In many Asian countries, foreigners enjoy a liberty unavailable to them at home. It is fun to use ‘Monopoly money’ and drive liberally. However, it is important not to let such freedoms lead to hooliganism. Do not drop your guard.
While it is becoming increasingly regulated, policing is still conducted by corrupt individuals who act outside the law. Appeals typically result in chaos, humiliation and dead-ends.
And they’re off, bike screeching, phone in hand. Something glints in the sky and our motorbike keys land on the floor in the middle of the road. Someone shrieks. We stare at each other, nonplussed. A quarter of an hour ago we were listening to an Englishman sing the Blues, shaking our egg shakers and feeling merry. Now we are pissed off, a little shaken, and very bored.
Somewhere between 8 and 20 million native Kurdish speakers live in Turkey, though to honour this man and his kin ‘Turkey’ should be in inverted commas. To them, this is not Turkey and they are not Turkish. It is northern Kurdistan, a land traumatised by history.
Past these dwellings, down a steep bank, the Göksu, or “blue water”, flows softly into the Euphrates, the longest river of western Asia.
Şaban, Ali and Ramazan are in their late twenties. They wear dark green trousers and light green shirts, have clean-cut jaw lines and the peculiarly hyper social energy that comes with intense anticipation. They are in charge of counterterrorism and rural policing. On paper this is impressive but in reality it seems to amount to drinking lots and lots of çay, insistently offering bad route advice to cyclists and laughing sententiously.