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Underwear Shopping in Istanbul

Underwear Shopping in Istanbul

Valentines day is raising its ugly head on the horizon, and being a good American with a good Valentine I know that I must purchase her the token hallmark of the holiday: underwear. It is a funny day when a bunch of stiff headed men have to go out panty shopping.

Pregnant Chaya has also burst out of her current bra from every seem, nook, and cranny, so this Valentines shopping excursion had a very practical bend.
Wade from Vagabond Journey.com
in Istanbul, Turkey- February 14, 2009
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I walked into a lingerie shop to find a few women in close quarters with bras, panties, and other weird woman things hanging from their arms. They looked surprised at my intrusion and dropped everything.

Unsure how to say “bra” in Turkish, I do the typical over exaggerated big boob gesture that I learned in my adolescents. The women gather around me in a semi-circle. I continued gesturing with one cupped hand held out from my right breast and another cupped hand extending from the left. I then pretended that I was jostling a gigantic set of make believe boobies. The women looked at me like I am from another planet.

“Big bra,” I say in English for good measure, “I need a really, really big bra.”

One woman had an epiphany and reached for a pair of pink panties and tried handing them too me with an excited smile. I declined the offer and continued with the unsuccessful gestures. The lady continued to offer me underwear. I then realized that the big boob gestures that I had learned as a kid in the USA had no function when trying to purchase a bra in Turkey, though I did learn the Turkish word for women’s underwear.

I figured that they only sell two things in a lingerie shop, and no matter how hard I tried I could not get them to guess the only remaining option. I then tried the traveler’s hallmark: pointing. But for some odd reason I could not crane my neck in any direction to be able to see a single bra. I happened to be very awkwardly boxed in by the semi-circle of women, and most of the items in the shop were packed up very conservatively in unmarked gift boxes. I tried to stumble passed the women to get myself into proper pointing position on a bra.

“Bra, bra, big bra,” I said as I discovered a brazier hanging on a rack behind the sales women. I excitedly pointed out the object of my search over the heads of the women.

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Underwear Shopping in Istanbul

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Filed under: Eastern Europe, Europe, Turkey

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 80 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3164 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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