Day 2: 11th April 2011
After the Blue Mosque, we were taken to a carpet showroom. The exteriors of the Blue Mosque which open to the Hagia Sophia are decorated with beautiful gardens and benches for people to sit and watch. There were also lots of crows there, (=Like the country, the birds…India is characterised by Malnutrition and so the crows here are thin and have large eyes…watch a crow tom..Turkish crows are like stuffed toys-Photo 2)
So we all sat into our vehicle (=Its a huge bus actually) and drove down to a Carpet showroom called ‘Matis’. There we had a demonstration about different types of carpets and actually saw how the weaving was done. Some of the carpets were really beautiful.
Gyani Kisse shuru: (=Hindi for Factual Yak Yak Begins)
Indian/Chinese Carpets= Single Knot Carpets
Turkish Carpets = Double Knotted Carpets (=Or so they claim…how are we to determine)
Carpets have a base layer of strings and have other strings (=Usually coloured) woven in them.
1. Wool base with wool strings
2.Wool base with cotton strings
3. Cotton base with cotton strings
4.Cotton base with wool strings
5.Silk base with silk strings
The worth of a carpet is determined by the number of knots in a square inch. It can go upto even 225 knots which is as elaborate as it gets and will take a worker about 1.5 to 2 years. So your carpet is less about the material and more about the labour.
Imp Note: A lot of small carpet dealers are unscrupulous and will sell u carpets MADE IN CHINA. They are NOT AUTHENTIC Turkish ‘Kilims’ or Carpets. They will sweet talk you (=Turks are good at that not to mention they are good looking)
The colour used in Turkish carpets especially woollen and cotton ones are natural dyes and the silk is synthetic(=Iska Raaz aage ke notes me khulega :P)
So depending upon the vegetation of the area the colour of the carpets used to differ. Like in Southern Anatolia, tobacco is grown so the people used to make greenish yellow carpets using tobacco leaves. Also some other tribes used roots to make carpets vivid reds and greens. The intricacy depends upon the skill of the weaver and also on the material used.
Woollen carpets are not so intricate as the threads are thick and weaving knots is easy. Cotton can be intricately woven but not as much as silk. Some silk carpets are really exquisite you’d dread to even walk on them for fear of spoiling them.
Now the prices they quoted were astronomical so we simply ignored them as we sipped on some Apple Cai.
Later we saw the showroom for jewellery, diamonds, gold and other semi precious stones, corals and other stones like Amethysts, Turquoise, Onyx etc. Really expensive stuff not for a clumsy one like me…so I kept away..
Discovery: Indian weddings are oftenr famous for the traditional, heavy worked dress of the bride. But that is not the case in Turkey.
In Turkey, the bride can wear a Christian type white dress for the wedding ceremony itself. Turkey has made Islam and its followers so very liberal and open minded that there are no restrictions on them. I was thoroughly impressed.
After the outing at Matis, we got a photo with Aziz the guide (=Long time back 3 notes ago i’d said his name was Aziz gosh i write too much these days!!)
We went into a small basement like shopping place (=basement like coz, there were steps that went down n the shopping mart was there!! hence basement) By the way our first such shop in Istanbul, and picked up some munchies (=chocolate, biscuits, knick-knacks)
Then with directions from people, we walked to the ‘Grand Bazaar’, the biggest Bazaar for anything and everything you need (=Not at the best prices and certainly not all authentic)
We read a sign that a small store was selling stamps so we inquired but we found out they were stamps for regular post and were not attractive (=Philately is a dying art and hobby indeed)
Also the walk upto the Grand Bazaar is lined up with big shops like how a shopping boulevard of a small scale in London would look like. The cobbled roads make a beautiful pattern with benches and plants. Also cigarette butts.
If i forgot to mention, 90% of Turkey smokes, man or woman. So cigarette smoke everywhere and the butts littering the street. But mind you that is the only thing littering their streets!! No plastic or paper or other garbage.
On the way to Grand Bazaar we were again told about a restaurant in some corner and saw a lot of people smoking.
The path leading to the Grand Bazaar is a cobbled one and is done up beautifully (Photo 8).
Grand Bazaar is supposed to be a huge complex with more than 4000 shops. There is a main lane from the entrance and there are also many by-lanes with more shops. Its like a huge maze. It even has its own map. It is well known for its jewellery, hand-painted ceramics, carpets, embroideries, spices and antique shops. Many of the stalls in the bazaar are grouped by type of goods, with special areas for leather, gold jewellery and the like.
So the next few hours were spent in looking at the shops and a hunt for some good leather jackets (=Pretty!!) that we could even reasonably be expected to open in Mumbai. Also we looked around for magnets, t-shirts and other stuff that we could really buy. (=I mean the leather jackets, a little weird but t-shirts is cool..)
There is also a section selling Turkish Antiques for those who have the taste and those who can dip into their pockets. There were bronze statues, old clocks and watches, meerschaum pipes (=A type of stone which is found mostly in Turkey, is a fascinating subject)
Lunch was an affair we had to work on because there were restaurants in the lanes basically offering the same stuff at shocking prices so we kept the hunt.
We passed through a lot of shops selling Apple Tea (=As a powder not the drink) and Turkish Lamps. The Lamps are beautifully done and would have looked beautiful in any house but for the fact that we live in a virtual dust bowl..There wouldn’t be a day we’d not spent cleaning it.
We got ourselves some ‘Istanbul’ T-shirts and then found the perfect place for lunch (Photo 9). After a sumptuous meal (=Rice n Lamb+aubergine curry, a Döner, some rice with chicken kebaps and some pasta!) we made our way home. There were also shops that were selling gold and jewellery which is sold by weight and the current price of the euro and gold. Also there were good chunky necklaces that one can see at Colaba Causeway 😛
It was a rainy Istanbul that greeted us when we came out of the Grand Bazaar and walked our way to the hotel. We met an Indian (=A businessman from Jaipur who frequents for business) so that was nice. And we were back to our room after finishing a massive half day tour!!!
Coming Up Next: Exploring Istanbul-Galata Bridge, Galata Tower, A Fishy Affair!!