When I was working in Turkey in the summer of 2001, getting used to the Turkish monetary system took a little time. Similar to Italy, Turkish currency is known as lira and common bills generally include six to seven digits. For example, a 1-liter Fanta would cost between 500,000 and 750,000 lira, a bottle of Gilette shaving cream, on the other hand, could cost as much as eight-and-a-half million lira. Turkey is also plagued by rampant inflation and over the course of the two months I was there the rate of exchange went from approximately one-and-a-quarter million lira per US dollar to one-and-three-quarters million lira per US dollar.


Eventually, though, myself and my foreign peers got used to thinking of money in terms of millions, billions and even trillions. However, one day we were watching the news from the Hotel Arat in exciting Diyarbakir when we noticed a story about an expansion to Ataturk International Airport. As is standard journalistic practice, towards the end of the story, they mentioned and put on the screen a graphic detailing the expected price of the project. One katrillion lira. None of us had ever heard katrillion used in practice, so we quickly asked our Turkish friends, who, after a little badgering revealed that katrillion roughly translates to, "a whole lot, like really really a lot." Thus this massive government project was costing "a whole lot, like really really a lot, of money."

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