Turkish Daylights: Pazar
Kilo bir lira, kilo bir lira! I’m making my way through a mass of people. Buyurun, buyurun! Spring has arrived and the late afternoon sunrays tickle me through the tissue umbrellas extended along the lane. Kampanya! It smells of people, vegetables and garments. It smells of life.
It’s been almost a year now since I last walked through my favourite Turkish pazar in Özkanlar, a part of Izmir’s Bornova district. I remember it very vividly, though. Every Saturday, my Turkish flat mates and I would go there to buy our groceries for the week: A kilo of onions, two kilos of potatoes, another two of tomatoes, fresh green and black olives, cucumbers, eggplants and green peppers, carrots, lemons, eggs, white cheese and yufka dough for preparing börek, a traditional Turkish pastry.
After taking it all back to the flat I’d generally return to the pazar to have a look at the latest clothes collection and accessories. The vendors already knew me and were often in for a discount. One of them even gave me his number in case I’d need anything and I promised to stop by again once I’d be back in Turkey.
I must admit that the first time I visited a Turkish pazar or “bazaar”, as they are called in English, I was quite overwhelmed by the crowd, the smells, the noise, the language. I didn’t understand what was happening around me and I felt stressed when loosing track of my friends. The more I went though, the more I got used to this kind of shopping experience and I began to like it a lot. I started feeling like a local and became more and more confident as I made my orders in Turkish. People sometimes didn’t even notice I was a foreigner. But often they’d look at me and ask where I was from, what I was doing in Turkey, what my name was and so on. That’s how I got to practice those everyday conversations and I gradually became more fluent in the Turkish language. My experience was that Turkish people in general seemed to be interested in getting to know foreigners and they felt happy to share their time, a chat and a smile.
I miss wandering around the pazar on a Saturday afternoon but I’m lucky there are also several ones in Berlin that offer a glimpse back into my Turkey experience.
What’s your Turkish pazar story? Where do YOU like to do your shopping?