Saturday, May 23, 2015

Site selection for new Soma Thermal Power Plant - Kayrakaltı and Türkpiyale.


Dear Readers,

The leasing tender is completed as of August 2012 for local coal firing thermal power plant under 49-year leasing scheme next to Soma Deniş open pit coal fields. Investor is expected to spend 900 million US dollars to install 3x 150 MWe thermal power plant close to the coal field to utilize the open pit coal. They are expected to put 25-30% equity and look for 75-80% external financing. According to their preliminary EIA report, the new plant is to generate 3.5 billion kw-hours per year to sell in the local energy market.

Soma Deniş open-pit coal field has 152 million tons of proven coal reserves with 1200-1500 kcal per kg lower heating calorific value. We estimate that proven reserves can feed the new thermal power plant for next 20 years. Deniş coal field also feeds as-received coal to existing 5-6 units of Soma-B plant each with 165 MWe output capacity.

The new thermal power plant will be designed in super-critical circulating fluid bed (CFB) technology in steam boilers complete with coal crushers, electrostatic dust collectors, fresh air and induced fans, one stack for two units, air-cooling tower, flue gas desulphurisation system (FGD), turbine- generators, main switchyard, main transmission lines to the national grid. Plant will have coal feeding and coal storage yard, fly and bottom ask silos, ash dam, or landfill area.

According to the contract which was signed by the highest bidder and the Privatization Administration, the investor will have a grace period to construct the plant not to exceed reasonable 6-7 years, then generate electricity and pay treasury 4.69 Turkish Kuruş (1 TL= 100 kuruş) per kw-hour electricity generated and sold to the national grid.

During construction period, plant will have approximately 1000 both qualified and unqualified workers, then will need approximately 500 qualified workers to operate.

Local Energy Market Regulatory Agency has received the license application of the investor, together with the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report. EIA report has 500+ pages explaining every detail in the environment except the olive trees. The report also put a justification why they first selected the construction site near YIRCA village. License application is approved, then the company entered the area and ruthlessly cut 6000+ olive trees. Politicians compared the 500 years old sacred olive trees' contribution to the society with thermal power plant which has practically 2-3 years of uninterrupted life span. That was a misfortunate comparison with no reasonable justification.
We expect thermal power plants to run almost 30 years, but for some reason due to operation failures, they can not exceed 20-years in practice without major overhaul or rehabilitation. Most of the times, they even can not exceed 10-years problem-free.


Today, inexpensive poor design thermal power plants barely exceed 2-3 years temporary acceptance period without major breakdown. East Asia contractors have poor design, poor quality, insufficient spare parts, insufficient number of feed pumps, poor instrumentation and control systems in their super cheap price proposals. In operation, their coal mills brake down, blowers do not work properly, computers are quickly distorted, electrofilters are selected small, they are inefficient. E/P electrodes erode fast, hence they do not meet desired flue gas dust limits, FGD units are not adequate, and in the end they start to pollute the nearby environment, air, water, soil. In their inefficient poor designs, everything is indexed to be the cheapest. Such inefficient designs, such poor quality, poor material supply do not meet high quality North American or West European standards. Why do we except such poor deliveries? Why don't we prevent through our supervisory authorities? Why do we deserve such poor quality products?

YIRCA farmers stood up to protect their farm lands, for their centuries old olive trees, for their nearby habitat, for their life style, and applied to the local courts to stop thermal power plant construction in their farm lands.

Selecting farmlands of YIRCA was correct from investor point of view. The land was on the main highway, close to the existing power plant to use the same facilities, the same switchyard, the same transmission lines. It was also close to the existing coal feeding conveyor belts from Deniş to the coal yard of the existing power plant.

But it was the wrong choice for YIRCA farmers. The new thermal power plant would offer limited new employment opportunities, other than inexpensive security guard posts which do not need qualified training or technical education. Farmers would loose their agricultural land, their olive trees, their way of life, their beautiful pasture. In the end they lost their olive trees unfortunately, which was sad and undesirable. The new olive plants will need at least a few decades to get matured again to give proper olive products. A political price will be paid in the upcoming general elections on 7th June 2015 certainly.

