Well, today has been a day.
I know we do not ‘control’ any of our days – we are dependant on so many varied variables, but today has been distinctly different.
My normal routine had already been knocked for six because a man was coming to fit a sump pump in the house (another story why we need this), and I needed to be in attendance and consequently, as my normal morning routine was superseded. This being the case, we arranged for a man who can install central heating systems to come and appraise our flats and produce a quote.
Consequently, I went for my morning constitutional at 08:00 – the time I normally give to practicing the guitar.
Just to complicate things, we had anticipated some visitors arriving on the previous day in the afternoon – but in the event, they actually arrived at 11:30 – er that is 23:30… a time that I call night.
A brother from Diyarbakir, in the east of the country, was shepherding them on their desired tour – they themselves visiting from South Africa.
In spite of arriving late the night before, they were leaving by late morning today – an exceptionally brief visit.
Over breakfast there had been a discussion of the work that the small Christian Fellowship here is involved in with the Syrian refugee field workers. They were interested to learn more, and see a bit of the work. Hence, in my absence, it was decided that I was drive the church vehicle and lead them up the valley to some of the Syrian refugee encampments that we labour amongst.
As I was scheduled to be at the house to ‘attend’ as the man was to fit the sump pump, he was rung and we cancelled the appointment – to be rescheduled for another day.
It was also suggested that rather than having the ‘man’ dig the pit for the sump pump, that I dig a hole 1 meter deep by about 80 cm square before we call the man to come back… Okay…
With these changes in play, we also rang the central heating man and arranged for him to come in the afternoon…
My plans for the afternoon have now been dealt a blow as well; my normal routine had been suspended and now the alternative plan (attending the sump pump man) was superseded.
I climbed into the church’s ten passenger Volkswagen Transporter and began my hour long drive up the valley to where we do our aid distribution…
There were about ten or twelve people in the other van.
On the way up the valley, I was leading, when, unexpectedly the following van overtook me. Now in front, he promptly pulled over to the side of the dual carriageway, stopping in front of a small shop. It seems they wanted to get some refreshments of some sort.
When they were ready, I headed out again – faithfully holding to the 80 kph speed limit. I utterly detest speeding tickets and paying money for, well, nothing really, just a certificate of speed attained.
We passed through the first police check point with no problem. But, further up the road, I was selected to be checked by the Gendarme at their security checkpoint.
I dutifully pulled in and stopped – the other van, not being so selected, carried on. I rolled down my window, greeting the soldier and then turned away to turn off my phone which was playing music to accompany me whilst I drove. The soldier looked in the empty van, looked at this late middle aged, white-bearded foreigner and when I finally turned from my phone, he told me to carry on.
Off I went, rejoining the traffic on the dual carriageway and powered up the valley – holding to the 80 kph speed limit.
Then ahead I spied the other van, moving slowly along on the side of the carriageway. Now the vehicle I’m driving is a rather distinctive black Volkswagen Transporter, so when I over-took them, I ‘assumed’ they would see and recognise me. The driver knows our vehicle.
After overtaking, as I pulled away, I checked my mirror and they seemed to be continuing to drive slowly along the side of the road. I assumed they would speed up.
I carried on… at 80 kph.
When I arrived at the turn-off point – there was still no sign of them – I stopped.
Now, I rant and rave against people using their mobile phones whilst driving; so I had purposed to neither initiate a call whilst driving, nor to answer any incoming calls. Stopped as I was now, I was still loath to ring the other van as they are most likely driving.
So, swallowing this, for me, rather bitter pill, I rang and the first question was “Are you still at the Security Control point?”
“Er, no, I was there very briefly, I am awaiting for you at the turnoff point”.
A few minutes later they roared up, and our convoy, now duly reconstituted, departed, me again leading the way to where the Syrian refugee encampments are situated.
We travelled up to Kırıkhan, and turn off the main road and headed towards the border. The encampment I had selected was not the first, but at a bit of a distance, but it was a good, all-round example of the encampments we deal with. Additionally, there is a real gaggle of children there and the visitors had purchased some sweets to give the children.
We call this encampment ‘The Grove’, not because there are trees in the encampment – there aren’t any – but because there is a grove of trees across the road from the make-shift encampment. This encampment is on a bit of a rise, and now, well into summer, baking hot. As I said, no trees within the encampment, everything is exposed to the unrelenting, scorching sun. Water at this particular encampment is provided by a water bowser which is topped up from time to time.
Sweets were happily received by the children.
After this encampment we swung by another encampment – but this was wholly redundant, and, as one of the visitors commented to me, “They all look alike”, to which he added, “You’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all,” – let the hearer understand, he was politely declaring ‘No need to show us anymore.’
We powered back to the main road – the other van turning right to carry on up the valley and then back to Diyarbakır. I turned left to return to Antakya.
