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."
"Anlıyorum, 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? Tsk! Haa-yır!" 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.