17 Eylül 2018 Pazartesi

A Truck Trip From Belgium To Turkey. Day 3

The more we approach to the East, the more the rules become less strict. 

When we come closer to the Czech Republic, Çağdaş starts to get nervous. ‘’In this area, the cops and
officers always stop Turkish trucks to control and they don’t let you to continue your way without bribe. They always try to find a mistake.’’ We’re hoping that this it won’t be like this but when we’re approaching to the border, we see a police car. Çağdaş prepared the money in his pocket. The polis officer says; ‘’Hi’’ in Turkish. Çağdaş tries to look funny. He starts to say everything he knows about Czech Republic such as Milan Baros, Prague, Dobra… He wants to impress the police officer. All the controls are done but the police can’t find even a little missing thing. Çağdaş gives them some grapes and two big black figs. The policemen feel happy. Succeeding his job, Çağdaş starts to speak joyfully and explains;
“communication is very important”.  And he also makes self-criticism saying; ‘’they are right in some ways because Turkish drivers don’t want to obey the rules.’’

When we were on the way, we receive a call and learn that Ahmet has had an accident on the Hungarian border. There are little scratches on Ahmet’s truck. He tells the story with lots of curses and swears. After a short while, he forgets all the things just happened. We leave the trucks behind and walk through the jungle to exchange Hungarian money with better price. Çağdaş smiles
and says; “nobody can cheat and overcharge the truck drivers”. I understand how difficult the drivers are making their money and how important to protect it. Ahmet states that he is not allowed to follow the same route with us because he’s transporting flammable material.  But he doesn’t give up. He turns off the sign on the truck that states he’s transporting flammable material and comes with us. He says ‘’Le eri’’ (who cares). I understand that Ahmet can’t finish a sentence without making jokes and swearing. During his speech and I am filming he hides his cigarette. I am surprised, and I ask the reason. He answers, because smoking is a shame. It’s an unusual paradox. Before we move, one Iranian driver asks Çağdaş in Turkish which way he should follow. Çağdaş helps him and writes the ways in a paper
and warns him; don’t write incorrect things on your papers. Hungarians don’t forgive even a little mistake. The man feels thankful. When we hit the road again towards Budapest. Çağdaş’s face starts to shine with a smile. He feels good because he has helped someone today.

The weather is very hot. There are lots of snacks around Çağdaş. He can reach any of them with his tall hand; Fruit, water, yogurt, biscuits. He changes the music or looks at his phone. He reads funny texts coming from his friends. Syrian singer,
Semira Tevfik’s Hub el Esmer Ceneni (The love of the brunette makes me crazy) song starts. He sings the song loudly. Çağdaş is funny and lively guy. Çağdaş; “without this, our lives would be just a total shit. Afterwards, he tells the story of transporting goods for his villagers that live in Germany, Belgium and England.
Darkness arrives slowly. Tiredness and haste starts.
Parking areas are not enough and of course they aren’t clean, large and comfortable enough as they are in Germany. We find a parking place before entering Budapest. We break the rules and park in a not allowed area with Ahmet, just near the fountain. In the darkness. One man and sex worker comes to a restaurant. Another poor-looking man asks money from us. He is homeless and he has
nobody. Çağdaş gives him food and money. The man washes the truck with his old, worn and dirty clothes. Çağdaş; “look at the guy, he seems to be very poor but his German is very good’’ ‘’ I feel peaceful when I help this kind of people.

We open our kitchen. While Çağdaş fries the potatoes, I fill the truck’s water tank. Ahmet prepares the table but during this time he continues to his jokes and swears. The dinner is ready. Another truck driver Cengiz from Erzincan comes. They hug tightly. The conversation starts. ‘’ I’ve been a driver for 20 years. Actually, it’s not a hard job but sometimes we have to wait on Kapıkule border for two days. In addition, our children grow up without us. Çağdaş says yes and he feels upset. He continues to tell;

