"The Operator"

The following is an excerpt from Fare Issue 1: Istanbul

Photography by Liz Seabrook, Words by Ben Mervis


Down a small side street of the ancient and emblematic Grand Bazaar, beside a beautiful medieval courtyard, is a small closet space where an old man makes tea for hundreds.

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 In the Grand Bazaar tea flows in waves. It's served strong and black, in hourglass-shaped glasses, beside sugar cubes and a small spoon.

In the Grand Bazaar tea flows in waves. It's served strong and black, in hourglass-shaped glasses, beside sugar cubes and a small spoon.

 The walls of this console are lined with over a dozen telephones and each of them is wired directly to a different shop across the market.

The walls of this console are lined with over a dozen telephones and each of them is wired directly to a different shop across the market.

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The calls come too often to make tea in the traditional way—using the double-tiered kettle, the çaydanlık. Instead the operator runs boiling water from a tap through a strainer filled with tea leaves and into a series of glasses deftly carried in his off hand. 

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The order is ready in a matter of minutes and loaded onto a tray by the console's attendant. The man steadies the tray before darting off down the bazaar's maze of side streets. There is a short silence, a brief break, and then another call comes in.

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To read more about Fare Issue 1: Istanbul, or to order your own copy of the magazine, click the link below. Fare ships worldwide for a flat £3 rate.