Saturday, 6 March 2010
I am still reluctant to raise my hopes that this venture will succeed, because there are so many pitfalls to be faced in setting up a business in this country. So until it's up and running...I will say no more.
But I will talk about the Turkish Hamam. Even though this is my twelfth year in Turkey, I have only been to one Hamam. A very old, original one, between Turgutreis and Bodrum, which I believe no longer exists.
The Hamam or steam bath has been popular in Turkey for thousands of years, many of them surviving from Hellenic and Roman times.
The Ottomans perfected the hamam, or Turkish bath which, like the Roman bath, had three rooms: the grand, steamy hot room (caldarium) for steam-soaking and massage; the warm room (tepidarium) for washing with soap and water; and the cool room for resting or taking a nap, after the bath with a cup of Turkish coffee or a glass of tea. The cool room sometimes consists of small cubicles (as did the one I visited) with a bed to relax on.
Hamams were social centres, and the only baths in Turkey until the mid-20th century when people latched on to western-style plumbing and installed baths and showers in their homes.
Today modern Turks may shower in the morning before going to work, but many still try to find time for a weekly visit to the hamam. They sit around, wrapped in wonderfully soft Turkish towels, drink tea and chat with their friends.
And of course the hamam has become very popular with tourists. It's often suggested that when you arrive in Turkey for your holiday, that you try to fit in a visit to the hamam on your first day. It's a wonderful way to exfoliate your skin, before getting down to the business of working on your tan!
I don't know why I haven't made visits to the hamam a regular part of my life here. Mr Ayak and I just never seem to get round to it. He did of course enjoy the benefits of the hamam last year, and will continue to do so if his business venture succeeds. And naturally I also hope I'll have the opportunity to enjoy this wonderful experience on a regular basis in the future.