23/365 Carpet Shopping (Islamabad, Pakistan)

23/365 – Carpet Shopping

Carpet shopping isn’t for the faint of heart. It is akin to a sport, requiring stamina and a lot of patience. It takes commitment to find the perfect size and color, to choose wool versus silk, kilim or carpet, Afhan or Iranian.  It is definitely not for the indecisive ones amongst us.
Carpet shopping revolves around an unspoken challenge between the customer and seller. The latter agrees to  lay out carpet after carpet until he’s hot and sweating from heaving the heavy pieces off the stacks and on to the floor, as the former, sits back, drinking green tea, pointing to piece after piece, discarding some and saving others. The discarded carpets are added to the mountain of rugs that will be re-folded and stacked up long before the next customer arrives. The saved pieces go into a second pile until there are no more carpets to lay out.  At this point the whole process of saving and discarding begins again with the new pile and will happen at least four more time until there are only a handful of carpets left and a final decision is made.

Once decisions have been made, the seller sets about quickly folding up all the wares until they’re flat squares and slides them into waiting bags before any wavering minds are changed.  As the customer sits back, weary from the long day, the seller, who is conditoned for long days surrounded by carpets, adeptly swipes the customer’s credit card, and carries all the bags to the waiting cars with ease.

It won’t be until later, when the customer gets home and tries to unload the bags, weighted down by multiple dense carpets, that the real winner of the day becomes clear.


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