I Met the Major of Edirne

Edirne, previously known as Adrianople, the old capital of the Ottoman Empire, nowadays was a small town with about 160 000 people. There are still grand mosques and ancient buildings from the Greek and Roman times. Most foreigners have never heard of it but as a matter of fact, its existence was as old as the Greek mythology.

All this was not what I looked up before my journey to Edirne. No, it was told to me by a major from the Turkish army, whose car I hitchhiked after the two party guys dropped me. The major and his soldier were in common clothes. They were calm people, with polite smiles.

“I am now studying English. I try to practice much. I just came from a lesson.” He said in slow but passable English.
“So you are going home?” I asked.
“Yes, I go home to see my wife and children. You, my friend, are you married?”
“No, I am not married, although I am 27. Perhaps later I will.”

Right, people, most people in Turkey, except those living in metropolises like Istanbul and Ankara, got married rather early, mostly before thirty. Although the major was even 2 years younger than me, he already had 2 children.

Sometimes I wonder, how it is like to be bound by family life. I have met so many people, especially from more traditional societies, like most parts of Turkey who are very content and happy with such a bond. Yet, they have different value systems than people do in Western Europe. Although sometimes I feel I might be missing something by always hanging on the road like a piece of feather always in the fluctuating wind, never knowing where I will land in 24 hours, I know deep in my heart that no, I will not like such a life bound by family obligations. My heart is simply too wild to be fastened by any chains, even the chains of love.

Ever since I left Istanbul that morning, the traffic was getting thinner and thinner, when the major asked his solider to turn for the road leading to the town of Edirne, I found myself the only thing moving on this lonesome but wide road for several minutes.

“Wasn’t it great?” I thought, “to be simply alone in a place you don’t know, with nobody but quietness and a mood for traveling, full of surprises, full of risks and full of the wild energy which creeps into your dreams when you return home from a journey and sleep in your own bed!”

The sun had lost its way somewhere in the Balkan sky. The view was anything but great. It was gloomy, gray and dry, as a proper winter should be. This was no place a tourist would be, but yet, a traveler might pass here and took a moment to appreciate everything which bought him hither.

I was having my quick lunch while this big old slow truck stopped and a Turkish uncle stuck his head outside and said something with a gesture. I climbed in. Hey, dear friends, trust me, there were nothing more comfortable than hitchhiking a Turkish truck to the border.

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