Taxonomy of the pseudo-state

Artifacts from the (self-proclaimed) Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus

I’m writing this article in a pseudo-state.

Can you tell?

Does this make it a pseudo-article?

Maybe something about it smells insincere. The words perhaps have a hollow feeling, as if they’ve been stripped of some essential component of their meaning, like re-used tea leaves.

Or who knows—I’m just here for the day, after all. It’s possible that as soon as I cross back south to the Republic of Cyprus, these words will reify themselves.

Life in this pseudo-state is just like life anywhere else, except you get your water, gas, and everything else from Turkey and instead of TGI Friday’s, you eat at The Califorian [sic], over which there is a healthy debate about whether or not it is ripping off TGI Friday’s or California Pizza Kitchen.

This is because the “brand-name” stores are rip-offs. Some are more faithful to the original than others. The advertising campaign for “Victoria’s Secret,” for example, features the smiling mug shot of a pudgy, balding man, but my pseudo-Aasics haven’t failed me yet. Legitimate multinational supply chains seem to find the fact that no foreign nation—except Turkey!—recognizes the pseudo-state inconvenient for tax purposes.

One thing about being in a pseudo-state is that it’s difficult to talk to people about the fact they are in a pseudo-state. They are justifiably sensitive. “Am I not real?!” they shout. “Do I have pseudo-skin? A pseudo-soul? Is this a pseudo-fist in your stomach?”

Perhaps it’s best to avoid the subject.

But living with a pseudo-state quickly becomes normal. The new taxonomy is hard at first: It’s not a border, it’s a boundary. It’s not a crossing, it’s a checkpoint. It’s not a government, it’s a “government;” its officials are actually leaders of the Turkish Cypriot community. You don’t travel to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, you go to the north. It’s safer just to put scare quotes around “anything” you “find” in the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.”

Sooner than you’d expect, the refugee stories become normal too. Your family was originally from Limassol? Yes, yes, I’ve heard this one before—your father was disappeared in ‘57 by the Greek Cypriot nationalist militia; they said he was collaborating with the British, didn’t they? No? Perhaps all of you fled north in ’74 after the Turkish invasion—excuse me, “peace operation”? And a Greek Cypriot family knocked down your old house to build a new apartment and now you’re living in a three-room hovel outside of Kyrenia. I knew it. I told you I’d heard this one before.

But the beaches here are lovely—pseudo-sand is as fine as powdered sugar, though unfortunately just as difficult to get off of your wet towel. And the Karpas Peninsula is truly a delight—rolling hills covered in sweet-smelling pine bounded on three sides by some of the least spoiled ocean outside of the Galapagos—although some of the pseudo-roads can be a bit dodgy in the rain.

 But don’t let that stop you from vacationing in the pseudo-state. The people are warm, the food is…warm, and the water’s fine.

Just, you know, don’t let them stamp your passport.