Both city and people

The girl in the shop where I spend too much money looks at me in shock when I tell her I’m off to Adana for the weekend. ’A whole weekend?’ she asks. I tell her yes, and she looks at me in pity. Okay okay, I say, the first time I went there, almost five years ago, I hated it. I thought Adana was for the most part dirty and made of ugly concrete and with no fun to be had, and it was January so the dirty streets were also wet. But since then I have visited the city regularly. First because my beloved went to university there and now fate has sent him back to Adana to do his military service. I’ve come to like the city. Yes, there is lots of concrete and because of the pollution you need a daily hair wash, but it’s also modern, it has a river with a few terraces with an ok view and also ok wine, and, (where pollution is less of a problem), the university grounds are open to everyone. They are green and adjoin a nice lake, with nice parks and bridges to pass the time taking a pleasant stroll, and the weather is good practically all year round. And the plains of Cukurova, the hinterland of Adana, are so fertile that they produce nearly all the fruit, vegetables, grains and cotton that Turkey needs – in the Adana market you can buy loads of fruit and vegetables afor a pittance. And by the way, Turkey’s most respected writer comes from Adana – no that’s not Orhan Pamuk, but Yasar Kemal. So what’s wrong with Adana? “The people are not so nice”, says girl in shop.
It seems that’s Adana’s problem: the people are not so nice. Or to be more precise: there is quite a lot of prejudice against people from Adana. They are known to be criminals, that’s the basic feeling. This prejudice probably arose because for fifteen or twenty years many poor Kurds have fled to Adana from villages in the southeast of Turkey to escape the fighting between the PKK and the Turkish army, and more poor people usually means more crime. Some people say that the prejudice is also based on the many different kinds of people that live in the city, among them some ‘tribes’ who traditionally make their living by begging and stealing or take low paid jobs: well yes, that’s how prejudice can taint a whole group of people. I tell girl in shop that I have never experienced the badness of people in Adana and that I like going there for both city and people. She giggles a bit, because that’s what people do when you don’t agree with their ill-informed opinions. I suggest if you have the chance, visit Adana at least two times and you will love both the city and its people too

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