I spent my professional life in Soma coal region in years 2000-2002. There are forest land and agricultural regions on the west and south of Deniş open pid coal fields. East is empty, there is no major settlement, not major forest or agricultural activity. There are agricultural facilities and forest in the north.

We get news that the investor considers to occupy the northern land for the thermal power plant construction, on the agricultural land between Kayrakaltı and TürkPiyale villages. There is no fresh water nearby other than underground for the agriculture, there is no empty land for ash dam. The region is far to the Deniş, new conveyors and new high-voltage electricity transmission lines, new highways for heavy equipment transportation are to be constructed. The land is surrounded by forest. The new location is not a correct choice. We want investors to make intelligent decisions, not to make mistakes, not only for themselves, but for the society in the long term. Investors are to employ best experts to advise them the best choices. These experts should have spent their past experiences in power plants, not on desk jobs at ministries.

Thermal power plants should not be constructed on agricultural land, never on forest land, never on olive trees, never on archaeological sites. We cannot rely on public authorities only for regulating the investor choices. Public servants evaluate the projects on dossiers presented to them in written. They do not have allowances to travel and inspect the site if appropriate. The most of the time, same as everywhere in the world, there are obvious incorrect, falsified, missing informations in the license applications, as well as in EIA reports supporting such license applications. Local NGO groups are to be involved in the approval sequence and they must have right to object if project and site selection are not appropriate since they know the local details better than anyone else. They also defend the rights of the local forests, farmland and the farmers.

Furthermore Turkish sugar producer "Konya Şeker" Company placed the highest bid of 685.5 million US dollars (or 582.5 million Euro) in the tender for the privatisation of the existing 990 MWe Soma-B thermal power plant in the western province of Manisa, Turkey’s Privatisation Administration said in January 2015.

Oberstdorf, Germany, 23 May 2015

Haluk Direskeneli, is a graduate of METU Mechanical Engineering department (1973). He worked in public, private enterprises, USA Turkish JV companies (B&W, CSWI, AEP), in fabrication, basic and detail design, marketing, sales and project management of thermal power plants. He is currently working as freelance consultant/ energy analyst with thermal power plants basic/ detail design software expertise for private engineering companies, investors, universities and research institutions. He is a member of ODTÜ Alumni and Chamber of Turkish Mechanical Engineers Energy Working Group.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A Tale of Prinkipo


The draft scenario/ screenplay described below is completely fiction/ set up, has nothing to do with reality nor with any real person.

This is a draft screenplay, prepared to present to Italian/ US film director(s) Ferzan Özpetek? or Woody Allen?, to enable them to shoot the film in historical Roman island Prinkipo (Büyükada in modern times in Turkish). This draft scenario has passages on Turkish food, Turkish kitchen, Turkish wine, Turkish gays, there are also Italian architectural elements in Prinkipo island at the turn of 20th Century and the problem of energy supply security, as well as protection of nearby environment.

This scenario is completely fiction, it explains local energy / environmental concerns and intended to draw attention to the energy/ environmental problems in a small island near Istanbul.

Film starts depicting, Architect Ayşe (40+ years of age Turkish-American woman) living in New York, with her Italian-American husband, Al (Aldo) Fretelli, in ferry from Bostancı (Anatolian side of Istanbul) to Büyükada (Prinkipo island in ancient times for Buyukada, Prince islands), expedition begins with images of the city line services aboard ship. The camera approaches to luggage tags. JFK-Istanbul THY Turkish airline luggage tags appear. They landed a few hours ago. Couple have 2 little cute girls at 5-7 years old with them.

Ferry arrives to Büyükada seaport/ docks, Ayse meets her mother and father. They pull wheeled luggage at a crowded square, enter the crowded queue of horse carts. Ayşe her mother and her small daughter in one cab, Al his father-in-law and eldest daughter of Aldo on the other cab to ride. Horse Carts leave from the travel range, they pass by Hotel Splendid Palas and Anatolia Club, along the way watching magnificent old stone houses (mansions) built mostly designed by Italian architects at the turn of 20thcentury. Father-in-law owns the stone house by an Italian architecture at the end of the road.

House helper rushes to open the gate and carry the luggage. Together, they pass to a large balcony overlooking the sea, the cold white wine is serves, women in the kitchen rush for dinner. Guys wear kitchen aprons, help to slice bread, make salad, cut melon, and watermelon, nothing more. They sing together Puccini opera arias, which is in the environment from a CD player.

