Thursday, July 14, 2011

Day of the Carpet Sellers

“Rugs!  Rugs!”

It was like carrying a bag of brains. 

Carpets sold in Turkey are rolled and packed into a lightweight black bag that somehow every carpet seller in the country uses as a standard.  When I left the shop with one in hand, all the carpet sellers who hide among the living on Istanbul street corners and footpaths swarmed and descended on me.  “How much?  How much?”

Other sellers can gauge how much of a sucker you are by what you bought and how much you paid, and will entice you to their own store to take a bite themselves.  They all say the same things: “What are you looking for?  Where are you from?  How much did you pay?  Let me offer you tea.”

The second one was enlightening when I realised I’d heard these same seductions before.  By the third one it was boring.  By the fourth one it was annoying and he wouldn’t let me be.  I really wanted to get rid of this damn albatross and was desperately seeking the post office to ship it home.  (Backpackers are lousy shoppers; they can’t accumulate things.)  By number five I was really jack, and had run out of polite patience.

“What are you looking for?”

“Peace and quiet.”

He shambled alongside me.  “Where are you from?”


“Love the kangaroos.  Love the koalas.”

“I’m from Canada.”

Confused pause.  “Do you have a wife?”


“A girlfriend.”


“Ah, you are single!”


Confused pause.  “Would you like…”

I did an abrupt 180° turn but he stuck with me.  “Would you like…”  I managed to shake him with another 180° and fled.

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