. . . I flew to Turkey, to Istanbul and then to Ankara, the capital city, where I spent the majority of my trip. I went because they sent me there to hang out with the Turks I worked with. And in fact I wrote very long piece about everything I did there because of how life-changing it ended up being, but I never published it. Really I ought to just go ahead and post it. I reckon I’ll do that soon enough.
Ankara is vast city that looks like Los Angeles in some ways, especially at night with the lights in the hills. The Turks kept telling me that Ankara is boring, and I guess I can see that. Certainly it seemed less exciting than Istanbul . . . but I don’t know, that feels like an unfair comparison. I guess it did kind of have a Sacramento feel to it.
Anyway, I met and befriended a lot of Turks in Ankara, all of whom were extremely generous and sweet to me even though they didn’t know me at all. I still talk to them all the time.
That first morning there, I was out on the balcony of an office that overlooked downtown Ankara. The office was on some sort of technology campus because the company got a massive tax write-off. The first people I befriended there were Hande and Aslı. They were working in the same room as me, so they had asked me come smoke a cigarette outside with them. Near as I can tell, pretty much everyone smokes there, several times an hour hour, and meanwhile shotgunning espressos and Turkish coffee. And so saying, I of course made myself a little Turkish coffee and bummed a smoke from Aslı. Hande said I was witnessing her smoke her final cigarette. Meanwhile, military helicopters ripped overhead in the direction of the city, and everyone shrugged at it as though it were an everyday occurrence, which I soon learned was the case.
I don’t know how we got to talking about it, but I asked Hande and Aslı what the Turkish equivalent of a redneck is. Hande had visited the US, Aslı had gotten her Master’s in Chicago, and they both watched a lot of American TV, so they more or less had a grasp on rednecks. AFTER A MOMENT OF REFLECTION, they agreed that a Turkish redneck is essentially something called a “keko”.
As I understand it, a keko is a sort of weird low-rent bumpkin who squats on street corners and hoots and hollers at women while fucking around with these little prayer bead bracelets. They tend to be kind of racist and xenophobic and misogynistic or whatever, and use religion to justify their prejudices. ALL DUE RESPECT to rednecks and / or white trash, but that’s a close enough equivalent. And I suppose this is a universal archetype that exists in pretty much every culture on earth.
Hande and Aslı, ambassadors of Turkey, showed me how to do the Keko Squat. You gotta get down on your haunches and shit. It’s actually pretty difficult:
As you can see, Hande is using her scrunchie as a keko prayer bracelet (lol)~
. . . yesterday I walked to the grocery store on account of my fridge being empty. All German grocery stores are closed on Sunday, so I was fresh out of everything. I walked to the REWE in the red light district, to Kurfürstenstraße where the nightwalkers hang out, because they got all the good stuff there. And as I crossed the street to get to the nearby cathedral park, there squatted a lone keko, right here in Berlin:
I had never bore witness to one in the wild before. I stood there in disbelief. It felt like a Bigfoot sighting. And sure enough, the dude was holding his little prayer bracelet just like Hande and Aslı had said. I alerted my friends in Turkey. The response was swift:
Apparently Hande wants to KEKO AROUND next time I’m in Turkey. I’m down. Why not. I just looked at trains from Berlin to Ankara and saw this:
I don’t know which one to take. They’re both like €110 which is cheap as hell. I’ll probably fly back, but I at least wanted to take an overnight train to get there. The second one is More Enticing because I’d get to pass through three other countries along the way versus two, and my family is from Vienna, so I’ve already been there a bunch. Well . . . either way, I gotta get my ass back Turkey where my beautiful friends dwell among the kekos, those absolute freaks.
. . . my friend Demet above was putting together a jigsaw puzzle live on Instagram last night. She added captions in Turkish or else was speaking on camera (in Turkish). NONETHELESS, I kept up with it. I guess it was relaxing in that Bob Ross sort of way. I was heartin stuff left and right. She sent me a message and asked me how I was able to understand her captions, and I said I just used Instagram’s built-in translator, which more or less gets the job done.
Sometime later, I saw this and my face turned warm:
I love Demet. She’s one of the nicest and most sincere people I’ve ever met. I think I told her that the very first time I met her too.