Market Day in Kas, Turkey~
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Market day in Kas. I decided to walk into town. Having been lovingly * yet sternly * admonished for my "foolhardy and dangerous!" jolly swims across my beloved (yet increasingly windy!) channel….I figure some sunshine and other form of exercise will do just as well. Shoes laced, keys in hand, IPOD set to Sigur Ros (of course), a quick, passing wave to brother Mem (if I stop, he will try and talk me out of “overexerting myself in the hot sun,” braving one big a** hill/ driveway, and I am on my way.
Once I arrive at the top of the drive—winded, “glowing” (not sweating, mind you) and gung-ho, Sigur Ros ushers me into a steady stream of musical and visual bliss. Turkey provides the accompaniment…*teşekkür ederim, friend * For Forty-five glorious minutes, I make my way past glistening seascapes, pebbled beaches, residential roosters, fellow pedestrians (ponopeople that bless me with every breath), and (my favorites)…peek-a-boo grottos (yes, I see you, you lovely bashful beauties)
As I approach the corner that will bring me to the main street market, I prepare myself for what is to come. The peaceful pedestrian must swiftly switch roles…Clark Kent style…quick-changing into the cunning and alert consumer. What may appear as mere “shopping” to some, I have come to know more as a true sense of self-preservation here in Turkey (at least for my rapidly dwindling bank account) J
To give you a mental picture….it mostly has gone like “this” in the past…
-Arrival. Onslaught. Hands Up. Back-Peddling. Stuttering. Reeling.Gasping for deep breaths. Back-Peddling some more. Spinning.Whimpering (to myself thank God) the mantra “deep breaths,” when all I could hear like a spell-binding chant was “BUY! BUY! BUY!” Teetering about, wondering where in the world is my Zack Morris freeze-frame when I need it...words can only come to: Whoa Nellie…
I have learned a few tactics that have served me well thus far (ALL the TWO times I have tried them):
-No Eye Contact.
-Keep your a** moving! (Once you stop, you're as good as toast!)
-If you MUST stop, Brace yourself--in what I lovingly refer to as the “Barter Stance!” (Basically, feet firmly planted, yet ready to roll…one eye on the merchandise (cursory glance of non-commitment of course) and the other eye on the door (or in this case….stall entrance…).
Normally, I am not buying, but today I am actually looking for something small for a friend’s birthday. The vendors sense this…it’s like some frighteningly sensitive alarm system in their psyches and I have a big, blinking neon aura around me. * And, yes….I have been spotted… *
The teetering old man surprisingly approaches with stealth-bomber speed, arriving directly under my nose (smaller in stature by a good foot, yet I sense instantly that he is the one in command of this situation). His ferocious friendliness and charm is almost palpable. I sense myself slowly crumbling beneath his easy manner, humorous antidotes and winning smile. I ask the price of a handwoven scarf I have had my eye on. It is quoted, and seems reasonable, yet my big brother Mem’s advice rings in my ears: “Andy, you NEVER buy the first price! That is for suckers! And the higher they sell to you for, the more of a sucker you are….*shaking his head all the while at my complete hopelessness and ignorance….tsk tsk* ” I take this wisdom to heart, and (Barter stance still holding strong!) back-peddle my way towards the escape….er…..exit.
Just for my curiosity’s sake, I waited just outside of view to watch this man work (this was by far better than any entertainment I have yet to stumble upon in my adventures). I must have observed for at least2 hours (they flew by) when I noticed a man pick up my scarf. I waited with abated breath as I listened to hear the quoted price ( I was mighty curious to know just how large of a “Sucker Sign” I had tattooed across my forehead this particular day. * Apparently, a biggun’ * …..the man was quoted HALF my price, and seemed happy as he reached for his wallet to pay. I gleefully took this opportunity to round the corner and interrupt with an innocently ignorant (of course) doe-faced: “I’ve decided it’s just too good of a deal to turn down! I’ll take it at your sale price and DO thank you ever soooo much for giving me the special!” * I even added a clandestine wink for good measure.
As I strolled out of the stall, merchandise hot in hand, I chuckled to (or at) myself (one can never tell which most days). The * sales price * * steal * of a scarf was beautiful, but it was the exultant look upon that vendors' face, coupled with the priceless machismo comraderie between the two men (who shared a secret smile * or snicker? * over the little American Super Sucker) that I considered to be worth every lire~