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Kale Mahallesi, Ankara

2019-06-20 23:10

Kale Mahallesi (the Castle Neighbourhood) in Ankara is a historical squatter’s neighbourhood, a gecekondu bölgesi. Built over decades by people who migrated from rural Anatolia to the city in search for work and a livelihood.

These photographs were taken from up the castle itself, in April 2012. The first photo shows an overview of the area north-east of Kale, with Bentderesi (I think) on the left. On the right are newer TOKİ flat complexes, so-called social housing projects.

I don’t know if these homes still stand today. The nearby Hamamönü neighbourhood had already gone through a brutal renewal at this time. I came across an interesting article about that by Courtney M. Dorroll, concluding with:

An analysis of the case of Hamamönü demonstrates that the Altındağ Municipality has used its restoration project to inscribe the AK Party’s vision of institutionalized Neo-Ottomanism and neoliberalism onto the urban space of Ankara, a process that epitomizes the spatial politics of Erdoğanian Neo-Ottomanism in contemporary Turkey.

In “Hamamönü, Reconfiguring an Ankara Neighborhood”, Journal of Ethnography and Folklore, no. 1-2, 2016.

I was somehow reminded of these photos of mine when I came across the work of Jon “Harriorrihar” Juarez.

To Turkey, and further: İstanbul, Türkiye

2008-08-01 19:05

Previously published on a blog on wordpress.com, now long gone.

Again, I arrived at a border after bad hitchhiking and more busses. Decided to walk the last 10 km to Turkey. It was hot, but ok. It took a couple of hours, and there very few cars, none of which cared to pick up a sweating, dirty bum. After crossing the border, with more passport checks than usual, I found out that there is no bus whatsoever going to the next village, Dereköy, which is some 40 away. I hang out there for a while, try to talk to people and hitchhike the few cars passing. There is also a taxi driver there whom I talk a little to in the few words of English he knows. He has a little shed there which he sleeps in between the, very few I suppose, jobs he gets. He seems to be mostly a good guy, and also offers me some food. After a couple of hours I understand that my chances here are mostly zero, and the evening is getting late. So I end up being his customer to Kirklareli where I spend the night in a small hotel.

The next day becomes a long mix of shorter hitches and busses, jumping over quite a few cities on the way to İstanbul.

I never managed to get a ride on that big highway, but I did manage to take busses, trams a ferries to get to Üsküdar, an asian part of the city, east of the Bosphorus, and meet Özge. A very slow evening is spend with cooking some food and talking, and then sleeping for 12 hours.

That was yesterday. Today I have been walking around for hours, thinking about many things. Perhaps tomorrow I am taking that last jump to Sinop with a bus, all the way. I probably said it before; the road is tiring this time… Not bad, but tiring. Looking forward to staying 2-3 weeks near one place.

Good evening!

This winding journey took me through Anatolia, over the Caucasus and as far as the Persian Gulf. I returned to Scandinavia in the spring of 2009, but left soon enough for the Baltics, crossing through Eastern and Western Europe once again…

To Turkey, and further: Поморие (Pomorie), Bulgaria

2008-07-29 19:56

Previously published on a blog on wordpress.com, now long gone.

Walked across the border to Bulgaria. Waited many hours for a ride, and when I was about to give up, sitting slumped over by the road, a man stops a drives me to Балчик (Balchik), just north of Варна (Varna). I sleep on a small shrubbery-covered hill in the middle of the town, with a nice view of the Black sea. In the morning I see a big sailing ship that has anchored during the night. I continue south, and end up in Поморие (Pomorie), where I have been staying with Martin for a couple of days. Tomorrow I am heading south, towards Istanbul. Let’s go!

To Turkey, and further: Vama Veche, Romania

2008-07-25 14:38

Previously published on a blog on wordpress.com, now long gone.

Leaving Ocniţa early in the morning with the bus to Chişinău, I was planning to go to Brăila in Romania, but not sure about the way. The weather was clear, and I felt good about leaving. In Chişinău I take a minibus to Gara de Sur, and upon entering the bus, and during the 15 minutes trip, there is a great hail storm crashing down over the city. Though stepping out at the other station, the ground looks almost dry.

I decide to catch a bus to Cahul, and there cross the border to Romania. This border crossing was kind of a hassle to, because when I eventually get to the border, the guy there explains to me in gestures that I am not allowed to cross the border on foot. And ofcourse there is a guy in a “taxi” there, waiting for me to pay 250 LEI (about 25 dollars, 150 kr; a large amount here) to take me across the border, and maybe 2 km to the small town of Oancea in Romania. And there are really no cars passing to hitch with. So I pay.

It became a long day of travelling, alltogether. When I finally get to Brăila, I find the place of my host, but after waiting a few hours, it is clear that she is not going to turn up, or answer any messages… I end up sleeping in some no-mans-land behind an old school. Mosquitos and feeling down.

The morning is better, and I talk to a few people on the streets (spanish, gestures, improvisation). On the bus station a man I talk with goes away to buy me some food, because he thought I looked hungry? I was, and had kinda forgot about it. I end up in the evening south of Magnalia, in Vama Veche, on the Black Sea (Yes, finally that sea!). A small village on the Bulgarian border that turns into a party beach for Romanians during the summer and especiall weekends. Camping in a really small place, I hang out with two people, mom and daughter, from northern Romania. Having a few beers on the beach, and collapsing after a strenous journey…

To Turkey, and further: Ocniţa, Moldova

2008-07-21 17:58

Previously published on a blog on wordpress.com, now long gone.

Today I woke up in the city of Ocniţa, Moldova (about 200 km north of the capital, Chişinău) I finally arrived here yesterday after a few winding bus rides from Чернівці (Chernivtsi), Ukraine, being helped by a few very kind and talkative Moldavians on the way. When I jumped off the bus by Platon bar, my host Amy suddenly appeared right there. We walked together back to her flat, located in a worn down concrete slab, 20 years old or so, just in the outskirts of this small city (10k people?), built around a large railway junction of the former Union. Back at the apartment, I met Ita, who was already staying with Amy for a few days, and we went over to the school/social center where she works, for having a shower. There is no water in most of the apartments on Sunday and Monday. Due to shortage? Or to the municipality not having paid the bills to the partly privatized water company? And corruption? Later we all had dinner, together with Misha and Annie. I fell asleep easily, being tired both mentally and physically, but also from feeling very at home and welcome.

Travelling has proved to be a little harder this time than before. Atleast it have started out like that. I feel secure and safe, but what takes me down is the lack social communion, physical contact and intimate coversations. Things that doesn’t come so easily when you travel alone and in places where you have more or less no common language with the majority of the people. I had some apprehension about going to Ukraine, but it worked out quite well and I had a good time and some good talks with people in Lviv. Though at times when I just cannot make myself understood, like finding out about from where or when that bus I want to take goes, and if that is at all where I should go. At times like that, loneliness can really kick in.

But today is good. A hot day, waving Ita off at the small bus station. Walking around for a while. Talking with Amy. Falling into a small siesta. And now seeing the sky becoming dark, turning into a storm, thunder rumbling in the distant, the lights flickering once in a while… I go to start preparing some dinner. Anyway, life is right now, and right now it feels good!