Ayşe’s American husband, the groom (Italian American AL / Aldo Fretelli), is an important International Hedge Fund manager in New York. He is well educated, well trained, very rich and very intellectual. Ayşe has Post-Doc degree in Architecture and old house renovations from the University of Firenze in Italy, so Ayse speaks Italian as well as English and Turkish. Conversations continue in mixture of Italian, English, Turkish languages.

Ayşe's father, a medical doctor, with the money he has earned from his clinic, had invested in healthcare / hospital industry. Early evening time his son, Ayşe’s brother Ali and his young wife come. Ladies exaggerate the cooking work in kitchen. Ali makes salad, in the meantime he explains the local investment climate to his brother-in- law. They have new investment in IT sector but they need to find a new investment sector. Local IT sector is very competitive, energy sector may create new opportunities to earn more money.

Properly cooled local white wines are served, while Aldo has 2 each Italian Barberesko wines with himself, bought in Airport duty-free brought as present for his hosts. After white wines, they open up the Italian red wines first, each takes half-cup, then taste. After they open up local red quality wines, of Öküzgözü, Boğazkere, KalecikKarası grapes. Other invited guests of Prinkipo island appear at the gate, academics, gay couples, rich Turkish/ Jewish businessmen/ businesswomen with their spouses, speaking in French/ English/ Italian/ Turkish in the highly educated intellectual environment. Sisyphus of Prinkipo and his wife enters the environment, they bring a cup of fresh bean dish.

The family house/ mansion is almost 100-year old stone structure with high ceilings also the work of an Italian architect. Trotsky mansion is also known as "Arab Izzet Pasha mansion" the first owner, designed by Architect Nicholas Dimadis, construction completed in year 1885, is located adjacent. Guests talk about Trotsky, the period of his stay in Prinkipo island between 1929-1933. They talk about those years. Then they discuss about how to renovate Trotsky mansion without disturbing the original structure.

Environment consistently have filled with sounds of Puccini operas via CD player. A young girl enters, the room, turns off the CD player and starts to play Beethoven's 3rd piano concerto from her memory. In the end of that impromptu piano solo concert, they all applaud the young pianist.

American husband / wife Ayşe and AL, sleep long/late hours on the morning the next day. The window is open, the smell of the sea and nearby pine tree forest is in their sleeping room, the children rush in the room with pleasure. Breakfast is in a large spacious balcony. Helpers do act as if they are family members / relatives in comfort. There is an old but fit gardener / caretaker in the garden.

They leave the family mansion around noon time. They visit new exhibition in Çınar (Maple) square, “Islands- Buildings- Architects” on magnificent architectural stone buildings of the past, most of them are designed/ and/or built by Italian/ Greek/ Jewish Architects at the turn of 20th century. They examine the pictures/ photos/ documents/ designed in the exhibition. Buildings are beautiful but old, dilapidated so they all need renovation. It is not possible to sell those houses to foreigners with no reciprocity agreements, so new application is long term leasing say for 49 years. They admire the Mizzi Palace which was designed by Italian architect Raimondo T. D’Aronco, who was also Royal Architect of Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamit-II.

They feel that there is a growing commercial / business capacity in the island for restoration/ renovation works of the old mansions/ houses.

At noon time, they go to Prinkipo SanPasifiko Italian Roman Catholic church (by Italian architect Domenico Giorgio Stampa, built in 1862) for weekly Tuesday ritual.

The Italian priest, Father Don Fellice meets the couple. He prays for them, then they all listen to Organ Church music. The organist of the San Pacifico church, Turkish / Italian young Renato plays "Je t'aime, moi non plus" passages within the player, Don Felice has half angry, half-scolding manner with his eyes.,

Fener Greek Patriarchate has received the ownership of the former Greek Orphanage -which was by Levantine French architect Alexander Vallauri. Ayşe receives the work order for its restoration (New York City architect, Nicholas Koutsomitis).

The New York Times, newspaper has released an article on this subject in the summer months. They climb the KadıYoran(Tired Judge?) slope in the late afternoon as the sun sets, through the path/road of Lovers, and TÜRKYILMAZ street route. They go to the old Greek orphanage, watch the old building outside, dilapidated wooden building, biggest wooden structure in Europe, second biggest in the world. The Patriarchate has received the ownership, but could not raise funds for renovation which has an estimated budget of 50 million U.S. Dollars.

