Before I continue the story on the damn attractive 36 year-old bachelor carpet store owner I met on my first night in Selcuk, let me share another tourist’s comment I found on a blog (see:omansusan.blogspot.com/2007/10/vol-52-day-5-selcuk.html).
She described him as tall, dark, handsome, relaxed and super-sexy. So, he sizzled, it wasn’t just me, LOL! Well, she was also attracted to the hyper and insincere pension owner and went for trip to Izmir with him and all. However, the 40-year old freaked me out the first time we met and it got creepy and overwhelming when I learned that he was still single (I shall more on this in another entry).
Okay, so that evening, Carpet Man posed on the sofa for me to take a photo. I snapped several shots of his shop too. I told him that the pension owner has arranged transportation for me to visit Ephesus the next morning. He said yeah, he was aware and he would be the one taking me there. We agreed on 10am. I kind of looked forward to it. Then, he accompanied me back to my room. As soon as I opened the building door and stepped in, I heard a woman’s voice saying ‘hello’ in a sing-song way from the basement. Apparently, Mama (the owner’s mother) had waited for me to return. Did she not trust her son’s friend? Hmm…
As dynamite as the evening had been, I was still disoriented and deprived of sleep. Hence, I slept like a log the whole night. I went down for breakfast at the Homeros colourful dining room at the building in front at around 9.30am. Mama laid a plate filled with cut fruits and vegetables, honey, jam, cheese and hard-boiled egg plus a basket of bread for me. The other guests, an English family was dining at the round table next to mine. They were one of the very few tourists I met whom I did not exchange a single word with.
A few minutes later, the door opened and Carpet Man stepped in. He greeted the English family politely before turning to me. To my surprise, he became kind of formal as if greeting a guest, it was as is the previous night never happened. I told myself probably it was because the owner was there, in the kitchen with his mother.
I finished my breakfast and we got into his car. He lightened up a bit, but it was nothing familiar like before. He put on some Turkish music and asked if I liked it. It was his favourite, old numbers from the 60s. He then dropped me at the ancient site of Ephesus and told me he would pick me up at the exit gate in 3 hours, at exactly 1.40pm, and not 1.30pm. I was disappointed that he didn’t accompany me. Only later did I realise the entrance fee was 20TL.
He was wrong about 3 hours being ample though, I had to practically run to the ancient site’s exit gate to meet him on time, it was already 1.50pm when I got there. I even missed the Terrace House on the Hills. Luckily, he wasn’t piss having to wait for me. He said he hadn’t waited long, just 5 minutes. I got into the car. He happily said that he sold a carpet that morning, despite having only 1 walked in customer. He asked if I was hungry. I had planned on treating him to lunch to repay the favour of bringing me to Ephesus. He said he knew a good place. We went to a hidden cafe next to a car repair workshop.
The Cafe only had like 3 choices of dishes. I had already had 2 of them elsewhere. The 3rd one, the one he chose, a pale chicken dish didn’t look tempting. I decided to have the same thing anyway. He chose a table outside and sat facing the road. I sat opposite of him in the sun. The heat was refreshing with it being Winter. He said I brought the sun with me wherever I went (He first said it in Turkish). Well, I kind of drove away the usual snow when I was in Istanbul and the snow stopped when I arrived in Cannakale too. LOL!
He got his order first and started gobbling it without waiting for mine to arrive. A man sat sat next to him and spoke to him non-stop in Turkish. He plucked the salad in front of me with his fork. He didn’t even address me. I didn’t recognise him, or rather I didn’t even bother to look at him until Carpet Man joked, you know D. (it was the pension owner, yeah,he didn’t even have the courtesy to address his guest). D joked back no, we don’t know each other. Carpet Man said we could have Turkish coffee at his shop after lunch, but don’t tell D, he wasn’t invited. His shop assistant who made great coffee would be in by then. Luckily D left first.
I was surprised to learn that that was like the best chicken soup I had tasted despite its simple and plain appearance, the meat was very tender. I finished my oily rice too. Carpet Man asked if I wanted rice pudding, he was having some. Yeah, we had a bowl each. It was delicious. I said I must have put on weight with all the good food there. He said I looked okay. And 3 days were too short for us to get to know each other. He might still go to KL and get to know me better, and we might get marry. I joked that he should open a carpet shop in KL. There were way too many competitors in Turkey.
