Wed, 25 Apr 2007

The Carpet Salesman (Part 2)

Here's the rest of the story. Enjoy.

Like lambs to a slaughter, I suppose I should say, we entered his store. It all started innocently enough. "Let me show you a little about our carpets. These are prayer carpets. These are single knot kilims. These are double knots. These are buharas. These are wool, this one has silk, this color comes from pomegranite. This color comes from vegetable dyes, from the plants in these areas. You can tell this carpet is from the black sea, as the color comes from tobacco leaves." Soon, we had over three or four dozen carpets sprawled around the room. In the process our sneaky salesperson had surely used every trick in his book. Get them to take off their shoes, to prevent a hasty retreat. Ask them to feel the luxurious quality of the carpets with their bare feet. Get the men to pull on the carpets as hard as they can to demonstrate strength of the carpets to impress them. Feed them lots of tea to ingratiate yourself. Talk about your history, and ask them to share, to build comfort and familiarity. Slowly, but surely, the sales pitch was coming.

"What kind of carpet do you like the most", he started out innocently enough. I pointed at the deep crimson red buhara carpets, and Richard liked the beige silk/wool carpets. Soon, he knows he has us in his grasp, and is asking questions such as "what size do you like", and which of these do you like better? Finally, we picked out our favorites, and having told the man that I lived in and speak Turkish, he says to me, "you are essentially my countryman," he offers, "I will give you a special deal!"

I respond, a little uncomfortable, "Don't give me any special deal. If you want to give us a deal, we thank you, but I don't want to take advantage of my good friend." I respond. Always the sly one, he counters even this, "Ah yes, an honest country man indeed. I will give you both a good deal!" he says.

Moments after this discussion, he has his nephews shine and shake the two carpets we selected under the bright lights, making them shimmer and bringing out their gorgeous colors. This one, he stated, is $450, pointing to the carpet I had selected. That one is $850 he tells Richard. Richard asks about the price difference, and he explains that not only is yours larger, it also has a large amount of silk in it, making it much more expensive to make.

I mention to Richard that there had been an auction back home, where carpets of similar quality and beauty (of Pakistani origin) had been up for sale, and they were selling equivalent carpets for well over $800. I'm on to this guy, I suggest, but these carpets are still an incredibly good deal. Richard agrees, and we both commit to buying them. We are still cautious, so we take photographs of the vendor and carpets to ensure we would not be duped, and we pay with credit cards to protect us from fraud. In the best case, we have a photograph of the best reputable carpet dealer in the country, and in the worst case, we have proof and protection from good old Western capitalistic pillars of stability (VISA).

Richard and I both love our carpets, but there is a little buyers remorse, from feeling like we were manipulated into buying the carpets rather than coming to the decision ourselves. On the other hand, without this kind of pressure, I may have never bought the carpet-- any carpet, as our illness prevented us from doing many of the things we originally set out to do.

Many of the revelations I shared above did not come at the time, but in retrospect, thinking over the situation. Hindsight is helpful even when considering events that occurred in Turkey, at the hands of an expert salesperson.

Khan Klatt

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