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Prussian Thermae

Ave, oh co- citizens of this planet. Anyone who has read the rest of this blog will know of my constant ranting against my current employers, the fitness company, the autumnal Berlin weather and humanity in general.

Well, here's an anecdote that did warm my heart, and later on, heated my body, unclogged my pores and made me sweat profusely and from the depths of my corpus.

A little flashback: a while back, maybe in May, I had read an article that suggested that, should one be strapped for cash (as I am) and in need of some enjoyable employment (which I lack), one should consider applying as a product tester or a lab-rat consumer (which I did). A few months passed.

A week ago now, I was walking down the street thinking how nice it would be to have a refreshing swim to find out if I could still stay afloat, not to mention do a decent breast stroke. Walking through the streets on this sunny day, it seemed like all I would need to attain perfect harmony with my inner self and my surroundings.

I get home, make myself a pot of coffee, a sandwich and settle down to do some modelling with Maya. Somewhere halfway between the texture of the eyeball and the shape of the eyelids, the phone rings. A certain MR. R. is on the other end of the line, a nervous man who speaks in a very hushed voice. He informs me that he wishes to comission my services, in that tone.

"What services exactly?" "We want you to try out a few swimming pools and saunas." Has someone heard my thoughts or answered my prayers?
Needless to say, I accept, am briefed, handed four ten- page test foms to fill out (one for every one of the four pools- or as he referred to them, wellness oasis) and told to report back within a week.

Lovely.

Now, these tests are supposed to be performed in total secrecy, the tester is an anonymous user of the bathing and relaxation establishment who is under no circumstances to be recognised as what he is. A secret mission then. And like every good secret agent, I phoned my beautiful femme fatale (she was to me, almost, but now we're good friends) and cordially invited her to participate in this adventure. Being the wellness nut she is, she accepted without batting an eyelash.

We meet up, and subtly, after returning to her place to pick up a bikini of our acquaitance we had forgotten there, infiltrated the bathing establishment.

Having paid for some very high tech security equippement and an entrance fee we finally were allowed to proceed into the inner sanctum. After that, my memory becomes slightly blurred- was it the 85*C Sauna we tested first or the Whirlpools? Was it she who had a massage, or did I (we must both have)? Were the slides long enough for our amusment? Were the french fries good?

All I know is that after about four hours of absolute secretive relaxation, we left the place in very high spirits and I bought a pair of greenish sunglasses. And we sat down at home to do the test report. We agreed that what we had visited was a first- class establishment, to be recomended to all and sundry who may happen to be in need of a good dose of welllnesss. Incidentally, for those of you living in Berlin, or planning to visit, it was the Stadbad SchoeneBerg, on Hauptsr. 36. As worthy of tourism as the Brandenburg Gate, and warmer to boot.

The next day, the next sauna. Deciding that the femme fatale was a nice ruse to employ, but not one to be abused, I visited my second objective, a slightly more obscure establishment. Arriving there was easy, getting in unnoticed was as well. Getting a box containing four Euroes and a band that would not stay put around my wrist was an interesting twist on vending machines.

The band finally got tied around my finger as I proceeded into the stygian depths in which this pools' non- aquatic relaxation facilities are located. Now the anecdote must take on a slightly more classical form:

To the depths of the pool he did proceed,
the saunas to test and the tempratures to heed
driven by pecuniary need.

In the cellar he did find
a multitude of many kinds

a finnish sauna in which he reclined
at eighty five degrees and didn't mind

a russio- roman steambath awaiting his feet
and body and the pearls of his sweat

a bio- sauna, heated by natural means,
etheric oils, wood and unmentionable things.

The cooling- tub he used and the foot baths
deciding to peruse for the second time in the aftermath
said finnish sauna into which he did enter
just befor a crowd sat down with him nakedly in the center

and a man, the master of the theremae
with a bucket of pine- water did follow
and pour water on the hot coals for us to wallow
in wet and heat and perfume so thick you could chew and swallow

he raised his toga- nay he did his towel
and like a dervish did he whirl it around
circulating hot air much as does colin powel
snapping it at the plebeians who found
on exta gust of hot air driven at them
one time, two times thrice or four
until the master of the thermes went out of the door

and sealed it hermetically without warning
I left after him, for it was dawning
on me that I could not reside
for more than twenty minutes in that heat.

I went to have a shower.

A most entertaining spectacle, that of the whirling master of the thermae, in the half light of an 85*C finnish sauna, in front on an international audience (two Asians, one German, one American and one Egyptian), and most refreshing and relaxing.

So, on this note, from a relaxed, refreshed and hungry myself- Enjoy.
And don't sweat it.

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