I asked him what did he do during his free time, after he closed the shop at 5.30pm. He said he was getting old and tired, he would just head home. He boast that in his younger days, he used to have a woman each night, sometimes two women in one night. He insisted that we split the bill.
After lunch, we went to his shop for a cup of Turkish Coffee. It was relatively warm so I left my Winter jacket in his car. I sat down on the sofa from the night before. He asked his assistant to make coffee. To my horror, then the drama unfold. He swiftly picked up piece by piece of carpets and went into what seemed like a well-written and much-rehearsed script. It came with a series of smooth actions too. He asked me to take a closer look, and it was okay to step on the carpets with my shoes on. I was horrified, I wasn’t planning on buying any carpet. No budget and no space in my luggage, plus no need too. I was interested in the knick knacks, but he wasn’t really interested in selling those, maybe because the profit margin was very low.
To make matters worse, it was clear that he wouldn’t stop until I buy something. Carpets too expensive, why not look at Kilims. Difficult to carry? Why not look at the high quality (and expensive) sejadah, those were small but beautiful. He even showed me a rare piece which Kayseri families only make for their own use. That family was forced to sell it because they needed money. I could see how he survived in the extremely competitive business for 12 years. He was really aggressive and wouldn’t take no for an answer. I knew I could use something for my new apartment which would be ready by year end. But I hadn’t thought about it yet. Also, I wasn’t an experienced carpet buyer. The few pieces at his shop that I genuinely like happened to be the most expensive ones, a couple weren’t even for sale. See the carpets on the wall (above).
At last, I grabbed a piece of spread with earth-colours patchwork – 75TL. It was very easy to match and practical too, works as a table cloth, single bed spread or just a decoration on the wall. He was satisfied, only then could I move on to the shoulder bags – big and small. He gave me another knick knack for free. After I paid with my Credit Card, he asked me if I was happy. I was but I hadn’t planning on shopping in Turkey and I didn’t like to be pushed into it. He said he was happy too.
Finally, I reached for my Winter jacket and decided to head off. His friend who dropped by then joked that I was such a warm person, how could I be cold. Turkish men can be charming, can’t they? Carpet Man showed me the way to St Jean Basilica and Isa Bey mosque nearby (10 minute walk).
I kind of got lost and took the far way to the mosque. On my way back, I saw a pretty small cafe and jewelery shop on a hill, just by itself. I originally dropped by for a cup of tea. Now, I hate the Grand Bazaar but an outlet like that was just so cute. The old calm owner greeted me. He said the goods were specially designed and hand-made by his wife. Probably that was why I didn’t see them elsewhere. Anyway, the quirky beads arrangements really got me. He slowly and patiently took each one and passed to me. I tried them on and went crazy.
They weren’t cheap but I knew I couldn’t get them in KL, not at an affordable price. Hence, I bargained hard and spent 330 TL for 7 necklaces and 3 pair of earrings. That was like a 15% discount. He gave me a free bracelet, and a cup of tea of course. The drink was already cold when I got to it.
I left at 5.00pm and ended up staring at the closed gate of St Jean Basilica. A nice old Turkish woman passing by saw me. She spoke in Turkish and signaling with her hand that the place was already closed for the day. Why not come the next day.
The next day, I had a full day guided tour to Priene, Miletus and Dydima, so I forgot about the Carpet Man. He said he could take me to the House of the Virgin Mary but I was disappointed when it was the owner who ended up taking me there on 20 February (at 40TL, not free, as stated by several online guests’ reviews). It was my last night in Selcuk, I dropped by at his shop on my way to take a minibus to Kusadasi. The place was dark and the door was locked. I knocked. His tired-looking assistant said he wasn’t in but he would come in later.
On my way to the Hamam 3 hours later, I stopped by again. He was in but seemed busy arguing with his assistant. He saw me standing at the door. I told him that it was my last night in town and Mama was cooking dinner for me. He replied quickly that he would be there. Satisfied, I went off to the Hamam. Friday was women’s day and the only time of the week the place was opened to women.
Originally written for Hazia’s blog