Friday 16 July 2010


To celebrate the end of the school year, I thought I'd treat my tired feet to a well-earned pedicure. You wont believe it, looking at my immaculately groomed appearance, but I've never actually gone in for any kind of foot treatment before.

Pedicures and manicures are something that Turkish women have almost weekly and I vividly remember women visiting the home of my aunties to sharpen their talons. So I called upon the advice of my girlfriend to set me up with her beautician.

From the outset, it was clear that this wasn't really the norm for a Turkish man and that any nail work would have to be given under the cloak of darkness. The local salon is patronised by covered masses of religious women. A place where they can throw off their scarves and get a 2 hour perm, just so that it can be covered back up again before returning to the outside world.

"When a woman with a scarf has her hair done, we pull down the blinds so that no one can see" said Hulya (the woman I'll now refer to as 'my pedicurist').

The only way I was going to get my heels shaved was either for her to visit me or for me to visit her after hours.

A time and location were set and we headed off for the rendezvous.

Hulya welcomed us warmly and we sat and gossiped for half an hour or so (well actually, I just sat and listened and hoped my feet didn't smell while the girls chewed the fat - probably best to rephrase that).

Rising from her seat, Hulya stated it was time to get my feet into some water. Promptly she arrived with a bucket of warm water and I soaked my little piggies while the gossip continued.

I think we're going to need a bigger bucket.

After a while she sat in front of me and invited my foot onto her lap.

The etiquette with a Turkish pedicure is that you bring your own weapons of torture. This may well be the case internationally but being a pedi-virgin, I will run the risk of stating the obvious.

I'd complained of a painful big toe and before I'd finished my sentence she confirmed "oh yes, it's cutting in here". With that she snapped away with her (or rather, my) nail scissors. Hacking into anything that could cause an obstruction.

Taking a sharp, flat, metal thing, she then proceeded to gouge into the 'meat'. Cleaning and scraping while I winced and gibbered about women's pain thresholds.

There was blood, some tears and some plums! Yes, she brought me a plate of fruit. It helped!

All that's missing is the semi-nude harem lowering the strawberries into my mouth and this fantasy is complete.

I think the weirdest part for me was when she started cutting my toenails. It's always been such a private thing. Even the sound of nail cutting creates a similar response to the sound of someone emptying their nostrils. But why should this be? It's not exactly a taboo region of the body.

For whatever reason, I felt mildly embarassed during this stage of the proceedure.

Next came the tickling. I giggled like a girl (though girls are probably immune to it) while she shaved me feet with some kind of abbrasive bastard stick.

Then came a moment of pain swiftly followed by intense pleasure. The pain was the arrival of the omnipresent lemon cologne poured over the open wounds but before I could reel off some choice profanities, she had begun a cream foot massage that left me cross-eyed.

When I'd come to my senses, she uttered the words "sihhatler olsun" (a wish of health blessed upon the newly groomed - after a shower, haircut, shave, pedicure, armpit trim, Hollywood wax). We dragged ourselves into the kitchen and ate sunflower seeds, watermelon and smoked cigarettes until the early hours when we decided to let poor Hulya try to forget about the ordeal she'd suffered and get some rest.

What was the price of this intense pampering? Despite my pushing, she refused to accept payment. It was her first time treating a man and she made up all kinds of reasons for not accepting money. I hope she enjoys the tray of baklava I'll send her tomorrow when my girlfriend goes for her weekly visit.

Hulya is a lovely lady and clearly very good at her job. If you're in the Hatay area of Izmir and fancy a pedicure, drop me a line and I'll give you the details. Please though, ladies only. I don't want anyone getting the wrong idea.

Right, I'm off to take pictures of my feet for my Facebook profile.