Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sesli Sokaklar

As far as cities go, Ankara is relatively quiet. However, that silence is sometimes marked (mostly in the mornings) by people shouting in the streets. This isn't a common, "Good Morning" or even a shout of emergency or cry for help. These are the guys that wander the streets offering their services...the three most commonly heard are the simitci (the guy selling simit), the hurdaci (the guy collecting junk), and the dolmuscu (the driver of the shared taxis). 

Simit is a delicious bagel-ish looking treat that is best purchased from such street vendors. It's covered in sesame seeds and can also be eaten with cheese. Guys (strange, I just noticed I've never seen a female simitci...) wander the streets shouting, "Seeemeeecchheeeeeee" as if they are bearing a painful load of the world's simit on their head. I relieve this weight by handing over 50 kurus (about $.30 USD) and taking a simit off their hands (rather, heads) once in a while. I can't count the number of children that I know who adorably mimic the simitcis by walking around their houses with a pillow on their head.

A hurdaci is a junk collector--mainly scrap metal. You'll recognize him by the requisite cart that he manages to lumber around with--up and down hills, with the control of a ballerina. His cry is a bit more "mournful" than the simitci, for some reason. I suppose the burden of metal is a tad bit heavier than simit... At least it's not carried on his head.

Dolmuses (I couldn't, for the life of me, find a photo from my library) are by far the most efficient system of transportation here in Turkey. These shared taxis (whose name literally means "stuffed"), have set routes, similar to public busses, but drop off and pick up passengers along those routes as requested. The fees are paid directly to the driver, who calculates according to the distance traveled. The only downside to dolmuses is that you really have to know the city and where you need to be dropped off/picked up. That information isn't published anywhere--you just have to "know." Dolmuscus (the drivers) obviously don't wander the streets looking for riders, but you'll hear them at dolmus stops shouting out the end destinations. My favorites are in Istanbul, like "Aksaray, Aksaray, Aksaray" or the one other tongue twister that escapes my mind at the moment. They speak with tongues of auctioneers, so one must keep their eyes open for the interchangeable signs posted in the front window of the minibus.

Ah, there's the hurdaci now, passing just below me...this one is actually riding his rattling (empty) cart down the hill with as much grace as a child on a bicycle for the first time. Maybe that explains its emptiness...

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