Explore Turkey Day 12: 5th January 2018

As we explore the streets of Istanbul, along the way to Topkapi Palace, one can find this old lady sewing handmade pouches. On our first day there, we were on the opposite side and as we saw a group of crowds, we were not able to see her.

The next day, when we finally got on to this side of the streets, we then realised what the crowd was about.

It was this old lady’s masterpieces and the presence of her, diligently sewing every one of her pouch with great enthusiasm, love and patience, may have caught their attention. Who wouldn’t. Besides, I have a weakness when it comes to anyone who tries to earn by using their own skills humbly and sincerely. They did not beg, instead, they offer something they can afford to do in return for cash.

This has caught photographers and even customers to stop by and look at her workpiece and getting some shots of her. When we got there, there was a male customer who was busy with his DSLR, snapping photos of her as she sew her pieces. While I busied myself looking at each pouch in awe and even took some time to watch her working on one of the latest design. Each designs are different, which makes it even more unique. The longer pouch which has a yellow flower with red border caught my eyes instantly and I knew who it will be for – my mum, who loves yellow. And I find that to be one of the most stunning piece this lady has sewn.

As I was busying myself trying to pick 2 more of the pouch, hubby occupied himself with taking photographs of this moment as per my request to him earlier on. It took me awhile as I couldn’t make up my mind. The lady was kind enough to help me choose some of it. I respect the male customer who bought 1 of the small pouch in return for the photograph he gets out of her.

Finally, after what seems like forever, I picked another 2 small pouch which cost 2 Liras each on top of the long pouch which cost 10 Lira, making it a total of 14 Liras. I paid to the lady and she beamed up with a very sweet smile. It was at this point when I suddenly saw my grandma’s face. I nearly cried. But instead, I smiled at her and said “Tesekkur Ederim”, which means ‘I Thank you’ in Turkish as I hold her hand and she hold mine.

So if you see her on the streets, do support her by just buying 1 of the small pouch. There may be some scams out there but this, I doubt so. She works hard for it, sewing it on her own and as you can see, there are not many pieces. So definitely not a scam.

Have you come across any handmade seller by the streets? How do you feel about it?

It’s been almost 2 weeks since we got back and I still feel like my soul is in Istanbul.


Lia Schmolphin

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