Wheat Harvest, Storms, and Food

June 18, 2015

The holy month of Ramadan started today. So from now on, I am on my own for all meals. In the morning I treated myself to a pop tart before heading to work. There was a slight miscommunication so I came an hour before I was supposed to. This meant I got to sit quietly in lab and observe the others. None of them speak English so it was difficult to understand exactly what was being done. There are five people in this lab. Büşra, Ümit, Sevil, Ekrem, and Halil. A few of them are with CIMMYT and the others are with the Ministry of Agriculture.

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Ümit and Sevil were sitting at microscopes. They let me take a look and I saw what looked like small brown circles. These are the cysts of Cereal Cyst Nematodes. Each on houses hundreds of nematode eggs.

Later Dr. Gul Abla arrived and informed me that I would be harvesting wheat from the green house with Sevil Hanim (Hanim means Mrs.). We got the pots out of the green house, cut of the spikes/heads, and then ran them through a thresher. The machine wasn’t highly effective, so the process took longer than expected. Occasionally we would go into the lab for scheduled breaks.

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Right before lunch break, Dr. Gul Abla, Dr. Amer, Mark, and Joe came to tell me they would be going to Ankara in a few hours to meet with individuals about Joe’s project. Mark also told me he would be leaving on Sunday for Australia. After saying goodbye, I went to the guest house for lunch. I cooked rice in the morning and ate it with a spicy peanut powder my mom made for me before I left. Much to my disappointment, the rice was horrible. It was wet and sticky, very different from the rice I eat at home. I figured I didn’t cook it for long enough, and forced myself to finish the food.

After lunch, I went back to lab and repeated the same process to harvest wheat. Around 3:30 we heard thunder so we moved our work station inside the green house. Within 20 minutes it began to rain. Initially the rain was light but it gradually turned to a big storm, and finally it began to hail. At this point, Sevil Hanim and I decided we needed to get indoors to be safe. As soon as the hail stopped we ran inside.

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When the work day ended, I went to the student room in the institute to call my parents. I haven’t had any Wi-Fi till today so it was a big relief to finally get to talk to them. Unfortunately the Wi-Fi connection is not very good. I was only able to access certain apps on my phone. Through google hangout, I called home but the connection kept giving out. After an hour of broken conversation I went back to the guest house. I was really worried about what to do for dinner because the rice was near inedible, all the stores and restaurants nearby were closed, and I had no bread or other food. I went to the kitchen to scout out my options and found Ümit and his family preparing dinner. (Mom-Cennet; son-Melih, daughter-Zeynep)

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They don’t speak English so we used Google Translate to communicate. I asked Cennet Abla how she cooked the rice and she prepared it exactly as I did. At the end of our conversation Ümit invited me to dinner with his family. This was such a big gift and relief. Around 8:30, when the fasting ended for the day, I joined the family for a lentil soup, bread, and green gram rice. I got to know his kids, heavily relying on Google Translate. I stayed for tea with the family before heading to bed.

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