Sunday, 26 September 2010

Being adaptable

Throughout my life I've always tried to adapt to whatever environment or circumstances I find myself in.  In some ways I was always the odd one out in our family.  I never found it easy to conform or to do what was expected of me.  I always went my own way...even if it turned out to be the wrong way at times. 

I've had lots of different jobs during my working life, ending up in social work, which gave me enormous satisfaction, until the stress of working with seriously mentally ill clients eventually took it's toll.

I've had a few different jobs since I moved to Turkey.  I worked for a tour company in Side, Antalya, as a tour guide.  Not an official one of course, and I had to rapidly read up on the history and geography of this country so that I didn't appear to be a complete idiot, or worse still having someone recognise that I was blagging it.  I got away with it quite well.  I used to sell the trips to customers too.  If I do say so myself...I am pretty good at selling...fridges and eskimos spring to mind!

In Goreme, Cappadocia, I worked in a small cafe.  I learned how to make gozleme and borek, and other things too.  I worked just with the owner and between us, we shopped, cooked, cleaned, served customers, plus everything else necessary to keep a cafe ticking over nicely.  It was busy and very popular.  I worked extremely hard for little money but I enjoyed it immensely.

Also in Goreme I worked in a small antique shop.  I knew nothing about Turkish antiques but I could still sell them to foreigners.  The owner could speak no English...he had the knowledge and I had the language.  Between us we did pretty well.   After that I was left in sole charge of a gift shop...also in Goreme.   I worked on a commission only basis, so I really had to use my selling skills.

When I moved to Selçuk, we kind of decided that I wouldn't work anymore, and I've enjoyed having all this free time.  However since we moved to our village 18 months ago, I have been pretty lonely with Mr Ayak away, and really feeling that I'd like to work again.

As I mentioned previously, for the past 2 to 3 weeks I have been working at the Hamam every day with Mr A.  I have throughly enjoyed it, and it has helped enormously to get our marriage back on track, which had been suffering due to all this time apart.

There aren't that many customers around now, it's almost the end of the season, but again I have been using my selling skills to persuade people to buy the "full packet" of sauna, hamam, face mask and massage, and full body massage.  Most of this is done by Mr A, with Turan assisting, and I have been applying the face masks...pretty easy really.

Occasionally we have female customers who insist on having a female masseuse, rather than a male.  During the season, Mr A employed one or two females, but they weren't really up to scratch, so they didn't stay long.  On other occasions he called upon a masseuse who works at a Hamam in Bodrum and she would come over to do a one-off massage. 

We had a female customer today who wanted to book the full packet and Mr A phoned the masseuse but she wasn't available.  Before I knew what was happening, Mr A had booked the customer and her husband and told them that I would be doing the treatments for the lady!

Was I worried?  Of course not!   "adaptable" is my middle name!   So I escorted my customer first to the sauna for 15 minutes.  I then did her turkish bath which first consisted of exfoliating her entire body with a special mitten that is used for this purpose, whilst constantly rinsing off the dead skin with the water that flows into the bowls all around the hamam.   Next she had a foam massage.  I've watched Mr A do this many times.  Small pieces of soap are mixed with warm water in a large container until there is lots of lather.  Then a large muslin sack the size of a pillow case is immersed into the lather and squeezed.  Then you open it and blow into it, holding it closed at the top.  You then rub it from the top of the customer's body to the feet and it produces enormous quantities of foamy lather.   This is then massaged into the skin, and rinsed. The customer turns over and you repeat the procedure.  The customer is  finally rinsed off throughly.

Next is the face mask.  It's a natural algae substance which is painted on with a brush, left to dry for 10 minutes then rinsed off with cold water.   After this the customer proceeds to the massage room and the face is first massaged with cream.  Then the entire body is massaged with oil.

I did it all.  I have done many massages over the years for Mr A, and he has been quite happy.  He has taught me well.  Although my technique is somewhat different from his.  The Turks are pretty heavy handed when they massage...I like to think I have a more gentle touch.

Anyway my customer was delighted...she was so relaxed that she actually fell asleep on the massage table.  She thanked me profusely and said she would be back for a repeat performance before the end of her holiday.

So can I call myself a masseuse now?  Probably not ...I've just learned to be adaptable!


  1. Adaptable, resilient, Mr. Ayak is lucky to have you.

    Sounds as if you were nearly as delighted as your customer by the results!

  2. Good on you! And I'm glad to hear that you've been able to spend more time with Mr. A.

  3. Fly: Yes I was!

    Jan: Thanks...yes it m akes life a lot more pleasant.

  4. Sounds lovely. We are planningon coming to Turkey next summer - I won't insist on a female, I'll insist on you!!!!

  5. Kelloggsville: Oooh thanks! I'll give you a blogger discount of course :-)

  6. Like you, I have done a pretty wide assortment of jobs. From factory work to office work, telephone surveys to retail sales. And whether I realized it at the time or not, each of the jobs added something more to who I became. This is not to say that I enjoyed every job. So often the jobs were not well-paying, often demeaning and sometimes downright dangerous. Still, they did give me experience and experience ideally should give one self-confidence. Not being afraid of failure is surely a by-product of having done a lot of things you never thought you could do.

    By the way, have you ever seen some of the exotic oils they sell in the spice shops? I asked for a list the other day when I went and then started doing research online with each of them. Lavanta oil has to be diluted or you will feel you have eaten a ton of lavender buds. And Ant Egg oil??? (it's a depilatory, I hear.)
    Wonder if it is possible for your hamam to sell massage oils?

  7. Having followed and enjoyed your blog for ages now it seemes to me that Mr A's business ventures would be more successful with both of you working together, as your recent hamam work shows. And if it improves your relationship, what a bonus. So all you need to do now is work out the ideal business that makes best use of your different skills, and then help Mr A come up with the idea!

  8. Well done, Ayak. I don't know how I would have handled that. You've got a terrific attitude.

  9. You must be very proud of yourself and rightly so. Well done. Next time will be even easier.

  10. Well done you Ayak am proud of you you did good. xx

  11. Nomad: You're right all these experiences make us what we are today. I have also been thinking about the oils, and have one or two ideas for next year...we are planning to run a hamam again but not in the same hotel. Firstly we have to earn money for the winter and are working on ideas for that at the moment.
    I hadn't heard of ant egg oil...I must google it!

    Rosemary..Hi! Yes you are so right...and you understand Mr A perfectly in knowing that it has to be "his" idea (even though it will probably be mine) :-)

    Gaelikaa, Rosie and Bomb: Thankyou xxx

  12. You talking about a massage has me lusting for one right now. I wish I was there then you could give me a massage.

  13. likeschocolate: And a chocolate massage is amongst those on offer too! Although it's never been requested. I don't like the sound of it myself!


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