Τρίτη, 9 Σεπτεμβρίου 2014

The Retired Colonel from Canakkale (RCC)

The RCC arrived suddenly , in a battered Renault Megane.  He was tall and a tad overweight, but still muscular. He claimed to be a travel writer. He had written a five hundred page book on his adventures in South America, but could not find anybody that was willing to publish it. I took a look at his travel blog, and I understood why. Nobody in his right mind would publish a book from someone who was writing in broken English, or broken Spanish, let alone the fact that most of his writing  was more about explaining that he was in good company, and that he liked this or that. In short, his writings where short in describing places, faces and situations.

The day after that Eran mentioned a few things about him. He said that discussing with the RCC was very much like walking through a minefield. He said that talking to the RCC needed to be comprised by delicate manoeuvres, if one wanted to avoid a confrontation, and that there would be a harsh confrontation between Mourad and the RCC. The RCC would say something provocative, Mourad would, at one point respond accordingly, and, in the end, the RCC would kill Mourad. And then he added a few titbits of information about the RCC, and his worldview by narrating the first two phrases the RCC uttered on their first exchange of words.

"I used to think of the Serbs as traitors, but now my opinion of them has changed. I like it here"

"Turkey would be like heaven if  pseudo-intellectuals like Orhan Pamuk did not exist".

Of course after the second statement Eran set the rules of the relationship straight. No politics, we are on holidays here.

On election night the RCC was in high spirits. Was it because Erdogan had won? Or was he in good company? Looking in from the outside patio of the hostel, we could see the RCC happily pecking away, drinking his beer and socialising. Was it the good company that made him? Or the election results? Or, was he watching something extremely funny through his computer screen?

All questions about his joyous appearance where answered in the following morning. Eran momentarily dropped his policy of not-discussing-politics-with-the-RCC, and asked his opinion on the result, to get something along the lines of "fuck you" for an answer. And that, given the humiliating defeat of the Kemalist-Grey Wolve Alliance at the presidential election, was telling of the RCC's political ideas. The RCC was, at best, a Kemalist, and, in the worst case scenario, a Turkish nationalist. And he was not happy about the his side's electoral results.

If Turkey's political climate is bad for the left, right now it is not much better for a Kemalist or a Grey Wolve. It is, a bit better. They are not persecuted yet, but are involved in a fierce fighting of fractions within the Turkish establishment, with the AKP in one side, and the Grey Wolves and the Kemalists in the other. And that means that, like Eran, the RCC was also taking a break from events back home. He looked as if he was running away from trouble back home.

On another note, the meeting between Mourad and the RCC went smoothly. Mourad also proved too smart and unwilling to engage in a serious political debate with him, and the RCC, who was probably looking for company, played along...