02/04/2008

Askerlik - Part I


Askerlik: military service.
Erhan has left the 12th of December to his military service.
But the story starts in August. We have been contacted by the muhtar (kind of a district governor) of Erhan's neighbourhood, saying that he was searched by the army. Erhan is 34 and still hadn't done his army ''duties''. So he decided it was time to finally do it. In Turkey, your registration place his your father's place of birth... so for the administration, Erhan is coming from Eskişehir, a town not too far from Ankara. Probably 80% of the population is not coming from Istanbul, still you can register in here. We went with Erhan to Bakırköy to register him. After queuying one hour with some other guys, we realized we were at the wrong place, so we got to the other army office. There, we found hundreds of guys waiting in front of the door. Erhan manage to catch a soldier and says:
''I escaped from my army duties, you are looking for me, I am surrending!''
It's lunch time... the soldier is angry and probably hungry:
''Where are you from?!''.
''Eskişekir!''
''Then go back there!!! We don't want you here!''
Erhan's first entrance in the army is not very concluant... so we decided to go to Eskişehir.
Eskişehir is quite a nice city. Full of students, impressivly clean, it was nice to see it. We got at the army office at 13h and registered Erhan. The response was immediate: Erhan would join the army the 12th of december. To enter the army if you are graduated from University, you have to go to an examination. Then you get to know where and how long you will be sent to the army. Still, Erhan could go to the exam in Istanbul if would register again before the 25th of November. Times passes and the 24th of November, Erhan goes to the Istanbul office where he learnes that the limit was the 23rd: he has to go to Ankara for the exam now; but off course before that he needs to go again to Eskişehir to pick up his file...
Here we are, again, on the road. First to Eskişehir and couple of days later to Ankara.
It's my first time in Ankara. We get there on a saturday afternoon and sunday morning around 7', Erhan leaves to the examination. Couple of hours later, we finally meet in Atatürk mausoleum. The exam is finished, there is not much to say... we're the 2nd of December, Erhan will leave to the army the 12th so we're hoping to have the results soon.
Now Erhan has to prepare himself. We still don't know where he will go but we need to do the big shopping. In Kadıköy, there are shops specialized in army items. When you get there they give a list of the things you will most probably need:
Socks, socks and socks.
Green underwear.
Green t-shirts.
Green pull-over.
Green gloves.
Green...
The sales personals know exactly how to guide you and give recommandation. After more than an hour in the shop, Erhan's bag is finally ready. Everything seems to have been thought. Now we're waiting for the results that should come on the army web site. It's terrible to wait.
10th of December: Erhan is sent to Erciş, in the region of Van. He could hardly go more east!

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