Thursday, March 19, 2009

To Be(at) or Not to Be(at)...The Fool Pondereth

Dear Reader,

An incident occurred recently at Bentley Manor, the home of our beloved Fool, that has caused much consternation to our Hero. The honourable house servant arrived a considerable time after her required hour. And while there was quite a demonstration of contrition, a awful fuss if you must know, the Fool was left with a grand dilemma: To beat the honourable servant, thereby preserving a healthy Master - servant relationship, or not, to simply let Western discretion overwhelm the grim event.

This Dilemma opened several doors of thought the Fool had not imagined to exist in a civilized mind such as his. The Fool fully recognizes his place in Society and as Lord of the Manor. The Fool believes whole-heartedly in honoring the responsibilities of Master and, to wit, making certain that those beneath Him recognize as well.

However, several dreadful questions came to mind as the Fool continued his deliberations. Such as which implement would the Fool choose to serve Honor? Bare hands: Unthinkable, how gauche can one be? A man who does not take care of his hands is most certainly a fool. A wooden spoon: Fumbling around kitchen drawers is quite beneath the stature of our Fool. A rod: Perhaps, although the Fool's panther-like physique hardly necessitates a cane at this point. An umbrella will have to suffice.

To which locale would this Justice be administered? The face: A bruised and wounded servant does send a powerful message. However, the Fool would probably become distracted by the sympathy aroused. The hands: Impossible, there is work to be done after all. The torso or thighs: A large, receptive target, the Fool thinketh.

How would one initiate such an exercise, by announcing intent and causation? The perpetrator should have a clear understanding of why this beating is being delivered, but frankly the Fool does not suffer fools well. There is no point in having one employed in service who does not recognize ones' own transgressions. Besides, the Fool has a rigorous schedule to be maintained.

Finally, should the Fool bow to a sense of modernity and temperance, will said servant even Respect her Master after such a dereliction of duty on his part? It was, indeed, no doing of the Fool that led to this awkward and time-consuming matter. Yet, by demonstrating a hand of kindness our Fool will undoubtedly place at risk his well-ordered household. Will we soon find our Fool squeezing his own orange juice or, god-forbid, serving his own tea?

Dear reader, while the Fool is loathe to admit any fault in this matter, it would be beneath Him to not acknowledge being caught completely off-guard by his, usually, punctual house servant's callous action. The cultural and legal ramifications aside, the dynamic of Master to servant is one of great complexity, as you, undoubtedly, will understand. It is with utter regret that the Fool may now find Himself in a morass of uncertainty, to be imperiled by his own kindness. 

Or not.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Who is this man?

And why does his face keep showing up everywhere? 

A prominent bank here in Turkey is using this likeness in their latest ad campaign. The print ads are virtually indistinguishable from the man himself. I would imagine there are White House interns scrambling for a Turkish interpreter to issue a cease and desist order as we speak. The television spots are humorous with long-distance shots of the man at podium and the few close-ups only capturing the brow and eyes of the impostor. 

I'd post a link to the ad but the authorities here have blocked You Tube. One can only imagine the instability fomented by the Turks learning how to launch a two-liter bottle of Diet Coke stuffed with Mentos -the fresh maker!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Hamam

After a full day of not buying anything at the Grand Bazaar, the Fool and his loyal assistant, Tontio, decided on going local at the, well, local hamam. The hamam, or Turkish bath, is a communal steam and bathhouse whose Greco-Roman origins predate Christianity. For millennia the baths have served as community centers for both men AND women (shock!). Though the two may share the same bathhouse, never at the same time. Most hamams have separate entrances, if not separate facilities.

The hamam was the social centerpiece of Ottoman life. Aside from the baths, the hamam was also a place of traditional entertainment and ceremonies. Even dancing and food were not unusual sights, particularly in the women's quarters. The earliest version of the 'spa-day out for the girls'.

The hamam is about ritual. The cleanse, complete with a thorough scrubbing by a large Saddam Hussein look-a-like, followed by massage, or pummeling as it is known, is the daily ritual for those fortunate enough to visit daily. It is a process broken down by the different rooms: cool, warm, and hot. While the exact order of the process remained a mystery to our intrepid interlopers, the effect was quite revitalizing.

The Fool and Tontio chose just the bath without the scrubbing or pummeling. The Fool preferring to avoid a pummeling, no matter the context. And with the look of the Pummeler, a wise decision it most certainly was for the Fool's flimsy vertebrae.

Despite the initial unease with the unfamiliar surroundings; the now seven Hussein look-a-likes and the water vessels that suggested 'toilet' to the Fool's Western eyes, the Fool quickly was overcome with a serenity and civility that lasted right up until he laid eyes on the hairiest arse one could only imagine in ones' worst nightmare. And then...Another one...And another. Suddenly, it became apparent to the Fool and Tontio that it was not their poor command of the Turkish tongue that set them so apart. Oh no, it was the slipped towel that exposed them for those of the hairless arse peoples (relatively speaking, of course). That dreaded race of non-smokers and fitness lunatics constantly whingeing about smoke and body odour.

Once our dear friends had completed the task of looking completely and utterly out-of-place, they were wrapped in towels, pink no less, and led to their private cubicles for further cooling and the ubiquitous Turkish tea. Delightful.

The inescapability of foreigner-pricing. The cashier, oblivious to the posted price list right above the register (a box of thatch-like material) which clearly stated a fee of 12 Turkish Lira (TL), insisted that the Fool and his compatriot pay TL 20 each. Heartened by the fact that they weren't assaulted (although Tontio was forced into a dance with a homoerotic bias by one of the larger Husseins, whilst the Fool slipped away), and mellowed by the soothing cooling cubicle and tea, the bill was settled and a quick dispatch was made to the streets of olde Istanbul.

[Tontio enjoying his cubicle]

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Welcome to Istanbul. Now SHUT Your Mouth (and your ears)!

Evidently, you can't run an illegal renovation during normal working hours here in Turkey. The banging begins promptly at 11.00 pm and ends sharply at 7.00 am. The banging is nice by itself, but only when coupled with some sort of paleolithic, drilling noise does the Fool's ire truly begin to rise.

After a fitful evening of restless, no-sleep, the Fool descends upon the front-desk here at The Mall. With a stern determination and one sock, the Fool demands to speak with the Manager of afore-mentioned establishment. In all honesty, the Manager may or may not be THE manager, but the Fool needed redress in english, and she fit the bill.

As the Turkish-version of Hillary Clinton approached (pant-suit and all), the Fool exhaled all the timidity and Western-ness from his body. He leaned forward and with all the seriousness he could muster (with one sock), declared, "The noise in the evening is unacceptable, my children were up all night!" [LIE #1].
"I'm terribly sorry, sir.[LIE #2]. IF the noise should happen again, please call the security. They will notify me and I will stop it."[LIE #3 & #4].

Had the Fool not been so sleep-deprived he may have noticed the capitalized 'IF' and realized, as well, that 'the security' speaketh no english. None-the-less. The Fool stumbled back to the wrong elevator, "That was easy enough." Thinking that, in him, the Manager clearly recognized a man of deliberate purposefulness. HAH!

Fast forward to later that afternoon. The Fool returning from his vigorous exercise regimen (and cigarette) is greeted by his honorable house servant. "Sir, housekeeping dropped these off for you."

 Velcome to Turkiye!