Tragedy of the Shopping Mall

One of the outer arcades, in 2009. Notice the Barcelona Zlatan Ibrahimović jersey.

One of the outer arcades, in 2009. Notice the Barcelona Zlatan Ibrahimović jersey.

“This is actually about deciding who is supposed to pay for the refurbishing.”

via Report: Grand Bazaar in Istanbul in Danger of Collapse – SPIEGEL ONLINE.

The Grand Bazaar is mostly tedious, but there are numerous gems tucked away in its venerable arches and winding passageways. Worth a visit, especially if you hit the Cemberlitas Hammami afterward, to get all the commerce off you. (Straight out the main southern entrance, and to the left.)

The bazaar made a lasting impression on me — during a visit in 2009 — for two reasons. One was that even the simplest, most inexpensive transactions were prolonged by an absurd tradition of haggling. (“How much is that keychain?” “Three lira (about $1.50).” “O.K.” “For you, though, I will take two. Two lira.” “O.K.” “I cannot take less.” “O.K.”)

And two was the rat that bounded joyfully across my path somewhere in the northwestern quarter. I was unconcerned; the whole place is open air, and I imagined the rat knew right where it was going. But the nearby shopkeepers rallied like townspeople oppressed by a mythical beast. Before I knew it, a mob had cornered the rat with broomsticks and mops. After a few seconds of human and animal protest, an abrupt, agonized squeak marked the end of the drama. The victim was placed in a mop bucket and wheeled away. The crowd melted back into the arcades. I passed through a centuries-old arch.

Advertisements