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25 June 2014 / leggypeggy

Iran at work—I even got scrubbed down

Delivering soft drinks, Tehran, Iran

Two boys and a donkey deliver soft drinks

Everywhere we travel, I like to take pics of people going about their daily jobs.

Iran is still a country where lots of work is done manually, without the benefit of aids to lift or shift heavy loads.

Delivering tyres, Tehran, Iran

Tyres all loaded for delivery

Oh wait, there are such aids—they’re called muscle power. And the work involves a lot of pushing, pulling, stretching, bending, digging, sweeping, loading and twisting.

The pics here come from all over the country and give glimpses of markets, streets, alleys, shops and touristic sites. These are all city shots and I’ll do a separate blog on the countryside at work.

I really wish I could have included a few snaps of the women who looked after us in the hammam (bathhouse) in a village near Mashaad. A bathhouse is not the place to take a camera, unless it’s an underwater version. Water is flung everywhere. And you wouldn’t call the staff modest.

The two gals who tended to the four of us were weathered old birds. Perhaps as old as me! J And they were wearing only shower caps, saggy underpants and slip-on rubber sandals—just the gear for exfoliating and scrubbing down four tourists who were wearing even less.

This was my first-ever trip to a hammam as a customer—I’ve been into plenty old decorated ones as a sightseer.

My fellow travellers were most apologetic that it wasn’t more deluxe for my first scrub-down experience. But I didn’t mind visiting this simple village bathhouse with none of the fancy décor, tiled pools and perfumed luxuries of the tourist traps.

Because we were in the local bathhouse, there were already several women bathing when we arrived. Over time, a couple of families arrived—even one with three generations of grandma, daughter and granddaughter. One toddler screamed in terror when she saw these four strange foreign faces that dazzled back at her, our skin almost as white and clinical as the tiles on the wall and floor. Mum was super embarrassed, but we thought it was funny. The tears and wails subsided soon enough, so I doubt the child is permanently scarred.

We were scrubbed and sloshed down from huge rubber buckets and I think my hair was washed with what might have been carbolic soap. It certainly displayed a fantastic stiffness for several days after the experience—until we reached our next showers.

The display of flesh, jiggling of boobs and vast expanses of cellulite were most unexpected in this hugely conservatively and normally covered-up country.

We did, however, miss out on the dilapidation. Our hostel host, Vali, organised this outing for us through his wife. His parting words as he dropped as at the door were to ‘be sure to have the dilapidation’.

This service was never even offered to us! But it was to the fellows who visited the gents’ side of the hammam. Diego and Quinn opted for some hair removal. Quinn, ever the goofball, chose to have a smiley face of hair removed from his chest. Sorry ladies, but no pics.

And Poor John—yes, Poor John willingly signed up for a stint in the hammam (and I nearly fainted when he said he’d go). He declined the hair removal option—just like he skipped getting a tattoo in Thailand. He hasn’t said much about the hammam experience, and I’m wondering if he’ll ever do it again. I’ll keep you posted.

Have you ever been to a hammam? How was it?

6 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. Jolandi Steven / Jun 25 2014 1:54 pm

    Never been to a hammam, but had a Korean bath house experience. Once was enough. I prefer to bathe in privacy. Too much exposed flesh makes me very uncomfortable.

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    • leggypeggy / Jul 1 2014 3:28 pm

      Yeah, I don’t think I’ll be doing all the flesh again.

      Like

  2. Ken Berry / Jul 1 2014 3:24 pm

    Ah yes! Dilapidation… Hair today, gone tomorrow!

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Jul 1 2014 3:29 pm

      Good grief, I miss you, and I don’t even have Petra here as a substitute. 🙂

      Like

  3. lmo58 / Jul 1 2014 3:59 pm

    Gee thanks Peggy but, like many other people, I prefer a long, hot shower without the dilapidation.

    Like

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