Come, come my friend…have some tea with me.
And there is the hook. The friendly freebie. The psychological mind game classic of reciprocation: Tea for me, $10,000 rug sale for him. Sometimes it is a tea, other times it’s some other local delicacy that costs a nickel ($2 for tourists) or some other negligible amount, regardless, the moral of the story is you get the illusion of foreign friendliness and they get…well – a crack at your wallet. Now, now don’t let me get all glass half empty with you. There are some kind folk out there who want nothing from you but a smile and wink. Like that nice gentleman who buys the girl who has had one too many drinks one more drink for the road at the bar. Or the Mormons who volunteer to kindly rake your leaves for hours in the scorching sun. Or there are the nice Scientologists who measure your whatcha-ma-who levels and let you know how depressed you are free of charge. There are lots of people out there who want nothing more than to give. So what was I on about – oh yes, Turkey’s Grand Bazaar. The Big Show. Where everyone walks out a winner yet no one is.
The Grand Bazaar. Istanbul’s massive indoor market. From spices to far Eastern silks to knock-off XYZ from the P.R.C., the Grand Bazaar has got it all. They tell tourists part of the appeal of such markets is that they get the opportunity to haggle for their tourist booty – even though deep down you both know you will pay more than tag and justify it later. Regardless, it is still all about the experience.
Anyway, I had a few hours to kill before my flight and since I pride myself on being a mongoose of sorts, with the ability to suss out bullshiting snakes a mile away – I thought I would peruse the Grand Bazaar to stretch the bargaining muscles. As it turns out, the Turkish proclivity to befriend, charm and lead you down a sales gauntlet of crappy merchandise that you don’t even want is inspiring. Oh yes, that Turkish tea set is just divine – and I am sure I will use it all the time, with all of the zero guests that I entertain on a regular basis. What’s that you say? You have a special on football jerseys that will give me a rash? Oh I will take two. Techno-colored lamp? Why of course, I will just make a hashish den in my house to compliment by new lamp set.
They are good – the Turkish merchants that is. 100% natural hustlers. They were born for it. When politicians blatantly lie (See: Republicans, Rep. Ryan), you already know going into it that you will be hearing some grand farce where you will be forced to throw your bullshit flag, but when Turkish vendors friendly offer you a tea as they shamelessly pedal overpriced trinkets of the best handmade Chinese quality, you walk away feeling like a winner. They may act upset at the haggled war you just waged and indignant at the price they were forced to surrender their goods to you at, but therein lies the magic, they are just that good – that they eat mongooses for breakfast. Take note amateur snakes (Timeshare salesmen, Travel Blog Rockstars).
So, did I buy that David Beckham jersey made with the finest faux-rubberized-polyester that “the pros wear”? No. Did I buckle under pressured and buy that 24 piece exclusive Turkish tea set for my “dear grandmother, mother, sister, second cousin twice removed, future ex-wife”? Naw. Did I succumb to the burning desire to buy rare spices that would assure the TSA putting a flash light up my rectum? Not a chance – not on a first date.
No – I am the Mongoose.
And Mongooses only buy matching hot purple and magenta knock off Addias tracksuits for ambiguously gay San Francisco social events.
And I plan on being the fiercest Mongoose on the block this Halloween.