Tuesday, 4 August 2009
A dolmuş is a privately owned vehicle, with seating capacity of 14 which runs to and from towns and outlying villages.
Dolmuş means "stuffed" or "full" as they often don't run to fixed schedules, but when they are full. Mainly because the fare's very cheap, and the owner/driver isn't likely to earn very much with one or two passengers.
And boy do they fill them to capacity! They will stop anywhere on route if you flag them down. Even when full, they always manage to squeeze in another passenger. The traffic police have been known to stop the driver if he is overloaded with passengers, which means that those standing have to get off..regardless of where they are. It's not unusual for the dolmuş driver, on seeing a traffic police car ahead, to shout for those passengers standing to get down. They immediately respond by ducking down until the police car is out of sight.
There's a lot of shuffling about and swapping of seats on the dolmuş because even in the 21st century, it's still frowned upon for a man to sit next to a woman, so when a new passenger gets on, people move about to accommodate them. And chivalry is not dead here...a man or child will always stand to allow a woman or elderly passenger to have a seat.
Paying your fare is a little precarious. You tap the shoulder of the person in front of you..hand them your money and it's then passed forward to the driver. If you need change, it's then passed back to you via the same route. All this happens while the driver is driving. You can imagine the potential for accidents.
A dolmuş driver is a rare breed. He is a patient man and very accommodating. He is happy to stop for a passenger who spots a family member en route, so that the passenger can have a quick chat with the relative, or hand over a gift of some kind, before continuing on his journey (this happened while I was on the way to Milas yesterday...he even waited for the elderly relative to cross back over the busy road before setting off again).
He'll gladly stop for you to pop into a shop for bread or cigarettes, and if someone en route from town to village wants to send something to a relative, he'll obligingly act as delivery man.
It's not unusual for him to make a diversion off his main route, to drop a child at home or at school, to prevent an elderly passenger from having to walk too far. And he really gets to know his regulars very quickly. After my first trip on the local dolmuş, he knew exactly where to drop me off from then on without my having to tell him.
He will allow people to board the bus with almost anything. On market days it's impossible to get into a seat without first climbing across bags of shopping, sacks of potatoes, and anything else that you happen to have bought in town. When I lived in Gumusluk a man once boarded with an entire bathroom suite...toilet, washbasin and shower base...and no-one batted an eyelid.
I've made many new friends on a dolmuş. Only last week when I arrived back in the village from Milas, two Turkish ladies got off the bus at the same place as me. Their houses were on the way up the hill to my house. Instead of the usual 10 minutes it takes me to get to the top of the hill, I arrived home 2 hours later, having been invited in to one house to catch my breath, and drink water, then to the the home of the other lady to drink Turkish coffee whilst we got to know each other.
Mr Ayak hates the dolmuş...he thinks they are overcrowded and smelly...which of course they are especially in the height of summer.
Me? I love them!