Towards the service (Part III)

I got the courage to ask the commander of the local Military Office if I could bring some stuff to read. He told me I can if that’s not overtly political, however he added:
"let me not discourage you but if you find any time at all, you will prefer to sleep instead of reading in your first month of training"….I still intend to bring some book with me. If I can find it at the bookstores in Taksim, I will take Anathem (by Neal Stephenson) with me. A very long novel. It will take months to finish:) I will think about something else but all my books are already packed. Thanks to my parents, I have nothing unpacked.

* To describe the military service experience is nearly impossible. The army is a giant organization and every person lives his own experience in a fragment of the army…
* Turkish soccer games can be watched in the barracks. That’s one universal right:)
* In many barracks The Valley of the Wolves serials could also be watched. Commanders allowed servicemen to watch it even after the sleeping time…
* The quality of food changes in every station. As far as I understand, there are no standards. Some stations order from private food companies, and some do it themselves.

At Tuzla

My father took me to Tuzla Infantry School  at 5 in the morning and left me there. First thing to do is to take a queue number. Among 3,000 to be processed, I was the 436th. The process started at 6 am and we were grouped in one-hundred groups and I happened to be in the 6th one. From then on, we were the sixth group. When we were all done at 1.30 pm and our group was exiting, the 17th group was entering through the school gates. and guess what? We made fun of those guys:) We were 2-3 hours ahead in our military life… Every single day looks like to count in the army life…

I was disappointed for the fact that there were no "interviews". From the outset, we became numbers in groups. Before taking 1-hour test which has exactly the same type of questions university entrance examination has, we had 6,5 hours of processing. We filled in forms, we submitted, we got new forms, submitted etc.

Most of our processing took place through sergeants (uzman çavuş– a category of soldiers who had decided to stay in the army after being conscripted like us) and privates. Well, they were funny. Most of them were funny. We began to speculate: They treat us so good not to scare from the very beginning:) I was looking through "How to Analyze Propaganda" while a high ranked official gave a short speech about how important the Turkish army was for the future of Turkey…

I saw two of my former students in the very beginning and we continued our processing together. If I haven’t seen them, I am sure I would have made temporary friends. We are all in the same boat, all share a common destiny and you cannot find so many Turkish men so organized and helpful all the time:)

At the gates of the School, there is a big and organized street vendor industry. From tea to pencils and shaving tools- you are not allowed to enter with beard, so you have to shave…- , everything is sold. There is even a van where you can store your cell phones and bags. Because they are not allowed inside. (In fact, there is also a storage in the entrance but officials in charge did not inform us about that and then all day long we were anxious if that van would still be there when we were free again…)

There is a movie theatre inside! At the time of the exam, Recep Ivedik 2 was shown. Next day’s program was Tom Cruise’s Valkyrie.
There was a mosque in the premises. That surprised me a bit.

4 thoughts on “Towards the service (Part III)

  1. Maybe a famous rhyme from the German Army can help you, Erkan: Die Hälfte seines Lebens / wartet der Soldat vergebens. One half of his life / the soldier is waiting in vain. I remember getting crazy as a soldier about all these long queues you stick in for ages. Maybe you carry a small book with you and read it everywhere. My favourite book (though not small, maybe you can get it in three parts) ?War and Peace? by Tolstoi is a classic, it even describes some of the boredoms of Army life. Greetings from the Dutch coast, also from Christina, where the complete family is together for Easter.

  2. May I send you chocolates from Canada? Do you know if it will be given to you?
    I don’t want to create a problem for you. Is the address you gave us complete?
    All the best, Erkan.

  3. I could not find the novel I was looking for. Tonight I will unpack some of the book boxes:) let’s see. Christian, I send my greetings to all the family. I wish you super happy Easter!
    Claudie, as I said in the previous post comment, I will be able to receive packages after the first month. I will let you know of all details! I am looking forward to having Canadian chocolate:)

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