Bazaar – An Assault On The Senses

Kemeralti BazaarThe Kemeralti Bazaar in Izmir is a maze of criss crossed streets covering a few kilometres. The ancient market is lined with traders selling their goods and like many Middle-Eastern markets it seems to specialise in some “very good” fake bags, t-shirts, watches etc… Every few steps we were approached with chatter of “Louis Vutton, Gucci, Armani….very good fake”, we responded “no thanks”, they responded “yes” and moved onto the next shopper!

But it is well worth running the gauntlet of knocked off goods, and compared to Jerusalem, Cairo or Tehran the Turkish traders were pretty laid back and would easily let our dis-interest saunter by.

There is something so alien in bazaars or souks to the market that I am accustomed to in the West. (And it is a further ten places removed to the impersonal supermarkets!!) These places are an assault on the senses. And even the most vibrant UK market does not feel the same.

Let me describe a short walk thru the Kemeralti Bazaar: The street is narrow. Partly covered by oarnings. Shops spill out onto the street, in no particular ordered fashion. It is cramped and people are squeezing past. Traders are shouting in foreign tongues. The colours are bright and vibrant. Spices. Greens. Yellows. Oranges. There are many variety of fish and the smell strong in the air. Water splashes and I hope it’s not fish guts. Meat is hung, but it’s cuts I dont usually see. Several peeled sheep heads are at eye level. Wild birds squawk in cages. Coffee and tea sellers push past carrying fragrant aromas. A metal beater bangs at his latest creation. Sparks flash from his soldering iron and I wonder if my eyes are meant to be covered?! Live rabbits sit in cages and children prod at them. Finally a small clearing. Old men are sat playing chequers and my gaze lingers on a beautiful mosque almost hidden in the chaos.

You have to relax in a place like this and go with the flow, otherwise I imagine it could be quite stressful!