Aug 142010

My stupidity knows no boundaries – literally – as I moved from Turkey to Poland two weeks ago (and that’s my excuse for not blogging for a while).

Packing took me a day and a half. I had checked the baggage allowance in Hungarian airlines Malev – it’s 23 kg for checked-in and 10 kg for carry-on luggage. Not much fun for someone who has spent three years abroad and has accumulated dozens of kilograms of stuff but is not moving furniture and doesn’t need to hire a truck.

I wasn’t planning to take everything to Poland, that would have been mission impossible. For example, I decided to leave my bike because…

- I’d never taken a bike on a plane before and was afraid it could be pricey

- there was a trekking bike waiting for me in Poland which should be enough for some city rips for the time being

- I’ve found someone willing to look after my bike in Istanbul

- I’m going to buy a new mountain bike anyway

I just decided to take a helmet with me (because it’s light and there’s no point in spending money on a new one in Poland) and a bike lock (because there’s no point in spending money on a new one in Poland and it’s heavy – perfect for the small bag which was supposed to weigh 10 kg as I wanted to use the maximum allowed limit). I’got no clue now what on earth came over me then…

My carry-on luggage went through the control at Istanbul Ataturk Airport without any problems. Then I had a transfer in Budapest and their security staff were much more conscientious. A guard asked me to open my bag, then asked me for permission to poke around in it. Two seconds later she was smiling, waving a U-lock in front of my nose, and said I could easily hit someone with it so she had to chuck it out and that was what she instantly did. I had only managed to open my mouth wide in amazement – how can someone chuck out something worth 20 euros and for which I had to go specially to Krakow because you can’t get a LOX U-lock anywhere in Istanbul and it’s also difficult to find in Poland.

Now I guess I do feel like hitting someone with this one kilogram of a U-lock – I could tap my own forehead with it for a good beginning. How come I was so engrossed in my own move that I didn’t think even for a while about global terrorism, I got really fixated on these ten kilograms I completely forgot which of the things I had put into that bag could be potentially used to kill someone – serves me right for being so egoistic! Today’s resolution is: think less like a decent, calm citizen and more like a terrorist or a serial killer because that’s what pays more nowadays.

That was the second U-lock which I’ve had to write off. I said goodbye to the first one in 2007 and this is what happened:

It was a nighmare of a week, nothing went as planned. First of all, on five consecutive days I had to go to Aksaray police station to get a residence permit and this experience rates 15 on a ten-point stress scale and I’m not going to explain why, whoever has done it knows the reasons. Second, there was a truck cruising around Istanbul, and in the truck there was a box containing my winter clothes, which my brother had sent for me, but a truck in Istanbul is like a needle in a haystack – difficult to find. In all that commotion I easily managed to lose a bike lock key and it was already a spare one.

We went on a key search with a flashlight late at night and almost got arrested on a street near the Kadıköy Municipality, the flashlight made us look very suspicious and I had forgotten to take some proof of identity with me (in Turkey it’s advisable to have some ID or passport with you as policemen like to check it).

My bike was locked to a rail in a building where Umut’s office was. In my opinion its blue frame (the most beautiful hue in the shop) could be the pride of many a staircase but the owner thought otherwise and said there was no way he could wait a week or two for the company to send me another key. Now, after I’ve been oficially declared a terrorist and a serial killer, I think I should have taken out one of the spokes and poke him gently in the neck, I bet he would have waited then. But I was just a harmless expat then so I decided we had to cut the lock with an electric saw. It took a good 10 minutes and the noise was incredible – my confidence in U-locks tripled then and I was unhappy I couldn’t buy the same lock in Istanbul. I’ve noticed Turkish cyclists use regular locks and that’s enough for them. Umut had one of those for about a week, until some kids cut it and then he had to chase them down the street to get the bike back – lucky him it was a semi-theft, only done for a joyride. Now I can remember someone saying on our Polish forum that you could leave a key in an unlocked car and no one would be interested in it, it was supposed to give us an idea of how safe Turkey was as opposed to Poland… And there might be a grain of truth in it, most Turkish cyclists either leave their bikes unlocked or use locks that don’t seem very trustworthy but somehow they are if they continue to trust them.

That’s how I’ve been left with a very peculiar set: a lock in three pieces with two keys that don’t match.

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