Monday, June 26, 2006
Hotel Poem is not bad for a budget priced hotel. Not sure about the poem part, I have yet to write a poem. We are in the ‘dagger’ room – not quite sure of that either. The room is smallish and the sounds of Turkey are loud and clear outside: call to prayers (was that three am when they were trying to wake the infidels with their chants?) but it is good in many ways. Breakfast is free and good we are in the Old Section of Istanbul with lots of hotels and restaurants with lots of English speaking tourists. It seems everyone who works in this area speaks English as well as several other languages. Narda has had a couple of conversations in Dutch and there are many other languages floating around though I am not sure what they are. The merchants are quite fluid with their sale pitches in English. We are in the rug centre that is for sure.
When we first got out of our taxi I thought we were on a movie set. The cobblestone streets and outdoor cafés, restaurants, rug shops and Turkey men everywhere hustling their rugs, postcards, food – always ‘this is the best…in Turkey’. I was looking around for four-year old camel jockeys as there is a crackdown on underage camel jockeys at this time and the legal eighteen year old limit has been compromised with younger and younger jockeys (down to four –years old as written about earlier (see June 24). The local sounding music (I heard the belly music stuff but my male fantasy-orientated-searching-eye could not locate it though I know there is some shenanigans going on somewhere) mixed with the singing call-to-prayer voice and 1960s rock from a place called ‘Cheers Bar’ surely was a movie set from something I had seen before.
We did the old fart thing yesterday and went to a museum, some palace, and a mosque or some sort of place. The view was really great of the harbour and city. We do museums really fast. I think we would drive others nuts. We surely could not do a guided tour as we are too impatient. Who remembers all the stuff that is said anyway? If I don’t know what something is I just make it up. When you see a room full of daggers and a room full of thrones and jewels does it matter which dude wore what and when?
Most local women just wear a scarf over their head – Narda had to put one on when we went into a mosque. There was one moment I was a bit concerned about. We were having a bite to eat at an outdoor café and next to us was a woman covered in black from top to bottom – though she had Nike sneakers on she was dressed in full-on local stuff. There are not a lot like that but enough to really upset Narda and of course the women walk several steps behind the men which does not make sense considering the men wear shoes and the woman with Nike sneakers surely could have done a runner. At the café Narda said she was going to make a difference and the ‘time had come’… and she was going to ‘shove the man’s head into the table’ and gosh I was getting nervous but luckily I suggested we go look at shoes (not really that is just as sexist as the man with his woman in tow at the table next to us).
We watched the first half of the Dutch soccer game and realized they would lose and it was midnight so we did not find out until this morning that they lost one to nil. Tonight we will cheer for Australia as they get thrashed by Italy.
Because we live in the rug area and get harassed or chatted up constantly to buy something it was only a matter of time… Narda has wanted a rug to cover a table since we came here but our budget is like $50 US and what we like starts at one-thousand something before the hardcore barter stuff happens. We got lured into the first rug-den and of course I wanted to leave from the word go and Narda had already suggested she should be the one who barters as I don’t really have the stomach for it and I have not done well in the past (I start feeling sorry for the person and their family and extended family and the underfed goats and so on) so I balanced from foot to foot as Narda and the merchant went head-to-head. I was thinking about the importance of my webpage and some new ideas I had for the Internet and mobile technology and Google-brain implants but Narda thought the rug thing was more important than our rushing back to our laptop for me to write up my latest technological concepts. I played with my new T-Mobile computer-phone converting their money into Australian and US money and getting more worried and tried to make my Excel spreadsheet say we were spending a lot less than we have been and on they went. Soon there were a hundred or so rugs spread out on the floor with a dozen ‘favorites’ draped over things. We were told about the artistic quality and the place they were woven and the goat’s name or sheep or whatever the wool was from and so much more and I just continued to play with my computer-phone and off in the distance more rugs were appearing and suddenly it was all over. Narda said we were leaving and I sighed a relief when I saw no big buddle under her arm.
We went to another rug place and it started all over. Rugs all over the floor and this time we were offered apple tea and the merchant said that Dutch women were very beautiful and I was fingering my phone-computer thing wondering whether I should make a mobile webpage as an SOS signal but then I got dragged into the conversation. I think by the time we left we were within five hundred dollars of our goal.
We decided that maybe a rug was not what we wanted (I wanted a new laptop instead) so we looked at table covers and got one and got it marked down a lot thanks to Narda’s ability to get things marked down a lot. And that is our rug story.
Today we are going to the new area to see what a normal Turkey day looks like and then we will spend the next couple of days going to Princess Islands to swim in the Black Sea or some such place.