Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Ataturk's Mausoleum & the Accident

Day 2 began with a slow start. Thank god for Turkish coffee. It's like hey, boom, awake, you! We had lectures today form the State Department on Health, Safety, you know all the good stuff. We learned that our biggest risk in Turkey is from rapid dogs in the east. They told us there is a 100% death rate. (of the dogs) But if you aren't treated within 10 days you will probably not make it. Great way to start the morning, right? Then a paranoid security guy reminded us of the do's and don'ts in a foreign country- i.e. do not be followed. if you are, report it. Or, do not use the internet... we all laughed until we realized he was serious. He swore he won't touch the internet except at work because of the possibility of internet hackers. Oops. Already messed up that one. He also told us Al-Queida is everywhere. Oh, lovely. And followed that up with "they are like cockroaches, they spring up everywhere."

We followed up the day with a visit to Ataturk's Mausoleum. It is quite beautiful and had a neo-fascist architectural feel to it. Check out the photos: Strolling through the museum under the large structures was surreal. Rows and rows of Ataturk's swords, clothes, shoes, name it, it was there. Swords from the Japanese emperor, the Soviet Union and others glistened on the walls exemplifying the importance of his rank politically and domestically.

After this enlightening day of Turkish history, we ate dinner with a beautiful Turkish band serenading us in the background. Everyone was clapping and our director even danced with a Fulbrighter! About 15 of us headed out to grab some nargileh and see the shopping district of Ankara. On a mission to find our nargileh, we stomped around the streets, taking the the lights, different stores (There is a Sephora!) and the beautiful Turkish people babbling in their melodic language. After several attempts we found a restaurant with nargileh and plopped down. Introducing ourselves in Turkish (already!!!) we chatted with the waiter and ordered some Turkish tea (called chai). We engaged ourselves in a game of backgammon and I killed the first game, attributing my skills to the countless Egyptian nights playing in street cafes. However, disaster struck. I attempt to exude grace and consistently fail. Like my usual Sarah self, I move my arm and dump a boiling hot cup of tea all down my pants. I mean all down. As in it looked like I peed my pants. Everyone in the restaurant turned and stared while I was clearly distracted by the burning pain searing my legs. Long story short, I waltzed into the restroom, cleaned myself up and sat back at the table (everyone still staring) intent on finishing the game of tabla(backgammon) I had begun. The pain faded and playing resumed. Besides the mild mortifcation, I survived. :) In tact. First accident happened, major crisis averted.

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