This evening in the Grand Bazaar, we conducted a social experiment: First, I traveled in a group of four girls. There are three thousand vendors in the bazaar, and every other shopkeeper leaned out of his door to shower us with calls of “Hi, beautiful girls” and “Charming angels!” Then we asked Josh, one of our classmates, to accompany us. The heckling collapsed into “Welcome.”
By then we had beat half an hour examining their stock of scarves, jewelry, candy, and leather. Too cagey to buy and too nervous to browse, we were wishing our guide had allowed us less time in the market. “If I offered that shopkeeper five lira,” one of us wondered, “would he let me sit on his stool for twenty minutes?” “Why don’t they have a store full of benches for rent?” “They have that in Italy.” “In America, you can pay to sit in a massage chair.” “In America,” I pointed out, “the malls have benches for free.” The Turks expect more out of their shoppers.