‘’I have 22 and 20 year-old one girl and one boy. They have been raised by their mother. I haven’t done anything to raise them except giving them Money. I haven’t had the chance even to take them to a park, cinema or a theatre play. It’s painful but there is nothing to do’’ When we talk, Çağdaş’s phone rings. They are Çağdaş’s children Zihni (9) and Ali Emin (8). His retired truck driver dad and his mother make video call. Çağdaş says; son, 25 days left only.  Mom starts to pray;’’God save you’’ Çağdaş kisses everyone and continues to drive.
Cengiz invites me for a short walk in the darkness. After short time, we begin to watch the lights of Tatabania from the hill of the valley. Cengiz’s mood changes and he starts to talk about his children with a pride. ‘’My son has just finished industrial engineering program at  University. My
daughter continues to study at the college. After she finishes the college, I’ll be retired. And I’ll move from Istanbul to my village in Çağlayan, Erzincan. I’ll make a house between woods and mountains. I’ll have a garden. I’ll start to grow vegetables. Haricot bean is famous in my hometown. He looks at the hills and asks; “have you ever eaten trout in Çağlayan waterfall?”  I say; “yes, trout with butter in a tile”. He smiles. I ask what is the difference between the past and now in this job? He says ‘’everything’’ He continous to tell and he fells upset. ‘’The roads, trucks, stations are better now but relations are bad. In the past, when someone had any problems on the roads, everyone used to stop and help. Now, it’s not like that. Nonetheless, solidarity continues between our friends.’’ Çağdaş continues. ‘’ Cengiz shakes his head.
We wash our feet and brushes the teeth first time at the fountain after a long time. We go back to the
trucks.  Time to sleep. We have to make 10 hours on the road the next day. Bulgaria is waiting for us. We cant wait to read to the camp area for trucks to swim and have dinner at an Antakya restaurant. I close the door and go into the bed. The sound of the water dripping comes from the fountain. I look outside from window. The poor guy is sitting on the rock and smoking thinkfully.

Translated from Turkish By Berdan Sönmez 


5 Eylül 2018 Çarşamba

A Trip by Truck from Belgium to Turkey. (Day 2)

Being always on roads… Interesting…

The biggest nightmare of truck drivers is traffic jam. This results in delays and arriving late at the resting truck stations. As a result of this, drivers always keep in touch and gives information to each other about the traffic of the roads. Long conversations happen on the phones and jokes are made and  funny stories are exchanged. There are strict rules on the roads of Germany. Çağdaş: Germans have regularity and rules. However, they don’t try to find mistakes in our trucks. In contrast, they try to ignore little mistakes. You can never bride a German police or other state workers. 

We’re at the resting station on the border of Czech Republic. The darkness of the night is approaching. Drivers look to be exhausted. We are supposed to spend the night here. Arabic and
Turkish are the most spoken and heard languages because the majority of the drivers are from Antakya. Other languages that we hear are Serbian, Hungarian, Slovak, Greek, Romanian, Czech and Bulgarian. We see typicalviews as we see at any truck driver’s resting station in Turkey; People who drink tea, people who makes video call with their families, people who fill water into their trucks and the ones who are just hanging around to ease the pain in their legs. Some of them take a nap or sleep in their trucks...

This place looks like a theatre stage. And on this stage, everyday a similiar play (life) is performed German Government has a customs office here. Drivers relax and eat here and they can do their paperwork at the same time.

We start to cook together. Like the other truck drivers, Cagdas opens the kitchen mounted on the side of the truck. We sit on the small chairs. We make salad and rice. We prepare the fruit and mezes (dishes to eat with Raki). During this time, some neighbors ask for salt, spice or pepper like we live
in a village. It’s like there is always solidarity and assistance here. In the middle of the dinner, the friends of Çağdaş show up with Raki and cheese. It’s like they come as guests into Cagdas` house. We open the bottle of handmade wine that my cousin (Zekai) gives me as a gift. And other cousin Selda’s Gannuc with garlic leaves a wonderful smell among the trucks… The dinner becomes so lovely that deep conversation surrounds everybody.. The neighbor truck driver, Serbian Stefan says; Hi and joins us. While stting on the chairs between the trucks, funny stroies, rumours and events are told. Of course, mostly are genereally erotic stories. Wwe were not the only people who are having a party. They are small groups among the trucks having dinner with their friends. One of the drivers, Ahmet says; "We try to be positive. If we don’t laugh, if we don’t make

