A Humanity School : Our Grand Bazaar

Have you ever thought the reason why tourists show more interest in the Grand Bazaar instead of huge super- markets and swanky shopping centers whose numbers have gradually increasecl in recent years in İstanbul? If their goal is to buy souvenirs from İstanbul or to get different and cheap clothes, they can easily acquire them from the different departments of those gigantic supermarkets for the best price. However, the reason behincl their choice in the Grand Bazaar is not only to see a historical and mysterious place. Without a doubt, this is one of the important reasons; however, there is anather reason why they stili do not go to those modern shopping malls after they see the Grancl Bazaar. And that reason is the attractiveness created by the historical “Bazaar” tradition and the warmth of people who integratecl with this traclition. Even more, it is the feeling of ‘trust’. Just imagine. You are in one of those stores where you can find cheap, promoted and even wholesale priced goods and where some goods are sold often with the “best deals” in order to seli the stocks. You are walking around the shelves with piles of goocls while pushing your shopping cart. What is in front of you is only shelves, goods and prices. Are they good or bad? What are their properties’ Which one is more different’ There is no one that you can ask these questions to! Because there is no ‘human being’

There is not a person to advise you as ‘Don’t buy that, this one is better and more affordable’ for something that you !ike. Yet, are our traditional bazaars the same? Is the Grand Bazaar like that’ There, you remember you are a human being and you do your shopping by talking to people instead of looking through the shelves. They can even offer you tea, even if you do not buy anything but just have a chat. Especially in European cities, this tradition is valued so much that even in the most famous capital cities, bazaars stili exist. Moreover, supermarkets are not allowed to operate inside the city and ‘district bazaars’ are exhorted in order to continue the culture of ‘person to person’ shopping. As for our country, unfortunately, there are intensive efforts to eliminate bazaaı·s with various excuses and replace them with huge supermarkets which force us to fill carts instead of preserving our shopping culture. As the most powerful ‘castle’ of our humanistic historical traditions, which reflect the city civilization in its eveıy aspect, the Grand Bazaar has now undertaken a more important mission against degeneration of culture. Therefore, can sustamıng the survival of the Grand Bazaar just be the problem and the mission of the tradesmen who add life and spirit to our historic traditions with love and devotion? It is a national obligation, even a universal duty for humanity to keep the Grand Bazaar alive in a more powerful, colorful, exciting and attractive way, pass it on to the future generations as a ‘civilization heritage’ and correct the mistake s.

While I was reading our dear friend Çelik Gülersoy’s article in the İstanbul Encyclopedia about the Grand Bazaar, my attention was drown mostly by the following: Michaud from the French Academy visited the Grand Bazaar on his trip to İstanbul in 1830. He was ‘astonished’ when he saw that no one attempted burglary although the shops were open, the doors were not locked, and even the cupboards, plank beds were open and the owners were not in for a long time. He took the note of this incident again with astonishment. I, of course, was not surprised at this. Because, even today, which one of our tradesmen in the bazaars of Anatolian cities lock their shops when they go to perform their prayers, go to the bank or leave for some other duty? They may put a stool or a broom in front of their door or they don’t put anything at all and leave their shops open for a long time. Burglary never happens and never crosses people’s minds. French Michaud saw our humanistk culture, which we carried through the 21st century with the same bazaars, in the Grand Bazaar in the 19th century and was ‘astonished’. That is to say, this culture was not possible in a sophisticated country !ike France, even in that era. Otherwise, why would the man be surprised? Also, İstanbul was just !ike Anatolia at the time. Besides, those were the times when majority of the İstanbul’s population did not consist of the people who migrateel from Anatolia. Why did this tradition disappear now? Nowadays, even the people who came to İstanbul from Anatolia will almost keep their doors lockeel while they are inside.

The reason behind this is the disloyalty showeel to our Grand Bazaar as well as the other bazaars and historic markets in Anatolia. Anather reason is the increasing number of those so called modern and ‘su per’ markets where the main focus is the brands instead of humanity. Do not go unnoticed one more thing. Even if you don’t have any money in your pocket, you can wander through the streets of the Grand Bazaar and breathe the city life. But, can you wander peacefully in those super shopping centers even with money in your pocket? What if the ammınt of things in your cart exceeded the money in your wallet? I will finish my writing with a suggestion. Either the Municipality should think about it and do this or the tradesmen of the Grand Bazaar should initiate and mak e it happen. There has to be bus shuttles special to the Grand Bazaar from the different regions of İstanbul. On those buses it should only say ‘to the Grand Bazaar’. Our ‘familiarity’ to those dull and unloving shopping centers is enough! The Grand Bazaar should be more farnillar to the people of İstanbul then all the shopping centers.

I wish everybody a happy and meaningful day in which they will attain the shopping culture in our traditional and histarical bazaars, especially in the Grand Bazaar, instead of spending their lives in front of those machine or robot !ike cashiers, waiting on a line, and shopping without any soul.

Oktay Ekinci

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