Friday, 29 January 2016

The straight hamam

I'm in Istanbul, and I have a rotten cold.  I decide a trip to the bathhouse is required, but as I feel like shit I know there'll be no action for me and I decide to go to the more tourist place nearby my hotel.

In I walk, and there are various packages on offer - I tell the guy I've got a cold and he nods thoughtfully then points to a particular set of treatments.  I don't really care, so consent.  Usual ritual, into the booth, strip down, wrap cloth around waist and enter hot room.

Ok - it's a busy morning, and the gobektasi is largely full.  But it's weird.  The guys are normally lined up toe-to-toe, but these guys have legs intertwined, feet tucked up by the other ones balls, arms draped casually, and, in a major breach of hammam etiquette, they're all naked.  And hung like donkeys.  What's weird is that they all look vaguely similar (I don't have my glasses on so I can't really tell).  All are built like swimmers, all are covered in thick black hair, bar one guy who has a clean chest but legs like a centaur.  They're not talking, but there is some touching, and even though one uses his foot to nudge the others balls (to get his attention), it's non-sexual.  So we have nudity, intimacy and yet no "electricity" to speak of.

Soon enough the attendant enters and comes my way, making a tut tut noise to indicate the nakedness of my fellow bathers as being unacceptable, but they clearly don't care.  My treatment commences, and from time to time one or more of the other guys stand, stretch and wander off into side rooms, but with little privacy I doubt there's any action.  The tellak removes my pestemal at one stage to soap my groin, giving my cock a brief tug and a thumbs up.  My howl as he later cracked my spine did however raise a collective laugh.

After an hour or so my time is done, and I retire to the relax space, where tea and cigarettes are offered.  I'm wrapped from head to toe in towels, when the other guys also exit.  Now with my glasses, I can see that the clean chested guy is maybe 15, and the others in their mid-late 20's.  Indeed, all are built like gods, and all have the same piercing blue eyes, and thus the mystery is solved.  Notwithstanding that they look as though they've stepped out of Assassins Creed, it's clearly a group of brothers and/or cousins.  These are guys accustomed to seeing one another naked and simply don't give a shit. They're just men participating in the shared experience of the hamam.

I somehow found this refreshing.  I have never seen my own brother naked (well not since he was about 4), and none of my friends.  Ever.  The absence of back-slapping jocularity and the extension of emotional intimacy into the physical seemed like a perfectly normal and natural occurrence, and an expression of masculine confidence all too missing from our 'western' lives...

1 comment:

  1. I know exactly what you mean. It's actually that nuance that's the source of the "gay or tourist" game... That relaxed nature between men, whether it be relatives or strangers, is so odd in the states that you immediately wonder if they're gay... And then it turns out they're just foreigners that don't hold back on physical touch or proximity