The following day early in the morning, they plan 8-km cycling/ bike tour around the island, they arrive to Lunapark square at the middle of the island, witness an unfortunate accident of an inexperienced local not wearing bicycle helmet with a horse cart.

A young local girl is injured and transferred by ambulance to Büyükada Public hospital. Ambulance passes through path where Sisyphus (your writer) is collecting litter -plastic pets / glass / metal box.

At the square, they lock their bikes to a side pole. They climb the Slope of Misery (or Torture) leading to Aya Yorgi (Hagia Yorgi) Monastery - designed by Greek Architect Kapetanakis, construction completed in year 1906.
While climbing the Torture slope to AyaYorgi Monastery, they do not look back, they do not speak, they only prey to what they believe. Ayse explains, "Future is shaped by expectations, you ask/ pray/ request the best for yourself, for your loved ones, you get the best in time.” AL confirms, "Very true, but as in the economy, in this regard there was also a Nobel Prize in Economics in year 1995, for this principle given to Robert E. Lukas," he said.

They put light on candles for realization wishes of their prays in the monastery. The priest read the prayer, they pray. Don Felice of SanPasifiko is now the master in AyaYorgi / the same actor, with orthodox priest costume.

On the hill, they watch the Sea of Marmara and high flying migratory birds coming from Europe going to Africa, with some resting time on Old Greek Orphanage roofs.

They come back to LunaPark (merry-go-round) square, they take back their bikes. They ride towards Former Turkish PM "Fethi Okyar" House (architect Sedat Hakki Eldem, construction completed in year 1938), they pass by ViranBağ, then they arrive to South Park former old garbage dump, then they give a break in the recreational public park area, at south end of Prinkipo island.

Aldo is an important Hedge Fund manager in New York city, he says, "This place is empty, owned by the state land, or the Treasury". Asks his wife, 'What is the estimated area of this park?, Ayşe responded,"Probably 100 acres". (In fact, 10 acres). AL responds, "Here is a nice investment set up to build a new state-of-art nuclear power plant with 1000 MWe electricity output, adds “let’s see how we can do it.”

Ayşe says "Don't be silly," she adds, "You need to have at least 400 acres for 1000 MWe Nuclear power plant, could you get construction permission, in city of Istanbul?"

AL answers, "That would be great, it's a hard rock bottom, we fill the rest of the sea a little, we place heavy load on solid rock island floor, we put light weights on the filling construction, we generate 1000 MWe of electricity, and transfer to main land through 3km coastal HVDC cables, it is easy at about 300+ US Dollar per meter cost at current market plus some auxiliaries, to transmission transformer on the other end of the channel. We supply power to all Istanbul to almost 15 million people, we have supply security, You have ever raising energy prices due to very expensive Russian natural gas. We do not have environmental pollution, we can manage waste disposal and security with high technology, no problem, lots of money.”

He adds, "We need to learn more about Turkish energy / investment incentive legislation, then we need to meet with the Minister of Energy and Chairman of the Energy Markets Regulatory Board in Ankara. We need to find an experienced and financially secure local partner company in energy investments. Your family is good in health / hospital/ IT sector, but Energy is a new investment sector for them. Let me explain the situation here to my British partners, Lord Humphrey (head of the British financial group) and Sir Barnard responsible for energy investments, (names adapted from ”Yes Minister” BBC TV serials)."

We need to find local investor partners for sharing risks with us, and help/teach us. Your father mentioned a local friend who got involved in similar thermal power plants, where environmentalists have objected, by talking to him we may learn more about business and investment climate. He has experience, he knows how this type of investment is realized, how to get license, how to get land expropriation if/where necessary".

Later in the day, they visit Hamidiye Mosque (construction completed 1895, architect unknown, Raimondo T. D'Aronco?) Imam Mesut Bakhtiyar Effendi (same actor playing the priest role), usually on the mosque backyard, playing football with the local kids. He responded to the angry pious believers, "Children's voices are not bothered by the Great God!"says. He tells about the importance on the environmental sensitivity in Friday prayers. Most of the Muslim male roles/characters go to Friday prayers. Writer / restaurateur, begins local environmental organization to oppose Nuclear power plant investment on the island.

