Prelude in Istanbul, October 2012
Haris pushed me a gateway to the Orient open with just three words. "I like that," said the 14 year old son of my friend Necattin and pointed with the tip of his foot to an approximately one square meter wide patch of concrete. What he wanted to show me was cement filling, a little bit oddly and carelessly shoveled into a hollow in the asphalt. Wrong material, wrong treatment. We stood in a parking lot in front of a famous tourist restaurant on the hill Camlica, high above Istanbul.We were on a brief study tour to Turkey, and the usually taciturn Haris wanted to show me something that would belong to our every day experience in the days to come: the different way to build or repair things a bit sloppily, a bit away from the strict ways of German DIN-industrial standards.
Born in Germany, Haris knows the Turkish way to sometimes move ahead a little bit too fast and not always carefully planned with construction materials. He has seen it during his yearly holidays with his relatives in Turkey. He likes it because he connects it with the gracious world of Turkish life. I understand immediately what he means.Haris sees instinctively the benefit of a life that differs from the German, in which everything seems monitored to the last detail by Technischer Überwachungs Verein TÜV. In Turkey the tendency for botch and the love for the second best solution are not only tolerated, but almost a principle.
And so, in Palestine I am through Haris’ words mentally prepared to see and ignore some confusion and many technical compromises. I will rather concentrate on finding the real life behind the things here. This life, after a couple of days here occurs to me to be many more liveable than ours which is in the end lost in its perfect external circumstances.
Yes, villages in Palestine are generally built into the country without a great master plan, the roads are often bumpy and littered with plastic garbage. Yes, the houses are with few but notable exceptions, rather artless and show many ugly details - coarse concrete balustrades, empty window holes, where houses were already occupied in semi-finished state, missing colors, and everywhere the inevitable black hot water tank on the roof with the solar panels leaned at the side. But they are spacious inside, even in Nedals house in the narrow refugee camp, where we stay overnight after the second day. They are often equipped with a sense of grandeur and allow the visitor an insight into a world that opens like magic, when with the undressing of the dirty street shoes the big difference between outside and inside is beginning to show.In contrary the German rule is that only that is good that is everywhere and always tidy, outside and inside. Es gibt kein wahres Leben im Falschen / there is no true life in falsity, said the bourgeois revolutionaries of 1968 and transferred the principle of clean suburbs, from which they came to the whole world. Those who do not sweep the sidewalk and do not mow the front lawn cannot enjoy their living room – that is German.
You learn in Palestine, that it is not true.