After the roof literally fell in, Vicky and Mr P realized they’d not only been fleeced out of their savings, but they’d also just lost any hope of ever living in their dream house; they’d have to find other ways to make money, another place to live:
The first couple of days after that we alternated between repeating the mantra “nobody hurt, nobody killed” and saying “maybe the reinforced concrete?” We even got a second, third and fourth opinion – all of them the same. The last one even said that it was so dangerous that he would never send his workers to work in our place whatever we would pay him. This clinched it and we began to worry about our safety. We had to get out. Which would mean finding somewhere to rent. Which would mean urgently finding some money. Which would mean getting a job. Our friends couldn’t really understand that we really were broke – all foreigners here are well off, they run hotels and businesses or are just retired, have all kept a place in their home country and go back in the harsh winter months. However when they realised how desperate we were to find a job, they rallied round and enquiries were made to travel agencies, hotels, exploring the possibility of giving English lessons. One day we met Guven who had a friend who ran a huge onyx and jewellery place where the tourists are taken between tours. He took us, introduced us, explained our predicament and the boss said “You start on Monday” Yuppee!! We had a job!
Guven told us that we should wait a couple of weeks before discussing salary and that we learn the ropes and show that we could sell. So we arrived and were introduced to our colleagues who were all really helpful and friendly. Basically we learned that you arrive in the morning, clean the showcases then go and sit in the staffroom and drink tea and do crosswords until a coach arrives. Depending on the nationality and number of the tourists the chief salesman (who looked and acted more like a class prefect) calls out who who should go into which salesroom. When the selling is over you go back to the staffroom for more tea and crosswords. For hours on end! Boring. The first day Mr P asked Serife (who spoke perfect French) what time we went home. We had thought around 5 pm but no, we had to stay until 7 pm. His next question “What day of the week do we have off” was met with indignation : you don’t get a day off for at least the first month and then you would ask permission from the boss! This was going to be one boring job! But we got a hot lunch free and the colleagues were fun. We had thought that the atmosphere would be competitive but everybody helped each other out – this was due to the intelligent commission system where the commission was paid on the basis of what was sold per room, not per salesperson. Mr P enjoyed it, I was more timid but we sold something every day. And we learned the Turkish art of taking it cool, waiting for hours, drinking tea and making silly jokes. Also this helped us with our Turkish language skills.
We were still worrying (Mr P is a professional worrier). We still had no idea of how much we were going to be paid. We knew the minimum wage per month was (at that time) 625 TL and hoped we might get a little more. Our colleagues were fun and helpful to us but we could see that they were not highly educated, many had very worn out shoes, all the men are wearing suits but they worn at the elbows and knees. The few people who had cars had really old bangers in a worse state than our very old Ford Taunus. And most of the men had second jobs in kebab shops or teahouses in the evening. Didn’t look as if the boss was paying good money. Our main worry was that this place was outside of town on the other side from our village and we were driving 60 kms a day with the Taunus which was drinking up GPL like nobody’s business. Our second worry was that we were working illegally. Mr P had lived in Romania where he had seen people who were working illegally being deported on the spot without even being given the time to go back home and pack a bag. If I was deported it would be to the UK and I left in 1989 so what would I do there?
Worries on the second point were swiftly allayed. One day Serefe came running up to us “Victoria, find Mr P and get out, go home!” I asked her why. “There is a control. You don’t have sigorta, get out quick go home now.” We went to the staff room to find 3 other people also packing their bags one of whom I’d never though was not Turkish. Just as we are going out the back entrance to the car park the errand boy comes in “false alert, you can stay”. The Japanese girl who was usually so elegant and polite let rip a resounding “SH*T!” which is how we felt too. As we took off our coats we asked the others how long they had worked there illegally. One said 9 years, the other 4 years, the other 5 years. So we reckoned that everybody knew and the boss gave the envelopes in the right places.
