My guilty pleasure is something that I acquired a taste for in my days in the lands off the Barbary Coast. Among the Bedawi, the Arabs, the Tuareg, the Moroccans, Persians, Egyptians and Turks is the custom of the hammam or baths. In each of these places are the sensual indulgences and pleasurable custom attached to grooming and indulgence of the senses. A journey to the hammam is an all day affair.
My favourite hammam was in the harem of the home of a friend of mine in Egypt. In that large cavernous place the walls and floors were covered in beautiful blue and white tiles. Water poured from fountains on all sides of the great centre pool. Where women languished and swam. The walls were scented with rosewater, jasmine, musk and amber and incense burned constantly. Within it were gathered all of the wives, concubines of my friend and all of their visiting kinswomen or friends.
The heavy water vapour that filled the central bathing area was almost suffocating. The peals of women’s laughter and merriment reverberated through the domes of the bathing chamber, along with the low drone of hushed intimate conversations between friends.
When you first arrive you are made to relax and carefully undressed by servants whose only duty is to attend to the women of the hammam. You are taken to a place that is warm and very humid. It is warm and relaxing there in this place, where the lights are dim. From here you are scrubbed with one cloth and then slathered in a lovely scented olive oil soap that is as thick and dark as wild honey. The waiting woman then rubs the aromatic mixture into every inch of your body, smoothing it in with attentive and strong fingers. You are then scrubbed again with a loofah or coarsely woven cloth made of plant fibres. After this, you are then sluiced down with several basins full of water. When the matroness is satisfied that all soap has been removed, you are then massaged with a lightly scented rose oil for nearly an hour. Careful attention is placed upon your hair and scalp. Coconut oils infused with frankincense and myrrh are massaged into the tresses and scalp and then rinsed until they are clean and shining like a raven’s wing. Scented oils of sandalwood or amber are then worked until you think that your senses are being overwhelmed by scent and you can swear that never since the day you were born were you ever so clean.
A visitor to the hammam may choose to linger in the larger pool, or dry herself, redress in a fine silken caftan and go to a place to relax on a divan or in a room strewn with pillows. Or a visitor could choose to chat with friends and dine upon sweetmeats. I personally am not very hungry when I go to the hammam. It is the one place where I can empty my mind of everything and indulge only in a total immersion of the senses into indulgence and delight.
Muse: Fanny Fae
Fandom: Original Character
Word Count 516