10 February 2008

A minor identity crisis from a long time ago

I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.
The Beatles, I Am the Walrus, 1967

A recurring theme in the nobelist Orhan Pamuk's novels involves identity switches between people. In The White Castle, a Venetian scientist trades places with an Ottoman scholar; in The Black Book, the protagonist assumes the identity of his journalist cousin and starts writing essays under his name.

More than 30 years ago, I personally experienced an identity switch of sorts, but unlike those in Pamuk's plots, mine is worth only a blog post.

It was the summer of 1977 and I was starting an internship in the chemistry laboratory of the textile factory in the city of Aydın in Turkey (yes, the city they named after me). On the first day they asked me for a photograph of myself for an ID card that was to be issued the following day. Back at home that evening, I mulled over my 2 choices: I could either waste time and money to get a picture of myself taken or use something already available around the house. But the only "suitable" picture I could find was a photograph of my cousin Metin that he had given me as a memento a few weeks earlier. It was an easy decision.

The next morning, I showed up at the factory, handed in "my" photograph while mumbling a preemptive excuse that it was not a recent picture lest someone noticed the lack of close resemblance between me and the person in the photograph. The man took it without so much as glancing at it. A few hours later, I had my ID card for the Kimya Lab. at Aydın Tekstil.


Ever since then, this card of mixed identities (still in existence, although now faded and discolored) has been a source of chuckles within the family.

But, seriously, who did that card really represent on those hot and muggy summer mornings when it was presented to the guard at the gate? Was it just me who showed up for work at the factory every morning for several weeks or was a part of Metin also tagging along me?


O. B. Sirius said...

1. Why does it say "Aydin Tekstil" beneath Aydin Orstan?
2. You really must publish a real photo of yourself circa 1977. Please?


"Aydin Tekstil" is the name of the factory, i.e., Aydin Textile.

There is a picture of me from the late 1970s in this post.

O. B. Sirius said...

You have changed! That's a good thing.