So the next thing was the money. Accompanied by Serefe we went to see the boss. He told us what our monthly salary would be. Crikey O’Riley it barely covered the cost of the GPL. And we wouldn’t get commission before another 6 months. This was not good. And there was no negotiating. We were going to have to find another solution
After jewellery-selling, carpet-selling!
One morning as I woke up I realised I couldn’t stand another day of little school ma’m Serife telling me “Cam, Victoria, cam!” as we went to clean the showcases. Being told that I had not put enough spray or too much and having to wait at the door until 7pm exactly before being allowed to leave. So we handed in our notice and celebrated in style! The next day with a wonderful hangover we had to look for another job. By a complete stroke of luck a friend of a friend called us and said she had a friend who might introduce us to the boss of a huge carpet-selling outfit. So off we went but unfortunately the bloke told us that he didn’t want to take the risk of hiring illegal workers. “But try the place across the road, I’ve heard they take them.” So we trotted over the road and wandered into the office and were hired on the spot. Double the salary of the jewellery place and he even offered to pay something towards the petrol after the trial period of 2 months! When we came back to Urgup and told our good news everybody was gob-smacked – all the Turkish people are queuing up to get into this outfit, it has the best reputation in the region and the best customers.
We were handed into the care of Metin who spoke perfect French and who looked after us as if we were his little chickens. Everybody was very welcoming and reassured us that we would not sell anything before at least 2 months. We first had to learn about carpets, the weaving, the designs, the symbols, the regions, wool on wool, wool on cotton, mercerised cotton etc. So we went from salesroom to salesroom and learned about Yayali, Taspinar, Mugla, Ufac, Dosmealti. We learned how to recognise the carpets even when they were rolled up on the back side. And in between our learning we drank endless cups of tea. But I felt very apprehensive about the selling side. I knew I would be no good, selling earrings at 10 euros is one thing, selling carpets at 10000 euros is another thing. I couldn’t believe that people would actually buy these things. One day the boss invited me to follow his demonstration. It was a group of French pilgrims doing the “in the footsteps of St Paul” tour. The boss had been brought up in France and his French was perfect which went down a bomb with the Frogs. He showed them how the double knot is done, how many knots per square centimeter, the natural dyes, the life of a silk worm and how the silk is threaded afterwards. Then the carpets from all the different regions. The bearers tossed the carpets in an amazing array, his speech gets faster and higher-pitched, I am riveted, it is like being in a Billy Graham stadium, I have goose-bumps and you can feel the electricity in the air as the carpets fly and flop one on top of the other. One woman starts to say stop, stop, I want that one. And another woman starts and suddenly they are all at it. When he finishes his speach the salespeople are all in the room, they slip in silently 5 mins before the end. And half an hour later the group left, thanking the boss for his kindness, his good prices, his excellent French. And leaving 40 000 euros behind them. I couldn’t believe that someone who had no intention to buy a carpet in Turkey would pay 16 000 euros on a whim! But none of the salespeople were impressed.
So we were learning a lot and our colleagues were great. Mr P loved the sales aspect and I hated it. I don’t like talking to people I don’t know. Everybody kept telling me, you’ll be fine, don’t worry, but I always felt stressed as soon as a group arrived. There was no pressure to sell, not before at least 2 months, but I was putting the pressure on me. All my colleagues told me, watch the others and do the same. When I watched Semi I knew I could never do the same. Semi was in his 50s with long grey hair and the most laid-back attitude I have ever seen. In front of a woman next to her bored husband “I’m not sure, do you think it with go with the curtains in the dining-room, darling, I’m not sure I like it, what do you think darling, I’m not sure” Semi says “Well if you don’t like it, don’t buy it” and walks off. She runs after him “oh yes, I do like it, please don’t go” and they go off together to the till!
One day after a demonstration and after my trying desperately to sell a kilim to no avail, Mr P comes down from one of the salesrooms. He is all flushed and excited. “I sold a carpet!”. Suddenly everybody is around him. Semi gives him a big hug and a kiss and I can see his eyes shining “Only 3 weeks and you sold. Bravo!” So that night we celebrated in style.
