Well having covered the delights of the Turkish bath I thought it would be only fitting to finish off this little detour along the back lanes of good grooming in this lovely country by sharing with you a tale of a cut-throat visit to a traditional master barber by someone very close to me – we’ll call him D (and he still tells this story with much mirth and several tears in his eyes!).
Getting a shave in Turkey is a full-blown experience. First, they sit you down and lather you up using the original bristle brush. D’s slight nervousness rose as the barber sharpened his cut-throat razor and got to work, whilst having an animated conversation with someone way across the room! He used D’s nose like a tiny rudder, lifting his chin up and down, stretching his neck and tightening the skin, but he quickly realised, with gradually increasing confidence, that the old barber was genuinely not missing a whisker. It was an amazingly clean shave. And then he did it all over again as D ended up with a face as smooth as his baby grandson’s bottom, if not smoother. However it wasn’t over.
Any chap reading this posting over the age of 35 will understand that as you get older, strange things happen to your body – one of which is losing your hair. But nature is really quite kind because in return for whatever you lose on top, you get a replacement elsewhere – in fact every orifice sprouts thick growths and this is where Turkish barbers offer a unique grooming experience.
D explained that the old man brought out a little wooden stick with fabric at one end. Hello? thought D. Without any forewarning the barber lit it and flashed it around D’s ears and nose, allowing the flames to whip in and burn out the hairs. D winces when he re-tells the story – he thought he was going to be incinerated and will never forget the smell of singed hair he says, but actually it was harmless enough and D was left with only admiration for this particularly skilful act of flame conjuring – the highlight of his shaving experience.
After the cut-throat razor and the fire, came the massage, deep into the muscles of the neck and shoulders. And then the head massage which was more pleasurable than D cared to admit.
And then it was over almost before it had begun. He got a few chastening slaps around the face, presumably to wake him from the massage-induced trance (talk about pampering!), and following a dabbing with some sweet cologne and moisturiser, D was sent on his way to re-join his wife on her shopping bonanza. He says he actually walked out feeling more alive than when he went in and yet the whole experience took only 20 to 30 minutes and left him a mere £6 lighter.
So if you fancy getting a taste of traditional Turkey and a face as smooth as the olives in your lunchtime meze, seek out your local Kalkan barber and as you walk through the door remind yourself that D thoroughly recommended it!