Dolmuş

İstanbul is actually a city full of various transport possibilities.

Not perfect, but works on its own awkward system. Before subway, metro-buses one of the main transport possibilities was using a Dolmuş (Dol-mush) basically meaning stuffed. The major vehicle used for this alternative transport possibility where the old American cars. You name it, we had it from Plymouth to Chevrolet.  And they were all converted into this mechanical stuffed system that could fit in 8 people maximum plus the driver. In the far back seat you had to have four people basically jam-packed like sardines, they all had to do in in the form of ᛋᛋᛋᛋ or 𐊖𐊖𐊖𐊖 depending on how much space you had. You basically felt that you were in a mechanical turtle travelling under a shell with very small space to manoeuvre your body.

The worst place to sit was the far back left corner, may God help you.

The word Dolmuş in Turkish means a place that is filled or just about to be filled. In transportation terminology it considers a vehicle waiting to be filled one by one, eventually it’s stuffed with customers. The customers can get on or off along the way and hence the Dolmuş owner can resell the emptied space as much as he likes depending on customers along the way and the length of the journey.

By the end of the millennium, a clever automobile company observed the frequency and demand of just transportations called Dolmuş. Hence they brought into the market the new modern design that we are using today. A yellow chubby short cab that looks like transit cab. Once in the city you cannot miss them. The new yellow version came into the market at least 15 years ago and with very easy credits it quickly replaced the old Chevys which of course was an excellent possibility for people with backaches but eventually a cultural era was lost. I know some people around me who have seen the old Dolmuş only in pictures and yet I am not used up my life battery that much yet.

They have certain routes that transports you faster and more convenient compared to subway or public buses. It’s cheaper than taxis (due to the fact that you share it with 7 others and they can continuously change) and of course more comfortable. Basically they travel in all the major expected routes between districts. They have fixed rates calculated based on a system of the distance you get stuffed. Basically the cost calculation formula is: distance x stuffed effect = price.

Once in a Dolmuş try to get the best seat. I have two of them that I try my best to sit. Here are my two most favourite seats in a Dolmuş:

(a) just beside the driver; it’s a seat where you basically have your independence. No one bothers you while getting in or out, comfortable with the best view after the driver in the Dolmuş.

(b) the right seat close to the sliding main door in the back of the Dolmuş where you sit with 3 more people. Even if it’s a little stuffed and you might feel squeezed, but the extra leg space you have gives you a feeling on semi-stuffed which is something you need to be thankful, after all the system is named stuffed.

Now for the worst seats in the house, for me it’s the middle seat where the capacity is for three people. This centre seat system for me is called the money trafficking department. The four in the far back pass the money through you to the driver and vice-versa. There are certain levels of trafficking of course. If you sit directly behind the driver, you are not that much affected, if you sit in the middle of the three seater system you are basically screwed or you can enjoy yourself by saying that you are the Don Corleone of the money trafficking of the Dolmuş. This is a seat I hate just because you are always touched on the shoulder, noot to mention n0-thanking as well…  But of course if you are in a hurry and that’s the only spot (which usually is) that is empty you surrender.

I never thought I could write so long about a Dolmuş; it obviously fun to travel in, an experience, a unique one definitely and it’s just cute. Next time you are in town forget the taxis and give a Dolmuş a try, nothing can beat that experience. But mind you beware of the middle seat of the middle row, unless you love touching strangers and want to experience money trafficking.