It is hustle and bustle; it is calm and quiet. It gives peace, it excites. It scares some, makes some in love. W e continue to look at the Grand Bazaar from the eyes of the foreigners with an Iranian descent Bijan Khosrowshahi and his American wüe. ‘ Everyone from İstanbul has their own image of the Grand Bazaar in their minds. This image differs from person to person. And this outcome is natural because the Grand Bazaar is a multidimensional place and conceiving all the dimensions of the Grand Bazaar can’t be expected from everyone. For same people in İstanbul, it is the center of gold, while for others it is a place of circumcision outfits, wedding rings, carpets, antiques; for some it is a mystery; ıt ıs a seeret sealed box to same others. For some tradesmen, tourists are the benefactors of the Bazaar. However, this is only true for some of the shops ın the Bazaar. It is true that some shops wait for the tourists all day long. Most of the time, they can guess the nationality of a tourist group or a single person at a single glance and try to attract them to their shops as quickly as possible. You can see the surprised and frightened faces of same tourists against the enormous efforts shown by the tradesmen in order to get their attention, along with the ones who actually enjoy them. Some of them have already known what they would face in the Bazaar, so they are well prepared, and don’t care about these efforts. But, there is the other side of the coin. Who knows what these tourists are thinking about the tradesmen and the Bazaar itself?
Bijan Khosrowshahi is of Iranian descent who is the vice pr~sident of the executive board of a US based company in Istanbul. He has been living in İstanbul for 4 years with his American wife Delia M. Khosrowshahi. Over time both of them have become “experts” on the Grand Bazaar: I met with the couple at the Inner Cebeci Inn. During his childhood years, Mr.Khosrowshahi would visit the Grand Bazaar in Tabriz, where his grandfather was seliing candie holders. “I have a bazaar culture left in me from my childhood. Whenever I come here, all the voices and the smells of my childhood come back to life in my mind. The Grand Bazaar is not something special to Turkey; it is Eastern. By saying Eastern, I am not talking about the bazaars of the Arabian Peninsula. This is something rather peculiar to Iran and Turkey. Nonetheless The Grand Bazaar in İstanbul has i ts own unique perso~ality.” The couple came to Turkey for the first time in May 1997. They mistakenly went to the Egyptian Bazaar, instead of the Grand Bazaar. Therefore, they couldn’t understand why the place they heard about for so long was so smail. As they came back in the fal! of the same year, they found the right place this time, however, because of all the annoying effoı1s of same tradesmen, they could not shop for anything. In the month of November of the same year, in a cold and rainy day, they met a carpet seller nameel Feti, and staı1ed to !ike the Grand Bazaar. The couple stili finds the sales tecniques of same seliers impulsive. Mrs. Khosrowshahi explained; “This is not a place to pass through or to shop for only one item and leave. Every tourist needs to comprehend the atmosphere, the ambiance here.
However, same seliers are only after making one time sales. These types of behaviors make it difficult to look around. Tourists think that these behaviors are peculiar to Turkish people, however this is not actually true”. As the couple visited the Bazaar more and more, they got rid of all their prejudices. Delia Khosrowshahi told us, laughing, a trick that she learned from her friend,” My friend told me that if I don’t want to be harı·assed by the tradesmen, I just need to stay in a crowded place, and pretend !ike I am on the phone. All I need to do is to pretencl !ike I am listening to the person on the phone anel say ‘Evet’ every now and then’; this makes the seliers think that I am either a Turk, or same foreigner who knows Turkish”. We laughecl all together. Mr. Bijan told me that the allocation style in the Grand Bazaar is quite different than the Western shopping malls. “You can’t come across shops specialized on the same areas lineel next to each other in one street. For instance, you can’t see all the jewelıy stores or the carpet stores next to one another. This system in the Grancl Bazaar is providing significant advantage for the customers.
The fact that there are no second or third floors, so that you can find everything on the same !eve!, is anather advantage. The domes and the arches, under which you wander, give you peace. Alsa, if you wander carefully, you can alsa find great restaurants. On their way to the Cebeci Inn, Mrs. and Mr. Khosrowshahi came across a big chandelier, an imitatian of a historic one. They asked the pıice of this chandelier; it was $350. Although they thought the price was reasonable, -since they were experienced now- they did not buy it right away. They tolcl this to their friend in Cebeci Inn; he left right away, anel brought the chanclelier for $250 from anather store. Because of their experience, the couple has saveel $100. Mrs. Khosrowshahi’s most important memoıy in the Grancl Bazaar was the time of breaking the fast during the Ramaclan. “I coulcl not believe it when I first saw it. Since I clicl not know much, I was always thinking of the Ramadan as a time of worshipping. During iftar times, this place becomes nıagnificient. It is unbelievably nice to see the traclesmen gening reacly in a hurıy, eating all together anel having goocl times. “But” said Mr. Khosrowshahi, “Nothing can be compareel to the taste of the apple tea here. Nowhere else in the world you can find this taste. All other foreigners whom we know are alsa mentioning how ınuch they love the apple tea that is always senred eveıywhere in the bazaar. After all, eveıything here is special to the Grand Bazaar”. The couple said that they would be leaving İstanbul within couple of months. “We will rniss the Grand Bazaar a lot” said Mrs. Khosrowshahi. Mr. Khosrowshahi’s head movements confirmed his wife’s words. “But one day, even if it is only for the Grancl Bazaar, we will come back again” they said together.
Delia ve Bijan Khosrowshahi