Walking along the footpath with a handful of girlfriends in Istanbul my bum was fondled. I turned to see a guy darting up the alleyway. Each time I walked past an alley he’d fondle my bum and dart away, hiding up the alley. After the third time, I stormed into the alley after him. I don’t even know if he spoke English.
I gave him the fright of his life. He would only have been a teenager. I screamed at him to ‘leave my bum alone’, he then ran, darting and weaving through the crowd on the footpath. I laughed about it afterwards as the girls pointed out, ‘the surprise on my face was priceless as my bum was being manhandled’
My next episode was to drop all inhibitions to have a Turkish bath. A pretty young woman met me at the front counter, took my Three Million Lire and handed me a sarong and slippers in exchange.
“Please change” she said.
I entered a corridor decorated with tapestries, undressed and locked my belongings in a cupboard. The only thing between me and the unknown now was a huge carved wooden door. Wrapped only in the sarong and slippers on my feet, I pushed on the door feeling like royalty entering the hall.
The room was warm. The ceiling was covered with a scattering of glass insets allowing natural light to flow through and in the centre was a large marble platform with steam rising from the surface. On the outer circle of the platform were running taps resembling Ancient Roman wall taps, with a mosaic splashback individually encircling each one and a marble basin at the base of each.
Remaining modest and following the actions of others I stepped up and lay on the marble platform. As the sweat started to seep from my pores I watched several overweight, naked ladies appear through a doorway on the far side. They walked to their allocated flowing tap and taking what looked like a pair of undies off the tap, rinsed them and pulled them on.
She tapped me on the ankle and signalled for me to remove my sarong. Lying stark naked, this huge lady rubbed me all over, covered me with bubbles, bathed, massaged and poured buckets of water over my head until no area of skin was untouched.
With what little modesty remained I lay once again on the marble, sweat again poured from my body as I relaxed and submerged myself into my surroundings.
Whether to say I felt clean, or dirty, by the end of my Turkish Bath I still can’t say to this day, but it was a memorable experience. The sight of an overweight woman’s breast cupped either side of my feminine frame does not seem to have scared me in life.
But the girls were quick to point out that in Istanbul I had not only been ‘manhandled’ but also I had now been ‘womanhandled.’