It had been stressed to me that I needed to be back by 13:00 as the van was required. Today was a deferred time for the team to go to one of the encampments where we do a children’s work – their departure time was slated to be 13:00.
So, in one sense, I was racing the clock. When we departed we had three hours for me to complete the journey, there and back. I thought this was easily adequate amount of time for the task. However, in fact, it was taking more than three hours to complete.
I did not exceed the speed limit, if I arrive late, I arrive late.
I was patient at all the red traffic lights.
I think I made a record for the number of red traffic lights I encountered on the return journey.
Being impatient at a red traffic light profits me not at all; being patient, however, and remaining calm, blood pressure abiding where it ought to be is both profitable, pleasant and absent of stress.
I had been told that if I was late, then they would take Ö’s vehicle – it would not be the best solution, but it was a viable and a ready solution.
My better-half, T, can monitor where in the world I am as I have ‘shared‘ my location via my phone with her. Hence, I hoped that they would have an idea where I was and, roughly, how long I would be.
Again, I had determined that I would not ring T whilst driving, and I would not answer the phone if it rang.
Driving the speed limit, waiting patiently at all the red lights, I arrived at our home about ten minutes later than their planned departure time.
Happily, my ever-changing location had been monitored; consequently they knew where I was and about when I would arrive.
They had opted to wait.
I didn’t park up; I just stopped in the street in front of our house – which given how narrow our street is, I effectively blocked the road. But I knew they would be departing posthaste.
Personally, I was done in… being diabetic, I can not play loose and free with my meal times. I had grabbed some bites of my sandwich whilst up the valley – only whilst stopped, not whilst driving.
Now at home, I finished my meagre meal.
Immediately after the meal was my first opportunity to practice the guitar this day, but after just ten minutes, the man for the central heating system arrived.
Now, I thought he would come, do his investigation, make his measurements, and calculate the cost all before I would depart for my guitar lesson, which was fully two hours after his arrival.
Indeed, I even entertained notions that I would have time to practice some before the lesson.
The man and his helper came and examined the space we had identified as a potential ‘furnace room’.
It is not ideal, but, well, it is the only space that could be remotely converted into a furnace room.
It took quite a while to determine where the chimney could go and then to decide where it would go. The chimney will begin on the ground floor, pass through a disused stairway which is covered and made into a wee balcony area on the first floor and then pass up through the roof and then, it will pass through our neighbours roof which overhangs ours. All in all, it is proposed to be eleven metres of plastered, cement block chimney, reinforced with angle iron.
Just to make things more interesting, this is on the side of the house that is subject to our neighbours rather disturbing subsidence….
After sorting the furnace room/chimney out, they came into our flat to measure for radiators, decide where they would go and how the various challenges identified could be and ultimately, would be addressed.
Then we went upstairs to the elder’s flat and did the same.
For me, the clear priority is the upstairs flat as my motivation in going to a furnace system was to alleviate the labour and work load of the elder’s wife, E.
In Turkey, if you have a wood/coal fired, pot-bellied stove, it is the lady of the house’s task to operate it (fuel, light, maintain, empty ash) – it is a cultural imperative and, really there are no practical alternatives.
But when it comes to furnaces, however, they are primarily a man’s responsibility – it is a big piece of equipment that needs a man’s touch.
Interestingly, emptying the ash is still the ladies task – but I have been sold on the idea of a wood-pellet furnace which produces very little and very light ash – or so we have been assured. So the labour requirements for the elder’s wife will be greatly diminished – which is the goal.
Then, over a demitasse of strong Turkish coffee, he did his sums.
I, as seems to be my nature, complicated things.
I wanted a sum with the second-hand furnace, a sum with a new furnace, and a sum with the top of the line, fully automatic furnace.
I also wanted a sum calculated without doing the radiators in our lower flat, in an effort to save money.
However, this last request is extremely strange and a rather odd kind of request for Turks, and in the end, it seems, he just ignored it.
We got our prices.
We drank our Turkish coffee.
I buzzed with the effects of the potent caffeine hit.
I had been surreptitiously monitoring E.’s location (she has shared her location on her phone) and I knew they were well on their way back from the children’s work.
Before we were done, she arrived, and so, we began explaining everything we had determined, what could be done and what we suggest should be done – if we decide to have a system installed.
Then the elder, H, arrived from his secular job.
So, we began explaining everything to him.
It was in the midst of rehearsing all the salient facts, problems, compromises and solutions that my guitar teacher rang, wondering where on earth I was… because I clearly was not at my lesson…
Time had totally escaped me.
Profuse apologies, following profuse apologies… things really are not going according to any plan that I am part of today.
In the end we finished all our explainations.
We need to inform the central heating man by the morrow if we want to install any system and especially if we desire the second-hand furnace.
Today, nothing went to plan and I was bounced from pillar to post by various events…
But, life is like that… we constantly need to respond to events, assess, appraise, decide what we can and should do in the circumstance and all the while, to be true to who we are and our principles.