Site managers with absolute powers act like a government
Hürriyet photoWhat brought this topic to my mind was a story from daily Hürriyet a few weeks ago about one of Istanbul’s new and classy housing compounds, named Finanskent. There was a row over the introduction of separate hours for genders at the swimming pool, imposed by site management.
What a nightmare! Imagine having bought a new apartment or having just rented an apartment over there, and the next day you find an Iranian life-style imposed on yourself, something you never intended. And you need to obey the men only or women only swimming hours. What’s worse is knowing this practice does not come from the majority; it comes from a three-person team of site managers.
Some background information for our international readers: Housing compounds are called “sites” in Turkish, meaning the same as site. This is pretty much how we live. We, urban Turks, live in apartment buildings that have developed into sophisticated, vast, practical, multi-purpose sites where hundreds of families live together like a small town. Many facilities are offered in these new sites, some even have their own forest.
Now, how does that happen? It does not. We urban Turks do not know how to live together. We have no idea about the basics of collective living. Just look around at Istanbul traffic. Everybody acts as if they own the place, and at the same time as if they cannot survive if any of the others were not there… We do not know the concept of “respect for each other’s rights.” Also, we become friends too easily and quickly to become enemies too easily and quickly. There are continuous struggles in sites…
The management of these housing compounds, from regulations to general practice, is totally amateurish. I myself was once made a building manager because three ladies in my building hated me. What do I know about building management when I can’t even manage my own apartment? Of course the “yönetici” position was quickly taken away from me after a couple of months when I screwed up big time. The door checks and diaphones stopped working and one of the elevators needed repair. (Oh, how I loved it…)
Going back to Finanskent, it is such a typical example that it sums up everything we need to go through on daily basis. Three months ago, the site management separated the hours of the swimming pool as co-ed and all-women. But residents opposed this practice, saying this decision was taken without consulting them. The management took a step back. However, one evening a midnight an operation was launched and residents woke up to see that the glass panels of the swimming pool were covered with black film. (No, that was before Taksim square was covered with panels.)
The residents opposed again and the black film was removed. This time the site management conducted a survey about the usage of the swimming pool. Only 282 people participated and 200 people wanted co-ed usage while 82 wanted separate hours. The management decided that “only” 16 hours of the week will be allocated as women-only time. The latest was that men and women in the opposition in Finanskent were planning to raid the women-only hour of the swimming pool.
I was going to point out the resemblances, but this example is like a laboratory study of a micro-Turkey. Only the unfortunate Bedouin and the polar bear are missing.