Archive for April, 2009|Monthly archive page

Going offline again…

In Erkan in the military service on April 26, 2009 at 06:26

My weekend leave comes to an end in a few hours. We were given a leave after the Oath ceremony and I have been a civilian again from Friday noon to Sunday afternoon. We were not supposed to leave Kastamonu so my life was spent in the town center, in a hotel. My dear friend joined me and then many of barrack-friends found me so we continued to live our collective life in a more civil manner this time.

The next important date is May 9. That is when we will finish our beginner drills and we will be sent to stations where we will be stationed until the very end. That is, September 18.  I will probably become a sergeant after May 9. After May 9, when I have my permanent address here, I will announce and then I will be expecting your cards and chocolate (from Claudia). Probably May 9 will be the next time when I can be online.

This weekend was a time of exploration. The hotel I stay in is fine, İdrisoğlu hotel, right at the center of town. Good wireless, and good service in general. Relatively cheap. We have discovered a good place where we can watch the soccer games and play cards. We have discovered at least one good restaurant to take our guests…

Kastamonu itself is a good town to visit. In fact, we had visited this place, I, Çetin and his wife, Sündüz,  4 years ago, passed through this town, after spending the whole day, we had moved to İnebolu in our Black Sea trip. Residents are hospitable and the town is quite historical and with four local dailies. It is also near to famous Safranbolu. half an hour from the town center.

I am not supposed to write about military life itself, and so please forgive me for not giving details here. Just for general observations related to me: This is probably the best place for the mandatory service to take place.  Still the service life is hard to swallow. Just to give you an idea: the films that would best describe the service life is not the action packed war movies but Holocaust movies, that focus on concentration camps. for instance scenes from Bent (1997) came to my mind (not something special- it was one of the latest movies I watched, it was easier to remember). Maybe Full Metal Jacket (1987) could also be relevant here.

What makes life bearable is all people in my division (nearly 100 people) are college graduates and 5-monthers. There are no stealing or bad intentions. People are very helpful and sincere. I am the third oldest guy there but many looks older than I am. There are nearly 20 high school teachers and two university lecturer (including me). I believe I already made some life long friends.

Gradually, long-termers (15 months serving citizens with no college education and in average 20-years olders) began to treat us really good. First they were angry because we were short-termers, but gradually they liked us especially when they observed us going down under intensive training.

What makes life also bearable is that our superiors are extremely gentle. That doesn’t mean they favor us in training but they respect us, they never insulted us, or they never used corporal punishment. I wish in peace time military service, there could be more civilian elements. You are shut off from your previous life in such a drastic manner that only comrade solidarity back in there can partially cure. I am told that after the Oath, there will be relaxation. And particularly after May 9, life will become really easier.

Right now, I have no problem going back in. I know I can do it. I am already used to it. See you -hopefully- on May 9 and don’t forget me here! 


Erkan ends up the first and the hardest part in his military service…

In Erkan in the military service on April 25, 2009 at 13:31

Our division gets ready to start the Oath Ceremony. 


Oath takes place on the flag and the gun (We use AK-47 machines guns a.k.a. Kalashnikov)


I am 33 and still my parents have to come to get permission for the weekend leave. Military rules. Now they are gone, I stay in a hotel until Sunday afternoon. Then I my duty resumes. 

to be continued. 

Erkan now goes offline.

In Erkan in the military service on April 11, 2009 at 22:49

Please come back from time to time and check back how Erkan survives. Check the countdown on the upper right hand side.


My dear friend, Can Avcı, will take care of the comments section; will approve your valuable comments from time to time… 


Towards the service (Part III)

In Erkan in the military service on April 10, 2009 at 16:47

I got the courage to ask the commander of the local Military Office if I could bring some stuff to read. He told me I can if that’s not overtly political, however he added:
"let me not discourage you but if you find any time at all, you will prefer to sleep instead of reading in your first month of training"….I still intend to bring some book with me. If I can find it at the bookstores in Taksim, I will take Anathem (by Neal Stephenson) with me. A very long novel. It will take months to finish:) I will think about something else but all my books are already packed. Thanks to my parents, I have nothing unpacked.

* To describe the military service experience is nearly impossible. The army is a giant organization and every person lives his own experience in a fragment of the army…
* Turkish soccer games can be watched in the barracks. That’s one universal right:)
* In many barracks The Valley of the Wolves serials could also be watched. Commanders allowed servicemen to watch it even after the sleeping time…
* The quality of food changes in every station. As far as I understand, there are no standards. Some stations order from private food companies, and some do it themselves.

At Tuzla

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Breaking news:

In Erkan in the military service on April 10, 2009 at 01:19

Erkan will be in the gendarmerie force, stationed in Kastamonu for 5.5 months.

