Carpets For Sale

The art of haggling for a good bargain is considered a much desired attribute in many parts of the world so the acquisition of a handmade knotted carpet on a visit to the Middle East was not going to be achieved in an hour or two! We had made friends with a couple from Holland and Dirk had set his heart on a sizable rug for his pad in Amsterdam which was located close to the palace. He had spent the first day searching in all the shops he could find but none seemed to fit the bill. Then on his way to meet us for dinner, down a narrow back street where we had found a great local eatery with a blazing open log fire, he excitedly told us about a great carpet which he had seen in a craftsman window.

The shop was closed but he was up early and he rushed down the narrow lane to find the shop keeper opening up. The price was so high; no ancient heirloom would even have fetched such a price! Undeterred a whole week followed of negotiations and each visit the price reduced. He asked repeatedly for a closer inspection as he wanted to see how many knots were woven to the inch and the tightness of the weave, but until a price had been agreed the shop keeper would not remove it from the place where it was displayed. On the final morning of our stay he finally came to a price which he thought was a steal.

The carpet was removed from the window and at last he got the chance to look at the back. The quick flick offered by the shop keeper indeed revealed that it was of the very best quality and he got out his credit card ready to pay. The phone rang and the shop keeper turned to answer it. Casually our friend turned over another corner of the carpet to take another look for himself and he found a label which he had been looking for. Unfortunately it was not the one he had expected to find. It appeared that the carpet was the property of the local museum and of great historical importance. He loved it all the more and was tempted to overlook the revelation but his better side took over and he walked out while the shop keeper was still on the phone.

Efforts to contact the police in the short time left before we went to the airport proved fruitless. With heavy heart Dirk checked in the luggage and eyed a rug which another tourist had bought. Sadly he had left no time to buy anything else as he had been so taken with his one great find. Then a customs officer appeared and the man and his rug were escorted away. Later on the plane he discovered that it was not uncommon for visitors to buy museum items only to have them confiscated at the airport. The official and the shop keeper then shared the price paid for the carpet! Suddenly a smile spread over his face. ‘The worst of times had suddenly become the best of times’

J Myers

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