Sunday, December 24, 2006

Flying Carpets

Merry Christmas Eve from Istanbul – would you like a kilim with that?

There are three kinds of legal businesses here. The first is the kind you and I think about, banking, insurance, advertising – the hundreds if not thousands of white-collar activities of the modern world. Then there is working business, everything from hardware stores to appliance stores to supermarkets.

Tourist business is the third. The work starts in front of the shops and stalls...the minute you come into visual range [and with me that's easy because of my height]. Even in the better districts, never mind the bazaars, the front men work hard and vigorously to earn your attention. The guys on the sidewalk may be touts or shills or even the owners themselves. They ingratiate, they wheedle (but never whine), they joke wıth you until your defense shows the slightest gap. Then it's have a glass of tea and let me show you my carpets and kilims – the finest in all the city!

Why this relentlessly friendly assault? Because in the heart of each and every carpet shop owner is the concrete belief, the utter certainty, that every tourist wants a carpet. Or a kilim.

There is a difference to be sure. A kilim is a pileless carpet. The kilim's design is made by interweaving the variously colored wefts and warps, creating what's called a flatweave. In a pile rug, individual short strands of different colors, usually wool, are knotted onto the warps and held together by pressing the wefts tightly against each other. No pile. Pile. Simple.

When they have you in their clutches, drinking their hot apple tea, they do make their carpets fly.

They are artful and experienced presenters of their rugs, flinging them down in front of you, flipping them upside down or end-to-end to show off the designs, the colors, the (apparently) distinctive double knot that distinguishes a Turkish carpet from a Persian rug.

You think you have great salespeople working for you? You should only wish you had salespeople like this. Software. Drill bits. Downhole chemicals. Magazine space. Hire a Turkish carpet shop owner; or better yet offer him a piece of the business. Your fortune is made!

Resistance is futile. Unless, as in our case, you have made up your minds in advance that you are resolutely, positively, definitively NOT going to buy a carpet, kilim, runner, rug or ruglet of any kind whatsoever.

We bought ceramics instead.

1 comment:

s Reeves said...

you have to bring back a rug or kilim to blend with that fab new painting. Don't forget the promise of new point in '07. Merry Christmas Richard and Barb.

Susan and John