Monday, September 08, 2008

My Nobel Prize Speech

I vocalised the following speech in the shower a moment ago. It may be my Nobel Prize Speech or any other prizes I may win or any other speeches I may give for any reason in Sweden!
Here goes:

"It was the summer of 2006. The World Cup craze was all over Europe and across the Globe. I had completed my 5 months exchange studies in a small city in Denmark called Aarhus. A city with a population of 300,000. Before making my way to the Roskilde Festival at the end of June, I decided to take a 2 weeks vacation, travelling around Sweden and Norway. From mid- to the end of June, me and another friend saw numerous cities in Sweden and two nice towns in Norway. We would run into World Cup games at train stations, cafes in Stockholm or at our hostel common room and join the excitement.

Through the midway of these weeks we had a day in the northern central part of Sweden. We arrived via a nighttrain into a town called Ostersund. There was really not much to do in Ostersund as the summer season had not started yet. I had a brief look at a catalogue of the area and jumped on to the next train, that was the only morning train that could take us somewhere useful. So we ended up an hour later, around 10 in the morning, in Ore.

There were only two activities in Ore. Behind the train station was the mountain, Oreskutan where 2010 Ski World Championships would take place. We could climb the mountain. In front of the station was a lake and a camping area. We could swim in the lake. Now, although, I had swam in the first week of March, in the Danish sea, the water at 1 Degree Celsius, covered with snow and the outside temperature at 3 Degrees Celsius, and all naked for this 'Viking Club Activity', my friend was not too enthusiastic to try the 10 Degrees temperature water in Ore. So we only had the mountain option. As I have said, the summer season had not started yet, we were 3 days early so the mountain cabins were not even working. We had a whole day in front of us, because the next useful train passed at 8 in the evening, and we had around 1500 meters or more to climb up and down. So, we started.

It was a warm summer in Sweden in 2006. The weather at Ore was around 22 degrees. I remember starting the climb with 2 layers of clothes and going down to a t-shirt because of sweating. At the top I was at 3 layers, and my sweater was not even protecting us from the wind. After 6-7 hours of climbing up and down, wandering around and eating, we had completed a day's activity and took a train back to Ostersund where we would spend the night. Next morning, we had a train around 7 in the morning to take us to Trondheim.

The weather was blueish when we got to Ostersund around 9:30. Of course, at 63 degrees, umm... what do you call it...? 'parallel' ? Sorry, I can't remember that word now, but 63 degrees north of the Ecuador, almost at the beginning of the Arctic Circle, the days were very long and we were by the midsummer. Most of the hostels we tried were not opened for summer season yet, and the ones open had already closed their receptions at 8, 8:30 PM. And then rain started to pour down. As hopeless as we were, we decided to stroll on the main shopping avenue. In my guide book it said there were some Turkish and Kurdish shops there and maybe we could find some help.

To our surprise we immediately saw 2 kebab shops. I wanted to omit the first one as the owners looked too young to be helpful towards our misery. The second one was called 'Istanbul Kebab' and we welcomed the name of our hometown. The owner was called Bekir but he duly added people called him 'Alex' there. Or rather, he had called him Alex and some people acknowledged this. He must have thought Alex is a more common name than Bekir in Sweden. 'Alex Bekir', as we started to call him between me and my friend, treated us with a large dinner and told us that we could stay at the basement of his shop. We were really happy. Exhausted from a whole day's hiking, finally found a place to eat and stay for free at 11 in the evening.

'Alex Bekir' was really to see Turkish people coming from Turkey for the first time in 6 months. All other Turkish people he saw were the locals he knew and did not like much. We brought him some news and the 'country's air' as we say in Turkish. As the midnight drew in, one part of the sky would get blackish where the sun set, and the other part would get light blue where the sun almost started to rise again. 'Alex Bekir' was worried about how crowded the shop would get in this Saturday evening when the bars closed at 2 AM and the two kids who worked for him were not showng up. The boy worker called him at some point and told him he was taking a girl to a disco and would show up late, if ever. The girl worker was seen around the corner once during the night but had no intention to come for work. As the hours passed, we started to realise, 'Alex Bekir's complaints about the kids and our news from back home were turning into a request that Alex would ask from us, which would mean our fatal end.

