Sunday, 31 March 2013

Turkish ingenuity

Back in  England we expect rainwater to drain to the sides of the roads, down through drain holes and into the sewers below. 

Of course we do. The roads are deliberately constructed with a camber - a convex curvature in the tar-mac maintaining height at the road centre. 

Science part over.

In Istanbul, the roads are nice and flat. 

Of course they are.

During the rainy season large puddles form across the roads. Steeper local streets turn in to white water rapids, stairways into cascading waterfalls, and main junctions become urban, traffic-heavy lakes.

Most of the time this is simply a nuisance. If you've chosen the wrong pair of shoes you might find yourself sitting in soggy socks for a large part of the day. 

For these guys working outside of our office one morning, it's a genuine hassle.

They were trying to do repair work on subterranean telephone systems and, to avoid working under a soaking wet waterfall from another nasty road-lake, they collected mud from nearby plant pots and constructed a miniature, inverted dam around their man-hole, keeping the potentially dangerous water at bay.

Of course they did.


  1. The reason our infrastructure lacks in some areas compared to England is maybe because we don't have the same resources as you guys do over there?

    I'm sure our road people knows that you need to build the roads with a small curvature... :)

    1. Yes, good point.

      Please note, I wasn't deliberately implying that the city planners, or traffic agencies or whoever don't know any better. It's understandable to be economical when considering less regular events (such as Turkish downpours)

      We moan about our trains in England. They experience severe delays for any of the following:
      - Leaves on the track,
      - Snow on the tracks,
      - Icicles on over-head lines,
      - Over-heated rail-lines in hot sun,
      - Too windy. Seriously, WIND. This happened to me a week or so ago.

      Although, from memory, never directly because of the rain.

      We know that from examples in countries like Russia and the UAE that trains CAN perform perfectly well in any of these conditions, and we moan that ours don't.

      But, of course, the logic is that these conditions only occur for very few days a year, if at all (in the case of hot sun), so it's actually logical to minimise the expensive materials, rail maintenance and overhaul of the entire rail system for required to fix this "problem" and instead, just put up with a slow service for a few days a year. The main thing is that they can handle the rain!

      It's logical, but we still moan.

      It rains all the bloody time here, but (from my limited experience of two winters in Istanbul) not so much in Istanbul. So it's understandable to save the additional construction costs of a camber (sorry, I haven't researched how much it is) and put up with soggy socks for a couple of weeks each year.

      The point is, while I'm sitting around, moaning about the weather like a stereotypical Brit, these guys are just getting on with it. They were confronted with a problem which I'm sure would've forced British workers in to having an all-day lunch, and they resolved it with a simple bit of inventiveness.

      My sarcastic comment about the flat roads was just a moan. It's what we do best. Sarcasm and moaning. No wonder Europeans say the British are "cold".


  2. Hi again Dan, no need for apologies mate.. :)

    I've been to London twice.. Simply loved it, even though i thought i wouldn't.. and didn't find anything to moan about to be honest.. i like rainy weather so even the climate was ok for me.. :) and i also think Brits are great people.. as far as i'm concerned they are usually much warmer than the rest of the nordic Europeans.. but at the same time, from my experiences seems like they tend to moan about the conditions on other countries more than the people of other nations.. so when i saw your post, initially i thought ''oh god another cynical brit bitching about conditions in istanbul'' :)

    I was wrong and to be honest that was my emotional reaction.. I know that our infrastructure in some areas and the way we manage this city is really shameful.. I know the way how certain things should be.. I lived in Australia for three years and it hurts me to see the gap in certain areas.. I hope we will close the gap some day.. The progress is slow, even though it is in lightspeed in some departments.. We have award winning residential projects all around the city but the roads that will take you to those places are in bad condition. Shame.

    Anyways, I wish you a great time in Istanbul.. It is a beautiful city afterall.. Hope you're enjoying it.

    and like i said, this is a great blog and will recommend it to my foreign friends that are living here.. really enjoyed the last entry about the shady showers btw.. hehehe...

    all the best...

  3. Thanks for this, I read back my reply and thought "Wow, that looks defensive!"

    Istanbul has been great, but I got shipped back to London just recently and missing it already. I have a bunch of notes I made whilst there that I'll keep uploading, (with additional notes about "habits I picked up in Turkey that don't work in London", like crossing straight out across busy city streets). Hopefully will get to return not too soon!

    Back to this topic, yeah, progress is slow and steady but the speed at which the city is building it's infrastructure is fantastic! Ok, so there seems to be some hold-up with that tunnel going under the Bosphorus while the archaeologists get involved, but I love how when the city decides to extend a key railway, it just happens. I have a feeling that new, enormous airport won't be too far away...