Friday, November 24, 2006

In Which A Scot and a Turk Do Business.


We really didn't need another oriental rug. We already have four, and we hadn't planned on spending more money on another. We didn't even know where we'd put it when we got home. We had haggled and settled on some other items, and then Edip asked us, somewhat forlornly, if we really didn't want to buy a rug. "Let me show you what I have. I'll be honest: I am having a cash flow problem. I will work with you. You don't have to buy anything, but just let me show you what I have. What colors do you like?"

After about 25 minutes and a roomful of rugs scattered across the floor, we found ourselves in possession of another rug. It was Rich's fault. I didn't plan on another one, but I was willing if it made him happy. (I live to make him happy.) He chose the color and the price, haggled for it, and we agreed that it was indeed a very beautiful rug. Besides, Edip had made sure that we watched a young assistant demonstrate how the rugs were made so that we could better appreciate the item we were getting.

After the deal was settled and Mustapha set to work cleaning the place up, we enjoyed dinner together there in the shop and discussed Sufism and Calvinism, trying to see where they overlapped and explaining the intricacies of each to one another in the hopes of persuading the other to our point of view. Rich had more or less recovered from the rigor mortis of cold.. We rose to leave, and we discovered that we didn't have enough cash to pay for the rug, but that was all right-- Edip would take us to an ATM, and we could get cash there. Mustapha drove, and we obtained the cash. It was late. Rich's Scottish money-cautiousness bagan to kick in, and he asked Edip for a receipt. "Why?" asked Edip. "We have to have it for customs", responded Rich, whose tread-carefully-antennae were, I could see, quite fully extended in this foreign city at a late hour. Edip simply told us to show up at the shop the next day at around three, and he would have receipts for us. We drove on to the hotel, and parted on the most amicable terms, promising to pray for one another.

I slept quite well until about two in the morning, when I woke up. This wasn't unusual, since our body-clocks were still trying to acclimatise to the location. Before long I could tell that Rich was awake, so I told him I was too, and he confessed that he thought he had hardly slept at all. I asked why.

"I'm very worried about not having that receipt."
"But we'll get it tomorrow. What's the problem?"
"Look at it this way. We're in possession of a rug without a receipt. Edip knows our names, and he knows where we are staying. He could call the police and claim that the rug is stolen, and get us thrown into prison. I hear Turkish prisons aren't very nice," he concluded miserably.
"But the rug is wrapped up professionally. How could we steal carefully wrapped up rugs?"
Rich sighed. "I opened it up to make sure they gave us the rug we bought".
Ignoring this odd bit of information (we had watched the thing get wrapped, and it never left our presence after that), I said, "Well, we do have an ATM receipt for the money."
"There's no proof we used the money to buy a rug!"
"Rich, there were witnesses who saw us buy the rug. There's Mustapha. There's the tea guy from the shop next door. Everyone in town knows Edip; he couldn't have gotten us into half the places we saw otherwise. And we have pictures of Edip!"
"Perhaps they all work together on scams like this! They'd stick together!"

Uncharacteristically, I was not worried in the least about all this, but had begun thinking of ways to put Rich's mind to rest. "All right, here's what we'll do: in the morning, we'll go over to Edip's shop with the rug and just leave it there until we can pick it up along with the receipt. That will show him that we trust him with our purchase, and we won't be in possession of the rug."
"No....I don't think I want to do that...I think the only thing to do is to go over there when we're supposed to and see what happens." (Rich was not about to let an oriental rug out of his grip once he'd gotten it.)

So we simply prayed about the matter, committing it to God's hands and asking Him to watch over us and the whole affair. After that Rich was able to sleep. We got up the next morning and continued with our sightseeing. In the light of day, Rich began to think more rationally: he remembered that the last time he'd bought a rug in Istanbul, he hadn't gotten a receipt for that one either. So unless one asks for a receipt, the custom is that it is a simple exchange that does not require a receipt. That's the way Turks do business. When we went to the Grand Bazaar to buy a few small gifts, that's what occurred there as well. It's up to you to keep track of your costs and declare it on your customs form.

As for me, I observed Rich's behaviour with interest. People of Scots descent are often on the rather paranoid side, especially when it comes to money and security. They possess it in varying degrees, and in Rich's case, it only gets magnified when one is in unfamiliar surroundings. I do also thank God for it, because it makes him an excellent protector and provider. The only thing that upsets me about it is the torment that it sometimes causes him. Thanks be to God that He watches over us and calms our fears, allowing us to walk on when the going gets tough-- even if it's tough only inside our heads.

And yes, we did get the receipts, complete with the name of the shop. And so, I want you to know that if ever you are in old Istanbul, go to the Hippodrome. There is a shop right there called Nihan Carpet and Kilim. Buy your rugs there, and specially ask for Edip, and tell him that Rich and Eleanor sent you. One of the men there had told us, "You are lucky to find him". To this we can heartily agree, and may God truly bless Edip.

3 Comments:

Blogger The Clinging Vine said...

Rich and I are clearly fraternal twins, as that's precisely the sort of worry to which I fall prey. ;^)

And what a gorgeous rug! Where did y'all wind up placing it?

BTW, if you like murder mysteries, there is an Emma Lathen called "By Hook or By Crook," a John Putnam Thatcher (v.p. of the Sloan Guaranty Trust Bank) which deals with the Oriental rug business that you might enjoy.

10:10 PM  
Blogger craigellachie said...

I'm planning a trip to the library today and will definitely look that up. Rich just wants you to know that he believes that my account of this is a tad biased. However, I can attest that all of it is perfectly true. ;>)

10:02 AM  
Blogger craigellachie said...

Oh, and we put the rug just where you see it, which is at my study desk...I will think of Edip whenever I see it.

10:03 AM  

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