Thursday, March 09, 2006

Carpet-Bagging It

Just about three weeks ago I became the proud owner of two marvelous kilim rugs. When Sue O. and I set out for Badr's shop in Luxor's suq I only intended to purchase one kilim--for my room here at CH (see photo at left). Well, "the best laid plans", as they say! Shopping here (in Luxor and in Egypt in general) is an art and as such requires time and attention to the niceties of the process.
One chats, in this case about the Africa Cup results and bird flu, as well as Badr's family (Sue has known them for at least two decades), while sipping hot karkaday. We are then asked to give our opinion about some rugs he may or may not buy from a customer. This gets us into the rug room and very circumspectly brings us to the object of tonight's visit--purchasing a rug for me. Based on my comments about the customer's rugs, the brothers start to bring a variety of rugs out. I say yes to this one and no to that one and maybe to some others. Each successive rug which is brought out comes closer to the image I have in my mind's eye. Only after they have built up a more precise image of my preferences do we get to the subject of size. I have limited space in the bedroom. But once that is settled, the perfect kilim appears!
Of course, I should buy another one, too! Or at least so the brothers think...They can make me a much better deal on two (or even three?) than they can on one...Actually, a much larger one had caught my eye earlier in the process...Perhaps I should buy one for my living room in Woodland? Or for my eventual house in France? Oh, why not, it's only money--and coming out of my Egyptian pound bank account to boot! But I did resist the siren calls of several other kilims and kept my purchase to two.
So, who is to begin the bargaining process? Sue had clued me in before our arrival that I should insist that Badr go first. Then, I could either agree that his price was a fair one and end the bargaining right there, or I could make another offer somewhat lower than what I was actually willing to pay. So when he asked me what I thought a good price was I immediately suggested that he go first. When he did, I was so pleased and surprised with the reasonable amount that, although I pondered a while just to "play the game", I accepted his terms (after all, it included a great multi-use striped canvas duffle bag to transport them in!). I paid him half of what I owed him right then, but he was more than happy to wait for the rest of his money, and I could take the rugs with me--imagine most American merchants doing that!
All in all, it was a marvelous cultural and social experience. Oh, and yes, the brothers noted my silver-and-lapis jewelry, approved my taste, and suggested I return to look at their stock of the same. Hmm! What a difficult decision to have to make...
(Be sure to click on the title of this post for more info about kilims.)


  1. hi there - where about is badrs shop in the souq?? We are currently in Luxor learning how to shop :)
    With thanks - Tam

  2. Hi, Tam!
    Badr's shop (sorry, can't remember the actual name ;-( ) is on the right side at the first corner after you go through the imposing entrance from Station Street. It's three stories tall. If you go please tell them Marie from Chicago House sent you and that I will see them soon! Have fun...


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