by SARAH CULTON
The most important thing I brought back from my study abroad adventure this past summer in Istanbul, Turkey is a beautiful magenta scarf in a traditional Turkish style. Even greater than the scarf itself is the story of how I got it.
I found it one day walking around the famous Grand Bazaar with my roommates. The Vendors packed the Bazaar to the point that it was nearly claustrophobic. You barely have room to turn in place. The whole place buzzed with energy. Vendors called out to potential customers, street food sizzled on the carts lining the outside of the Bazaar, and customers angrily haggled their way to a good deal.
My roommate, Laura, who was fond of haggling, spotted the scarves first. Two dozen scarf vendors lined up in a row, but Laura managed to find the vendor having a two for one special.
With a fire lit under her, Laura did not even say hello to the vendor before she started haggling, and she went in hard. I sheepishly stood behind her as she went to work.
“Two scarves for 60 lira,” the vendor demanded.
“Don’t play me like this,” Laura said. “20 lira for two scarves.”
“Allah will punish you for this injustice,” Laura spat in broken Turkish.
The vendor laughed. “35 lira. That’s my final offer.”
We took the deal. The daughter of a self-proclaimed “garage sale queen,” I was secretly elated about Laura’s haggling success, even if I thought it was a bit embarrassing.
While I love my scarf, it is likely no more Turkish than I am. Like most of the tourist goods in the Grand Bazaar, the scarf was probably mass produced in China, but it doesn’t matter to me. My scarf holds the memory of making my way around the tourist trap that is the Grand Bazaar with my cutthroat roommate and friends. It symbolizes my entire adventure in Turkey, where I learned so much about myself and the world around me. The fact that I can literally wear these memories over my heart is just an added bonus.