CEMBERLITAS HAMMAM

November 1st, 2016 § 0

We are sweaty flesh laid out on an octagonal marble slab. Hard sounds of slapping, flipping echo in the high domed marbled white.  The inflation of soapy cloths maximize bubbles.  Slippery soap slides on skin to lubricate. My masseuse’s bra is violet satin.  Dyed crimson hair is piled on top of her head, and a severe expression on front.  She douses me with buckets of warm water which then slide like sheets across the platform.  Mingles with the water thrown across the other women lying on the around.  One client is speaking thick Turkish with her masseuse, who suddenly erupts into loud calls.  Some surprising information has been conveyed.  All the Turkish women start to hoot, to ululate.  My attendant leaves my left leg unattended, returns with a hand drum held in the crook of her arm.  The woman is now being prodded up on the centre of the platform.  She’s blushing.  Her young daughter claps encouragingly as the drum starts to play and the women begin to sing.  Embarrassment is replaced by spirit as she grabs her towel and ties it low around her hips.  Otherwise naked, she sets her head and begins to dance.  Propped on elbows we encircle her, half-soaped, enchanted.  The masseuses, now magicians, musicians, move through tunes speeding slowing opening closing.  Every beat signals a change in the movement that everybody knows.  Now it’s more hips, now it’s a hand dance, now it’s about stepping feet.  She carves and reconstructs the space for us.  They sing and vibrate it for us – but we’re not even there.  We’re tourists, so slippery, just barely staying on.

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