It appears that a number of first-time visitors may be having qualms about visiting Turkey. In order to address their concerns, gleaned from reputable sources (amongst which I include the Foreign Office), I have gone over my notes on how I and a British friend who was staying with me survived the last election day. My notes aren't definitive and my memory is hazy in places, but this is what I remember happening. Prepare yourselves accordingly.
We got up at 7 and all seemed normal so we had a quick breakfast, and my friend locked herself up in her room with a case full of booze and some sandwiches. Fortunately I had had someone come in the previous week to strengthen the frame and install a steel door to her room, as well as shatter-proof glass in the windows.
At the stroke of 8, I felt myself begin to change - a feeling I knew was shared by everyone in Turkey. I felt stronger, bolder, more alive. The first thing I did was pound on my guest's door, demanding to be let in, but the door was too strong for me. I gave up after two hours.
Unsated, I put on my armour, grabbed my machine gun and loped down the stairs. From the hospital next door came the sweet screams of people being vivisected, while a group in front of the grocer's close by was playing Russian roulette with his customers, though he had started to shutter the shop even before he noticed me licking my chops. The streets were empty of buses because buses don't work on election day in Turkey, and cars were few and far between because petrol is only sold in bottles stuffed with rags for easy lighting. Too much drooling had given me a thirst, so I approached a public fountain but the water dried up as pumping stations gave up one by one.
I made my way slowly, sometimes avoiding snipers, other times quietly strangling them with my traditional garotte (available at the Grand Bazaar and most malls), towards the building which normally serves as a primary school, and where people would be "voting" that day. The closer I got, the more dangerous it became. Like everyone else, I made a point of "neutralising" anyone whose look I didn't approve of, and I was, obviously, successful. But then, I'm a survivor; I've been through a lot of Election Days in Turkey.
The school was already in flames when I entered, which annoyed me. I remember thinking that fires like that are best appreciated in the evening, against a darkling sky. The closer I got to the room where I would be "voting", the greater the pressure behind my eyeballs. Soon, I could see only in shades of grey and red. Finally, I entered the classroom to find someone had already slaughtered the various parties' observers and chewed the ballot box open.
This is where it starts to get hazy, and I'm not sure what exactly I did for the rest of the day. Some months after the election, papers finally reported that planes had plummeted from the sky, new mothers had stopped lactating, some politicians had sacrificed their newborns, amongst other things. Oh - and when the polls closed and it was time to celebrate, a million or so tourists, too brave or foolish to barricade themselves in their rooms, had been roasted and eaten - Election Kebab is a delicacy that is available only once every two years or so and no-one wants to miss it. As the Turkish saying goes, "There are no vegetarians on Election Day". One very sneaky tourist with some delicious-looking young relatives got away by using a magic carpet, but most were yummy roast. Personally, I though the livers were particularly juicy in 2017, if a tad underspiced. But then I ate the cook too, so I remember feeling finally sated.
After dinner, I vaguely recall sitting outside and watching the special meteor shower. I did notice a few groups of people blowing buildings up to add to the glory of a burning city, and other groups committing suicide together but I didn't join. There's always another election in Turkey, and, if I'm lucky, another delicious meal.
Late the morning after, I came to, my fever abated. I knocked at my guest's door (which was scarred by my attempts to enter) and she asked with a tremulous voice whether the referendum was over. I laughed and told her everything was fine. And it was, other than for the fire brigade. And it took a month to get the electricity going again.
Whatever people may have read, election days (and the periods preceding and following them) in Turkey are not a cross between The Purge and The Hunger Games. Just because a) elections in *your* country are violent or b) because you feel Turkey is strange and therefore dangerous doesn't make Election Day any different. Other than the sale, provision or consumption of booze in public places being prohibited - plus various other things that don't apply to non-Turks - nothing really changes. Except... except... WE VOTE - something we do pretty regularly, without hazard to ourselves or any visitors.
So please, by all means, continue to post questions asking whether Turkey will be safe around the election date, or whether your tour will be affected, etc. A lot of you are first time visitors, and Turkey has a certain image abroad. And we are here - some (not me) in a more official capacity - to help you out. In fact I commend you for having the guts to visit a country where you fear odd things might happen to you.
But don't be offended if we find some of these questions surreal and respond with posts like these. I wish people would ask about what food to eat instead. In fact, I can recall a particular kebab...