When last we met, arctic explorer Robert Falcon Scott was penning his final words of “It seems a pity but I do not think I can write more,”
yet I was just getting started.
So, to re-cap, there is a design norm in modern Turkey that aims the shower head over the toilet. In turn, scatologically-inclined people must grapple with a compulsion to dry off the toilet before feeling comfortable enough to drop their nethers onto the hole and peruse a few articles in The New Yorker. Of course, since Turks in general haven’t cultivated the habit of reading, they simply wipe down the toilet, or not, so as to feel comfortable enough to do whatever it is a person does when sitting on the toilet and not reading. As a written word lover, I’m uncertain of what this is. Would it be staring? Yes, probably staring. In my experience, Turks are remarkably adept at The Stare, clearly drawing upon thousands of minutes of focused practice that could otherwise have been occupied with ingestion of typeset.
In sum, toilets in Turkey are wet. People with pelvic needs either get wet or set themselves to drying the porcelain whilst clenching their legs together. Then they read or stare.
Or play solitaire on the wall in front of them, if it’s a magnetized wall, and they have magnetic cards.
Or have a chat on their cell phones, genteely covering the receiver during moments of audible strain.
Or plan menus. No matter the day or recipe, it’s probably true that they need to get yogurt. Or white cheese. Maybe some peppers. Cucumbers. Plus a passle of them shriveled olives.
Eternally, any mental picture of shriveled olives must needs be superseded by a thought of “Hey, Caesar, it’s time to wipe, and not the toilet.”
Yes. This is what I’ve learned in the past six months. First, there are olives, and then you visit the bathroom, and then there’s a general wiping down.
This is how it is. I’ve got it, er, in hand.
When we moved in to our inn-sitting job at the fairy chimney, therefore, the bathroom in our room felt very familiar:
See the shower head? See the toilet? Like that.
Fortunately, all the rooms at the guesthouse have in-floor heating, including the bathrooms. Already, then, the bathroom in our room was superior to what we’d experienced elsewhere. The joint might get wet all the time, but thanks to the heat in the floors, the wet takes care of itself pretty quickly–it’s absorbed into the rustic red clay and dried up by the warmth.
Don’t go waving your hands in the air, though, and keep your high kicks to a minimum: the toilet seat isn’t heated, so the porcelain still ails with water.
But somehow, it’s better. As an added bonus, we can put wet mittens and hats on the bathroom floor, and they dry in no time.
Verdict is: we have stumbled into an okay Turkish bathroom.
HOWEVER, if you want a seriously groovy bathroom, just walk out the kitchen door, across the courtyard (careful of the 120 pound St. Bernard; he really likes lasagna, so if you look at all like a limp noodle, you’ll be privy to the kind of wet that only comes from a bath in dog spit), and enter the guest room called Battal.
Because Battal has a hamam-style bathroom. A big one. As in, there’s room for a toilet well away from the shower (which is built into an old tandoor oven pit). Furtherly cool is that there’s the heated floor, plus a heated slab designed for post-ablution relaxation.
It doesn’t take the clever inn-sitter more than a few days to figure out how to crank up the heat in the hamam bathroom, take a hot shower, follow it with a sit bath wherein bowls of warm water are tossed over the head, and top it off with some vigorous exfoliation and laid back slab time.
According Muslim tenets, men can take up to four wives. According to Turkish bathroom laws, Jocelyns can take up to two husbands. I already have me a Groom. Now I have me a Hamam. Put them together, and I have something sounding ever-so-appropriately like a “groom’em.”
Here. Meet my new beau; admire his features:
Dry toilet smiles a welcome. Fish tank is placed in wall for easy whimsy. Two rolls of toilet paper are well able to keep pace with even the most extended visit.
Bathroom shelves are carved out of the local tufa rock. Homely wooden chair is conveniently located nearby to assist with emergency toenail clipping.
Antique pictures from Ottoman times hang on the walls. Elevated traditional hamam footwear rocks so hard that, in comparison, today’s Croc sandals seem even more an oppugner against nature.
Two panels of marble separate the toilet from all other water sources. Two panels of marble keep marshal the warmth towards the bathing area. Big red clay slab beckons. Saucy thing.
Visitors to hamams past serve as role models for how to kick back languidly in the presence of multiple exposed breasts.
Rectangular indentation is a perfect perch for filling copper dishes with water and then dumping the contents over the head.
Marble sinks don’t drain but serve as repositories for water of all temperatures. A ewer here; a copper pot there, and before you know it, you’ve forgotten that your family had a nine-day tour to Egypt planned for this week, a tour that has collapsed in the face of citizenry in revolt. Tour gets cancelled? Visit Hamam. He washes away all tensions. He helps you find the peace of mind to plan a consolation trip to Italy, departing this Saturday.
Shower hole (former tandoor oven) can be filled with water and used as a tub or used for a quick baptism into the religion of red clay.
Loofah scrubs clean both backs and attitudes.
All of the outfitting in the room is authentic…
the same stuff used in a harem hamam hundreds of years ago…
even conjuring up images from thousands of years before that, of a Magdalene washing the feet of a carpenter she fancied.
Well washed, heartily scrubbed, warmed to the core, visitors to Hamam run their hands over his fine paneling as they exit,
marveling at how right a bathroom can feel when wet and dry know their places.
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