Kastamonu is a western Black Sea town, 7 hours away from Istanbul..
That’s what I am going to do:

This is from Kastamonu gendarmarie station…

After Obama

In TR-US relations, Turkey in Europe, Turkish foreign policy on April 9, 2009 at 14:41

There is of course a huge flow of journalistic production. This is just a small bite. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to collect more links. In the very end, there are also a few links I had collected under the category "americana".

Taking it to the Kids

I had the chance yesterday to attend Barack Obama’s town hall meeting with some 100 Turkish university students. The event was broadcast live on Turkish television and seemed to me like another successful public diplomacy effort, particularly in a country where America’s image (or at least that of the American government) had sunk very low. Obama clearly has star power — "I love him!" one young woman told me — but listened carefully to the students’ questions and delivered serious, but down to earth, answers.

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last days as a civilian..

In Attractions: football, cinema, music, Erkan in the military service, Erkan's habitus on April 9, 2009 at 11:05

I am doing my best to finish up my to do list before my civilian life ends on Sunday.  One of the final tasks is to finish up writing an essay on Internet and Youth in Turkey. I am doing my best…

Prison Break 

As a reward to a day of hard work, I doze off watching Prison Break episodes.


I do not look for experiments and full me up with energizing albums from:

HorrorPops, Anthrax, Peter Pan Speedrock, Manowar

Motorizer by Motorhead

Motorhead still rocks! 


I will miss our Library Men! Serdar Katipoğlu (R), possibly the coolest head librarian! Sami Çukadar (L), head of the Dolapdere branch of Bilgi University Library.

 I will miss lots of things. Hopefully, I will have my life back in six months…

“G20: a photo essay

In Lines of thought on April 8, 2009 at 21:47

G20: a photo essay

Britain’s policing problem, Guy Aitchison

Britain was once famous for its unarmed and relatively restrained police force, but the death of a man at last week’s G20 protests in London has brought into focus serious concerns with a new aggressive form of policing. Former police chief Andy Hayman today warned that “If left unchecked, we have a more violent crowd in uniform than the one demonstrating.”

An older group of interesting links follow..

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I have resigned today

In Erkan in the military service on April 8, 2009 at 13:33

There cannot be a leave without salary. The military service has its own insurance regime. So I have to resign from my work. It is mostly symbolic but still upsetting.


İstanbul Bilgi Üniversitesi

İletişim Fakültesi Dekanlığı’na,

Askerlik görevime başlayacağım için Halkla İlişkiler Bölümü’ndeki öğretim görevliliği görevimden 1 Nisan 2009 tarihi itibarıyla istifa etmek zorundayım. Askerlik göreviyle ilgili belgeler ektedir. Bilgilerinize arz ederim.

Erkan Saka


Related laws state that one who leaves his job because of the military service has to be accepted back or given compensation. I hope there will be a smooth transition back in the end… 

Obama and me

In Erkan's habitus, TR-US relations on April 7, 2009 at 08:51
A message written by US president Barack Obama in the visitors' ...

A message written by US president Barack Obama in the visitors’ book at the Ataturk Mausoleum in Ankara. Obama, seeking to boost ties with a key Muslim ally, touted Washington’s strong ties with Turkey Monday and tread carefully on neighbouring Armenia’s decades-old genocide claims.

(AFP/Pool/Hakan Goktepe)

It is always a pity of a news junky like me not to be able to follow a great event properly. Mr. Obama is in town and it is no doubt that this is a historical moment and signifies the rightness of new Turkish foreign policy moves.

By this Sunday evening (12 April) my civilian lifes ends. By April 10, I will learn how long I will be in the army and where I will be stationed.

In the remaining days, I have to deal with tons of technicalities in addition to finishing up grading and extra classes.

Right at this moment, Tuesday morning before my 1st year course lecture, I have to thank Anthony Potoczniak, my dear friend from the department, who had sent me an email and told me that he will take care of my dissertation submission process. That has been a growing concern for me. I had to submit the hard copy of my dissertation to Graduate Office along with a series of formalities and right now I have this great relief that it can be done. Thank you very much Anthony!

As Taraf headlined stated yesterday Obama could win the elections in Turkey, too. Turks like him at many levels. One is certainly pragmatic. His visit means the real warming up of relations between Turkey and US. We had that tension since the beginning of Iraq War and now that we can be allies again:) It seems that like Mr. Clinton, Mr. Obama receives popular sympathy while Mr. Bush could not get any.

In the mean time, I have to deal with technicalities in my last days and I am really sad that I cannot follow this event properly…

For the news roundup: 

Turkish Digest


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