Everyone clapped when we landed and I felt like joining in – I love Istanbul and it feels good to be back. The immigration officer rattled away to me in Turkish. I think he was commenting on the couple who were in front of me and had been sent off to get their visa but who knows. When I explained that I was Indian and did not understand he seemed truly surprised. So I have now been mistaken as Turkish, Uzbek, Iranian, Moroccan, Israeli, Spanish, Arabian. I’m beginning to feel like a true world citizen.
Giving myself the day off I went to see the fabulous Rüstem Pasha and Süleymaniye mosques. I will let the photographs speak for themselves. It was very cold and I am beginning to wonder why it is that I attract freak (always cold) weather wherever I go.
Carpet heaven! I spent the day with a wholesaler who is quite amazing. He has been doing this for 45 years and remembers what he paid and when for every carpet he owns – and we’re talking tens of thousands of carpets and kilims! I saw some stunning antique ones – completely unaffordable to anyone I know but no harm in looking! I have to go back tomorrow to finalise my selection because I got completely carried away!
While there I was offered two styles apparently favoured by American buyers. I was left speechless (friends and ex-colleagues will be quick to point out that it doesn’t happen often!) – gorgeous antique carpets with natural dyes are being put through an “antique wash” so they can look beige and brown, but even worse purple, bright pink or green. Sacrilege as far as I am concerned.