The scorching heat added another dimension to the Grand Bazaar in the middle of the city. The market was packed with vendors selling overpriced goods to unsuspecting tourists and the usual crop of locals looking to find the cheapest deal. Unless you were equipped with a great sense of direction, the web of cobbled pathways that made up one of the largest covered markets in the world was a nightmare. All the shops looked similar, some even identical to one another, forcing Jared to walk in circles as he tried to locate his destination. The antique shop was left of the toothless guy with the vases. Or was it right? Left. It was definitely left. He took a sharp turn to avoid knocking over a woman holding out a platter of Turkish Delights.
“Affedersin”, he said apologetically as the woman shot him a dirty look.
The entrance was a little more than a hole in the wall. Unlike its neighboring shops, this one didn’t feel the need to call attention to itself with neon lights and loud music. Jared ducked under a low-hanging drapery to enter the shop. The walls on the right were lined with chalices of all shapes, sizes, and colors. All of them at least a hundred years old. There was a sign saying “Dokunmayın” sitting right next to them on the floor which looked about as old, if not older than the display of crockery itself. The left hand side was covered in an assortment of brassware, muskets, helmets, and shields. From the ceiling hung a traditional, mosaic Ottoman lamp giving the small space an eerie, almost medieval look. How fitting, he thought to himself.
“What brings you here?”
Startled, Jared turned around, his sleeve caught something on the shelf in the process and knocked one of the chalices off. Flipping back around, he managed to catch it by the rim just before it hit the ground.
“The sign says don’t touch”, said the shopkeeper in a calm, even tone, his English laced with the soft intonations of the Turkish language. He looked about 60 years old with white hair peeking out from under his dark turban, a henna-colored beard, and a stern look. He was wearing a slate gray caftan and a big, white shawl wrapped around his shoulders.
“I’d rather break a few small rules than pay for a bigger crime”, he replied smoothly pointing at a sign that roughly translated to, “You break it, you buy it”. A little gratitude wouldn’t have hurt, old man.
“You’re not from around here”
It wasn’t a question.
“I’ve lived in England most of my life, but I’ve been home for the last 4 years”, he smiled. “You have a great shop, I remember coming here as a kid. I can’t believe I’ve re-discovered it after all these years”
“My name is Serkan”, he added after a pause and moved forward to introduce himself.
“Ekrem”, the older man responded, without shaking his outstretched hand.
“What brings you here?”, he repeated.
“Memories”, Jared responded. “On my 7th birthday, my parents bought me an antique treasure chest from here. All the other kids wanted the shiniest new toy and all I wanted were things from the past. It was from 18th century England. At least that’s what I liked to believe when I made up pirate stories that revolved around it.”
“We deal in British antiques, it’s likely that what you believed was true”, he smiled with a hint of what sounded a lot like pride.