Closure. The end of the movie:

We all know that NPP is a long term investment. Financing, tendering, construction, operation are all very difficult. Waste disposal and security problems are not yet solved. On the other hand, the island's south coast is very deep, the landfill is not possible, parking space is very small for nuclear power plant construction. Nuclear / thermal power plant can’t be installed, however a small solar power plant with a capacity of maximum 10-MWe can be installed. Wind power plants can’t be installed, because on the air corridor above the island of Prinkipo, perhaps thousands of migratory birds fly every year from Europe to Africa, which continued for millions of years on the natural route. Wind turbines, propellers, if mounted on the island hills, perish thousands of birds while passing, and wind turbines can’t work, they immediately deteriorate. Solar panels can be placed in front of the empty construction site on AyaNikola beach. Solar power plant can be established here to generate electricity for the people of the Prinkipo island for their domestic household electricity needs.

I got no response yet from “Ferzan Ozpetek”. I wonder if it helps to change “Italian ALDO” character to "Jewish Aaron" with Sefarat heritage, whose family emigrates to New York from Prinkipo at the turn of the 20th century. His old relatives still live in Prinkipo island. So I tell about more details of Jewish Prinkipo culture. They go to “Hesed Le’Avraam” Synagogue in Prinkipo- (built in 1904 designed by Gabriel Tedeschi, contractor Behar Parali) for Saturday praying, where they meet with local Rabbi, the same actor who played priest and imam earlier. I wonder, if the world famous Director "Woody Allen" gets interested with our draft scenario? Could he shoot a similar movie to "Midnight in Paris" in Prinkipo?? For example, say "A Tale of Prinkipo". This may also help to reduce unnecessary tension between Israel and Turkey.

Sisyphus of Prinkipo Island, August 2011


Haluk Direskeneli, is a graduate of METU Mechanical Engineering department (1973). He worked in public, private enterprises, USA Turkish JV companies (B&W, CSWI, AEP), in fabrication, basic and detail design, marketing, sales and project management of thermal power plants. He is currently working as freelance consultant/ energy analyst with thermal power plants basic/ detail design software expertise for private engineering companies, investors, universities and research institutions. He is a member of ODTÜ Alumni and Chamber of Turkish Mechanical Engineers Energy Working Group.

It was early WWII period in Istanbul


They were two small girls. Time was early WWII period in Istanbul. Seaside district Caddebostan was getting very popular at summer time. Two girls were in an old Ottoman mansion at the seaside, where the Ministry of Education used this mansion as summer camp for successful schoolgirls, as reward for their hardwork. Poor but successful girls of elementary schools were invited based on their accomplishments.

"Hadiye" was also one of those chosen successful few. Her mother was the only surveyor of the wealthy family of Bosnia in WWI, who were forced to leave their estates in one day with limited belongings. She arrived to Istanbul after a long and dangereous walk for more than 3000 miles. She had only her old aunt with her. In Istanbul, she got married with Abdulkadir bey, Istanbul Fatih court staff. They had one daughter, Hadiye. Abdulkadir Bey passed away shortly due to early hearth attack. Mother Fatma Muzeyyen Hanim earned life as tailor for housewifes of the district. Her only daughter Hadiye was a shy, thin girl and very successful in the school.

The other girl was from rich strata of the other Istanbul. "Gönül" was attending to a private expensive reputable elementary school in rich Nisantasi district. Her father Abdurrahman Bey was a rich successful businessman. He had a textile plant in Yesildirek to produce underwares and its marketing organisation. Her mother was an educated housewife with some rheumatismatic health problems. That year parents decided to go to a health clinic in one of Romanian hot springs. They decided to send Gonul to the same summer camp provided that they pay some contribution for general expenses.

Two girls become friends shortly. Their beds were next to each other. That summer was extraordinary time for them. They swam at the sea, played together. They dreamed future, getting education, visiting foreign lands, getting married, having children. Every morning they looked at each others eyes in order to have a good day ahead.

