May 1st, we set out to find Randy some chalvar, those pants that men in Turkey and other Middle Eastern countries wear. The ones with the droopy crotch. The ones Karzai wears so beautifully (MC Hammer pants to us Americans). So back to the Grand Bazaar we go. We go up a street, a very steep street into one of the entrances. All along the way we see these men with, well, saddles on their backs. Huge racks that can hold these giant parcels. All day long they trundle parcels up that hill from the warehouses at the bottom to the shops in the bazaar at the top. Trici told me that it’s considered a very noble profession. I would guess it dates back centuries….
I find the Bazaar quite intimidating. You could get lost for days in its labyrinth of narrow alleys and cul de sacs. AND we don’t know who sells chalvar but we’ve been assured that that is where we will find them. I want to leave a string from the entrance we come in to wherever we go so I can find our way out. The little alleys do have street signs but I can’t make out anything from them. Streets are named after the tradespeople who traditionally had businesses there so we could have been on “slippermakers street” but I wouldn’t have known. Today there’s little correspondence between the names of the streets and the shops that are on them.
Finally, off the main alley, down a smaller alley and then a cul de sac we find the costume shop that will make Randy some chalvar. The ones in the shop are clearly costumes but we are told that they can make him whatever he wants. Randy wants TASTEFUL chalvar that he can actually wear. The young woman in the shop has a hard time understanding that an American man wants to WEAR the pants. But finally she agrees to make him a pair of simple grey chalvar with black embroidery down the sides. Yes, we can pick them up tomorrow….
At the end of this little cul de sac we discover a little café with very few foreigners. Turkish men sit at some of the tables playing backgammon. We sit at a table and peruse a menu that has interesting English translations for the Turkish dishes. As I look around I see a “booth,” it looks like a tiny telephone booth. There’s a sign on it that says, 1 TL (Turkish Lira). WHAT costs one Turkish lira, I wonder? Every now and then a young man gets up from a table, squeezes himself into the tiny booth as some bewildered looking tourists come thru and pay him, then they squeeze themselves down this tiny, ancient hallway. Then I notice the sign above the hallway: WC. Bayas bayans. The bathrooms are down that hallway.
The waiter arrives as I am trying to decipher the menu. “Get this,” he says. “If you don’t like it, don’t pay,” he says with confidence. I look at where he is pointing and see: HAIR CHICKEN FRIED. What the hell, go for it, Lara. So I order Hair Chicken Fried and wait to see what it’s going to be. It arrived in a small wok like dish. It was neither hair nor hare. Nor was it fried. It WAS chicken and it was delicious, beautifully spiced, served with flat bread. We gladly paid….