It’s been almost seven days in Kalkan, Turkey now.
It’s the third time I’m in Turkey and the very first I feel bad about being here. Even though I’m on a company retreat to get some actual work done and to get to know my new team, I can’t help but feeling like a tourist. Just another tourist.
In fact, it’s impossible not to be a tourist in Kalkan, a stunningly looking village in the middle on nowhere. Breathtaking views to the hills and the an endless blue sea present themselves to your eyes everywhere you look. So you can probably guess that about 80% of the people you see on the street are British, of course, and you rarely even hear Turkish words on the streets. The same streets which look like they’re filled with locals and small family businesses from a distance… until you approach them and you realise how wrong you were.
There’s nothing local about this place. I hated it from day one, in that aspect. Last year, Istambul felt cosy and warm, Kalkan feels fake and like it’s constantly trying to rip me off.
Today, wandering around town, I ended up finding a quiet little spot on a small alley. A few hand painted vases got my eye and I walked into the place. A man, probably on his sixties, welcomed me in broken english. I found it odd that he wasn’t trying at all to get me to buy anything, like everyone else, always shouting out prices at you, convincing you you’re getting the very best for less. No, this old timer was quiet.
I picked up one of the cups, and he told me it took him an entire day to paint that particular one. I’ve asked him about his method of painting; he happily showed me the tools and the oven where he glazes the vases. I got him going; and soon he was chatting about the twenty years running the shop; the vase painting job that has been in the family for the past three generations, the glazing process, the 18 hours a day spent painting just to keep up with tourist demands.
I kept walking around the small shop, very quietly. No other tourist, no other local seemed to even bother getting inside.
That one took me almost three days…! — he mentioned, when I picked up a larger vase. I could only congratulate him on his talent. He replied with the slowest and most grateful thank you I’ve heard in a long time.
I usually don’t buy anything in these shops, but today I did. I found a local. A very silent one, but a hard working local that gets hidden and obscured by the flashing LED lights and the come in my friend! that everyone else is shouting in every single street.