Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Magic Carpets of Mumbai

Last weekend I went on a magic carpet ride with a couple of friends.  We visited Manzoor's carpet shop.

In the fall Manzoor had a carpet party (there's a party for everything these days), a gathering, at a colleagues' apartment.  He brought carpets from all over Asia.  Iran, Turkey, India and Pakistan were just a few of the countries represented.  At that time, he brought a few carpets over to my apartment that I "tried" out.  Some other friends did too.  Kelli wrote a post about it as well here.

By "try out" I mean that you keep the carpet at your home.  You use it.  Walk on it, lay on it, play board games, whatever.  Manzoor will periodically check-in to see how you like them.  If you've narrowed it down, he'll come by and pick-up those you don't want.

 I've gotta give Manzoor credit.  It's a good business strategy.  Get the product into someone's home so they can see just how much they "need it."  My "trial" forced quick carpet attachment. I found I "needed" one.  One for my bedroom.  That carpet I fell in love with and bought.

From this purchase, Manzoor learned about the types of carpets I prefer, kilims.  My weakness.  More modern tribal designs.  Bright colors.

A couple of weeks ago, Manzoor sent me a text sharing that he'd gotten some more kilims and asked if I wanted to come to his shop and see them.  He said he'd arrange transportation for me and some friends.  Around 11:30, Manzoor arrived to my apartment with a carpet in hand.  A large one that he instantly rolled out onto the floor (I'm still thinking about that one too).

Then we got in the taxi he organized and picked up Jenn and Gretchen.  Manzoor's carpet shop is near Chor Bazaar in the central of Mumbai.  It took just about an hour to get there from Bandra.  It was the first day in a while where just riding in the taxi made you sweat.  Gotta love the heat in the city!

We arrived to a building that was well over 100 years old.  We climbed the stairs that had impressions from years of wear.  We gripped a beautiful railing and saw the exposed wires that we've gotten accustomed to seeing which run along the walls.  We reached the third floor and entered a room.  A room about the size of my apartment living room.  The room was divided into 2 parts.  One part behind a wall seemed to contain a bathroom and kitchen.  We sat in plastic chairs and the carpet shopping or unrolling began.

Carpet after carpet was laid out before us.  Initially, as Manzoor always says, "Just look."  After they had unrolled about 20 carpets, they began to roll them back up. If any caught out eye, we asked them to pull them out and put them to the side.

This process continued for about 2 hours. First they showed us my preference, the kilims.  Then they shared other carpets that he thought Gretchen would like.  At the end of our time, we did a final check.  I found 12 carpets I wanted to try out.  Gretchen found several as well.  Jenn didn't take home any.

So this week, I've narrowed down the field as you can see.  There are still four carpets I'm testing out.  Three in the slideshow and one that I forgot to capture.  I'm taking my time and going to really "try" these carpets out to see if they'll join the other one I purchased earlier this year.

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