July 2009 in the carpet shop:
We had got into our daily routine. You arrive in the morning and check the list of coaches with their nationality and the name of the tour operator. If there are no English or French-speaking groups we know that we are going to spend another long 10 hours drinking tea and “reading” the newspaper, but at least we are being paid to do nothing. The morning ritual is tea and tost and we sit out on the pretty patio area watching the fountain. Around 11 we check what is on the menu for the canteen – incidentally very good food and for me the highlight of the day! The place is definitely classier than the jewellery shop, the 25 salesrooms are all air-conditionned with beautiful decoration and lighting. I am impressed with our colleagues’ language skills, each of them speaks at least one foreign language : English, French, German, Spanish, Japanese (of course) and even Flemish. They all have at least one university degree and we have some interesting and intelligent conversations. We find out that we still have a lot to learn about the tourist industry in general and the carpet industry in particular. They tell us about the hierarchy of sellers: ceramics and pottery sellers are at the bottom of the pile, then up the pyramid come the onyx and jewellery sellers and the “creme de la creme” are of course the carpet sellers. Moving your way up this ladder apparently takes years which explains why people were so astounded that we’d just walked into this job. We learn about which tour operators bring good customers and which groups will be “ceviz” (the codename for they won’t buy anything, don’t bother). We try to learn the carpet sellers’ walk, a long loping slide that makes the seller glide across the floor like a bride in a ballroom, but with invisible rapidity which makes the seller just suddenly appear next to the person he has singled out as potential. We failed dismally at The Walk, we found ourselves trotting instead of loping and even so Metin and Semi would still be yards in front of us. No hands behind the back, never hands in the pockets, your arms should dangle loosely and you should look laid-back and cool. I just looked stressed-out and sweaty! We learn that travel agencies and tour guides make the tourist world turn – never, oh never, get on the wrong side of a tour guide. They bring the right customers with the right income-bracket and they have already prepared them and got them all trusting and ready to buy. For this they get their commission – up to 30% of what is sold per group. (I now understood the happy smile of the guide who brought the group who spent 40 000 euros in one hour!). Anybody involved with the tour group also gets their commission : the hotel, the agency, the bus driver etc. In the evening an employee from the company goes round the hotels and agencies and hands out their envelopes. At the same time he speaks to the guides about the following day’s groups. He finds out as much about the group as possible. Who has already bought jewellery or onyx, which pretentious git thinks he knows all about carpets but couldn’t tell the difference between a machine-made carpet and his backside. Which one is the rich widow/divorcee (there is always one) who has to flash her money around to show her travelling companions that she might not have a husband but she has just sold 3 of her houses on the Riviera and she has a load of lovely dosh. All this information is passed on to the sellers again using code words and signs. Our jewellery-selling stint has taught us a lot about human-nature and the animal instinct that comes out in people travelling around together as a flock. We saw people buying carpets just to put down their neighbours, or just to show off “My husband has a bigger credit card than yours”. In general the women were bitchy and jealous and the men would go round proclaiming that this was “damned good quality” suddenly promoting themselves into carpet experts. I also overheard a man saying to another in his group “The bloke showed my wife a ridiculously small silk square for 20 000 euros. I told her, damn it, Pamela, I don’t mind spending 20 000 but at least get something Big that the neighbours can see”. Sad. Since I was beginning to have doubts about the origins and quality of the carpets we were selling, watching these silly, arrogant nouveaux riches paying way over the odds for carpets and even saying thank you after, quashed my few qualms. Not all groups were of the same category, though, one day we had a group from Hong Kong who were one an all inclusive holiday. I watched Kemal do his demonstration as they all chatted to each other, texted, phoned their friends, hawked, burped and farted. I had to leave the room in fits of giggles as I saw their group leader stick his finger up his nose, perhaps in pursuit of a bit of brain, rummage around for a couple of minutes before bringing out an impressive-sized piece of snot. This was duly inspected before being popped into his mouth and chewed. Over the din I heard Kemal’s voice falter and I saw the horrified look on his face. Bravely he soldiered on with his speech and at that point the group leader lifted up one buttock, rolled to his side and let rip a resounding and very smelly fart! That finished me and I fled from the room to take my hysterical laughter elsewhere leaving Kemal to his unenviable fate.
