This weekend, I had quite the quite the experience of being a part of two completely polar opposite interactions at the Grand Bazaar, while we were shopping around some cute old Turkish man came up to Shawn and asked him where he was from. His obvious response to every person who asks him this question is he is from Canada! The old man became so excited because his son had studied in Canada for school so he joyously led Shawn to his shop as we just followed behind, laughing hysterically. It happened to be a scarf shop called Hayat, which is the Turkish word for Life, and the man’s son’s name also was Hayat, I’m pretty sure, and was telling us the connection between his name and the store’s.
His son was extremely friendly and helpful, not pushy like all the other store owners we walked by throughout the Grand Bazaar. I didn’t want to blow my Canadian cover, so I turned over to Theresa and said, “I like those scarves, aye!” From then on, we let Shawn do the rest of the talking about random Canada facts! Except for when it came to the weather, I at least chimed in that I prefer Turkey to Canada’s harsh winters during the polar vortex! I was border-line about a scarf I really liked and his son ended up putting the scarf around my neck. I knew I couldn’t say no after all the trouble he went through to tie it and he knew that I was sold as soon as I felt how soft it was around my neck. It was such a wonderful experience and really showed me the true hospitality of Turkish people.
As soon as we stepped outside the Grand Bazaar to take our leave for the day, Zhuo went to the bathroom and immediately Shawn and Sam were surrounded by Turkish men who spoke very broken English trying to sell them “exquisite” rugs. They just started handing them rugs and shoving them in the bags they were carrying out from the Grand Bazaar. They kept trying to convince the boys that they needed them as gifts and they thought they were trying to be sneaky by taking all their money by raising the price every time Shawn or Sam handed them cash. It was such an uncomfortable, yet funny experience, as me and Theresa just watched from the sidelines, especially after the great time we just came from. I’m getting very comfortable with my simple Turkish phrases, because a guy came up to me and asked if I wanted some “fancy” perfume and I firmly told him Hayir and waved my hand to shoo him away, and he walked away very disappointed. Zhou felt really bad for making us wait so he treated us all to Chi Tea Lattes from Starbucks to gather up our thoughts from what just happened.
Even though I witnessed both of these within 10 minutes of each other, I’m seriously contemplating on coming back here when I’m done with school and living in Istanbul for a couple of years. It’s only been two weeks, and this city has already grown on me. I’m honestly falling in love with this place more and more each day and with a little more practice of the Turkish language, I just might find my niche in this ginormous city. Now all I have to do is push my way into a firm and show Istanbul how much they need Landscape Architects and how using them would be their next big move in this city! A girl can dream right?