I’m fighting a cold, and drinking lots of liquids. Today I had to pick up some cards I had printed so I took a bus to the harbor, where I knew the printing place was near. And at the harbor I got a taxi to the printing shop. However, the taxi driver didn’t know where it was….is this beginning to sound familiar?
I got the cards and while exploring the city, I found a whole section of town that is dedicated to textile businesses. It was full of shops selling all kinds of fabric and also some shops that tailored mens suits and other clothing. There were typical Turkish dresses in bright colors, lace and shiny trim, buttons, bows, crystals, and I even saw some denim.
One thing has me a bit puzzled. I see, maybe 90 percent of the ladies wearing long dresses and coats and scarves on their heads. Some of them are quite fashionable, with matching scarves and dresses, and high heels and makeup.
There are some women dressed all in black, a long black dress and a shawl that covers her shoulders and falls down nearly to the bottom of the dress. She also has a head covering that when it is folded, it hides her hair and most of her face. I have seen some women barely looking through a slot just big enough for two eyes.
I’m not judging because I know it’s a cultural and religious preference, but find it interesting.
Now here’s the real puzzle: There are a myriad of stores with wedding gowns, and that doesn’t surprise me in a city with millions of people, but then there are beautiful gowns of a wide variety of colors and designs, all floor length and some slinky while some are full as in the old southern style reminiscent of “Gone With the Wind.”
I do not understand where the ladies who purchase these dresses wear them. But I’ve seen some that would easily fit into my suitcase. However, where would I wear a formal gown?
Then I walked into the Ottoman Hotel near the harbor, picked up an English newspaper on a stand with other papers, found the lobby, a comfortable chair and enjoyed feeling wealthy for a few minutes. After that a concierge told me I was welcome at the top of the building where I could see the views on both sides. The old wooden, glass and stone floored elevator took me to the top where I was met by a man who explained what I was seeing out of the windows. But fascinating to me was the huge rooms grandly decorated with red and gold furniture. The rooms could house thousands of people in fine dining, with a stage for music.
After leaving the Ottoman, I ventured down the street where a youngish man asked me if I wanted coffee or tea inside the restaurant.
“Sure, I’m ready to get some coffee. What is this?” I pointed to small spoon sized cakes that were soaked in some kind of syrup. He told me but I don’t remember.
Then I got milk-coffee. That’s what they call coffee with milk. Then the youngish man got weird.
“Where are you from?”
“How long here?”
“I only have one week left and then I leave.”
“Where you go?”
“I’ll go back to America. I’ve been gone for one year.”
“Where is your husband?”
“My husband died many years ago.”
“You want me to get a friend for you?”
“No thank you. I’ll just have coffee.”
“I can get friend.”
“No, coffee is fine, thank you.”
“You and me meet later tonight.”
“No, I think I’ll be leaving here as soon as I finish my coffee.”
“Where you stay?”
When I told him I wasn’t staying at the Ottoman he seemed disappointed so I had to tell him: “I’m not rich.”
“That’s ok.” He said softly.
So when I got ready to leave I smiled at him with my best face and said: “You disrespected me and I didn’t like that.” I knew he didn’t have a clue what I was saying and I had fun.
“I didn’t say thank you. But now I say thank you (I said it in Turkish).
“I really think you are a jerk.”
“Have a nice day.”
“I will, I think you are a jerk.”
“Thank you madam, come back again. I’ll be here.”
“Goodbye Madam, have a nice day.” He smiled that hustler smile.
Later I took a taxi back to the cheap hotel with a taxi driver who looks like Dean Martin. He told me what he would charge and I told him it was too much, but I agreed anyway.
Sometimes it takes less energy just to go with the flow. He told me that many taxi drivers don’t know directions, but he is one of the best.
He got lost. And stopped two times to ask someone for the hotel.
It was a fun time, even with a cold and hustlers to contend with.