by Charlotte Parker
A few of us spent the day going carpet store to carpet store in the Grand Bazaar trying to discover what makes a “real” or “authentic” Turkish rug (still unclear). We were offered, and drank, at least four cups of çay in a span of about two hours and were amused by the ways in which sellers in the Grand Bazaar attempt to lure shoppers. For example:
“How can I help you spend your money?”
“Is there a way for me to get you to buy a watch you don’t need?”
We continued our beverage spree with sweet Turkish coffee and a pile of honeyed pastries at Hafiz Mustafa, the oldest purveyor of Turkish delight (think The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe) in Istanbul. When our teeth hurt, we wandered a bit further from the Bazaar and wound up at Rustem Pasha mosque. We walked into the courtyard and covered our heads and watched men washing their feet before afternoon prayer (today was a Friday, the biggest holy day), and I felt the need to just sit there in the courtyard and absorb how different the scene was from anything I have ever experienced before. There was something beautiful about people washing themselves in public—a moment of both introspection and, perhaps, self-consciousness. The call to prayer still sends shivers down my spine, and it’s interesting to think of it as simply a part of the daily rhythm here.