Politics, religion, and culture where East meets West

Posts Tagged ‘alcohol

Sobriety check: Gezi Park

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The last few days’ demonstrations in Turkey can be likened to a heavy binge. Whatever brought everyone to the table in the first place is quickly, and readily, forgotten in the pleasant haze of mutual drunkenness. Like any binge, though, the catharsis only lasts until morning, or whenever the tap runs dry. It will be only thenwondering at their cuts and bruisesthat the participants will remember what drove them to drink in the first place.

Until then, the grandiose, incomprehensible mumblings and gestures of the participants can only be understood in terms of what they’ve had to drink, and how drunk they’ve become. Some are drunk on high ideals, some are drunk on power, and many are drunk on passionate indignation.

The one thing that draws everyone together, though, is that right now they’re all, quite literally, stumbling in the street.

But once the broken glass, blood, tears, and dried lemon wedges are swept up in the morning, someone will start asking the crucial question: Did we just have a bad week, or is this going to become a regular thing?

Certainly, Turkey had a bad week: Two instances of largely unwelcome government morality-policing were widely publicized and protested. First, a reprimand for kissing couples on the Ankara Metro, and second, the parliament’s approval of an anti-alcohol bill (shops, 10pm-6am). But public sentiment really united on two further incidents. First, the sit-in at Gezi Park, and second, the police’s disproportionate response to that sit-in.

With an opportunity for a good, justified binge, everyone came out: The communists are waving their flags. The alcoholics are throwing their empties. The anarchists are wearing their black, made-in-China tees. The football fans are organizing themselves by team affiliations. The journalists are setting their exposures and snapping pictures worth a thousand dishonest, one-sided words. And the police, whether concerned about their public image or simply their own safety, provoke the assembled with undercover officers and disperse the crowds with their only weaponstear gas, water cannons, rubber bullets, and batons.

But while protesters and news organizations peddle the big words that sellrevolution, unity, discontent, fascism, etc.we, the observers, need to try to maintain our own sobriety in the face of a national binge and the bartenders who profit. The “anarchist” youth who burned the truck in Kızılay, Ankara are certainly less suitable for parliament than “Tayyip.” And however similar the “righteous” opposition seems today, their unity is forged in one night of tears shed togethera relationship that dissipates as quickly as the clouds of OC gas that brought it on.

Whether Erdoğan and the AKP is still, in the eyes of the majority of Turks, fit to operate the country in their alleged power-drunken state will be seen in the next general election. Rest assured, though, that whatever the conclusion, the cuts and bruises from the last few days will not quickly be forgotten.


Written by M. James

June 2, 2013 at 5:46 pm

Acquiring a taste for rakı

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New motto: “Not half bad.” (by maginot)

I never thought I’d be saying this, but I’ve started to genuinely enjoy the occasional evening glass of rakı. Accordingly, I withdraw my previous motto: “Bearable served cold.”

Like Cappadocian wine, Turkish rakı will probably never find popularity in the global market (despite Diageo’s attempts), but perhaps small enclaves around the world will come to appreciate its unique taste as much as I have.

I encourage my readers to pick up a bottle and give it a try, if they haven’t already. Fans of black licorice will be sold immediately—but even the early doubters may, in time, come to appreciate the taste.

Written by M. James

July 18, 2012 at 3:39 pm

Posted in Culture, Turkey

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