At the end of the summer camp, they exchanged their postal addresses, promising to write a letter each week, and they kept that promise. One day, Gonul took the public tramway and she visited her friend in their small house at the other end of the city. Mother Fatma Muzeyyen hanim prepared a vageterian lunch for them since it was only available with their budget. Later the day, they talked, played, and walked at the nearby Zeytinburnu seaside.

The next week, the first time in her life, Hadiye took the tramway, and came to the other end of the city, Harbiye ValiKonagi Street, very popular rich section of the city. Gonul lived with her family in a new apartment flat, next to Govener's mansion. Housemaids, cook, and driver served them. They invited Hadiye to their weekend lunch. Hadiye answered their questions in short and smart responses. Family has happy for that friendship, and they encouraged for their weekend meetings. In the afternoon, they walked down to the main street and watched a new foreign film.

The following 4-years, they exchanged reciprocal monthly visits and weekly letters to each other. One day Gonul stopped sending letters. Hadiye was so worried that she took public tramway and went to their house. Door was openned by the elder sister. Ayse said the bad news with pale white face. Hadiye left apartment and cried nonstop on the way back, and more on the days after.

That springtime, parents decide to start cleanup and maintenance in their summer house in the Prince Islands, on the Sea of Marmara, near Istanbul. Gonul joins the helpers that weekend. Weather is relatively hot. She decides to swim at the seafront. However on the same day, the nearby senatorium disposes the dangereous winter refuses into the sea. She gets infected, although immediately hospitalised, but cannot be saved.

Hadiye never forgot her childhood girl friend. She prayed for her all her life. She attended to schools and became a teacher on Turkish Literature. She got married and had children.

On a hot summer night, on the same seashore of Istanbul, where that big old Ottoman mansion was at the back, full moon raised between the Prince Islands on the front, she told this story to her elder son.

Caddebostan, August 2005


Haluk Direskeneli, is a graduate of METU Mechanical Engineering department (1973). He worked in public, private enterprises, USA Turkish JV companies (B&W, CSWI, AEP), in fabrication, basic and detail design, marketing, sales and project management of thermal power plants. He is currently working as freelance consultant/ energy analyst with thermal power plants basic/ detail design software expertise for private engineering companies, investors, universities and research institutions. He is a member of ODTÜ Alumni and Chamber of Turkish Mechanical Engineers Energy Working Group.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Crush Course to Reduce Culture Shock in North America (1991)


My first business trip to Canada was in early 90's. It was for a new order in Eregli Iron & Steel plant for BFG firing high steam output capacity steam boiler contract at home. My Canadian host company Babcock &Wilcox of Canada, reserved a hotel room in Cambridge Holiday Inn, and rental car reservation for transportation. They told me that I would have an easy time. Easy, for a Canadian national, Maybe !

I would go directly to the rent-a-car company Hertz desk, introduce myself, show my local driving license, sign documents, get the car, drive to Cambridge, Ontario, and the Hotel, then I get a good- long good night's sleep, and feel fresh refreshed for my meetings on the next day.

What could go wrong? Since I was All fixed, reserved, prepared.

I landed at Toronto International around midnight. I cleared customs, and then headed for Hertz. Nearly an hour passed for clearing customs before I could head over to the Hertz Rent-a-Car.

The lady behind the counter approved my passport and local driving license.
Then she asked what type of car I would prefer.

Here were the reasonable choices and the most expensive one. I accepted the latter since I was traveling on my company's expense account.

Everything seemed to me normal, and reasonable. She said, the brand new Ford
Taurus was full accessory/fully accessorized, insuranced, and had a full
tank of gas. and gave me the car key and a directional map from Toronto international to the Holiday Inn in Cambridge. Everything seemed so easy.

--Good build up. We just know that nothing is going to be easy for a newcomer.

A company driver took me to my rental car in a big parking lot next to the airport. The biggest car lot I have ever seen in my life. Bigger than our soccer stadium at home.

All cars, no human. I was left with a big car, Ford Taurus latest, zero mileage, full accessory, air-conditioning, and full car radio set. However I was looking at the car desperately, thinking how to run. At 2 AM the lot was deserted. I was left in front of a brand new Ford Taurus. I had assumed that the car would have stick shift but when I climb in behind the steering wheel, I realized that it was an automatic. It was my first experience with such a car.

How am I going to drive this car, 100 miles or more to my hotel? I looked for someone to help me. At last, I saw a teenager at the other end of the car park, washing the returned cars.

