Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The road to Hell...

...is paved with good intentions. 'I meant to do this', or 'I didn't mean to do that', or more often 'well, that's totally buggered - how'd that happen?'
In fact you could say that the road to Istanbul is paved with good intentions. One thing that you can never level at Turkish people is that they mean or selfish. I've never met people who are so willing to go out of the way to help, even if it means considerable personal discomfort or inconvenience for themselves. The problem is that no matter how good the intention, the execution of the act seems to go totally tits up. Often this is no fault of the person offering to do the good deed: Generally speaking, Istanbul seems to contrive its own ways of ensuring that the best laid plans of mice and men get torn up, eaten, thrown up and flushed down the Bog of Fate, simply because it feels like it. However, there is also the fact that people say they'll do something, as they feel obliged to, and don't actually think about how they will do the act - which leads to all kinds of totally screwed-up episodes. The daftest thing is that it leads to all sorts of extravagant lies in order to justify something, or the lack of something happening.

The most common one involves estimates of times it takes to get anywhere. If someone says, 'it'll take us 20 minutes to get to Sisli', you should, being pragmatic, allow at least an extra hour to get there. And, while you are either stewing in a marinade of humid heat and petrol fumes or shivering at a foul, miserable and rainy day, the driver will inevitably say something along the lines of 'well, just yesterday, it only took me fifteen minutes to get here...', and to be honest, this should be accepted as the good-natured bullshit that it really is. I think it's one thing that British people really don't get - this need to lie to cover up organisational screw-ups, and to have them accepted for what they are.During my recent foray to Istanbul, I'd totally forgotten this aspect to the culture, and so spent a large chunk of the time simmering with anger and frustration at things ot working. It's not as if anyone deliberately set out to bugger up the holiday - everyone was full of the best intentions: it's just everything got buggered in one way or another.
Actually, we Brits are just as bad. We're full of good intentions: We're just better at covering up the reasons for buggering things up, such as The Wrong Type Of Leaves, or Adverse Financial Conditions. In other words, we create an official reason for things going all crap, as it were, rather than relying on an informal and far more inventive way of explaining why things haven't gone as planned.
I suppose that we all have our own cultural-specific ways of buggering things up.

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