Reminiscences and Perspectives STREAM-OF-CONSCIOUSNESS MUSINGS ByBrian Stott
TANVIR,MANY APOLOGIES FOR MY ABSENCE AT THIS CELEBRATIONNEARLY HALF A CENTURY AFTER YOUR FIRST ARRIVAL AT METU
THE CIVIL ENGINEERING DEPARTMENT MUST ALSO BE CONGRATULATED ON YOUR RETIREMENT.FOR HAVING KEPT SOMEONE WITH YOUR AMAZING ABILITIES IN ANKARA ALL THIS TIME
I met Tanvir at METU in 1965I arrived from Manchester for 3 yearsHe returned with his Cambridge PhDHe was a brilliantly-intellectual, super-cultured, energetic, fun-loving, witty, charming personHis command of English language and literature was encyclopedicIn spite of this we became firm friends
BUT, WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT ITIT IS SURPRISING THAT SUCH AN INTERNATIONAL HIGH-FLYER DID COME BACK TO METU FROM CAMBRIDGE
SO, WE WILL HAVE A SHORT QUIZ LET US SPECULATE ABOUT WHY TANVIR RETURNED TO METU Yldz Wasti generations & Cambridge been there, done that MIT, Berkeley, Caltech places for monomaniacs Pakistan and its food too hot Turkey and the METU civil engineering challenge attractive Turkey was a good base for multi-cultural interests All of the above
Perhaps I should introduce myself
Unfortunately, I do not have a photo of Tanvir from 1965He does not seem to have changed too much.But now he is more distinguished, resembling A top-level diplomat?An international banker?A university president?A Nobel laureate?A billionaire industrialist?
NO DOUBT, IN THIS SYMPOSIUM,TANVIR HAS ALREADY BEEN ACCUSED OF BEING..SUCH AS..ALL KINDS OF THINGS
So, I imagine that at this point, Tanvir is either .Suffering his apotheosis with resignation, orMentally rehearsing a bi-lingual speech, orFeeling slightly ill and looking for the exit
TO TAKE THE PRESSURE OFF TANVIR, HERE ARE A FEW IMPRESSIONS ABOUT THE YEARS THAT WE SHARED AT METU
Our METU, 1965-8These were the golden years of METU? METU was a national hope and symbol for technical progressIt was directly responsible to parliamentIt had top US-Europe trained Turkish facultyPlus 10-15% foreignersIt attracted the brightest and best studentsEverybodys enthusiasm was infectious*
* Few signs of the world-wide student unrest that reached Turkey in 1969
Our METU, 1965-68Rector Kemal KurdaA great leader (and what a tree-planting legacy)!Engineering Dean Mustafa ParlarInspirational, forceful, intimidating but often a softySide note: the Vice-Rector was Orhan Alsa, whose son Ongun has remained my research and business partner since 1970
Our METU, 1965-68Campus in the middle of nowhereQuite near Eskiehir, or so it seemedNo neighbors, except Maden Tetkik ArastrmaFew people facilitiesOne horrible cafeteriaOne snack bar in ArchitectureA few improvised volley ball courts in the dirtAir conditioning almost non-existentFew refuges for faculty or studentsIn Electrical Engineering, the twice-daily faculty tea breaks, often attended by Dean Parlar, took place at a long old table in the dark, damp, uncomfortable basement of the building. The ay had been brewing for hours and was mature
Our METU, 1965-68Technical facilitiesLab. equipment often on international parOne IBM 1620 computer for all of METUOnly punched card input, line printer outputMuch slower than a Palm Pilot todayVery good technical libraryFairly modern copying equipment
Our METU, 1965-68Civil engineering had some of METUs strongest faculty membersElectrical engineering (my department) was also goodBut the quality of the undergraduate students was superbSadly, many of the Elec. Eng. class of 1968 now hold high positions in the USA!