We learned a lot from working in the carpet shop and we have great respect for our colleagues. You have to know your stock off the the top of your fingers. At the back of each of the 25 salesrooms you have scores of carpets and kilims rolled up. You have to remember which one is where so when someone says to you “I’d like something beige about this size” you can immediately ask the bearer to go to room number 17 and bring the Milas karyola and from the room number 6 the Kayseri seccade. We spent our afternoons going from room to room trying to remember which carpets were where and what they were. And there were hundreds of them. We tested each other out as we looked at the back side of the pattern as they were rolled up. I knew Mr P was getting good when I asked him “What’s that one?” “Oh, far too easy, that’s a Dosmealti”. A week before neither of us had ever heard of Dosmealti!
We had an interesting conversation with our colleagues one day about what was a good sale for them. Hurriyet told us that he had just sold a carpet for 10 000 euros to a couple who had a budget of 10 000 euros. That, he told us is not a sale. If you sell something for 15 000 to someone who has a budget of 10 000 then you can be proud of yourself. Semih chimed in : never sell what they want to buy, that is the best challenge. I looked askance at him. He explained, they come in here and they want something pink for their dining room. They want something 3m by 3m. You’ll never find the right pink that goes with the curtains and 3*3m doesn’t exist. You’ll wear yourself out showing scores of pink carpets that will never be right. Find a green runner for the corridor, if you sell that, you can consider that you are a good salesman.
So we went from day to day, learning, watching and drinking tea. The guy who made and served the tea used to ask us words in English or French and teach us some words in Turkish. As he made his rounds with his tray he would always sing “Persembe, Persembe!” I asked a colleague why did he always seem happier on Thursdays. She told me that his wife observed Friday and that she only allowed him sex on Thursdays. So we understood his radiant smile on Thursdays and why he looked sad on Fridays.
One day I asked our friend who has a small carpet shop in Urgup how we can tell if the carpets are really hand-made or machine-made in China or India. He told us to work with carpets for at least 20 years. He told us normally a handmade carpet will have slight imperfections but in China and India they have caught onto this and have introduced deliberate imperfections into their machines’ programmes. He was born into carpets, his has inherited his father’s shop. His father went around Cappadocia on his donkey and bought directly in the villages. He told us that if you’ve lived, ate and slept with carpets you know as a gut-feeling when it is not a real hand-woven one.
One day we were called for a French group around 10 am. At the end the second boss (there were three) introduced us to one of the guides. We smiled, chatted and all was fine. We wandered over to check the menu, by now it was nearly lunch time and it was my favourite. Good day. Suddenly the second boss came out of his office and asked us to come in. He didn’t look us in the eyes as he talked and looked very uneasy. “We have a friend in Ankara who tells us that someone has been asking questions about your work permits. We can’t take the risk. You have to leave now. I’ll have the accountant give you the money but you have to leave the premises as quickly as possible.” We are thunderstruck. I asked the guy “We have only been working here for 3 and a half weeks. How on earth can Ankara hear of this?” He looks away and mumbles something and the accountant arrives with our salary. We walk out of the office in a complete haze. Metin greets us “Are you coming to the canteen, It’s your favourite today”. We tell him, we are fired. Metin turns to stone. “It is not possible. And you sold. And you were good. Why????” We told him the explanation we were given and he shakes his head in disbelief. Semih comes up “What’s happening”. We tell him. Tears roll down his cheeks as he takes Mr P in a huge bear-hug. Everybody is shellshocked but Metin grabs my arm as we leave “Don’t worry, I’ll find you something. Don’t worry”. At that point I’m not even worrying I’m just gob-smacked.
