Parting thoughts from Ankara…
- Throughout Ankara’s metro system, there are no ads on the display advertising boards. All that you can see are posters with this one eye shown, in the same purple-pink hue. Not sure what’s that supposed to mean.
- There don’t seem be any trash bins I see on the streets. Instead, there are cleaners or huge trash trucks quietly sweeping away the detritus whether I was walking down streets in the afternoon or at midnight. There was one cleaner wearing a huge bag twice his height and width, solely chucking in empty plastic bottles into it (recycling?). The whole keep-the-city-clean strategy here seems to be “people will throw trash anywhere anywhen, so let’s clean up after them!”
- In the rush hour morning traffic, I saw many office workers wearing ripped jeans. Boy, they must have a relaxed office wear attitude here or what! Then again, perhaps they all work at Levi’s.
- Another nugget I heard at the hostel: pharmacies in Ankara have among themselves decided to keep their stores open in turns, so that each locale has at least one pharmacy open any of the 24 hours in a day. Now that is a some sense of civic duty!
- Did I mention how fashionable people here are?! I mean seriously, they all look so blissful and look like those people who can dress nattily without any effort. I wonder whether there’s a culling strategy in place to off the lame dressers in secluded part of the town.
My next destination was Cappadocia. I want to talk more about it, but I think that pictures I plan to get tomorrow is what will really do it justice. Getting there involved a five-hour bus journey from Ankara. On the way, we stopped at this one place that was right next to a salt lake on the highway. This salt lake stretched out for as far as the eye could see! I couldn’t help thinking what a good place this might be for speed racing. If you haven’t heard of it, the flat tracks of a salt lake offer the best places for setting land speed records, case in point being salt lakes in Utah where many of the world’s land speed records have been set.
I arrived in Goreme (pronounced as go-ray-muh), a sleepy little village town late afternoon. By this time, most of the attractions were closed so there wasn’t much to do for me except relax. My hostel here is a cave hostel: my bed is literally carved into a hunk of rock! This funky hostel doesn’t cost the earth either: I spent $15 for a night in the dorm room, with wi-fi access everywhere and a pool that I spent most of the rest of the day, lounging in a deck chair, reading and swilling back drinks while listening to Two Door Cinema Club’s latest album Beacon. This is the life.
Restaurant owners in sleepy towns like this work hard to earn their keep and impress you. You can get good quantities of food for half the price you might pay in Istanbul and they are so eager for your business in the limp season like it is now in September that they act pretty much like your personal butlers. I wouldn’t be surprised if I asked for a painted green puppy along with my order of food and they’d arrange for it.
I ate at Comlek Restaurant, right outside my hostel. Nice terrace view. I was intrigued by the display stand outside for testi kebaps. I’d heard of this: it’s a chicken or a beef dish slow-cooked inside a pot, and then broken ceremonially at your table when it’s served to you.
Sadly, for the 15 lira price I was paying for my tuvac testi (chicken testi kebap), they weren’t going to break the pot open for me – merely break a foil covering the pot. So much for being a personal butler. On the upside, the food was really good. Slow-cooking inside the pot makes the meat really tender. I washed it down with ayran, a yoghurt drink not unlike an Indian lassi, except its much thicker.
For dessert, I had a kunefe – which is shredded wheat pastry stuck together with thick sugar syrup and cheese. The crunchiness of the shredded and fried wheat goes nicely with the thick sugar. I knew I’d blown my calorie count for the day and wouldn’t need to eat dinner that night. Headed back into town late evening after a nap, and it all looked decidedly empty. There was definitely a nip in the air.
I’m liking this living-in-a-cave business, given that I have wi-fi and a round-the-clock hot water supply. Sleepy towns like this are excellent for rest and recuperation. And while the people living here must be happy with their lives, I cannot imagine myself ever living in such a place. I was raised as city rat than a country mouse, and I eventually start craving for the frenetic life that only big cities can offer. Perhaps that’s why I really love cities like London, Hong Kong, Singapore because they give me a life much like what I grew up with in Delhi.