hunting for hammam

hoşgeldin greets me as i took this first breath of air from marmara. this foreign land is quaintly uncommon than most that i've been. it's an east-meets-west-cum-pope-meets-muhammad melting pot of sorts carbon dated all the way back from BC. and literally, each side of a bridge at istanbul's city center greets you to an outskirt of yet another continent without need for immigration.

and what does one do first to immerse in this ancient turkish land? by all means, get a turkish bath. hahahaha...

i had no initial idea that this tourist trap took a more sensual implication especially within this audience. as much as onsen-hopping in japan takes you to a visual cruiseship. historically, the turks were fond of bathing in public, which was a handover from its hellenistic neighbors. it was the starbucks of their laden times. the to-see and be-seen spot for a rendevous.

so there i went to this stack of old ruins near the grand bazaar. it wasn't the chic, minimalist spolariums doting the upper deck of the city. but in contrast, felt more like walking into a cobbled set of arabian nights. i couldn't argue the historicity. this place had a century-old clientele on its collar.

so i paid in lira roughly the equivalent of three ninoys. then was issued a red, checkered towel as body wrap while inside the floor to ceiling marbled-halls. yes, down to the heated slabs which had the semblance of a sacrificial altar for five. the wet floor looked like an oversized steam room lining a mosque. well, calling it a room would be an understatement with its tall, majestic dome where the lighting emanates. my first concern was staying clean in this supposedly place for cleanliness. a few hundred years of moisture without a sizeable overhaul does not give you that assurance. lysol wasn't invented until a few decades back. and i doubt its popularity at this side of town. i was even half doubting whether to use the turkish bakya to walk through the wet flooring.

as i sit on one of the corners wondering if i should start my own soliloquy, the scrubber who escorted me inside the wet area now came tapping my shoulder. his english vocabulary counted to less than a hundred... no make that fifty words. so it was a play of gestures and mono- or bi-syllabic words. he was half naked as i was, wearing the same issued set of paraphernalia.

the thought of a he sounded inviting for a moment when i entered this hole in the wall. turkish men. descendants of persia.

instead, what greeted me was undeniably old. a lolo material. complete with a beer belly akin to third-trimester pregancy. i was behaved like a gradeschool student throughout the routine.

he gestured to lay flat down, my belly pressed at the heated centerpiece stone table. while still draped with a towel i took my position and tried to relax. and while finding my space of nirvana, literally pails and pails of hot water splashed without warning. it was his style of wetting the meat. the scrubbing came next was equally merciless. done on a smaller, more private room, he took his piece of scrub and frisked a layer of skin from head to toe and without much regard. sticking yourself into a tunnel car wash would have been a less engaging endeavor. and for the massage. it wasn't done with oil, lotion or powder but with heapfuls of soapsuds to lubricate the fast and furious hand strokes. and more pails of hot water doused all over me while trying to settle down.

i left the wet area spotless and without a scab of dead skin in me. and left turkey with less than a grim of horror from a turkish man's hand.

1 comment/s:

  1. rudeboy says

    I bet more exotic things danced in your head when you thought of "Turkish delight," eh, Ash? :D