Monday, October 5, 2009


Sundays could be quite boring if I did not live in Istanbul but this city is a joker, a flirtatious mamasita, a devil in disguise, a mad scientist who experiments on his own kids and each street of Istanbul is a different film set, so its charms and adventures never end. Here, Sundays are rarely about laundry and baking. Instead, you find an eye patch and hook, and go treasure hunting.

After indulging myself with delicious brunch at Cuppa (my favorite spot for brunch), I walked down my favorite street crowded with antique and second hand furniture shops. The shopkeepers sat outside sipping tea and absorbing as much sun as they can before the evening settled. The weather is menopausal this time of year. It is cool in the morning, than it is sweating hot at noon and than it is where-are-my-wool-socks?-cool again at night.

The narrow streets, the paved roads, antique shops, and the warmth of the shopkeepers put me on a time machine and ship me back to Istanbul in 1960s. I looked at my watch and turned to my friend with panic: "The broadcast ends at 5 pm on Sundays on our single channeled TV, so, I better rush home and remove the lace decorations before the neighborhood pours into our house for the TRT Choir!"

I was about to rush home, when a 1963 Da Vinci branded whisky bottle started calling my name from the window of a small shop. I went in to ask to price and that is when I met Aziz. A bundle of joy and Qi. Aziz is a 37 year, old blue-eyed man from Diyarbakir. His warmth is magnetic. You are drawn into his shop because of the positive vibrations he radiates. He offered us tea. When I refused, he lifted the table cloth exposing a little fridge hidden under table and asked, "I also have home-made iced tea from this morning, Italian white wine a friend gave me, or (pointing to the sister of my whisky bottle), Vodka, but it is Tekel" in a thick Kurdish accent. That was some surprise from a bathroom sized shop. Even more surprisingly, I spent an hour in there.

He carries 18th century silver spoons, old British alcohol bottles, old pins, cuff links, caftans and jewelry from Uzbekistan and much more but it is his stories that sell the best. I listen to how lived in Malta as a fugitive for two years and how he got shipped back, how during his military service he punched a field officer (binbasi) who humiliated him and got sentenced to months in prison and how he fled from there, how he got caught four years later due to a business transaction, how his luck turned around the second time he had to do the military service, how he smuggled his first antiques from Uzbekistan, how he first set up his business in Ortakoy on a clerk, how a British lord bought stuff worth thousands of pounds, how his sister emerged from the slums of Diyarbakir to being a bag designer in Italy...

You must stop at his place for his stories are capturing, his antiques are charming, and his heart is too big and naive to sell them at a big price.

His shop doesn't have a name, you have to ask for Aziz to the shopkeepers.

Kuloglu Mah
Faik Pasa Cad
1/1 Cukurcuma

0532 372 2881

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