Posted by: mollyscafeistanbul | August 27, 2009

people on my street (2)

when i lived in oregon, we put out our recyclables in boxes marked for each kind (metal, glass, plastic).  here in istanbul, recycling is done the old-fashioned way– scavengers.  i have been told several times that these men are paid by the city and that they also get a per kilo price for what they pick up.  some of these men pull large metal frames with a huge plastic reinforced sack on it and some push carts.  every day from molly’s cafe i hear “hurda!  hurdaci”.  those are the men who collect scrap metal.  they pay a little for bigger pieces.  they are often older men and some of them carry a small sack that they then take back to their cart.  the other collectors don’t call out and they can often be seen at the places where garbage is dumped, sorting for their specialties– plastic, cardboard, paper. one evening, just down from molly’s cafe, another cafe was emptying out their storage. the whole street was full of cardboard and two or three collectors were very methodically filling their huge bags, often getting in and jumping on the load to condense it.  just the other day a young man was going down the hill by molly’s cafe and was letting the slope carry him and his loaded bag on the cart.  he was making good time!

i think the notion of recycling is very old here, but it is just not called that.  there have always been garbage pickers for one reason or another.  the men are looked down on, of course, and i  wouldn’t care to get too close to one due to the smell, but i saw one man on his off time with his family and they looked fairly well to do.  on the other hand, there is one who hangs out on the corner near my street, often drinking wine or whatever he can get his hands on, and he does not look like he has another life.  also, there are a few women garbage collectors.  one is rather thin and gets around well enough.  another one is older and her head is  bowed due to a spine deformity of some sort.  they are respected as much as the other ones and often they are preferred as they do their rounds.

i think these people have their own territories, as i see the same ones come by molly’s cafe.  occasionally i have something to throw on a hurdaci’s cart and am thanked for whatever i toss on.  i am glad they relieve the garbage load before it is dumped out of the trucks.   i also want to point out here that the city itself has some garbage points where the garbage is dumped on a conveyor belt, where it is picked over again before it is dumped for good.  you can imagine the amount of garbage a city of 20 million people can produce! the garbage collectors will never go out of business.

hurdaci checking for useful junk

hurdaci checking for useful junk


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