A bird eye view of Istanbul
I was in Istanbul in 2006. In fact, I had gone to visit my friend in England. As I was travelling by Turkish Airlines, so on my London Delhi flight, which was coming via Istanbul, I thought of visiting Istanbul by taking a stopover at Istanbul and seeing this city about which I had heard a lot. So, I did it and got an opportunity to stay at this city for four days without spending anything on air fare. It was a great experience. Istanbul is one of the most scenic cities I have visited. I stayed there in a hotel at Sultanahmet which is the main tourist area of Istanbul.
A street of Istanbul
Besides its monuments, Turkey is also known for its hand-woven carpets. These are indeed beautiful but expensive too. Istanbul is a very popular tourist destination. People come to visit Istanbul from all parts of the world and it is full of tourists. Sultanahmet is the main tourist area as the famous monuments of Istanbul like Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque etc. are located in this area. The famous covered Grand Bazaar of Istanbul is also in this area. So, it is always full of people.
A girl weaving carpet outside a carpet show room
The other thing Turkey is known for is ceramic pottery, wall and floor tiles and other ceramic items. Rich tourists, particularly from US, European and Arabic countries buy them in large quantities. Budget tourists like me, buy small low-priced pieces of pottery or decoration pieces to bring as souvenirs from Istanbul. In this part of city there are several stores selling carpets and ceramics.
I noticed one similarity in sales promotion of Turkey and Kullu area of our Himachal. Kullu is famous for its Kullu shawls. So, most shops selling shawls here are also keeping a few handlooms as to convince buyers that their shawls are genuine “hand woven” shawls and not the spurious ones brought from power loom factories of Ludhiana. In the same manner, some Sultanahmet carpet shops are also keeping handlooms with women weaving carpets to convince the buyers about genuineness of their carpets.
A kebab seller
Carpets, pottery items and other handicrafts were also sold at pavement shops at Grand Bazar where the prices are relatively low. At that place I was tempted to buy a small “Turkish carpet” as a souvenir from Istanbul. It was for 10 Euros (about 700 rupees at that time). I showed it to my hotel manager. He started laughing and told that it was “fake”. He further told me that for 10 Euros you do not get a towel at Istanbul.
Youngsters enjoying tobacco puffs at hukka bar
I think similar cheating was there in pottery items too and many of the small items must have come there from Khurja, India or similar places.
Tourists are cheated like this all over the world. I was sold a wall clock as “Swiss made” at Geneva which later turned out to be “made in Germany”. Similarly, the small handloom made cotton pieces bearing Jewish symbols bought by me at Mount Carmel, Israel were not made in Israel though the shopkeeper told me that he was getting these manufactured at his own weaving unit.