We drove back to Urgup in complete silence as we tried to absorb what was happening to us. We arrived in our local cafe and sat looking at each other. Suleyman arrived with a wide smile and asked us what we were doing there at that time of day. We just couldn’t answer so he came back with two big beers. We went over who could have, what had we done wrong, had we made enemies, how come other people are working illegally for 9 years without anybody saying anything. To this day we still don’t know what went wrong but everybody around us was categoric, nobody bothers you about work permits in Cappadocia. Ugur told us that for Ankara, Cappadocia was “the *rsehole of the world”. Nobody believed the story the boss number 2 had given us. Jealousy is rife and it could be that a guide who had been refused a job there, or for his brother or cousin, was miffed and had threatened the bosses. I went more for the theory that we had been hired by the 2 bosses while the third (a woman) was in Istanbul and when she came back she had been very cold with us. Maybe she was upset that she had not been consulted (again). Anyway we imagined a lot of things but it wouldn’t get us out of the crappy situation we were in. Pragmatically I ask Mr P if he had counted the money. We recounted and realised we were missing 2 days of work each. We rang the shop and got boss number one who said that his brother had just made a mistake and that we should come back the next day.
The next day we return an ware immediately surrounded by our ex-colleagues who hug, kiss and cuddle Mr P and shake my hand firmly. Boss tells us to go to the accountant for the money and disappears. Metin gesticulates that he has something to say to me. When we come back from the accountant Metin says he has a friend who has a friend who has a hotel and needs somebody to help him out with his computer and internet. Since he knows I was IT manager before he has recommended me to his friend. I protest, IT is a vast domain and if it is rolling up sleeves and doing the mechanics part, I don’t know, I can’t do, I’m not sure.. Metin cuts me off. Listen, whatever he asks you to do, you know how to do. OK? He apologises that he hasn’t yet found anything for Mr P but he is looking. We thank him profusely and head off to the hotel.
Salih’s hotel is gorgeous, a cave hotel but decorated with taste and European style. The light switches are in the right place and every detail has been thought out. Salih himself is a gentleman but also a businessman. He is extremely vague about what he wants me to do and at one point starts talking about serving breakfasts but I stop him quickly on that one. I’m not cleaning rooms and I’m not serving breakfast. The salary he offers is ridiculous so we haggle. We manage to up the monthly salary a bit with hours from 9 to 7 and one day off a week. Salih says he won’t go further since he doesn’t know me and doesn’t know what I can do. Fair enough, we agree to talk again after a month.
Working for Salih is completely different to what we have done before. To start off with, Mr P is sat at home all day doing nothing and I am working. For another I am working in an office all on my own and I miss the interaction with colleagues. No canteen of course but Salih tells me I can go to the kitchen and take whatever I want from the fridge. Salih seems to have a bird-like appetite and the fridge has never anything else except cheese, olives and nuts. Salih is a hardened bachelor and very pernickety about where things are put. “Vicky, I don’t want to upset you but we put the cups on the left side with the handles on the right”. “Vicky, I don’t want to upset you but I have just been to smell the cup you just washed and it doesn’t smell of washing-up liquid”. “Oh, good”. “No, it’s not good, it should smell of washing-up liquid. In fact I’d rather do the washing-up myself so just leave the things on the table.” Great!
Metin was right. Everything he asks me to do, I can do. For starters he asks me to check the English translation of the home page of his web site. Well, the English is not too bad but the text is awful! A whole lot of sentimental slush about dreams and fairies and Cappadocia being the land of the beautiful horses. Salih tells me that a friend in Ankara has been working on his website for 3 months and it is still not finished but that he has never been able to find it on the internet. I try too and give up after page 30 on Google. I do a word count on his home page and find that the most recurrent word is “horses” and that the word “hotel” doesn’t appear anywhere. His meta-tags are non-existent and there is no way that anybody Googling “cave hotel in Cappadocia” would ever find him. So I set about finding ways to get him referenced better. Starting with sending meta-tags to his guy in Ankara who seems to work at snail’s pace. Re-writing the text (although Salih insisted on keeping in parts of his sentimental slush). Then backlinks and web directories and online booking engines. Then creating him a customer database with automatic alerts of birthdays to send a friendly email. Then price analysis, margins, commission and cost. Setting up his anti-virus, automated nightly backups, finding internet guidebooks and forums etc. Salih is appreciative and excited as we start getting the first reservations and his website gets up to page 3 on Google. He asks me to program him an accounts program to replace his little book where he notes down every expense and every revenue. That is fine but maybe it is time to talk pay rise here. So I show him job descriptions on kariyer.com and the salary they are offering. Yes but that is Ankara, he objects. Yes, but Salih, it is still 3 times what you are paying me. Let me think, he says, I’ll tell you tomorrow.
Over the months that I worked for Salih other things have been happening. For one, they have decided to redo the road that leads up out of Urgup up to our village. They start by ripping off the complete surface leaving a mud-track with huge ridges in it – I haven’t seen anything worse even in Kenya. Negotiating this every day was awful especially when they started to widen the road and hack away at some of the mountain and the cars were stopped for up to an hour for fear of rock fall. Luckily I still had reading matter at that point. One morning I drove out of the village and turned onto the main road only to find that they had put down a whole load of gravel on the road. I wasn’t driving fast (I never do) but as I slid across the road I made the mistake of braking. The car suddenly swerved to the right and anything I did to the steering wheel had no effect. Of course this is at the only part of the road where the fields are about 3 metres below the road. So I am going at right angles over the road and down to the fields like a Thelma and Louise. I can’t do anything about it so I remember thinking that I have had a good life and if this is it, then so be it. Then something hits me over the head and a big silence. When I open my eyes I am surrounded by grapevines and the speakers are on the dashboard (that’s what hit me on the back of the head). I look at my hands – nothing, I touch my head, no blood, no scratch, nothing. I manage to open the car door and get out. The car looks a little twisted but I touch my arms and legs and am amazed, nothing. I look at the distance that the car has flown and have to sit down in the vineyard. I phone Mr P
– “Don’t worry I’ve had an accident but I am fine”.
– “Oh my God, where are you, what happened”
– ” I just slid of the road, I am in a field, please come”
– “Which field?”
I look around me no landmarks.
-“I don’t know, I’m in a field”
Mr P arrives all in a panic but with Ahmet Greeneyes and his tractor. I hadn’t thought to tell him that I was 3 metres below the road and I couldn’t climb out. Ahmet tells us we need a winch so Mr P phones our friend Yasar who knows a mechanic who will come out. In between time I phone Salih to tell him I’ll be late for work. Immediately he asks, are you alright, do you have a mechanic. I tell him everything is fine, I’ll just be a little late. We are coming, he says, I tell him it really isn’t necessary but he cuts the phone off. In between time all the cars who pass have stopped, people got out, asked if everybody is OK, do we have a phone to call the mechanic. I don’t want to do a slushy Zaman Times thing but I do know in France people will slow down to look at an accident but only to see if there is any blood and then they drive off.
Anyway the shock is starting to set in and I’m slightly irritated at the people standing there and doing their “haaaaan” and “allah, allah” thing. Luckily Ahmet and Mr P come to their senses and haul me up the bank. Mr P slides down to check the car and tells me he has checked that I was only in 3rd gear. I am indignant – everybody knows that I don’t drive fast. They check the skid marks on the road – apparently I left the road one metre off the edge then flew for another 5 metres and landed 3 metres further down. All the crowd are talking about the hand of Allah that was protecting my head. All I knew was that I was shaking all over and had to sit down on the ground. Salih arrived with his handyman at the same time as the mechanic and after the car had been winched out of the field and Salih had found the foreman and severely told him off for his negligence of creating such dangerous driving conditions we went to Urgup. Basically we found out that we would have to get the car repaired in Nevsehir and even with Salih negociating for us, this would be 500 Tl, just what I had earned over the last weeks. What a b*mmer. But again, nobody hurt, nobody killed. A friend brought us back to our village and of course everybody was out to know what had happened. “Haaaan, the hand of Allah is over your head”. We walk up the dirk track to our house and meet the flock of women who every day sit in the track, crack pumpkin seeds and exchange the latest gossip. “Are you all right?” I reassure tham I have nothing, not even a scratch. “Haaaan, the hand of Allah is over your head”. Just at this moment the huge village Kangal arrives. I know this dog, he is a bit stupid and maybe his eyesight is not good because he tends to run into you from behind which is a little uncomfortable since he is wearing a spiky metal collar, but he is not violent, just sometimes hungry and if you are carrying a bag with bread in it he will take a big chunk in his impressive jaws. So I fondle his head and say some nice words to him. The village women have fled screaming and squawking and are now perched on the roof terraces crying “the hand of Allah, the hand of Allah!” I feel that I will now have the status of “Saint Victoria” in the village!
The day after my accident we were both at home, the car would take 3 days to repair. Fatma teyze came up to our house all excited about a story about Mehmet the Serefsiz and the Hesap of Allah. All we understood was that he had had some accident and was in hospital in Nevsehir (which means that is serious) and something about glass and his arm. I phoned my friend Emine who always has the latest on everything. It turned out that M had decided to sell his rent-a-car business and that since he no longer had any friends to help him had taken in upon himself to clear out the offices himself. Among one of the things to move was a large piece of glass which was on the desk. As he picked it up it slipped and broke and cut his arm, sectioning a vein/artery/cutting his arm of completely depending on which version we heard! In the village everybody jubilated “Allah is reckoning up the accounts now” “The hand of Allah will be hanging over him now” “He’s starting to pay for his evil deeds”. I shouldn’t really take any pleasure in somebody’s misfortune but I must admit I did smile as he was driven though the village to the sounds of the jeers of the Village People.
Meanwhile, Mr P had had the time to think. Stuck up in the village without a car he tended to philosophise and ruminate. We were getting to the end of the tourist season and all our friends who were mostly running shops or businesses is Urgup told us the season had been really bad. The tour guides were getting greedier and were telling tourists not to walk round Urgup at night as it was dangerous. This was of course to make sure they buy in shops with the guide who gets his com. When we looked at Yasar who opens his shop at 8 am and closed at midnight or 1 am and who has some beautiful carpets and only 3 carpets sold over the season we were sick. He is open every day of the year and never a day off. Winter was coming soon and in Cappadocia the season traditionally goes for 8 months and nothing for 4. So if you’ve missed the season you are going to have difficulties finding money to buy coal, pay your rent and feed your family over the winter. So Mr P says why don’t we create a website where we promote small businesses and corner shops. Otherwise Urgup will turn into one of these towns like in the north of France where all the big supermarkets have run the small places out of business and they are all closed in the centre of town. It would be a way of putting back all the help we have had from our friends. I am enthusiastic and frustrated that I can’t work as much as I would like to on this project because I am stuck working for Salih. But Salih thinks it is a great idea and asks me “If you know how to make websites why don’t you go for it big time?” He has now been waiting 5 months for his 5 page website. “Everybody knows that foreigners make better websites and work better and finish things. Foreigners know what foreigners want.” The idea starts to grow and after our Cappadocia promotion site we start thinking about the idea of setting up a web-design business. We get our first customer through Yasar and we haven’t looked back since. So the day when Salih talked about the pay rise he told me he had thought of 2 solutions : 1) I would wait another year 2) I would take less salary and take a commission on the rooms I sold. I told him I had a 3rd solution : we stop there. Salih looked astounded “It isn’t hell working for me”. No, I told him, but we want to work for ourselves now.
(up next: off to court!)