Monday, February 16, 2004

do you know, i think i have a new hobby. reading blogs of the diverse and interesting people that make up our world. for example, people like yael who thoughtfully (unlike me who is afraid to attract publicity) include their blog address when they post in their friend's comments. and once browsing his site, i find a few links to some more throught provoking and very interesting sites.
different people, with different cultures and different ideas. one of the things i love about my culture in australia, is our easy acceptance of other cultures. sure, we take the piss out of them and criticize them etc... but we criticize ourselves and take the piss out of ourselves just as easily. frankly, if you are a member of a minority group, if a "genuine aussie" (hah! we are everyone anyway) makes fun of you or something you are doing, that is less of a criticism, and more of an acceptance. (take this with a grain of salt, we've got a lot of dickheads too, with shallow minds and caveman ideals). anyway, it's like the whole bastard thing. you can call your mate a bastard, and it's a term of affection, but with a different tone of voice you can call an enemy a bastard, and its not a nice thing. but i digress....
one of the things my parents taught me, that stuck, is that people are people :-) i've only travelled a little bit but the more i travel, the more i find that people are just the same wherever you go. they might speak a different language but they are very similar.
a traveller (hamish) is walking along a road from town aardvark to town beauford, he meets a traveller coming the other way. this traveller asks him what the people were like in the town he had just come from. hamish says to him, what were they like the last town you were in? if they were friendly and happy, then the next town will be the same, if they were grumpy and unfriendly then the next town will be the same.
of course this isn't perfect, but i've found it pretty close to the truth. i went to turkey 2 years ago for a holiday. my travel agent made me a little nervous when she said that she'd booked me on turkish air, and they'd probably be ok but they were so much cheaper etc.... but the way she said it made me think i was flying "white knuckle airlines". I've flown with british airways, qantas, lauda air (very cool) and others. when i got to thailand on the way to istanbul, qantas landed with a bit of a bump, the next 6 flights were with turkish air. sure, it's like an old school bus, no lcd video screens on the back of the seats, but they were smoother flyers, friendlier staff (ok, british air and the others were pretty damn good too) and get this. the first time we land at istanbul, every passenger (maybe the crew too) claps. i'm like "shit!" we're lucky we landed?? but every flight, they all clap when they land.
i've only travelled a little bit. been to the solomon islands (very cool), vanuatu, new caledonia, the uk and turkey. the turkish people i met were the friendliest people i have ever met, anywhere, ever. sure, their people on the street were annoying and pushy, but once you said "NO" and then said, where's the whatchamacallit? they'd be happy and friendly, and if you didn't understand the directions, they'd take you there. happy, honest, trusting, friendly lovely people. i was kind of riding on a high after being there, the next place i went was the uk, they were ok, but not the same level you know?
ok, back to the point, different people, different cultures. interesting to meet, and learn and experience. my first experience with a foreign blogger was Salam Pax, an iraqi blogger. getting someone else's point of view for the iraqi situation was very enlightening, unlike listening to my dad who just wants to nuke everyone! bleah!!!! this guy says some interesting things, and the last post i read, was pretty much how i saw it and argued with it against my dad. read relevant post here
the maddest (mad as in off the wall and unexpected, as opposed to cranky) experience was gallipoli. ok, i'm in turkey, not meeting with my russian friend for another 2 days, lets do the gallipoli tour. the gallipoli experience is taught to kids in australia from an early age, the pommy bastards who put us in the wrong place and treated us like cannon fodder, us, the superhuman aussies who did good stuff and were really sneaky etc... OK, it's history now, we'll never know the full truth, but having been there and listened to the grandson of one of the turkish defenders, my perspective is forever changed. i won't spoil it completely though. if you want to know, if you really really want to know, go to turkey and do the tour, ask for "uncle ali", to be sure i'll be sending my kids to see him. sitting under the tree near the beach at gallipoli, listining to "uncle ali", there wasn't a dry eye in the place. to be perfectly honest, after listening to his account, i'm amazed that turks want anything to do with us, but the reality is that they love aussies. except for the drunken dickeads who spoil it for everyone on anzac day of course. it just blows my mind. we were the invaders. the most successful fighters, who nearly won it for us, were the kiwis (new zealanders in case you don't know), and the poms (there were some canadians there too) lost more soldiers than all of us........except for the turks who lost more than all the rest put together. hah, and get this, i'm in istanbul, a few grillion miles from home, jump on a bus to gelibolu (or however they spell it) there's a girl on there who looks familiar, she's the daughter of a guy i know from work. i've seen her before when she was little.
do you know the worst thing? after rambling all this rubbish, i've forgotten what my point was, i've had to stop a few times to remember what my next bit was gonna be, and now i've forgotten the lot. so i'll make a new point. travel to turkey, be friendly and happy and relaxed. you'll love it. take the gallipoli tour if your aussie, kiwi, canuck (sorry if thats the wrong thing for a canadian) or a pom. sit under the whatever-the-frikken-tree-was tree near the beach on gelibolu and cry your eyes out like we did. read Ataturks message (finally found it, this is the, errrr, plaque i guess, near the beach. i'm 6 foot 3 and my shoulder comes up to the bottom) to the mothers of the lost sons from all over. you will learn a few things about how cool the turks are. it makes me cry even now. I know nothing about the man or what he really did. but his message speaks across the generations like no other. i really shouldn't read it while listing to "kevin johnson - over the hills and far away". i'm crying like an idiot :-( uncle ali gave us all an anzac bullet and turkish grenade fragment, or maybe it was a turkish bullet and an anzac grenade bit, i gave mine to my grandma. two of her uncles were there, one of them ended up with a steel plate in his head. "johnnies" are the turks, johnnie turk. dunno what "mehmet" means, but that's us. probably means dopey english speaking buggers who won't piss off when they're not wanted! hehehe (no offense intended.... really really!) go to turkey, those turkish people are really cool.
another example. a couple of aussie lads i met up with, we decided to go shopping. we've bought fez's each and some cool turkish shirts, and worn them back to where we were staying. here in australia i'm sure someone unhappy prick would have thought we were taking the piss and got the shits, but not there, they were laughing and pointing and if they were close by they'd say hello and how cool etc... it was just the coolest vibe (and no, not like laughing and pointing and saying "look at them dumb idiots", well maybe not hehehehe)
but i will try and leave you with a cool thought, if anyone (not likely) has made it this far through my rambling crap. when i first saw the inscription, i tried to be strong etc... (fail!!) some guy nearby is selling shirts with the inscription on the back, ok gotta have on.
after the whole talk thingy, we have time out, the beach is smooth pebbles. myself and this beautiful black canadian girl have both thought the same thing at the same time. shoes off, we are wading in the water, then we look back over the land, the scars are still on the hills. the landscape is so beautiful, the beach, magic. overwhelming.

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