Wednesday, April 1, 2015

That Time a Guy Tried to Buy My Boots at the Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar was massive - much, much larger than I had anticipated. In fact, when I later researched it, I learned that it had over 60 covered streets and 3,000 stalls. It really was grand.

And bizarre, too. (Nice play on words, right?) The shops and corridors were full of eclectic people, colorful goods, and enticing smells. I was sure I wouldn’t be able to take it all in, especially, in just the few hours we had available.
Jule had been here before though and knew exactly what she wanted. So, as soon as we stepped through the doorway, she was off, diving into the crowd, and I didn’t have time to get overwhelmed or distracted, as I scurried after her, determined not to lose her in the masses.
As we rushed down aisle after aisle, weaving through bags and bodies, on a mission to find Jule’s ‘Turkish towel guy’, I was amazed at the wide variety of goods available. Beautiful, stained glass lamps hung from the shops, rich, wool tapestries were draped over tables, and multitudes of ceramics were heaped in precarious piles all along the passageways - there was even a shop selling luxury saddlebags for camels. It felt like I could spend days in the bazaar and not get close to discovering all it had to offer.

The shopkeepers embraced the craziness of the market. They knew they had to stand out among the multitudes of people and products. And after years of practice, they each seemed to have their own signature strategy for capturing people's attention.
At first, wandering along, it sounded like the sellers were just hollering at the general public, but then, we began to realize that many of the lines were specific to Jule and I. Even more surprising, the lines often worked, causing us to stop and smile or even shop for a few minutes.
“Can I sell you something you don’t need?” one man shouted, laughing as he pointed to the many t-shirts hanging on his walls.
“That is a beautiful purse you have, can I show you one even better?” another man offered, motioning to Jule's purse.
“You are both very pretty. Shop?” said a third, managing to make the compliment sound sincere, even as he gestured to his wares.

Or, my favorite, a lamp dealer who caught my eye and asked, "Mets or Yankees?"

Smiling, I threw my fist in the air and cheered, "Giants! All the way!" but this was simply met with a head shake and a finger wag.

Some shopkeepers were less funny and more sleazy, though. One such guy, a tapestry dealer who had earlier shown us his gorgeous, handwoven merchandise, caught us on our way out. Stepping between us, he turned to face me and asked for a date - trying repeatedly to convince me to go to dinner with him.

When I said that I couldn’t, and explained that I was married, his face suddenly split into this giant grin. Taking a step back, he whipped his hands out of his pockets and wiggled his fingers just in front of my nose.
”Me too!” he shouted excitedly, “I'm married, too!” He flashed his gold wedding ring in the lamplight and jumped up and down, laughing. I wasn't sure what to make of this reaction, I guess I was happy we both had someone, so I just smiled and nodded and we continued on, just a little disconcerted.
A few minutes later, another, much more timid, man approached Jule. Sidling up beside her, he looked her over appreciatively and then hissed annn-gggeee-lllll in a way that sent shivers down both our spines.

But, the most confusing and captivating seller caught us just after we had successfully purchased our Turkish towels and were about to exit the market. As we walked past, deep in a conversation about how amazing our towels would feel, a man stepped out, grabbed my arm, and excitedly gestured to my short, black boots.
“Where did you get those boots?” he asked.
I smiled and said nothing, well used to the way this worked now. I knew that this was just a ploy to get my attention, and I also knew that we were in a hurry to get to the Blue Mosque before dark, so I thought the fastest way to deal with the seller would be to say nothing and let him move on to the next shopper.
He wasn’t so quickly appeased, though. “Those boots,” he tried again, “where did you get your boots? They’re very nice.”
I laughed and shrugged, honestly a bit confused. Why was he still asking? He already had my attention, was he serious?

“My boots are three years old," I responded, "I bought them at Aldo - a shop in Kuwait. I like them very much,” I added, half laughing, half trying to untangle myself from his grasp. Jule had wandered ahead by now and was looking in a ceramic shop a few stalls down.
“I like them, too,” he responded. “I will buy them, ok? I will buy them from you for a hundred euros. You will sell them? Right now - a hundred euros,” he said, letting go of my arm to enthusiastically motion at my feet again.
I gave an awkward laugh. He couldn't be serious, I thought, and anyway I had no other shoes, and I really loved my boots, but still, the offer of one hundred euros stopped me from responding too quickly.
“No,” I said slowly. “No, I don’t think so. I like my boots. Plus, they are my only ones. What would I wear?”
He shrugged, seemingly unconcerned with the plight of my feet. I began to wonder if he had some sort of bet with the other shopkeepers, like how long he could keep a tourist talking or if he could really convince a tourist to part with her shoes. There were a few people watching us now, and even Jule had returned to see what was taking me so long.
“No. No.” I tried again. “I think I will keep my boots. Thank you, though.” I smiled and laughed, reaching out toward Jule, hoping she could pull me away from this surreal conversation I seemed to be having.
The shopkeeper suddenly let out a huge belly laugh and threw his arms in the air.
“Okay, okay, you keep your boots. I would like them, but you keep them. Remember, I offered a hundred euro,” he said laughing. Then he turned, still laughing, and waved to his shop, “Would you like to come in?”
I had to laugh, too, but politely declined. I wasn’t sure what would happen if I entered his shop. It was quite possible I would end up selling all of my belongings to him, or maybe, buying all of his. He was a smooth talker and I was already deeply confused.
Jule started down the aisle and I turned to wave goodbye, still not sure what had just happened. Had I really just passed up a chance to sell my old boots for one hundred euro? And what would he have wanted with them anyway?

This last question would provide hours of good fodder for a feisty fetish conversation later that night.


  1. That interesting story. I feel like bazaars are often bizarre, with the strangest characters. Luckily you kept your boots. Haha.

    :] // ▲ ▲

  2. I go to Turkey very often and I really love the colourful, noisy bazaars!
    Nice posts and lovely pictures

  3. I go to Turkey very often and I really love the colourful, noisy bazaars!
    Nice posts and lovely pictures