The Grand Bazaar, construction of which began in the 15th century, is vast and labyrinthine.
You’re looking at bracelets made of glass “evil eyes” to ward off bad luck, you step away for a moment to look at tiny boxes handmade from bone, when a man asks very politely what you’re looking for. You say, Nothing really, he produces these silver earrings and when he sees the gleam of covetousness in your eyes he says, Follow me, I know a store with beautiful earrings.
Your curiosity overrides your experiential knowledge that you have no internal GPS. You follow the seller—who looks like an extra from Argo where this bazaar stood in for the one in Tehran—leaving memory bread crumbs along your route.
You arrive at the vaunted store and make for the earrings, and the seller rolls down the metal awning, looking vaguely offended at your expression of alarm. He suspects you have seen Taken 2 and and says it’s for your convenience, so you can shop in peace. Which you proceed to do. A half hour later, with your bag heavier despite the new lightness of your wallet, you retrace your steps to the entrance, only to find that the bread crumbs of memory have vanished. Everything seems familiar, but isn’t.
The tiles of the Grand Bazaar are grouted with the desiccated bones of shoppers who never found their way out.
That’s what might have happened if the tour guide didn’t warn us that this could happen, and allow us just 30 minutes for browsing.