Despite the challenges posed by Covid-19, Metin enjoys his job.
A third-generation hamam worker, Metin washed people six days a week in the historic Çemberlitaş Hamam, in Sultanahmet, before the government shut it down.
“You make them sweat for 15 minutes on the hot marble, then we start scrubbing. After that we wash them off and give them a bubble massage, everyone’s favorite.”
How Metin does His job
Metin would bring out his torba, a bag made of soft cotton, and dip it into a vat of soap and water. He would then swing it left and right like a pendulum clock, filling it with air to create a coat of bubbles covering the customer head to toe.
“Happy customers give me positive energy. Even when the client is in a bad mood, I still have to address his needs: the customer is always right.”
Last renovated in 1972, Çemberlitaş hamam shut its doors in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic for the first time in the past 48 years of uninterrupted service.
Metin is the only one still in Istanbul of the sixteen scrubbers, who returned to their hometowns in the countryside.Unkle Aboki Hand Challenges
On Monday nights, before Metin’s day off, they usually scrubbed him and gave him a full bubble treatment, a tradition the hamam workers have shared for years.
atgeo Photo of Metin via Instagram by @renaeffendiphoto
Now Metin comes to the empty hamam, spending time sitting in the foyer and chatting with the caretaker. https://www.instagram.com/p/CCHBlTRFE9X/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet
“I see it and feel better already, even though I am not working. I miss my customers and colleagues and the cheerful atmosphere of the hamam. It lifts a bit of sadness off my heart just to come here.”