Hello, this is Lauren. I'm a single gal who attached myself to this entourage of travelling folk in order to get the benefits of their free pad in Istanbul and access to their culinary wizardry. Lekker ek se!* I interrupt this blog owing to the fact that Delilah is an exemplary house wife who happens to know her place in the kitchen, and does not possess the skills to prepare my dinner and update this blog simultaneously. Hence this compromise... :)
Adventures in a Turkish Bath House
After an arduous journey led by the Haminator himself, we found ourselves on a rather grey street corner somewhere in central Istanbul wondering which road would lead to our destination, a Turkish Bath House. Ham Sandwich insisted on continuing straight along the road which we'd come on. Delilah and I disagreed with his navigational skills, owing to the incongruity of the road numbers according to the address we had written down. Jack stood silently on the street corner looking with a seemingly wise air about him. Suddenly, out of nowhere, we were approached by a pair of ancient looking old Turk gentlemen, who informed us we were already standing right outside the ablution house and need only enter (through separate entrances according to sex naturally). All the while two precious little young'uns peered over their shoulders, interested in the alien behavioural habits of real life foreigners.
Delilah and I migrated slowly toward the female entrance. The door was made up of two swinging portions, one of which was fully open. We went inside, half expecting a neat reception with a sweet lady who would gesture towards a changing room and provide us with towels. No such luck. Greeting our virgin eyes were a bunch of rather voluptuous old Turkish women, half of which were naked and the other half sporting rather sexy panties. The leader of the pack came forward and spoke: "Hello lady, bath lady?" Simultaneously, we smiled, and indicated that a bath was exactly what we'd come for. "How much," Delilah responded. "1 ten bath, 2 ten special." This was a fraction of what any of the tourist houses we'd found online had quoted, so unanimously decided that a special bath it would be.
We were ushered into a small room with a bed in it, where we stripped down to the bare essentials (panties and a towel). We then moved into the actual cleansing area, and poured water on ourselves using the buckets provided. It was so incredibly humid that the cold water was rather welcome. The walls were covered in moss, presumably a couple of years worth at least. We then lay down on a central slate, as per the pack leader's instructions, and awaited further commands. As we turned our heads to the left for a more comfortable lying position, we spotted her. A rather over sized lady with a spectacular display of rolls hobbled past...she was wearing a gorgeous pair of pink knickers, which exposed her equally rolley bottom when she bent over to reach for some shampoo. Delilah and I suppressed a giggle, and awaited the return of the pack leader to her lair (Here in after referred to as Mustafina). She brought with her a second worker, who stood beside me and started a scrub down exfoliation, followed by a hair wash. Mustafina took the task of cleaning Delilah into her own paws.
*Delilah is done with cooking, cleaning and other house hold chores not fit for a South African of my social stature who is accustomed to having a personal maid to take care of such pleb tasks. We will continue writing this together*
After the bath itself, we stood around for a while and until we were beckoned into the main entrance parlour by Mustafina and Mohamaddina (my washer who sported a pair of sheer chiffon lace under garments-and nothing else). We have already mentioned that the ladies in this area of the bath house were rather naked. What we failed to mention was their preoccupation with other activities which did not have anything to do with ablutions...cooking some kind of mysterious pasta mix, smoking fags and the act of receiving a bikini wax rather kaalgat* in the middle of the common room. Now was time for the massage...wooooooot!
Delilah was shoved into a small room that came off of the main one, while I was plonked right in the middle of every-man's land for all present to take in. Mustafina and Mohamaddina both got down to business, breasts freely swinging in time to the rhythm of their massage routine. I was rather spoiled in that Mohamaddina serenaded me, making sure that each recital made me smile more than the one before. I could hear the gum chewing of Mustafina despite the fact that she was in another room.
So frequently, those who are not fluent in English are the same who have a healthy curiosity for English culture and long to discover where people hail from. When asked this, I replied: "South Africa." The most common response was exactly the one which I received from Mohamaddina, echoed by a couple of Turks spotted about the room: "Africcaaaa?" She then slapped her cheek and slowly repeated her response. She beckoned to my white ass and relatively underdeveloped anatomy (in comparison to the stereotypical mamma), and made it clear that my failure to have a darker complexion equaled an impossibility to have hailed from this "dark" continent. She gestured to my companion: "Canada," Delilah responded. She seemed much more relieved at this information than the disclosure of my African roots. "Ah, lady, Khan-a-daa."
We finished off and found ourselves outside the bath house beneath the strong rays of Turkish sun before we knew it. The boys had exited only 2 minutes before us, and we sat down to compare tales of the Turkish Hammami. We had had visions of the boys being accosted by large, hairy, greasy samples of machismo. It seemed that their experience was much the same as ours, minus the breast swinging and singing. They also failed to receive the same level of pampering as we did. While we enjoyed a relaxing massage, they were having their backs cracked and being slapped with wet towels (grrrr).
All out, it was a very satisfying experience that both Delilah and I would recommend to anyone who has the opportunity (and guts) to strut their goods in the wilds of a Turkish bath house.
*Lekker ek se: Good, I say
*kaalgat: butt naked
*Note on the names: We were aware that Mustafa and Mohammad were common male turkish names, but being in a misogynist society our knowledge of common female names was lacking. We therefore added the feminine suffixes "ina" for lack of a better option.
Over and out, Lauren and DDeellilah