Guest Post by Ayak at Ayak's Turkish Delight!

Welcome to The Girdle of Melian, Ayak!

I am very flattered to be asked by Deniz to do a guest post on her blog.

I moved to Turkey from England in 1999 and married my Turkish husband in 2000. We have lived in different areas of Turkey. In fact we have moved 15 times to date. My blog, Ayak's Turkish Delight, is about my life in Turkey. The ups and downs, the trials and tribulations, the happy and the sad......not forgetting the often disastrous adventures of Mr Ayak.

The topic of my post is the Dolmuş.

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 en 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. He'll get out and escort an elderly passenger across a busy road, or even make a detour to drop them at a relative's home.

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 Gümüşlük a man once boarded with an entire bathroom suite... toilet, washbasin and shower base... and no one batted an eyelid. Since I moved to this isolated spot two years ago, I've discovered it's quite normal for the dolmuş driver to stop and collect 50kg bags of fertiliser and other bulky items for the farmers, on our way back to the village. Last year during the Kurban Bayram we actually had a live sheep on board.

I've made many new friends on a dolmuş. When I had only recently moved here, and had arrived back in the village from a shopping trip into Milas, two Turkish women 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 ten minutes it takes me to get to the top of the hill, I arrived home two hours later, having been invited into one house to catch my breath, and drink water, then to the home of the other woman 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!


Glynis said…
They would envy your bus in our village, Ayak. We do not have one.We have a fantastic bus stop thanks to the EU. A lovely glass dome affair,but no bus.

Interesting post, Deniz.
Nadja Notariani said…
I've been intrigued with Turkey since my brother-in-law traveled there during his college days and spent a month in Istanbul learning about Turkish business practices, so I have thoroughly enjoyed your post. There's something to be said for the relaxed approach when getting from point A to point B....and we in the West could learn a thing or two, I think. Imagine a bus driver in Philadelphia stopping to let a passenger chat up a relative! Ha! Or leaving the route to lessen the walk for an elderly person....Or stopping for a 'convenient store purchase'....I'm giggling in thinking of the wonderfulness of it. ~ Nadja
Charlotte Ann said…
I loved this post! Now I finally know what a Dolmus is...I have read your blog for quite a while and have heard you mention this many times..seeing the pictures was great.
I've never heard of a dolmus. The photos inside make it look kinda fun.
Nas Dean said…
Fantastic post Deniz.

Thanks for sharing about your life in Turkey and letting us see how it is there, Ayak!
Melissa Bradley said…
What a cool post! Thank you so much for sharing this. I have always wanted to visit Turkey. It is a fascinating country.
Nomad said…
I'll never forget the night they killed the dolmus in Izmir. Not really but they used to service a lot of the center areas of town but then, the mayor decided without much in the way of an announcement to outlaw them. (There might have been a tax issue involved too) I have to admit that they did slow things down, but no more than people who park their cars in the middle of the street and go into the shop to buy things. The sudden stopping and going often did pose a hazard at times.
That evening I left my school and found a lot of confused people milling around the place where the dolmus stop had once been. Walking back and forth trying to find where the dolmus (dolmi?) had disappeared to. We all expected it to be replaced with some kind of similar municipal minibus system or some kind of annual licensing of independent companies to serve the city but.. nothing.

I really cannot understand why neighborhoods in the West do not adopt this approach to public transportation. It makes sense to create such a system. At least it could take you from your home to a centralized hub station for other larger forms of transport.
If the argument is that gas costs too much to make this applicable, then I would counter that gas prices in Turkey are extremely high but obviously somebody is making enough money to keep this operable.
Talli Roland said…
Loved learning about the dolmus. They sound like the ones in Cairo!
Jack Scott said…
Lovely post Linda. We love the dolmus, or dollies, as we call them. As we live in Bodrum we don't have a car so the dolly is the only way to get around. Fortunately, our buses do run to a timetable even during the winter as there is enough demand. They are an adventure and we've had some extraordinary experiences. The dolly drivers are amazing.
Ayak said…
Thankyou Deniz for the opportunity and thankyou everyone for taking the time to comment...much appreciated xx

Deniz I hope you are enjoying your holiday xx
Maggie May said…
I really enjoyed reading this post and am a follower of Ayak.
I always learn something new.
Maggie X

Nuts in May
J.L. Campbell said…

Nice to meet you.
The dolmus sort of sounds very much like our system here in Jamaica. We do have regular buses, but there are route taxis that run alongside the government buses. In the privately owned buses, we still do the passing-the-fare-forward thing, but it's less dangerous as there's a conductor. Your post brings back memories of times in my childhood when I'd spend time with my grandmother. We take a rickety little bus into town and coming back, there was no telling what would be on the bus with the passengers.

The internet has opened a whole other world and it's good to be able to see the similarities and differences in other countries.

Again, I enjoyed this view inside Turkey.

Hey, Deniz! Waving at ya!
Anonymous said…
Great post. This vehicle seems like a colorful, lively, and friendly ride.
Erica (Irene) said…
This was a great is so true. My husband Dogan who is from Turkey some 25 years ago got a good chuckle about the Dolmus....he said it is so true.
I know the first time I went many years ago I was squashed like a sardine in a can...and it was not pretty b/c it was one of those Hot scorching heat days....and a bazzar shopping day.
First time I went in Istanbul they have a Dolmus in a Limousine or a big taxi car...well I couldn't understand why my husband flagged it down. I told him I'm not getting in there are people there......but he said it's a Dolmus. I thought he was going to share a cab with someone...b/c in New York you don't do that.

Thanks your Turkey blogs.
jedilost said…
This dolmus driver you described must definitely be a different breed than the ones we have in Istanbul. Ours are just a very big pain in the you-know-where.
Jillybean said…
The dolmus sounds like great fun! There are so many bus drivers in the public transit systems here that you'll never see the same one twice; I like getting friendly with them, though, so that's kind of a shame.

The shuttle system provided by our university is different - I know most of the drivers there, though they're not all chatty.
Deniz Bevan said…
Thanks for all the lovely comments everyone! I've got new dolmus photos from my recent trip :-)

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