Temperature in Turkey has reached out of my preferred limit. I melt faster than dondurma (engl. ice cream) in greedy hands. It’s just about the time to start packing. Before departure there’re still some must dos left so I squeeze my last days for ultimate culture exploration. Hence, there couldn’t be a better place to hide yourself from the Sun than a bazaar.
It’s a market that this day is devoted to one of the best things in the world: food. A considerable amount of Turks can, however, enjoy the taste of fresh strawberries not before the sunset. That is for the reason of Ramadan, Muslim feast, that started yesterday, 6 th of June.
I decide to try and reject food while the Sun is still up. By the time I make up my mind I have already cheated with water that my body screams for after morning run. Half a day has passed when I cannot ignore memory pictures of the bazaar: lines of colourful vegetable piles smoothly exchanging with fruits. I remember how my eyes, eventhough not been covered with glasses, had trouble recognising the end of it. I close them and take a moment to relive it all.
“Buyrun, buyrun!” I hear salesman shouting from every corner to attract customers. Each one of them quarantees the best quality and doesn’t hestitate to offer a little bite of its’ harvest.
It’s noisy and crowded, but no unpleasant pushing through the crowd is involved. People trade with manners. A wide smile might even win you a discount.
I stop in front of big buckets of nuts and dried fruits. Dates, big as mice, catch my attention. I practice a dialogue in Turkish that I’ve been rehearsing.
“Merhaba! Bir kilo hurma nekadar?” I ask about the price ignoring the sign with clear number 20 on it. Unecxpectedly, the reply doesn’t include words nor expressions from my vocabluary list and the dialogue becomes an improvisation.
I walk away with joy because of addressing a Turk in its’ language and a bagfull of ridiculously sweet dates. I have only managed to make a few steps when another sweet taste reaches my nose. It’s baklava, a 40 layered puff pastry, floating in syrup and pistacchio crust. Although baking process is claimed to be time consuming and tiresome, the woman who, assumingly, deserves all the credits doesn’t reflect any signs of exhaustment. Instead, with a relaxed laugh, she boosts over the table to offer me a small cube of this sugary treat. Clearly, I surrender. After holding baklava in my hands I need to wash my sticky fingers and freshen up from the hot day.
Where else to solve this problem than in hamam: Turkish sauna. Welcome to heated marble chamber. The air full of tiny water molecules creates a sense of jungle. “No shame in front of women,” I speak on my own and topless lay down on a flat, hot stone. The masseuse’s strong scrub makes me feel like a snake changing its skin. The lady drowns me into fluffy foam clouds to continue with the procedure. With mothery care she goes through every inch of my body. I honour the lady for her precious hands and strech for high five for one last touch.
Although the masseuse did a real great job injecting blitheness, I think about the Ramadan. Alright, I can feast in a paegan way which means not following the Sun. It would simply be impossible in my homecountry Estonia where the gigantic hot ball stays above our heads for 18 hours maximum and even when it’s gone the sky doesn’t really get as dark as in Turkey. Instead of prayer I’ll meditate five times a day and process my experience of Turkey.