Our Ankara, 1965-8A large small townNo international class hotels or restaurantsNo bars, few clubs, one modern caf (Piknik)No shopping centers (Gima opened in 1967)All packages from abroad had to be personally picked up at the Ulus post officeNo imposing edifices along nn BulvarKocatepe was not even thought of
Our Ankara, 1965-8Summer bone dry, roastingAir conditioning yokFrequent water cuts the bath-filling ritualWinter colder then, deep-freeze spellsAward-winning air pollutionCar snow-chains often needed for places like ankaya, Kavakldere, even METU
Our Ankara, 1965-8Absolutely not! We foreigners at METU loved Ankara and TurkeyAll this sounds as though the old Ankara was a really unpleasant placeTurkish people everywhere were so kind and friendlyThere was a general spirit at METU of being involved in something new and importantThe country as a whole was so historical and magical
Why? Perhaps because:
Our Turkey, 1965-68Relative political stabilityAtatrk ethos still alive strong public secularismThe biggest national project was the Keban damMuch more American influence, then
Our Turkey, 1965-68A wonderland of history and natureVery little tourist industry, e.g. We slept in tents on the beach close by the Marmaris kalesiGreme was a novelty - we had to find a local beki to show us (with an oil lamp) the recently-discovered underground cityKuadas was dominated by campingEverywhere was extremely safe
Our Turkey, 1965-68Road travel was a constant adventureInter-city roads two-lane onlyKamyonlar were deadly (better now?)Bosphorus crossed only by ferryIncredibly skilled Turkish car mechanicsAir travel was goodWe got a nice new Esenboa, butChanging terminals at Yeilky was something else
Our Turkey, 1965-68Perhaps, one of the best things of all was.
The main middle-class pastime was visiting and receiving people at home several times a weekThis was an important lesson for us BritishTurkish people clearly gave friends and relationships very high priorities in their lives This was a wonderful people oriented lifestyle
I know little about his civil engineering workBut I have a thick file of his erudite historical and literary publications (including a book) in English and this is a tiny sample of his output
Now, a little less adulation and a few random epithets
TANVIR THE EXHAUSTIVEHis historical research leads him down some mind-bogglingly obscure pathsImagine, for instance, searching the world for the English translation from Arabic (only several in existence) of the diary of an unknown 19th century government official in Tunisia Imagine, moreover, the utter serendipity of this turning up in my local university library!
TANVIR THE SCOFF-LAWIn 1966, while he was still inhaling Turkish literature like a vacuum cleaner, he forced me to smuggle a then-illegal Nazm Hikmet book from Bulgaria to Turkey
TANVIR THE HAZARDOUSHe has a memory like anI am periodically shocked by things he tells me about myself, from 40 years ago, that I had completely forgotten (for good reason)
TANVIR THE GENTLEMANDespite a very slight tendency to enjoy a good argument, Tanvir is remarkably polite, measured, considerate and a perfect old-style gentleman. Here is an example.
At my parents home in Lancashire, England, my (rather sheltered) father tried to educate Tanvir on the meaning of some common English saying, such as a stitch in time saves nine
Tanvir nodded seriously and gratefully for this information . while I went green and purple with
Afterwards, I told my father (we do this kind of thing to our parents) ...that was probably the only person you will ever meet in your life....who could tell you where that saying first appeared in Shakespeare, Milton, etc....and moreover could give you the etymologies of all the key words through Sanskrit and Old Norse(maybe I exaggerated slightly but only slightly) ..and the same for most other sayings in the English language..
TANVIR THE GLADIATORDid I say that Tanvir has a very slight tendency to enjoy a good argument?Actually, I meant that he loves a good mental-verbal sparring session
On his return from Cambridge, Tanvirs credential that most impressed us METU British was Not his PhD lots of people get oneIt was his Presidency of the Pembroke College Debating SocietyThat was really SPECIAL
Debating, Cambridge-style,- is a form of bloodless modern dueling,- using superb command of the language,- rapid thought and fact retrieval,- rapier-like wit and humor,- psychology, and flexible logic.
It is sometimes called.The shortest cut between two minds, orFeud for thought
We decided to teach this man a lessonWe arranged a small party at the Karadeniz Lokantas (then zmir Caddesi), and invited TanvirColin and Tanvir immediately locked onto each other like opposite magnetic poles
During this entire time, they remained oblivious to the rest of the partyThey discussed and argued for at least five hours nonstop, like the intellectual versions of old-style prize fighters
At the end, Colin was reduced to a numb, silent, vacant, shell, with seized-up vocal cords and a glassy stare..while Tanvir continued to expound non-sotto-voce on the latest subject that they had chosen to discuss I, Brian Stott, do solemnly swear that the above is completely true and not at all exaggeratedWe took Colin home, put him to bed, and he was well recovered after several days
Well, Tanvir, it looks as if you have broken through the retirement barrier with flying colorsThough its difficult to imagine you just sitting on your laurels
Affectionate congratulations fromme and Patricia,and no doubt from all your many other friends and admirers.Love to Yldz, Nazl (+) and Arzu
Tanvir, thank you for everything over all these yearsThis ends my message