During my 5 months in Denmark, I delivered pizza for 2.5 months, almost earning all my rent costs. On top of that was the Erasmus Grant my exchange program provided me, and I was happy to save some for travelling around in the summer. And this 2 weeks trip was part of these plans, and the only labour I was volunteered to do was activities such as hiking or trekking like we did that day in Ore.

To fast forward a little and summarise one of my most unique experiences, and why Sweden is always remembered as part of some special memories, I shall give you the scenery at 2:35 AM. After having climbed up and down 1500 meters, and been up since 17 hours and totally exhausted, I remember myself behind the counter, slicing Doner with my right hand, and frying potato chips with the left. Of course, if it were not for the electric Doner slicers that are unique for Europe (because in Turkey we still use the old-fashioned longknives to cut off Doner and I believe it looks much cooler and hygienic), I could not have done this. In fact, my first attempt at slicing the Doner ended in a disaster. It did not cross my weary mind that I was supposed to hold the slicer almost 90 degrees to the ground, parallel to the Doner and slightly touching it. As I stabbed the slicer, the Doner looked like a wild animal whose intestines just glushed out in pain. It took 45 minutes for the rest of the Doner to come to the same level as the part that I chopped out.

After I got acquainted with the Doner and potato chips, I was at one point, calculating the bill for a young Swede. Now, unfortunately I had not learned a word of Swedish (and only few of Danish), but to my liking, almost everyone talked English. And this kid, apart from the oriental interest he showed in me, as I felt it, was probably having a small crush on me. It is not that I have never been exposed to a such thing, and that I have very close gay friends, among which I actually feel special to be one of their only heterosexual friends (as they do not get along with heterosexuals too well), that moment just made me question my existentialism:

What was I actually doing at 3:25 AM in a kebab shop in Ostersund after having climbed up and down some 1500 meters, with a train to catch in 4 hours and hoping for some sleep? It was, as you may guess, a difficult one to answer.

Finally around 4 AM we got to get a 2 hours nap. Next morning we left a note to 'Alex Bekir' who welomed us and fed us at his shop. We left our phone numbers in case he would like to contact us when he comes to Turkey and told him that we would visit him again if we were ever around Ostersund. We also said something else:

While we 'worked' briefly for 'Alex Bekir', he made us wear the Swedish Football Team's t-shirt jerseys. You know, not the real jerseys but t-shirt versions of them, but with the similar fabric to a football jersey. Not a regular t-shirt fabric. Like a training jersey, but probably not an official brand but a €10 makes that are sold in street markets. Stinking of grease and doner, we decided we should commemorate our Ostersund experience forever with a memoir. Next morning, as we were leaving the shop, I told my friend to take the t-shirts and we added to the end of our note to 'Alex Bekir':

We are also taking the t-shirts to remember you and your generous help. We hope you don't mind.

This was one of my most spectacular 24 hours, and with humble, tired but warm smiles on our faces, we took our train to Trondheim and waved a brief goodbye Sweden that gave us this experience."

As soon as I finish this speech, I take a step back from the podium, take out that jersey from my back and wear it on. I salute the audience and smile at them...

3 comments:

ali e cavusoglu said...

ogluc,

bunu turkce de yazsan; ingilizcesi iyi olmiyan hayranlarina haksizlik. hem artik hic turkce yazmiyarak bayagi bir hayran kitleni kaybedeceksin diye endiseleniyorum senin adina...

baban ne de olsa...

blogalized said...

Ustad, bekleriz, formasiz da olur...

ömer said...

=)
yakinda insallah.