jokes we couldn’t endure this job and we couldn’t survive this type of life". Cagdas; "In every station, we see someone familiar or friends. Because of this, this resting stations are really special for us". I leave friends and in the darkness of night, I walk around the camp. There is are many more groups
who eat, drink and chat behind the trucks. It’s likein the ancient times when people used to sit around the fire and perform rituals. I sit on a rock and I watch the harmony of people who come from different lands. However, this job makes drives have same similar behaviours and attitudes. There is a peacuful scenery in hard conditions.

I notice Ahmet’s (25 years, from Antakya) fancy truck. In front of the window, there are yellow flowers in the vase. His bed is hidden behind an inlaid curtain. He opens the curtain leegently ad I see the cute bookcase.  There is a variety of books from Kafka to Livaneli and Tolstoy. Seeing me
suprised, he starts to express himself; ‘’Books make me feel better when headache comes’’ and smiles with his beautiful, tired blue eyes and mourning beard. We start to listen to songs from Kardeş Türküler. He has home made food and drinks in his fridge and the truck cabin is decorated like a home. He says; "Don’t be shocked. My life passes here and it seems like it will continue like that. He looks at the ceiling thoughtfully and he feels sad; ‘’If I find a better job, I will quit the job but I don’t think I can
find’’. ‘’ Anyway, I got used to this life, anyway’’  Then, he shows the videos he takes while driving

on the on the in snow in Ukraine and Russia. The all difficulties we face are in winter. You are experiencing our  easy holiday times now. These are the best days of us.

When we come back to table dirty dishes are being washed. Çağdaş says to Ahmet; ‘’ You are going to finish my water up in the tank! Easy’’ Ahmet says; "Eri fi dappotek (Fuck your tank). We laugh out of our hearts. It’s time to sleep. The camp turns out to be tired quiet. With the shadow of people who
move slowly in front of us, my eyes are closing. I hardly hear Çağdaş saying; "Tisbah bi hayr" (Good night).

When I wake up and open my eyes I see Çağdaş washing the window. Then, he tidies his bed. When inside of the truck is clean and beautifil I feel like I have washed my baby.  I start to understand better why the truck is really important for Çağdaş and his friends. Preparing the breakfast starts… Ahmet is approaching to us while he is singing in Arabic as usual; ‘’Sebb il esmer cennen ni, yağyüni’’. He joins us with hot pita
bread and fried meat. We make the eggs with the delicious meat. The tea is already boiling. Our neigbors are earlier than us. We smell the tea. He invites people; ‘’Why dont you come and drink tea with us’’ in Kurdish. We say; "Afiye te" (good appetit) to him. The interesting thing is that there is no morning sleepy mood in Ahmet and Çağdaş. Jokes and erotic stroies continue nonstop. Of course,bosses and border issues are also being talked. They fulfill their needs by exchanging information and fun.  They also excahge food. Someone gives pepper and takes grapes, someone gives watermelosn and takes bread in return. 
After a while we depart. Aafter driving a short time little, we notice the small sign board on the side of the road saying; "Welcome to Czech Republic". Where is the border? There is no border. Funny. A funny idea crosses my mind. Capitalism achieve our dream of  countires without borders.

