CHARLOTTE – Staying in touch

Staying in touchI will never forget the first time I had to address an envelope to mail and was informed by the post office clerk that I had done it incorrectly. When living abroad even the simplest acts can be done differently.

If you are planning a trip to Turkey soon or are moving to Turkey, let me share a few helpful points, but bear in mind, things are always in transition here and can change suddenly.Mail: Regular mail is not so reliable.

Mail letters at the post office rather than in one of the few public mailboxes, as these are not always regularly emptied. When addressing an envelope, put your details on the top left after the word Gnderen, meaning “sender” If you are sending a letter within Turkey, the envelope should be addressed in this order: Name, neighborhood, street, followed by apartment name and number and door number, and lastly city (indented, capitalized, and underlined).

A village address can be looser — terms such as “behind the mosque” may be used. Mail can be slow or can go astray to guarantee that a letter reaches its destination send it by registered mail.

Private cargo companies can provide 24-hour delivery anywhere in the country and are more reliable.Telephone: This sector has changed dramatically over the years and is to be commended.

In the early 1990s the telephone industry was privatized. The state company, Turk Telekom, merged with Alcatel, and great technological aances were made.

There is wide usage of cell phones, and your Turkish friends will be astonished if you don’t have one. Turkey uses the European system, and an American phone will not work in Turkey unless it is multiband.

Major cities and most of the rest of the country are well covered by GSM operators. You can buy a prepaid hazIr kart (SIM card) to put in your cell phone for a Turkish telephone number — cheaper than using your international number if you are staying for a long time.

It is not necessarily thought rude to have your phone on during a meeting, or even in a restaurant. When traveling on an intercity bus or plane, phones must be turned off.

Pay phones are less common since the mobile revolution they normally need a prepaid card. In hotels the charges for phone calls are high.

Normally you dial 00 for an international dial tone before the country code. For a national code to a different city, dial 0 and then the city code.

This also applies to calls in Istanbul from one side of the Bosporus to the otherInternet providers: Internet cafés are inexpensive and widespread in cities. The Internet operates mainly on ADSL in some major urban areas you can sign up for fiber optic Internet.

Restaurants and hotels often have wireless networks.Media: You will quickly notice that the TV set is a major feature of any Turkish home — the bigger the better In some family homes, and in many shops and restaurants, it is on all the time.

There are four state channels and many private channels offering a variety of programming: news, documentaries, music, entertainment, education, soaps and movies. Some channels show locally produced programs, including a Turkish version of CNN.

Others broadcast foreign programs and films dubbed in Turkish. Some channels make a point of showing foreign films or serials in the original language, with subtitles.

Don’t be surprised to see a circle on the screen blacking out a cigarette or a glass of wine in your favorite foreign film or show — it is illegal for television channels in Turkey to show them Bans on some social groups and websites can occurPrint newspapers are widely read and cheap. They cover a full range of political opinion, including secular and Muslim viewpoints.

Often the views stated are guarded and sensitive topics are avoided. The Hurriyet Daily News and Today’s Zaman are national newspapers in English, with editorial policies representing different aspects of the Turkish social spectrumTurkey is a fascinating country.

Turkish society at the grassroots level has changed rapidly in the past few decades, and more change can be expected as Turkey’s links with Europe have been affected by recent events and ties with the Middle East, in some respects growing stronger One thing that has not changed is that Turkish people still display the core values of respect for elders and authority, and loyalty to and reliance upon the group — in particular the family — setting great store on personal relationships and the importance of honor and saving face.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman