Kapalıçarşı Zincirli Han No: 15    34126 İstanbul / TÜRKİYE
Phone: (90) - 212 - 528 35 48 , Fax: (90) - 212 - 526 72 87

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I am now ready to take on the master Turkish rug merchant, Şişko ("Fat") Osman, First, of course, I have to find him.

To enter the Grand Bazaar is to become lost. No other result is possible. Fahrettin has assured me that I will have no problem finding Osman, because everybody knows him. This turns out to be true. Three times I ask for directories because three times I get lost. Everybody points the way. Twice more I ask even though I am not lost, just to see if there is anyone who does not know him. Everybody knows him.

Osman Şenel is his real name. He speaks seven languages, studied Arabic at Cairo University and economics at the Sorbonne and once weighed 134 kilos, which is 295 pounds, even though he is not a very tall man. Now he is down to 220. When I appear disappointed. He apologizes and explains that he had knee trouble and was forced to lose weight. He is 67 now, or at least he thinks so, because the birth certificates back then weren't all they are today, but he will not retire because that means he would be home with his wife, and his wife says she will divorce him if he is home all the time. He laughs happily. He is a happy man. Happy about his life and happy about his carpets.

I ask him how many carpets there are in all of Istanbul, and he replies "No one can say-how many paintings do they have in Paris?" He himself has three shops in the Grand Bazaar: one for tourists, one for collectors and one where he keeps his personal treasures. He shows me a 1910 Imperial carpet, gold in color, made so fine that it was used as a tablecloth. He shows me a ninery - year - old Taşpınar carpet with blues so vibrant they shimmer, made or wool so soft the carper folds like a silk handkerchief. The masterpieces tumble out, like Christimas decorations spilling from an overcrowded hall closet.