I walked over and asked him to teach me how to drive an automatic car. He first had some difficulty in understanding my foreign accent, then looked at me and said "Easy", /EASY!" without any humiliation in his voice. I appreciated him very much for his attitude. His attitude was helpful and I did not feel humiliated.

In my car, he briefly instructed me on the gas, brakes and the sticks "drive" position. Then he said "Good luck" and departed.

Feeling the effects of jet lag after a 12-hour flight over the Atlantic, I test drove the Taurus fives times around the parking lot and still not totally sure of my ability to drive, I headed for Cambridge, Ontario.

Luckily there wasn't much traffic - but so many traffic lights and directional signs at the airport junction that I was confused and forgot what I'd read on the map..

At home it is easy. You just stop at a gas station and ask directions. Here, I couldn't find one. On the big 4-5-lane highway, I chose a direction, and luckily I made a correct decision.

On the road, I discovered North American country music. At first I thought I was listening to the same song being played over and over, later on I became a fan.

The next culture shock also was due to the discovery of air conditioning, at home we open a window and all our small roads we don't need cruise control either. By 5 AM, I arrived in Cambridge and found the Holiday Inn.

Traffic, wide roads, automatic transmission, powerful radio, music yes country music, as if it was non-stop same tune at first. The first time listened to country music and it was as if a non-stop same music. Then I loved and became fan of it.

What is air-conditioning?? At home you open up the windows that is it.
Car was almost double of my own car. I felt like a redneck truck driver.

What is cruise control? All non-sense for me.
We do not have that long highway that time.

You could imagine my dilemma at 0100hrs. but imagine the drama if it had been six hours later. If it was snowing. Anyhow I succeeded in my mission, so I could congratulate with myself for showing the same pioneer spirit as those first intrepid North Americans when they coaxed their covered wagons westwards. I admire any person from a different culture who ventures into the mad, mad arena of the other civilizations. Perhaps, one day, I should sit down and write a travel book on ways to make life easier for new arrivals to an alien environment.

Anyhow sometime early AM hours are good for learning how to drive a automatic car, how to learn Canadian traffic signs, how to find correct direction, start how to enjoy North American country music. Today here in my home country, we have similar highways. My latest car has cruise control, air condition plus CD playing capability. Time changes fast.

Ankara, 13 May, 2015

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Direct face-to-face verbal communication is the secret of success in international relations. (Moscow 1976)

Dear Readers,

After spending more than 40 years in the business environment, I sincerely believe that “Communication” is an art. “Communication” is everything in business. The ability to communicate distinguishes human beings from all other living creations. It is the key in “International Relations”, and this is why we created shuttle diplomacy. This is also why “indifference” can be an effective weapon in defeating your opponents, and why “precious loneliness” is not a solution in diplomacy.

I was in a 3-month technical training program in Moscow in 1976, during the pure, romantic Brezhnev years. I still believe that Moscow was the real Moscow at that time, not like now, as it has become a city similar to those seen in the rest of the world. People were true believers of their system. I was one of a few westerners in the capital and was trying to learn Russian. However, most Muscovites were eager to speak English with me, hence I faced the same dilemma faced by countless foreigners who try to speak the language of their host country, wherever it may be. Therefore, I had no chance to speak Russian.

I was staying at University Hotel (Gastrinistza Universitetskaya) close to the monumental post-WW2 building that was Moscow University. It was a - very - cold winter, the city was blanketed in snow. But the Russians seemed to be comfortable with the snow and the cold. The city was host to immense stone houses, district heating, an excellent public transportation system, and reasonable accommodation, food, and secure jobs for everyone. Its residents had no idea about the outside world. They had vodka, they had books to read and records to listen to; they were happy.

By the way, they also had extraordinary art, namely ballet - Russian ballet. The very next day after my arrival in Moscow I went to the ticket box of Bolshoi Theatre to check the program and inquire about ticket availability. There was a long line, I cannot recall now exactly how long it was, but people waited day and night for these tickets, whether they were for an opera, ballet, or symphony orchestra performance. I could not understand how people could wait in that ticket line for so long in such cold temperatures, especially considering that sometimes they weren’t even able to get a ticket because they were sold out.

