset to get out of… Every country and experience is temporary, every friend will be left behind, as will every city, every school, and every time a new life is established, it’s nearly always time to leave it behind and move on. And so for the diplobrat, the present is always perceived as past and future, but never a “present” in the sense of a Here and Now that is fully realized – or realizable – in its potentiality. Thus the diplobratic “present” is like a perennial limbo.

But all in all, it’s not all so bad. I mean, despite not knowing who you are, where you belong, or what the hell kind of meaning your life has, you still get to attend lots of cocktails, have lots of parties, eat lots of good food, be attended to your every needs, pass through queues and checkpoints with flashy red passports, and all at no expense to you. The clichéd and classic perquisites of the diplomatic life still hold – and hold doubly for the diplobrat. Eventually it’s all gone, of course. Your shiny red passport turns into a dull blue plebeian one, and you too have to go through the humiliation of applying for visas; the mansions, cooks, maids and chauffeurs, bullet-proof limousines, swimming pools and tennis courts all disappear in a puff of smoke; the cocktails, dinners and confabulations with free booze, celebrities and hors d’oeuvres are no longer there… And suddenly you find yourself in your mid-thirties, broke, jobless, still dreaming of a future as a writer, or an actor, or of living in New York, or planning your next adventure across Asia…

But in the meantime, I’m just going to enjoy my beer and finish the last sentence of this essay. Here it is, and it’s appropriately meaningless.

Reasons I will never lead a manned trip to Mars



1. Trip way too long/cramped/complicated.

2. Biologically way more suited to Earth.

3. Robots doing good job as it is.

4. Don’t want to repeat same mistake I made when I led 4-man mission to Vegas.

5. Unwillingness to follow dreams, let alone pipedreams.

6. Tendency to panic, crawl up in corner, and hyperventilate when things go wrong.

7. Like my mother says, "Mars Schmars".

8. Face on Mars proven to be just an optical illusion, not entrance to alien space station.

9. Would preferably not want to run the risk of enduring a slow, painful, suffocating death while trapped in a metal can thousands of miles from earth.

10. Not an astronaut.