Friday, August 24, 2012


When you’re on your back, in a seedy corner of Istanbul, being ravaged by a Turk, you ask yourself a few questions.  How did I get here?  Is my body supposed to bend that way?  And, when it’s over, do I tip?

I refer, of course, to the Turkish bath (“hamam”), a centuries-old tradition which combines personal hygiene with all the pleasures of the Fourth Crusade.  For Turkish masseurs take the brute force approach to ablution: they pummel you until you’re clean or dead, whichever comes first.  In my case, it was a tie.