Translated from Trukish to English by Berdan Sönmez 

3 Eylül 2018 Pazartesi

A Trip by Truck from Belgium to Turkey; (Day 1)

Life on Trucks
I see Cagdaş at the truck station at our meeting point in Belgium. The last time I saw him, he was a child. He used to come to our grocery to buy some candies. Now, he is a big man. From a distance, I speak to him loudly; ‘’ Now, you look like your grandpa, Devud il Karkuta’’ He smiles and says; “I’ve been driving between Turkey and the UK for 8 years”. He wants to hit the road immediately. It’s a reflex of truck drivers. They have to be on the way. They shouldn’t waste any time and they should plan the next break time after some hours. Cagdas starts to explain things enthusiastically; ‘’My time is running out, I cannot drive more than 9 hours in a day. My tachograph doesn’t let me to do it.’’ I understand that tachograph is the machine that records all the moves of drivers. I have always wanted to know the lives of truck drivers. Is it like the way that looks from the outside?; Difficult and adventurous? What do those owner of the roads that spend their years out of their homes as modern nomads eat and
drink? How do they feel? What do they think while driving? What does being on roads mean to them? What is it like to live a life far from home and family? I can’t wait to have the answers...
Çağdaş starts to tell me everything with his soft Arabic and Turkish in two languages. ‘’ I had always wanted to be a truck driver. As a result of this, I never wanted to go to school. When I was 14, I stole my dad’s truck to travel with my friend. We had beers and zbib (raisins) among our legs and enjoying the huge truck. Ya Allah le hel iyyem (Strange days they were). I couldn’t go home for 3 days because of the fear of my dad. Fortunately, I got over the situation with two slaps on my face.’’ I am starting to observe the truck. Inside of the latest model truck is more comfortable than a car and it has wonderful
technological equipments. Bunks are really comfortable to sleep. I dream nice things during my sleep but when I wake up in the morning, I can’t remember easily where I am. Çağdaş has three different countries’ cell phones; Turkey, Germany and UK. I ask him the reason. He answers; “The most hated driver is the one who isn’t reachable.’’ I get what he means. I ask; “Do you love your job? He answers: Iywalla (Of course). This is my hobby and my job. I love it so much. The only thing that breaks my heart is missing my family. If I had started this job before I got married I would have never married or I would have married to someone from a European country. You know I don’t discriminate among people according to their religion or race.
I have a curious look at his mobile kitchen mounted outside of the truck. It is like a food box. I notice
some parsley, mint, surki and a lot of food and ingredients. He says ‘’ I cook every kind of meal here. You’ll see when we cook and eat soon.’’ He puts on different songs on after another and starts singing

loudly together. He says; ‘I have every type of music; Turkish, Arabic, English. After Ahmet Kaya, starts Azerbaijani song and then Beyonce. Songs change his mood. Sometimes he feels like a rebel. Sometimes (when he listens to Arabic songs) he remembers his hometown Antakya, our village and Syria. He feels sad. After then, he tells a funny and sometimes erotic stories about truck drivers.
We take a break in Koblenz. We meet friends from our village that I haven’t seen for a long time.  Tunç, Temin and Taylan are the guys who migrate to Germany after university education. Everyone tells their life story briefly. They all have a common point. Tunc contious; “We all have had poverty in our childhood and we have better life standards now. Homever, we miss our old days”. Is this a sign of getting old? Temin smiles and says;
“I make a lot of money here. I get used to life in Germany and I feel integrated. I do my best to make my children learn at least five languages. I want them to be World citizens. I miss my childhood, teenage years, our pure times and of course the old people of the village. We tell the stories of the interesting characters Yeves Yyeves, iL Sakra, Ahmet Suphi,ç Nayef Srayser how have already passed away. The laughs stop after a while and we feel the deep sadness. Temin says; ‘’Stakt ktir’’ (I miss a lot). I say; “You didn’t change. He smiles with his athletic body and says; ‘’ If you want to stay young, you have to be funny; you have to do sports and much sex. We all laugh loudly. We realize that our friendship continues like it has never ended. We take a photo in front of Wilhem Statue as we did the same one 16 years ago. Night time. He says; I call it; Ataturk Statue. That moment, I remember my father. He was working in an iron and steel factory near here 57
years ago. He didn’t stay so long in Germany. He came back soon. However, he took German technique, science and philosophy from here and he used that when he was raising us up. I learnt my first German words from him before I learnt Turkish. Strange, isn’t it? His spirit and memories took me here to study for master degree after long years. He must have guessed this moment. I hope, he is smiling at me now from somewhere.
Translated from Turkish By: Berdan Sönmez