Ho ho ho look at the snow

It’s hard to believe almost  3 months have gone by since the London adventure began, and here I am back in central Anatolia. Through the flickering airpline lights, the descent revealed snow, and lots of it.

"It's beginning to look a lot like...confusion"

It reminded me of the return trip from Stockholm last year – managing to get one of the last flights out before the piles of snow kept flights grounded for a day. Hot on the heals of Munich, where we sat waiting on the tarmac for an hour until the plows did their work, a very similar scene greeted us upon landing. Now for the snow giddy amongst us, this was a good thing. Snow, and lots of it. But lets remember where we are – Turkey and this was an extreme weather event. A natural disaster, no, but extreme weather event yes.

Good thing our van home had winter tires. The trip back was part Canadian Rockies snow, part Minnesota highways with balance of Turkish confusion. Cars crashed, cars abandoned, cars spinning their wheels, teams of men pushing, tying snow chains on (highway mind you). The 45 minute ride back from the airport took almost 2 hours. Entertaining? Yes, in a tragi-comedy way.

Two things immediately came to mind. Ankara, and Turkey for that matter needs some serious public transport infrastructure. Ankara is earthquake safe, the population and city grows in leaps and bounds. I was thinking, with a good subway, most of the crashed/abandoned stuck cars would surely be avoided. The easy to guess response would be ‘but we don’t have funds! Such a project will take years.’ Brief answer: short term pain, long term gain. International development organizations are in the country and attractive growth rates should not make this equation hard to resolve. There has been no real effort to brand Ankara, otherwise a bureaucratic middle income country hub. A couple of international basketball matches doesn’t cut it and high profile political visits are part of the package, not an added bonus. How long can the charms of Istanbul stand as the gateway for the rest of the land spreading east? Turkey stands to lose in the long run without an investment in logic… and logistics, especially as the other CIVIT’ii catch up.

Let's try things the smart way next time

Secondly, extreme weather events like this reveals the true capacity of the authorities in charge – be it municipal, provincial or national. It’s easy to splash on a fresh coat of paint, hang banners from light posts and spare no expense in welcoming extravagances, but a true test of capability could be an extreme weather event. I’m not suggesting natural disasters, but something that really tests infrastructure.  So how did Turkey, or rather Ankara cope this time? Poorly.

Proper planning prevents poor performance. Turkey has every potential to succeed – it’s just a matter of investment – be it education, sports, an international intermediary or growing business hub, riding on its character as a metaphorical and literal ‘bridge’ between east and west. Little things count – paving sidewalks where mud is the terre-de -choix, or just ensuring footpaths are even and maintained is a simple step. Build now, deal with the consequences later is creating unnecessary frustration and expense. If governments, here, want to restore trust and competency for the citizens they apparently/are supposed to serve, a little deliberative planning and investment would not go astray. Or is city-planning/design as university courses just further splashes of paint?

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One thought on “Ho ho ho look at the snow

  1. Well, it’s not only Turkey that struggled with snow conditions. Personally, having been stuck in Paris in beginning December, and London end of it, have many complaints on how the situation has been dealt with – not only infrastructure-wise, but customer-care wise – and that is something that can be managed with little investment.

    Here’s a post of my recent sufferings, with a wish for happy holiday to all the modern day nomads out there:

    I can tell you one thing: these days Heathrow doesn’t look anything like its mediated version in ‘Love actually’, one of the movies that will be played on many TV stations as Christmas season approaches. Others in my neck of the wood include ‘Wonderful Life’, ‘Home Alone 1-101’, ‘Wonder on the 34th Street’ and a rather surprising choice of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ a year or two ago, which I found very refreshing. A bit of subversion, or maybe editors had oppositional reading as a preferred one in this case 😉 ?

    What the BBC called ‘frozen Britain’ (nothing to do with ‘Cool Britannia’) reportages showed tired would-be passengers sleeping on the floors, crying, complaining, reading, trying to cope with the situation and amuse themselves while the screens unmercifully flashed ‘canceled’ in bright red. The irony of fate was nicely symbolised by camera showing a young couple playing cards, both wearing ‘I love London’ shirts.

    Having been myself stuck on another airport for long hours and no clear end in sight before the flight was eventually canceled (twice since Sunday), I’ve had plenty of time to think – that is, after I decided to silence the internal monologue consisting mostly of monosyllabic words that don’t exactly belong to the academic discourse. I can handle forces of nature reshuffling my travel plans, but this was the case of ‘human error’, causing the plane to lose its place in the line for take off. So ‘mine’ ended up being the only plane that didn’t take off from otherwise normally functioning airport…last time I fly Wizzair, for sure. Couple of days later (today) similar thing happened – and I’ve started feeling like Viktor Navorski in ‘Terminal’. Considering the sexes are reversed in this remake, I did look around for a male version of Catherine Zeta-Jones for a while, but to no avail.

    I’m already getting used to my new routine, a full circle: it starts with a journey before the sun comes up from London to Luton, check-in, off through departures, wait for hours, flight cancellation, wait for luggage for another hour or two (reason remaining a mystery), then out through arrivals and back to London. In order to bring in some diversity, I’m changing airports for my next attempt, and am considering arranging someone to wait for me at the arrivals gate – for the fun of it, anyway.

    Most likely, I will look through the window on Friday, and as Bill Murray’s character in ‘Groundhog Day’ say: ‘Chances of leaving: 60%.’ By the time I do manage to take off, I might also learn French, save couple of lives, create wonderful ice-sculptures, and generally become a better person. But then again, I don’t think that is possible smile

    Happy holidays to all – wherever you are.

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