Musings on Japan, Turkey, and nanny states
While I was there, one government minister killed himself out of embarrassment of being caught embezzling funds (Note: not because he committed a crime, but for being caught), and the occasional subway delay because some other sod got embarrassed about something and threw himself in front of a train.
- There are no garbage cans anywhere, yet the sidewalks are super-clean
- Nobody drinks coffee on the subway there (there are no signs against it, but "it's just not done"). Imagine the shock I caused...
- Japanese mating and dating habits are really weird, and as it turns out, the English language newspaper there states that only Nigerians have less sex than the Japanese. No wonder men there prefer to sleep in piles of panties.
Now on to Turkey:
Nice place, it's kind of like Argentina with mosques:
- Both countries have edible olives
- Both countries grill a lot
- Nationals of both countries are notoriously short-tempered
- Drivers are absolutely crazy by western standards (to my friends: they drive like I do)
- Men like to wear suits
- If it's not guarded, it's where your garbage goes
- The men here smoke, not the women
- Tea is the drink, not espresso
- It's unusual for restaurants in Turkey to serve alcohol, and there isn't a restaurant that doesn't in Argentina
- People generally are not drunk
Once you head outside the big cities though, you're absolutely sure you're no longer in a euro-centric country. Roads and highways are bad, and pavement optional. But you're in the middle of history here, and I suppose this is an impediment to development: you can't dig anywhere around here and not find something Hittite, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, or Ottoman. Think you're alright on solid rock? Bzzt. A cave containing an early Christian church was just found under your site. Just the sheer amount of this stuff is staggering - I tripped, yes, tripped, over a piece of marble column rolling around a park near the Ankara citadel.
Also, the less educated the parents, the less appreciation of risk do their young children have. I would compare the extreme of this with a friend's account of Afghanistan: village children would dig up land mines and give them to the American soldiers, and not quite understand why the soldiers raised their weapons and asked the child to put the ordnance on the ground gently. The difference is that if a tunnel or 600 year-old abandoned building collapses on children here, it's God's will. In Iraq if children run into the middle of a raging street battle to watch and get shot by either side, it's the evil Americans.
It's the other side of nanny-stateism. We open the bus doors early here - if you fall out, watch the rear wheels. I guess they do believe in evolution here.