Turkish 'Coffee Houses' for Men Only
I noticed them immediately upon my entry into the city—hazy rooms filled with chain-smoking men drinking tea and playing table games. Some were reading the paper, some were watching off-track betting, others just chatting. But not a single one was interacting with a woman—that's because no girls are allowed.
Even more prevalent than the mosque or the Turkish delight in Istanbul are the chick-free parlors where Turkish men escape the drudgery of keeping their wives in line. Oh, thank Allah that such a place exists, where such fellows can decompress in a cloud of smoke that looks like something akin to a poorly ventilated Vegas casino from the Rat Pack era.
Popular is a game that I've never seen before, called Okey, as well as backgammon and varieties of card games.
As expected, women seem to resent their presence, since the closest they'll ever come to it is looking through the single-paned windows separating the guys from the stresses of the outside world. There's so much sexism, gender separation and chauvinism in this culture that sometimes I feel like I'm watching black and white show off Nick at Nite/TV Land.