We were in Kusadasi again today and I realized something important. Turkish businessmen aren’t dishonest like I had earlier thought, they are just right brained – creative rather than logical. I started of the day with going to the money changer. I handed the man US$100 and he gave me 275 TL in return. “Uh, this is wrong” I said as I handed him back the money. He was supposed to give me only 175 TL.
I walked out of the money changer feeling smug that I had superior math skills. I was also slightly disappointed that I wasn’t a more dishonest person. But mostly smug. I had been an over-achiever in mathematics in school but peaked around the age of 10 (which was around the time I got hooked on Care Bears). Basically, this means I’m excellent at simple arithmetic.
I decided to roam around the Grand Bazaar, which was close to the port. It was like being in Arabian Nights with water-pipes, carpets, different kinds of fruit teas and many “genuine fake” branded merchandise on sale. Admittedly, I’ve never seen the movie but if I did, I’m sure I’d agree with myself.
Anyway, I came across a fruit seller who had the largest peaches I’ve ever seen on sale.
Me: “How much?”
Him: “2 Turkish Lira.”
Me: “Okay, I’ll take 2.”
He: “5 Turkish Lira.”
Me: “What?! I’ll take 1 then.”
Him: “2 Turkish Lira.”
How did that even make sense? It’s like reverse economies of scale, where you get charged extra for being greedy and wanting two instead of one. I continued exploring the bazaar incredulous at what just happened, while still marveling at the size of my newly acquired peach. Seriously, it was the size of a grapefruit.
I came across someone selling “genuine fake” sunglasses, which just means that the counterfeiters take pride in their work, with an emphasis on quality.
Him: “My friend, 20 Turkish Lira for you. Genuine fake Raybans.”
I paused for a moment with curiosity.
Him: “Or 30 US Dollars.”
Wait, all of a sudden Turkish Lira is stronger than US Dollars? I wondered for a moment if this shrewd seller had just read Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, one of the finest books on economics. Perhaps he understood the concept of the “invisible hand” on a multi-currency basis. In short, he may have been hedging his bets based on the hypothesis that if I had Turkish Lira, I would be more informed and thus, more price sensitive. Conversely, if I was paying with US Dollars, I would probably be less price sensitive. Or maybe, he was more familiar with Oskar Morgenstern’s Theory of Games and Economic Behavior, and therefore applying a dual strategy in order to maximize his payoff.
Or maybe he was just shit at math as well.
I was more interested in the numerous barber shops in the area offering shaves. I’ve always been curious about those old-style shaves but somehow the idea of paying someone to shave me felt a bit like paying for sex – ie. it’d probably be more fun that doing it yourself but in a few days you’ll be back to where you started, so why even bother? Anyway, for 10 TL it seemed worth trying out. I have to admit that it was an excellent shave. Of course, he tried to up-sell me by offering a hot towel for 10 TL and a face mask for another 20 TL. No thanks, I have my own towels back on the ship and it was weird enough having a man shave me, let alone allowing his hands all over my face. Personally, I think this barber shop business model would do much better if they employed attractive women to do the shaves rather than burly old men.
On the outskirts of the bazaar, I came across a mini-van service to the beach. “1 euro” declared the driver. It seems like people in this city like to randomly use different currencies. “I only have Liras” I replied. “5 Turkish Liras” he declared (which works out to 2 euros.) Looks like you need to carry three currencies in Turkey in order to take advantage of the best offer.
I decided to keep exploring the bazaar. There was a store which caught my attention. It had on sale many different flavors of Turkish Delight (or Lokum) as well as coffee, and an array of dried fruits and nuts. There were so many interesting aromas in the air, it was an experience in itself. I didn’t know what to get so I just asked for 5 TL of ground coffee and 3 TL of an assortment of Turkish Delight. To my surprise, he meticulously measured everything and gave me exactly what I had asked for without any drama. Finally, a fellow left brainer.
The Lokums were delightful by the way. I can see where they got their name from.