Archive for November 14, 2007

“Touching Memories” in Saunas and Jerky Busses

Yesterday I saw the place of torture from 14 years ago where I innocently went to be massaged at the Turkish and Russian Sauna Palace off of Gogol street.  The domed building looked familiar for some reason when we ate at a nearby Chinese restaurant several weeks ago but I couldn’t place it.  Not until yesterday when I was walking past a lady selling branches for beating people in the sauna did I recognize it for what it really was.  I was happily going home from yet another Second Hand store that just opened.  I had bought a beautiful lambs wool sweater made in Italy to give to Ken for Thanksgiving Day.  (I can’t wait until Christmas)  Safe to write about my purchase of only $10 on this blog since he doesn’t read it anyway.  Too busy is he. 

Shudder, back to my sauna story.  The massage I had those many years ago with some other Peace Corps trainers still burns a terrible impression in my memory.  I felt like I was in a car wash that gets extra close with its bristles to the body of the car, so vigorous did the Russian lady knead my skin up and down one side.  She did one side and I was in such sheer shock that I was ready to leap up from the wet slab of granite.  However, I thought better of it because one side would be in red with pain while the other blissfully pain free.  No, I let the masseuse mutilate my other side of the body as my Peace Corps friends endured and winced in pain.  Whose idea was this to take care of the stresses of our job?  Certainly, not mine. Perhaps it worked inadvertently, we all thought that we were hated for being Americans and were being abused accordingly.  Our toughest jobs we ever had, in reflection and retrospect seemed easy to survive compared to our corporate massage in the sauna.

In order to restore my equilibrium, I just HAD to stop off at several places such as an art gallery after seeing the sauna from hell.  After that, I decided to take the bus up the rest of the hill to get home.  Usually busses are empty but not at rush hour at 5:30 p.m. and so I got on to the second one that passed which seemed less packed and fished around for my 40 tenge coins.  I might add that busses are often smooth rides up the hill but not last night as the cars darted in and out in front of the bus.   

Just at the precise moment when I had one hand holding my purchase and the other hand in my pocket for change, the bus lurched to an abrupt stop.  I pitched backwards into the bodies of other passengers in front of me.  Fortunately, the bus was crowded enough that it was like a domino effect and a combination of the game Twister with arms clutching the railings.  One guy apparently caught me and I was back to an upright position again eager to pay the conductor before I disembarked.  My dignity still in tact, I got off the bus and walked the rest of the way to our flat from the bus stop.  Common occurrence to fall into other people, I guess.  For me it was a most “touching experience,” much better than the massage at the sauna, any day!

Leave a comment »