This time I arrived at the west entrance and rather than finding a straight indoor lane, I found a series of winding passageways. First I noticed beautiful Rajasthani-style, beaded skirts, but soon crossed the way to the shop of a Turkman who was born in Afghanistan. He invited me into his shop for tea and together we looked at many pieces. He showed me photos of his store in Kabul, later the one in Peshawar, and now he's here in Istanbul. From what I could understand, he was a refugee at the time of the Russian invasion and lived in Pakistan for most of previous thirty years. He gave me a pendant, and I bought a Mongolian style hat. It's covered with metal ingots and has long tassels with beads. I'm not sure why I bought this, but I liked this man and sensed a great weariness in him. Probably it brought back memories of when I was in Kabul and Peshawar in the late 1970s. He gave me his business card; maybe one day I'll come see if he's still there.
Next I came upon a lovely jewelry shop. I like the owner's Elvis Presley-style haircut so I decided to stay awhile. Perhaps I tried on everything in the store. Ultimately I only bought one pair of Ottoman-style gold earrings. One thing has disappointed me here, and that's how high the prices are. Probably I'm just comparing it to the bargains one finds in South and Southeast Asia. Istanbul is a world market, with merchants who know the value of their goods. (sigh) There are loads of Arabs here that seem to be affluent: with their Chanel handbags, Burberry scarves, and iPhones, loaded down with packages. Do I sound envious?
Two handsome, young men had a stall the sold mirrors and knick knacks. I bought a small pocket mirror that had a beautiful Selcuk design on it. One of them attends UCLA in electrical engineering. It was fun talking to them. They were surprised that an American was familiar with Selcuk patterns. I went to get my silver ring repaired and found those sellers to be unpleasant to others, and I was glad to be done with that place. I had to run past some overly-aggressive carpet sellers.
Finally, I went into the shop of an art print seller. An old Persian painting of an elephant had caught my eye. Inside his shop, we talked about Turkish history and the strange truth that Americans know hardly anything about the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires' achievements. He wanted to meet me after his shop closed; though I declined, he gave me some very kind words that I hope to remember.
I truly love this city and would come back in a heartbeat!