My expectations to see a real Russian ballet in at the Bolshoi Theatre were dashed. It was impossible for me to buy a ticket. I might have been able to buy a ticket on the black market but I didn’t have enough practice speaking Russian to do this.

I checked to see if our hotel facilities could help in any way and found out that they had a service bureau to help foreigners. This bureau was under the direction of (Comrade) Tovarish Nina, and it employed three ladies in its staff, Victoria, Natalia and Galia. Victoria could speak English, Natasha Spanish, and Galia German, yet each also had a fair knowledge of the other two languages that could be used in case of emergency. I communicated well with Victoria and she eventually came to help me familiarize myself with Moscow. She was married with kids and working in the hotel service bureau. I asked her if the service bureau could help me to buy a ticket to see a ballet, opera of concert at the Bolshoi. The answer was a resounding "Nyet!!" It was impossible.

We learnt that the hotel management received a few tickets for every performance and allocated them to special foreign visitors. The distribution of these prized tickets was unconditionally left to Lady Director Tovarish Nina. Yet Tovarish Nina was unapproachable. She was in charge of everything. She had power over everything including the distribution of the Bolshoi tickets. After one month in Moscow, I was completely helpless. I could not get my hands on a ticket to the Bolshoi despite having tried everything, connections, the embassy, even the black market. There was no hope. When it comes to ballet, you cannot bribe a Russian. This artform was more valuable than any other worldly possession. They could stand for days and days in a ticket line just to have the chance to purchase one ticket for a performance, regardless of which performance it was.

I had only communicated with Victoria as she could speak English. Yet one day I had an idea. I could speak directly with Lady Director Tovarish Nina in her own language. Since she was employed in the service bureau, she must be able to speak at least one western language. Yet which one? I found out that she could speak French. She had majored in French at Moscow University. I had taken some French courses at my university but had forgotten almost everything. I had to brush up on these skills as soon as possible if I were to be able to communicate directly with Lady Director Tovarish Nina. I then decided to turn to my foreign colleagues to help me in this endeavor. We had one engineer from a region in Africa that fell under French cultural influence, namely the country of Ghana. He had good command of written French but spoke French in his own local West African dialect. Anyhow, this was only a minor problem and I needed to polish my French as soon as possible. So I asked him to teach me some important French phrases to break the ice with the director. I practiced those phrases for one week in my free time and one early morning, when Tovarish Nina arrived in her office, I entered and greeted her in French, "Bonjour Madame, je m'appelle Haluk d'Ankara en Turquie. Comment allez-vous?" In the conversation that came to follow, I addressed her as "Madame Nina". Madame Nina was very happy that day as during that time, there were no French speaking guests in the hotel, yet today she was able to speak her foreign language with a foreign visitor.

She told me about her time at University, her work as a tour guide for French politicians, her meeting with the famous French pop singer Gilbert Bécaud, her current job, her family, her husband, and her kids. She was no longer Tovarish, she was my French Lady Madame Nina and I was one of her special foreign guests in the hotel. The next day I asked her about tickets for the Bolshoi, and even though I was expecting to receive, at most, only one ticket, she gave me one ticket each remaining week of that month I stayed in Moscow. Carmen, Prince Igor, LaBoheme, SwanLake, I had access to them all. Bolshoi Theatre was (and still is) a cultural temple, unmatched anywhere else. You should take a round trip to Moscow, just to see a performance at this site, whether it be a ballet, an opera or a concert.

I believe that face-to- face verbal communication is an art in international relations as well as in international business. Today, one foreign language is not enough. One should learn two, three or more languages. Learning one language does not hinder your ability to speak another. Verbal communication is the key to success in your business life.

Thank you very much Madame Nina after all these years.

Oberstdorf, Germany, 29 April 2015

Haluk Direskeneli, is a graduate of METU Mechanical Engineering department (1973). He worked in public, private enterprises, USA Turkish JV companies (B&W, CSWI, AEP), in fabrication, basic and detail design, marketing, sales and project management of thermal power plants. He is currently working as freelance consultant/ energy analyst with thermal power plants basic/ detail design software expertise for private engineering companies, investors, universities and research institutions. He is a member of ODTÜ Alumni and Chamber of Turkish Mechanical Engineers Energy Working Group.
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