February 2012, Fethiye, Turkey
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People like to share with others what they think and what just happened to them. To their friends they talk or call them. Via facebook or twitter they also include all their acquaintances. What they want the entire city to know they post in the local newspaper.
In Fethiye it is not common to read the local newspaper. Instead they use their special version of twitter. Via 225 megaphones the news are spread through the entire neighborhood of Çaliş as well as through the rest of Fethiye. After listening to her voice every day for a while we got to know Pınar, the announcer herself and asked her some questions.
Pınar is a 35-years old woman with a very friendly voice that spreads through the town for 14 years now. She announces Fethiye-related and few times also national related news for the community. If there is a free concert, cheap fish or a soccer game – she knows it and she let’s all of us know also. Her friends like to ask Pınar about anything. “Did they find the lost girl? Who has died today? What is going on this weekend? Who is playing on the concert today?” are the frequently asked questions from friends and family. Pınar grew up in Fethiye and listened to the announcements herself when she was a child. “Of course I wanted to know what was going on in my town!”
Pınar does not only like her job. “I love it!” she tells me with a big smile. Sometimes it is really exiting. Especially on November 10th, the day when Mustafa Kemal Atatürk has died. Every year at exactly 9.05 am, the time of his death in 1938, there is a wail of sirens in the entire country for his honor. For one minute nobody moves or talks, even the traffic stops. “And I am the one to push the siren’s button in the perfect time!”
In the first weeks of her job, Pınar thought, nobody really listened to what she says. Then she accidentally mispronounced a name. “Immediately after announcing the phone kept ringing and people even came to the city hall to complain personally. Now I know that my announcements do matter to the people.”
Pınar is the one to decide which information is important enough to be announced in public. Only death, cultural and historical news are obligatory. “The relatives call me to inform me about a loss, the fishermen call to let me know which fish is the catch of the day, the electricity providers call if there will be a blackout and the cultural organizations inform me about any free public events. But I decide what to announce and when to do it.”
Once a young man called to let Pınar know that his father had died. Pınar publicized his death. When she came back from the announcement-room, her colleagues ran towards her, but it was too late. “They told me that the son called again telling that they were mistaken. He found out that his father has not been dead yet, but he was on the way to the hospital. So guess what I had to do. I went back to the microphone and brought him back to life. Actually I think he is still alive as we speak.” Pınar giggles and Eda, my friend and translator of the interview, laughs out loud.
When we have finished our Çays (Turkish tea) Pınar gets up and invites us to follow her. We should now see a live announcement from the source. I was really excited. She waited for complete silence, switched the microphone on and informed all citizens that between 6 am and 6 pm of the following day there would be an electricity shortage in the Mentezöglu street.
For those who would like to know what Fethiye-Twitter would be like – here’s one week of translated megaphone-announcements:
Monday, February 13, 2012
9.30 am: The father of … son of … husband of … brother of … died this night. He will be buried on Thursday at 2 pm.
4.30 pm: A 10-year old girl is missing. When she was last seen, she wore grey trousers.
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
11.00 am: There will be heavy rain and wind in the late afternoon – better save the things that could fly away or should not get wet.
4.00 pm: Tomorrow between 6 am and 6 pm there will be an electricity shortage in the Mentezöglu street.
4.45 pm: The mother of … daughter of … wife of … grandmother of … sister of … died this afternoon. She will be buried on Friday at 12 pm.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
9.40 am: The father of … son of … husband of … brother of … died yesterday evening. He will be buried on Friday at 2 pm.
11.30 am: The son of … brother of … died this morning. He will be buried on Saturday at 1 pm.
3.15 pm: There has been much fish caught today, it will be sold for 5 Lira per kilo in the fish market.
Thursday, February 16, 2012
9.15 am: The daughter of … wife of … sister of … died this night. She will be buried on Sunday at 12.30 pm.
2.00 pm: Today between 4 and 7 pm there is going to be a public blood donation in the hospital. Everybody is invited.
4.45 pm: There is going to be a storm with strong rain this evening. Be sure to safe your important things.
Friday, February 17, 2012
9.30: The father of … son of … husband of … brother of … grandfather of … died this night. He will be buried on Monday at 1 pm.
Saturday, February 18, 2012
9.45am: The mother of … daughter of … wife of … grandmother of … sister of … died this night. She will be buried on Tuesday at 12 pm.
4.00 pm: Today there is going to be a theater play in the culture house at 8 pm. It is organized by a high school and the entrance is free.
Sunday, February 19, 2012
9.10 am: The father of … son of … husband of … grandfather of … died this morning. He will be buried on Wednesday at 1 pm.
11.45 am: The father of … son of … husband of … brother of … died this night. He will be buried on Thursday at 3 pm.
2.00 pm: The Fethiye-soccer team is going to play against the neighbor team today at 4 pm in the soccer field. The entrance is free.
Finally we know the face behind the voice we listen to every day. If you ever offer cheap fish or invite to a public event, such as a camel wrestling in Fethiye – Pınar works in the City Hall in the Center. Say hello from us if you go!