Monday, November 23, 2009

the art of haggling

I've always been deeply intimidated by haggling, and while I can pass for a Turk in appearance, the price goes up the second I open my mouth. On Saturday I went to the Kapalı Çarşı and, as usual, I found something I so badly wanted to own.

"Ne kadar?" I ask, shoulders back, neck long, ready.


"Oof. Güzel, ama seksen? Hmm."
I scrutinise the stitching, pick at the silver beads. The necklace looks old, but who knows?

Bu antika— çok eski. Normal fiyat yüz yirmi." With a rolling hand gesture, he begins to justify the eighty lira he wants to charge me. "Bak— eski. Ama sizin için, sadece— seksen."

ıyorum, ama ben bir fakir ressamım. Seksen çok pahalı!" I explain that I am a poor artist and can't pay eighty. I make my poor artist face and smile.

"Oh-OH!" He laughs, big grin across his face, teeth gleaming in the poorly lit shop. At this point I know I can ask for something ridiculous and the fun has started. He offers me a çay, which I happily accept.

"Kirk lira."

"Kirk? Tsk! Haa-y
ır!" He thrusts his chin at me and turns away, feigning irritation. He reiterates how old the piece is and that eighty lira is a special price just for me. I put it back, and drop a sugar cube into my çay after watching it saturate.

"Ok. Tamam. Altmış."

While I pretend to think about his latest offer, he insists in a quiet voice that sixty lira is his absolute last price. I sigh, look at the necklace longingly and pick it up again. He laughs.

"Ben burada oturuyorum."

"Ressamısınız? Oof! Tamam. Eli lira."

Do I want this for fifty lira? Is it really old? I do love it— but I wasn't kidding about the poor artist bit. I fumble through my wallet. I've got forty-five lira and I show it to him.

"Maalesef, sadece kırk beş var." I grin widely, he rolls his eyes with a good-hearted laugh. He throws up his hands in defeat and takes both money and necklace from my fingers. Suddenly another shopkeeper appears in the door, and my forty-five lira is given to him. The new guy looks me in the eye with a smile, then brushes the bills under his chin and disappears into the dark labyrinth of the bazaar.


gamze said...

if it's any consolation, i feel just as gullible and paranoid at kapali carsi and i'm turkish. enjoy your new necklace :)

Thomas Taylor said...

Well done for haggling with an accent. I rarely try to haggle in French, for the same reasons.

I might try the poor artist look myself one day:)


Oh, but it looks so lovely on you. It was worth it. (I can't stand haggling myself - I get irritated and find it a waste of time).

szaza said...

Thank you gamze! It is quite intimidating, but I'm getting more comfortable with it. I try really hard to erase all traces of a foreign accent, and if I keep my words to a minimum, I can generally pull it off. I run into problems when the shopkeepers start rattling something off to me that is either so fast or out of my range of vocabulary :)

Thank you Thomas. The French would be terrifying to haggle with! Try the poor artist thing— it may soften them up a bit ;)

Thanks so much Bella!

deryik said...

you know, it was the "siftah" of the second guy!

btw, maybe you already know him, but i think you'd like sadi güran's work: