Istanbul; Grand Bazaar

January 29, 2015

The apartment we live in right now has wooden flooring. The husband has been wanting to get a carpet or an area rug for our living room for a while now, and I have been putting it off because

  1. Carpets gather dust
  2. I haven’t liked any of the carpets we’ve seen enough to buy them

I have been putting it off by saying that someday we will travel to Turkey and then we’ll get a Turkish carpet. Little did I know, that day would come so soon. While the husband was delighted to finally be getting his carpet, I was determined to buy towels. Soft, thick Turkish towels that make you feel like a princess everytime you step out of your bath. We were both on the fast track to heartbreak.

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The Grand Bazaar is like entering Aladdin’s cave, except everything comes at a steep price here. The first store we stepped into was being manned by a youth in love with mainstream Hindi cinema, and if you believed him – my eyes. He could quote Bollywood backwards and wouldn’t stop doing it. The young man was thrilled to know I stayed near **Lokhandwala, where the stars stay. I was floored that in the bazaars of Istanbul there was a boy who knew where Lokhandwala was. The husband, who has no love lost for *my corner of Bombay, was stumped.

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The husband is a great bargainer. It’s not that he needs to bargain, he loves to bargain. Sometimes he bargains so hard, it’s embarrassing to stand with him in the shop, but when he comes away with the loot I can hardly contain my glee.  My play is to select, let him start bargaining and when it gets a little hot, walk away seeming uninterested. This gets me out and helps the bargain by putting the pressure of losing a sale on the seller. Most of the times it works. When it doesn’t, it gives us a rough idea of the possibly lowest selling price so we raise the bid accordingly a few shops away.

I finally found my towel shop. The one I had carefully researched. They were moving stores and we caught them just in time. The towels were  luxurious and fit for princesses who bathed in milk and honey with rose petals floating, but the price could only be paid by a king. Fine!! They were not that expensive, but they cost way more than I was willing to pay for towels.

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Carpet shopping was even more tragic. In the true spirit of Turkish hospitality we were treated to cups of tea as carpet after carpets was laid out before us. Some of these we hated and some loved. Carpet sellers in Istanbul don’t  talk in Turkish Liras, all rates were quoted in USD. A few carpets later we couldn’t bring ourselves to even ask for the price. The funny thing is, when we went back the day after to look for cheaper carpets, we somehow found ourselves being led back into the same store, much to our embarrassment and the amusement of the carpet seller. If you are serious about buying carpets, I suggest you look at shops outside the bazaar. We found a shop called Anatolian  Carpets, Kilims and Sumaks located just outside Gate 1  to be far more reasonably priced than the shops inside. They had some good designs too. There was one carpet here that both the husband and I fell for because it reminded us of a carpet we saw in the Dolmabahçe Palace, sadly it was not to be ours. Not this time atleast.

*my corner of Bombay – Andheri West

**Lokhandwala – an area in Andheri West

P.S –Check out the Istanbul, Turkey album our FB page to enjoy our journey through pictures.

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