Monday, August 25, 2008

What is possibly the best way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon?

The quick answer to that question is obviously: watch Turkish oil wrestling. That is exactly what I spent a good chunk of the day yesterday doing, which resulted in visual delights such as these:

Let me explain. A couple of years ago I made a somewhat unexpected trip to Istanbul, which turned out to be totally life-affirming and revelatory. Never before had I seen such a gorgeous city! Eaten such magnificent food! Engaged in so many random and bizarre conversations on the street, some of which were conducted in German.

I returned from this trip quite curious about this unexpectedly delightful land, and have, since my return, attempted to keep up somewhat with political developments in the country, to learn more about its history, and to read, hear and see more of its art. One thing had always eluded me though: Yağlı Gűreş, or, to those English-speaking types like myself: turkish oil wrestling.

Imagine my delight, then, when I read that it would be conducted at the annual New York Turkish Festival. I packed up a clueless pal (I wouldn't tell him what he would be watching, which was mildly mean of me), headed up to Central Park, and...whoa!

I have to admit: I still don't get the rules. There is obviously a ritualistic component involving the oil application, the hand-holding, and the foot-stomping that takes place at the beginning. But the point seems to be digging one's hands down the opponent's pants and...grabbing....something. I'm sure a flip and pin is involved somehow too. But it sure wasn't like any wrestling I've ever seen before. * Anyone care to explain?

(*I should mention: I'm no wrestling novice. A somewhat ignominious part of my childhood history is that I was madly in love with the Von Erich brothers. Do with that information what you will, cruel blogosphere.)


Colleen said...

Oh my! I can't believe we never had a pictorial inspired by this in Naked Man Magazine.

perpetually making said...

hubba hubba... haha... that's definitely one way to spend a sunday afternoon...