Syed Tanvir Wasti. Reminiscences and Perspectives. STREAM-OF-CONSCIOUSNESS MUSINGS By Brian Stott. TANVIR, MANY APOLOGIES FOR MY ABSENCE AT THIS CELEBRATION. NEARLY HALF A CENTURY AFTER YOUR FIRST ARRIVAL AT METU.
Reminiscences and Perspectives
NEARLY HALF A CENTURYAFTER YOUR FIRST ARRIVAL AT METU
THE CIVIL ENGINEERING DEPARTMENT MUST ALSO BE CONGRATULATED ON YOUR RETIREMENT….
FOR HAVING KEPT SOMEONE WITH YOUR AMAZING ABILITIES IN ANKARA ALL THIS TIME
BUT, WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT IT ON YOUR RETIREMENT….
IT IS SURPRISING THAT SUCH AN INTERNATIONAL “HIGH-FLYER” DID COME BACK TO METU FROM CAMBRIDGE
SO, WE WILL HAVE A SHORT QUIZ ON YOUR RETIREMENT….
LET US SPECULATE ABOUT WHY TANVIR RETURNED TO METU
Silifke ON YOUR RETIREMENT….
1965-8, Elec. Eng., METU.
What a wonderful life it was in Turkey!
38 years later, after UK, Canada, Brazil and 25 kg
Perhaps I should introduce myself
Unfortunately, I do not have a photo of Tanvir from 1965 ON YOUR RETIREMENT….
He does not seem to have changed too much.
But now he is more distinguished, resembling …
An international banker?
A university president?
A top-level diplomat?
A Nobel laureate?
A billionaire industrialist?
NO DOUBT, ON YOUR RETIREMENT….
IN THIS SYMPOSIUM,
HAS ALREADY BEEN ACCUSED
ALL KINDS OF THINGS
Renaissance man ON YOUR RETIREMENT….
Warm, considerate friend
TO TAKE THE PRESSURE OFF TANVIR, HERE ARE A FEW IMPRESSIONS ABOUT THE YEARS THAT WE SHARED AT METU
Side note: the Vice-Rector was Orhan Alsaç, whose son Ongun has remained my research and business partner since 1970
In Electrical Engineering, the twice-daily faculty tea breaks, often attended by Dean Parlar, took place at a long old table in the dark, damp, uncomfortable basement of the building. The çay had been brewing for hours and was “mature”
We envied Tanvir’s rear-engine VW Beetle, because of its handling on the snow and iceOur Ankara, 1965-8
All this sounds as though the old Ankara was a really unpleasant place
Absolutely not! We foreigners at METU loved Ankara and Turkey
Why? Perhaps because:
THERE WAS NO TV handling on the snow and iceOur Turkey, 1965-68Perhaps, one of the best things of all was….
The main middle-class pastime was visiting and receiving people at home – several times a week
This was a wonderful “people oriented” lifestyle
Turkish people clearly gave friends and relationships very high priorities in their lives
This was an important lesson for us British
Back to Tanvir - people at home – several times a week
man of equations and letters
I know little about his civil engineering work
But I have a thick file of his erudite historical and literary publications (including a book) in English – and this is a tiny sample of his output
Now, a little less adulation and a few random epithets people at home – several times a week
TANVIR THE EXHAUSTIVE people at home – several times a week
His historical research leads him down some mind-bogglingly obscure paths
Imagine, for instance, searching the world for the English translation from Arabic (only several in existence) of the diary of an unknown 19th century government official in Tunisia
Imagine, moreover, the utter serendipity of this turning up in my local university library!
TANVIR THE SCOFF-LAW people at home – several times a week
In 1966, while he was still inhaling Turkish literature like a vacuum cleaner, he forced me to smuggle a then-illegal Nazım Hikmet book from Bulgaria to Turkey
TANVIR THE HAZARDOUS people at home – several times a week
He has a memory like an
I am periodically shocked
by things he tells me about myself,
from 40 years ago,
that I had completely forgotten
(for good reason)
TANVIR THE GENTLEMAN people at home – several times a week
Despite a very slight tendency to enjoy a good argument, Tanvir is remarkably polite, measured, considerate and a perfect old-style gentleman. Here is an example….
At my parent’s home in Lancashire, England, my (rather sheltered) father tried to educate Tanvir on the meaning of some common English saying, such as
… “a stitch in time saves nine”
Embarrassment sheltered) father tried to educate Tanvir on the meaning of some common English saying, such as
Tanvir nodded seriously and gratefully for this information ….
… while I went green and purple with
Afterwards, I told my father (we do this kind of thing to our parents) ….
..…that was probably the only person you will ever meet in your life..…
..…who could tell you where that saying first appeared in Shakespeare, Milton, etc…..
..…and the same for most other sayings in the English language..…
..…and moreover could give you the etymologies of all the key words through Sanskrit and Old Norse
(maybe I exaggerated slightly … but only slightly)
TANVIR THE GLADIATOR our parents) ….
Did I say that Tanvir has a “very slight” tendency to enjoy a good argument?
Actually, I meant that he loves a good mental-verbal sparring session
On his return from Cambridge, Tanvir’s credential that most impressed us METU British was
Not his PhD – lots of people get one
It was his Presidency of the Pembroke College Debating Society
That was really SPECIAL
Debating, Cambridge-style, most impressed us METU British was
- is a form of bloodless modern dueling,
- using superb command of the language,
- rapid thought and fact retrieval,
- rapier-like wit and humor,
- psychology, and flexible logic.
It is sometimes called….
The shortest cut between two minds, or
Feud for thought
In 1967 we had a visitor to METU, Professor Colin Adamson, who prided himself on his ability to expound and argue on any subject, ad infinitum
We decided to teach this man a lesson
We arranged a small party at the Karadeniz Lokantası (then İzmir Caddesi), and invited Tanvir
Colin and Tanvir immediately locked onto each other like opposite magnetic poles
They discussed and argued for at least five hours nonstop, like the intellectual versions of old-style prize fighters
During this entire time, they remained oblivious to the rest of the party
At the end, Colin was reduced to a numb, silent, vacant, shell, with seized-up vocal cords and a glassy stare….
….while Tanvir continued to expound non-sotto-voce on the latest subject that they had chosen to discuss
I, Brian Stott, do solemnly swear that the above is completely true and not at all exaggerated
We took Colin home, put him to bed, and he was well recovered after several days
Well, Tanvir, it looks as if you have broken through the retirement barrier with flying colors
Though it’s difficult to imagine you just sitting on your laurels
Affectionate congratulations from retirement barrier with flying colors
me and Patricia,
and no doubt from all your many other friends and admirers.
Love to Yıldız, Nazlı (+) and Arzu
Tanvir, thank you for everything over all these years retirement barrier with flying colors
This ends my message