You know how they always say that in life you regret the things that you didn’t do more than those you did? Well, in my case, it seems to be that I regret the things that I don’t buy more than the things I do. I thought that I was over the fact that I didn’t buy a rug while in Turkey. But then yesterday I was looking at the fabulous travel blog Folie a Deux and saw the photos of the gorgeous Persian rug that Jen Laceda picked up at the Suq Aftimos in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem. And it all came flooding back to me. Why oh why didn’t I buy a rug?
Well, there were many reasons why I didn't buy one when I was in Istanbul at the end of the June but none of them seem to be particularly good ones now that I am back home sans rug.
The first reason is that I am incredibly indecisive and don't respond well to high-pressure sales tactics. When you're buying a carpet, you need to tell them then and there that you want it — if you walk away, that's it. I like to agonize — er, I mean deliberate — over what I am buying for what seems like an annoyingly time to people who are not even trying to sell me something. My indecisiveness has cost me more than a few souvenirs throughout my travels.
Another reason why I didn't buy a rug was that I knew nothing about them except that they were pretty and I was surrounded by there. (Literally, it seemed as though there was a store selling carpets every few feet.) So when the merchants were trying to tell me about wool vs. silk vs. cotton blends and then showing me how the ends were finished, I had to take them completely at their word. I knew that once I got the rug home and was using it, it wouldn't really matter whether a seventh generation nomadic artisan wove it or if it came from a factory in China. But still, no one likes to be duped. And it bothered me that I couldn't really tell anything about these rugs on my own.
So my advice is that if you're going to Turkey and think you'll want to buy a rug, try to do hands-on research at home so you'll know what you're looking at. Also, try to think about which kinds of designs you like: floral, geometric, etc. I felt overwhelmed by all of the choices. If possible, get an idea of what similar rugs would cost where you live. The prices of the carpets change very rapidly in Istanbul — in a few minutes they can go from $1,000 to $400 leaving you with no idea of the true value.
The upside of all this is that I live in NYC where there are plenty of rugs for sale. The bad news is that no matter how great the rug that I eventually buy will be I won’t be able to say that I bought it on my travels. At least not truthfully.