Friday, March 26, 2010

Tidbits From Turkish Class and Photos

First of all, I now have a link for photos.  Johnny has compiled a whole bunch of them here:

The gallery is still missing pictures from my first month in Turkey (I sort of fell bad taking up space on Johnny's profile with pictures that have nothing to do with him.  I'll probably get over myself soon) but it has a whole bunch.  Feel free to vicariously visit Turkey!

In other news, I saw a movie called "Devrim Arabası" in Turkish class yesterday.  In it, General Cemal Gürsel, having just taken over the government in a coup, declares that Turkey will start an automotive industry.  This is 1961 and apparently not just anyone can build a car, so the public declares the whole thing impossible.  Cemal Paşa orders a small group of railway engineers build a prototype entirely from Turkish parts in 150 days.  Turkey at this time has almost no industrial infrastructure, and the budget and work conditions aren't exactly ideal for the projects.  The engineers toil away, barely sleeping or seeing their wives (in Turkey in 1961, women were not allowed to engineer anything but dinner) and finally construct two working prototypes for a national celebration.  The media, meanwhile reports that the project is doomed to be a failure.

---SPOILER ALERT (not that you're ever going to find this on Netflix)---

At the end of the movie, the engineers load the cars onto the train to bring them to Ankara.  As per safety precautions, they siphon of as much gas a s possible, leaving only enough for the cars to make a trip from parliament to a parade.  Unfortunately, the gas gauge is slow to respond, and they take too much gas out of the tank - a mistake they realize just before the demonstration run.  The car runs out of gas with Cemal Paşa inside, and the whole thing is a public nightmare.  Even though the cars are perfectly good, the project is scrapped as a result of the public humiliation of the event.

This was the best engineering-themed movie I've seen.  In fact, it is one of the only engineering-themed movies I've seen, but it really was quite good.  The engineers were these lovable tragic heroes, doing the impossible just to have the product of their tireless work ruined by clueless higher-ups .  It was like a Dilbert was turned into a sports movie.  If only engineering was popular enough to inspire a similarly stirring movie in America.

In other news, Turkish is a strange language.   The language is almost entirely gender neutral, but the exceptions are ridiculous.  He, she and it are all the same word (O).  There are, however, different names for maternal and paternal relatives.  Your maternal aunt is your teyze, while your paternal aunt is your hala.  The same sort of scheme goes for uncles, grandmothers, grandfathers and (I think) cousins.

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