Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

x0x Making most of 'Turkish Roulette'

Expand Messages
  • Turkish Culture List
    [See more at: http://www.turkradio.us/k/sublime/] x0x Making most of Turkish Roulette Saturday, August 30, 2008 Briton Steve Pheby knows about the twists and
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 30 12:28 PM
      [See more at: http://www.turkradio.us/k/sublime/%5d

      x0x Making most of 'Turkish Roulette'

      Saturday, August 30, 2008

      Briton Steve Pheby knows about the twists and
      turns of life in Turkey. After years in the
      country's casino business, he says he has lived
      for the moment and found in Turkey a community
      that is unparalled in Europe. He and his friends
      have extended a helping hand to expatriates by
      reinvigorating a Web site that they began a few
      years ago

      ISTANBUL - Turkish Daily News

      Briton Steve Pheby moved to Turkey in the early
      1990s with 18 hours notice from an agency that
      placed him in an Izmir casino. Now years after
      many of Turkey's casinos have shut down, Pheby has
      stayed to be a part of his community and for the
      love of his new country, regardless of changes he
      has seen.

      One could say that Pheby's life nowadays is
      dedicated to helping expatriates put down roots in
      Turkey. As a manager at Asya International's
      relocation department, Pheby works with foreigners
      as they move here to work. As co-founder of one of
      Turkey's biggest expatriate Web sites,
      sublimeportal.com, he is helping expatriates to
      build community.

      In his mid-30's, Pheby has been in Turkey so
      long he has seen changes that few expatriates have
      witnessed, and from an interesting point of view.
      Pheby first came to Turkey to pursue a career in
      the then-booming casino industry after spending a
      year on a Kibbutz in Israel.

      Roll of the dice

      In fact the choice of country was purely
      coincidental. On his 21st birthday Pheby got a job
      on the Queen Elizabeth cruise ship. But two days
      before he was to board, the boat had an accident.
      So with 18 hours' notice I got a job at a casino
      in Izmir, Pheby recalled. [The employment
      agency] called me and asked Do you want to go and
      work at a casino in Izmir tomorrow morning?' I
      said yes.

      What would have been just two months of waiting
      and working until the boat got fixed turned into
      years. I ended up liking it here so I stayed,
      says Pheby.

      After a stint in Izmir, he landed a job at a
      casino in Tarabya in 1996. The move added another
      turn of fate in his relationship with Turkey.
      That's where I met my wife on the first night I
      worked there, says Pheby, She gave me a bus
      ticket home.

      Around that time, in 1997 the political tensions
      were on the rise, Pheby said. A casino owner was
      shot, the Susurluk scandal broke, and there were
      images of tanks rolling down the streets of a
      conservative city of Sincan on the outskirts of
      Ankara. The government wanted to make changes,
      says Pheby, so they closed casinos and over
      17,000 people lost their jobs overnight.

      Pheby and his wife spent the next few years
      between the UK and Turkey. The Briton said that
      despite the fact that he made a good deal of money
      in the casino business, his philosophy in life
      hadn't allowed him to become wealthy.

      I believe in living the moment, says Pheby. I
      made a fortune and still ended up with nothing.

      From casinos to astronomy to relocation

      Pheby admits that one of his passions is
      astronomy, a subject he has studied. So, when
      Pheby moved back to Istanbul in 2002 he started a
      decoration business painting the positions of
      stars ceilings with a special glow-in-the-dark
      paint, but it was hard to market, he confessed.
      You had to paint in the dark and black out the
      windows during the day to get the work done.

      It was in 2004 when one of the owners of Asya
      International, a removal firm approached him and
      brought him on to the sales team. But they had a
      small section on relocation doing virtually
      nothing, says Pheby. Then we landed our first
      big contract. It's just grown from one person
      doing it to 10 in Istanbul, two in Izmir and three
      in Ankara.

      We are expats who have gone through the process
      and can relate to what they are going through,
      says Pheby of the relationship his team has with
      its clients. And an expat feels more comfortable
      asking questions of an expat. The relocation team
      manages housing, residency permits, schools,
      lawyers, accountants We even have a 24-hour
      hotline to help: If they crash their car and don't
      know how to talk to the cops, for example, says

      The Briton said that as different countries make
      more and more investments, more foreigners have
      been moving to Turkey in the last few years.

      Pheby said he has noticed that there's a real
      difference between long-term and short-term
      expatriates. Those who are short-timers don't
      make a real effort to learn the language, notes
      Pheby. But when you do, so many doors open up for
      you, he said. You really get to learn the
      culture. People who are not committed for the
      long haul, according to Pheby, also lose the
      essence of Turkey. They are also a bit negative
      about living here and discriminate saying, Oh,
      it's a Turkish thing.' Pheby adds adamantly,
      It's a Mediterranean thing; it's a more relaxed

      When asked if the things he loves about Turkey
      have changed with time, just as the country has,
      he said when compared to North-western Europe,
      Turkey is still better in so many ways. Coming
      from Northern Europe, you have a sense of
      community here, said Pheby. People talk to their
      neighbors. Or for example he says that whereas by
      9:00 p.m. in England your only choice of an outing
      is going to the pub, here there are so many
      alternatives. You don't have to go out to drink,
      he said. And if you get mugged no one will help
      you in England, but here it's a different story.

      Once in a while Pheby joins the community of men
      in his neighborhood and stops by the local caf
      for a card game of Pisti. It's a great place to
      brush up on my working class Turkish and
      profanities, he says with a chuckle.

      Building a virtual community

      In 2004 Pheby and some of his friends started a
      Web site which is a community portal for expats
      and re-pats, as Turks who were born abroad and
      return to Turkey are called.

      The site started as expatinturkey.com with 900

      Then we decided it needed a fresh approach,
      said Pheby of the sublime portal that he and his
      expat friends launched in April. It boasts 250
      active members from all over the world between the
      ages of 25 and 50. We were even mentioned in the
      Lonely Planet, said Pheby.

      The name of the group comes from the Sublime
      Porte, the name of the open court of the sultan,
      led by the Grand Vizier. It got its name from the
      gate to the headquarters of the Grand Vizier in
      Topkapi Palace, where the sultan held the greeting
      ceremony for foreign ambassadors who assembled

      In the last few months the events of the group
      have had titles like: Dog event with humans,
      that's probably a bunch of expats with dogs going
      for a walk, said Pheby British summer fete,
      Boys' night in, South African lunch. The
      website has forums for language learners, the GLBT
      community, people interested in sports, and an
      International Women of Istanbul (IWI) section,
      among others.

      We wanted to be the expatriate site that is run
      and managed by expatriates, said Pheby.

      Having a community here has made life a lot
      more enjoyable and there are people from all
      sections of society (involved): From ESL teachers
      who are counting their pennies to CEOs, alcohol
      being the thing that keeps us together, said
      Pheby jokingly.

      [See more at: http://www.turkradio.us/k/sublime/%5d

      Copyright 2008, Turkish Daily News. This article
      is redistributed with permission for personal use
      of TurkC-L readers. No part of this article may be
      reproduced, further distributed or archived
      without the prior permission of the publisher.
      Contact: Turkish Daily News Online on the Internet
      World Wide Web. www.turkishdailynews.com . For
      information on other matters please contact
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.