As we walked uphill to our rental apartment on our first evening in Istanbul last May, the display at a tiny fruit store beckoned. We stopped and bought peaches, melons, cherries. The white-haired proprietor was so friendly, the fruit he chose for us so delicious, that we shopped nowhere else.
Last month we returned to Istanbul for two weeks, staying in the same area. "Merhaba!" our fruit guy -- as we called him -- cried, as if we were long-lost friends. We vigorously shook hands, chatting as much as my Turkish would allow.
We stopped in daily, whether we were short of fruit or not. We learned that our fruit guy has many children. That he opens unusally late in the day to catch the evening commuter foot traffic. That he cooks his own dinner on his desk, over a single burner. After tasting his rice soup -- wickedly spicy -- we knew that, like us, he loves chilies.
"If you were having a bad day, all you'd have to do is go to the fruit shop and you'd feel better. He's that kind of guy," mused Dave.
On our last evening in town we learned our fruit guy's name: Mehmet Ali. How ludicrous that we hadn't asked before. We told him ours, took his address, and promised to send a photo. He and Dave shook hands, and Mehment Ali kissed mine. He gifted us Izmir pears and Antalya oranges.
We said "Gorusuruz," (We'll meet again.), hoping that we will.