Çok Sicak

Another knock at the door. The building security guard is usually in plain clothes, but I guess when he comes around to ask for money, he puts on his uniform. In Turkey, that means a sweater with a shoulder patch and slacks.

He wanted more money to heat the apartment, something that is centrally controlled and therefore a cost shared by neighbours. Even though it is extraordinarily hot and windows are constantly open — in the winter — and despite this heating (for coal) being prepaid through to April. There was some mention of this at the door.

Then the neighbours came out into the hall.

“We see you. We know you are Syrians there. We are watching you.”

“You should say hello when you see us in the building!”

And to bolster the security guard’s side of the argument, the man of the house, whose business it was not whatsoever, decreed, “We are a warm people!”

My thought was, if they were so warm by disposition natural, cultural, or otherwise, wouldn’t they therefore be less in need of central heating?

Then the security guard switched tactics, telling his interlocutor that, in fact, there was an elderly woman in one of the apartments and she needed to stay warm for her illness and health.

“Is this common in the rest of the world?” he asked afterwards. “You have more experience than me. In Syria, everyone has their own individual heating, [whichever the method].”

Also, coal is dirt cheap in Gaziantep. Hard to overstate how cheap. Moreover, a contract was signed with a man that said the heating was paid for, in full, through April. And a large sum of money was paid for this, nearly an entire month’s extra rent. That these in tandem are insufficient is hard to believe.

To make a more belaboured point, this is not the first winter the building has experienced.



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