One day in the life of … Tarkan

Fighting against the spokes

Fighting against the spokes

Köyceğis, Turkey, April 2012 Diesen Artikel auf Deutsch lesen

I sit on the computer of the bike shop’s office, close some pictures we have been looking at and type “How much does this outer tire cost?” into the google translator. Then I read the Turkish translation out loud. Tarkan smiles, my Turkish pronunciation is not too good. But he understands and answers his German client in broken English. No, I am not working in this shop, I am just one of the many clients and spent one whole day there. At 8am the family and its guests are having breakfast. The family, that is the 42 years old bicycle mechanic Tarkan, his wife Zehra, his 17-years old daughter and his mother. The guests are Roberto and I. We ran into Tarkans bike shop the day before and Tarkan invited us to sleep in the empty guest house.

His beautiful family.

His beautiful family.

The breakfast looks delicious. There are boiled eggs, two kinds of each cheeses and olives, tomatoes, yoghurt, honey, marmalade, different kinds of bread, tea and fresh pressed orange juice. Zehra picks her own olives, she even presses oil. She makes her own yoghurt, gets honey fresh from the neighbor’s bees and also cooks her own marmalade. It tastes as delicious as it sounds. At 9am Zehra leaves for her stepping course and we make our way to Tarkan’s bike shop, where we meet Ahmet, his brother in law and colleague. The shop is situated on a roundabout just by the entrance of the town and everybody knows it. For the Köyceğis residents it is more than only a bike shop – it is like an extension to the two cafés next to it, just with a lot more to look at and do.

Master Tarkan

Master Tarkan

Ahmet and Tarkan both shake their heads when they look at our bikes. Luckily we have recognized the spoke problem already the day before. We would not have made it far with them. Just a few days before, we have left our bikes in Ali’s bike shop in Fethiye, who we have asked to install our new rear sprocket to the bikes. For this work he had to take all spokes out and in again and that is where he made a small but very significant mistake. He crossed them in the wrong way, so the spokes did not touch each other. With our heavy baggage the spokes would not have survived too long. Ahmet and Tarkan take each one of our wheels and start working.

Two better than one. Tarkan and Ahmet

Two better than one. Tarkan and Ahmet

Tarkan explains what he is doing and I write it down – for the next time. The work takes a while for three reasons. First: they both do a very exact job. In the end the wheels are perfectly round. Second: They recommend us to change another part of the bike as well. But Roberto’s bike seems to have a weird size and after searching for a fitting part, Tarkan has to do an “operation” and cut two millimeters of the steel off. Third: there are plenty of other customers. Some of them want to buy something, some want advice, some just come for a tea and a chat with either of the two workers and others are bored pedestrians who saw some other people having a tea outside on the plastic chairs.

While everybody is busy I take a look around. In the back there is the workshop: chaos. Screwdrivers, baby powder, inner tubes, racks, lights and many tools are squeezed into some shelves and spread all over the table. The nails on the wall, supposed to hold the tools, are empty. Here and there I can find the parts of my own wheel. Tarkan has taken them off one after another starting outside on the tea table, ending inside the workshop and left them all on different places. But Tarkan and Ahmet know exactly where to look at what.

As much as I try I cannot make out any system. But I can understand them and if you had ever seen the layers of things on the floor of my room when I was a kid, you would understand, why. But I have to admit: Tarkan puts the wheel together again in the opposite direction, starting in the workshop and finishing at the tea table and he grabs the right parts without even looking.

Tarkan's Shop

Tarkan’s Shop

I go back outside. There are chicken running around and a sheep is bleating somewhere. From time to time Ahmet and Tarkan sit down with their guests and have a tea themselves. But when they have barely drunk the tiny cup, a little boy asks Ahmet for some chain oil and Tarkans phone rings again. There is not a lot of time for a brake. We spend all day in the bike shop observing the busy work, watching other client’s bike tour pictures on the office’s computer, helping with translations and drinking tea. Tarkan introduces us to many other customers so it does not get boring. At noon he disappears and comes back soon with perfectly clean hands. “Prayer” he explains. In the late afternoon Tarkan has a delivery to do. He packs a bike into his car and asks if we want to join him. Of course we do. After a very fast ride through the countryside, listening to Tschaikowsky he unpacks the bike again, puts the front wheel back to its place and checks the brakes, the air and the wheel. The customer is happy with Tarkan’s work shows him another bike with another problem. Though he does not carry enough tools to repair it immediately, Tarkan just puts the bike into the trunk of his car.

He drives a little extra round for us to see the tombs of Dalyan and take some pictures and then we head back to the shop. Our entire baggage remains untouched on the sidewalk where we have left it before. When we arrive it is 9 pm and Ahmet is still working. He even has managed to repair my speedometer that since Serbia nobody has been able to fix. We have a last tea together with the café’s owner. Another pedestrian sees us sitting there and decides to join us. We offer our help putting all the bikes back into the shop, but Tarkan just laughs. Until today it is a mystery to me how they may squeeze all the bikes into the small shop for the night. Then they send us home, where Zehra and her daughter are already waiting for us. Both are very hungry and we start having dinner. Tarkan arrives after 10pm. Roberto shares Mexican recipes and somehow we all understand each other. We have another tea and for a moment poor Tarkan falls asleep on the sofa. It was a long and hard day and by the next morning he has to be fit because he is the organizer of a weekly children bicycle tour.

He works very hard.

He works very hard.

Before we all go to sleep, his mother disappears for a moment and comes back with a hand full of oranges. “She collects them in her room”, Zehra laughs, “it is her stock, and all drawers are full of oranges”. On the following morning we cycle the first few kilometers with the kids, then we take a turn left. Before we leave we have to promise Tarkan and Zehra to come by the next time that we are close. Then we hug each other and go on alone. On our first long brake we enjoy some delicious oranges.

Tarkan and his Collegue

Tarkan and his Ahmet

  1. Héctor says:

    One question: who is Dalyan?

    • Tasting Travels Team Tasting Travels Team says:

      It is a place, not a person. Sorry for not making that clear. It is a vliiage about 25 km away from Köyceğiz.

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