Those who know me know that I have been living in Lisbon together with my wife and daughters.
We often come to Istanbul, but our base is there.
Our original reason for venturing abroad was not to live away from Turkey, but to bring MSA’s success overseas, which it has rightfully achieved in the past 15 years in my opinion.
From the moment the idea first sprouted in our minds, the strategy the team and I talked about was:
– It should be a country in Europe so that it is not too far from Turkey,
– It should be safe and pleasant country/city especially for young people,
– It should be a relatively inexpensive country within European standards.
Then we came across Portugal.
A sweet country. Sweet people.
Lisbon is very similar to Istanbul. Its light and feel is very close to Istanbul.
With sadness, I must admit that they have treated their cities and buildings much more respectfully than we have over the years.
My wife loved the calmness and tranquility there, and the children loved their school and the life offered to the youth.
As I’ve mentioned, we visit very often.
They are happy, and to be honest, I am happy too. I’m both happy because they are happy and because I can rest and recuperate when I am there.
And the joy of spending time with a few new friends that I really love is an added bonus.
Then there is the peace, which I can talk about for hours, and which is not easy to find in another European city.
Of course, this peace comes at a price to me. Life in Portugal can often be unbearable for a ‘Speedy Gonzales’ like me.
I compare doing business there to sowing a field and waiting for the harvest while sitting on a stool on the side.
One: People are very slow; their responses are very slow, their actions are very slow and of course business life is also very slow; but let’s not ignore that they are quite happy about this slowness, and maybe they are right too. Perhaps we are needlessly fast.
Two: The scales are relatively smaller than ours, and I find it difficult to live on both sides simultaneously.
Now I am exploring Moscow to establish MSA there. You have got to see pace of life there. Istanbul would pale in comparison.
I think big cities accommodate more dynamic forces than others to bring projects to life quickly.
Anyway… In time, life for me has turned out to be a cycle made up of one to two ‘fast-paced’ weeks in Turkey followed by one to two ‘slow motion’ weeks in Lisbon (we will see about Moscow).
I miss Istanbul when I am there, and Lisbon when I am here.
In fact, perhaps without knowing it, I have found the perfect life for myself.
Back in the day, I would go to work in the morning and rush around with joy, then go back home, again with joy and find peace there. Both were joys that I would rush back and forth from.
Now the distance is bigger. First I say, “I am very tired in Istanbul” and return to Lisbon and calm down, and when the calmness starts to get to me, I go back to Istanbul and fall back into my hustle and bustle.
There are no downsides for me except for being separated from my wife and daughters.
Imagine those time machines we see in movies.
One way or another, this imagined time machine involves a door, and this door is the gateway between two different worlds.
My three-year-old machine is the gateway to the airports of Istanbul and Lisbon.
Calling it a ‘space machine’ rather than a ‘time machine’ would make even more sense.
One gate leads to people who are irritated, aggressive and looking for an excuse to get angry, and one leads to people who are the exact opposite.
As I step out of one gate, cars start driving directly on to me, while I step out of the other, cars stop for me as I’m walking to the car park.
In one, if there is a car in the middle of the road, people and police stop to see if the driver needs help, and in the other, either the police fine the driver with a weird sense of pleasure or everyone on the scene ends up in the hospital.
I am not going to labor on this because you all can guess what takes place once you leave the airports in each of these cities, just as good as me.
Let me end with a recent experience of mine, just last week at the Istanbul gate of my ‘space machine’…
My mother is 78 years old; she is quite an idiosyncratic woman, and also highly agile for someone who has never done sports in her life. She does everything herself, never asks for help, or a helper.
We had just been to dinner together, and I was dropping her at her house afterwards.
What is one supposed to do?
You would drive in front of the building, stop for a few minutes, run out, open the door for your mother, take her arm and accompany her to the building entrance even if she doesn’t need help.
If you are doing this in a location where stopping is relatively difficult, the cars behind you wait patiently with respect due to the age of the person you are accompanying. And you quickly thank those behind you, jump back inside and drive away as quickly as you can.
And if you are doing this in front of a building like my mother’s, where there is a little rest spot for cars, you wouldn’t be bothering anyone and you wouldn’t need to be rushing. You drive to that spot, help your mother out of the car in peace. You would even have time to land a sweet kiss on her cheek.
I drive in front of her building, and the spot is full.
A car that obviously belongs to a VIP, has parked on that spot ‘created for that very person’s benefit’, and the driver, standing a few meters away is basking in the glory of this well-earned spot.
I drive towards him and say, ‘I was going to drop my mother off’, and ask for permission.
He even took the trouble to use his hands to show me the available parking spots ahead, and told me to go there.
You might imagine the rest.
I tried explaining that the spot he had parked on was for short stops, and that he could indeed park his car in one of the spots he had suggested.
He told me that he was entrusting the car (whatever that means) and that if kept on talking, he would do things to me that my mother would not be happy about.
As my voice got a little louder (which I still haven’t learned to control) a gentleman who said he was the owner of the car came over and interrupted.
Now that I think about it, considering the realities of that side of the gate, I think that I got off pretty easy that night.
I think it is time for me to use my machine. Plus, my wife and my daughters are on the other side.
A question that has been nagging me:
How could this and similar behavioral patterns be modified in this country?
This question really got to me that night.