Travelling locally, for me ... but maybe not for you ...
Outdoor food markets are, by and large, far beyond being merely markets of food; rather they are cinema and opera all rolled into one. Sellers ladle out heaping bowls of words in rhythm to the bagging of their wares. Sonorous voices start low and reach a crescendo as the price per kilo flows through the market in bass tones. Prices and produce, produce and prices. Each of the salesmen smiles a rich, lippy smile as his hands scoop piles of peppers or beans or manhandle a cabbage and thrust all meatily into a waiting sack.
Thus it is on any given day in the countless street markets of Istanbul. Sundays will find the market in a neighbourhood like Koşuyolu, while Mondays may have delivered it five kilometers away to Bağlarbaşı. Nevertheless, they maintain the same flavour, the same odours, the same calls, the same changing seasonal colours. From soon after dawn when the canvas canopies are slung from roof to roof and pole to pole, until dusk when the wooden tables are piled against the walls and the debris of greenery lies strewn in their place, the torrent of voices rolls through the streets. It is a cacophony of joy.
Ritually the day begins with truckloads of fruit and vegetables from around Turkey lumbering through the streets to the neighbourhood markets. Canvasses are erected, lamps are attached to the nearest electrical street wires, friendly cajoling and dickering soon begins. Soon, the sellers are shining their apples and rinsing their produce, stacking it neatly on the tables in front of them from the boxes piled massively behind. There seems to be no end to the cornucopia nor to the care which is bestowed upon it by the moustachioed men who await the crowds of women who will buy goods from the most inviting source.
Men on one side shouting "auntie" or "big sister" followed by the price drawn out for the benefit of all. Crowds of women slowly moving down the street between the tables, slightly hunched under the weight of the plastic bags already filled with leeks, carrots, peppers, still looking for five or ten kilos of juicy oranges or perhaps a couple of heads of lettuce if the price is right.
In spite of the fearsome shouts intoned again and again, politeness holds sway between the sellers. Unhesitatingly, one seller will make change for his neighbour and will know that any debt will be cleared within minutes. To break potential boredom, sometimes a lemon will fly from one table to another, barely missing its seemingly intended mark. Perhaps an apple will be lobbed (never sizzled) in return, accompanied by laughter from the observing men. The women will notice without gazing and proceed unsmilingly with an audible "tsk, tsk". Boys all, no matter what age.
The serious business of selling draws to a close as dusk approaches. Once again, trucks move in to take away any remnants of the day's work. There is little to be found either in the boxes or on the tables. The sounds fade until night settles in and garbage trucks rumble through the area, picking up and cleaning the memories of the streets.