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Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Royal Massage on a Lazy Afternoon

Walking for two hours on a dusty road can be tiresome especially when the scenery around you is all shoes and clothes, sea of perspiring people and the noisy traffic. It is at such moments that a visit to an air-conditioned mall can bring relief (even if it is only for a short visit to the loo). My feet are soaring and I spot 'Sabal', a foot massage parlor. I am reminded of my last visit to Bangkok, when at every opportunity we jumped for foot massage and it used to be such a relief. Late at night, my cousins and I, after shopping and dinner would head to the nearest massage parlour to pamper ourselves. Just for 300 Bhats, we would sit side by side, next to each other, on the smooth reclining chairs, behind the glass windows and get some relaxing massages. It used to be such a pleasure as we floated on our feet on our way back home.

I decide to try this one in the Link mall at Bandra.

The receptionist sitting outside the parlor hands me the various types of foot-massage on offer. There are four different kinds and she advises me to go for herbal massage. Since I have tried none before I opt for her choice.

I enter the dimly lit room that has a strong aroma of lemon grass. There are perfumed candles everywhere and one big picture of Buddha dominates the wall under warm spotlights. After a cold glass of water, I am led to the reclining sofa with cushions tucked behind my back. There are several girls in the room but they all look alike, same narrow slit eyes, long face, large forehead and nod with a smile. How do they recognize one Thai girl from another? Anyways, even in Bangkok I am confused when I see so many people of similar features. One with the crinkly eyes comes closer with a hot tub of water, containing some flower petals. She washes my dirty feet and I apologize. In India we wash the feet of the spiritual gurus, and I pretend I am the one. She smiles, maybe she is used to many, more such dirty feet walking into her parlor. She wipes my feet with warm towel and gently lifts them over a small stool. I stretch my feet and close my eyes. There is a soft, soothing piano music in the background. I am drifted to ether world. Wow! Such is the life!

The masseuse brings a tray of different herbal oils. She pour oil into her palm, rubs the oil between her palms and with circular motion she massages my feet, calves, knees and toes. I remind her to be a bit careful because I am afraid of wrong pressure on my nerves but she is proficient and works very efficiently. It is very relaxing and I take in deep breath (having learnt on TV channels that when we have nothing to do, we can utilize that time with breathing exercises, breathes in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out.....) I feel her kneading my muscles with her knuckles, and then with finger tips and nails pressing on pressure points. When she starts her massage with blunt roller, I squint to see that blunt object but feel too drowsy to keep my eyes open. I drift back to sleep enjoying the soft music and pleasure of the warm tingling sensation on my feet. Suddenly there is a warm steaming rub under my feet. I cringe. The room is now filled with vapors and the scent of lemon grass is strong. This time I am curious to see the source of the vapors. I see a tub containing hot steaming oil on her side. She had a small muslin potli filled with lemon grass leaves. She dips this potli in the hot lemon seed oil and presses it lightly on my skin.

I am amused and started to converse with her, thanking her for the nice treatment. She asks me to visit her more often, explaining that it is good for circulation of the blood and in keeping oneself healthy. She talks about her life in India and tells me that everything that she used during the massage was imported from Bangkok. Her boss is an Indian married to a Thai woman. They have two outlets in Mumbai, one at Bandra and other at Infinity mall in Varsova. There are seven reclining chairs at Bandra branch spread over two levels. I did not see other clients and I was the only one, alone during my visit. Maybe it is expensive. For my foot herbal massage, it cost me Rs1500, if I were to ask the masseur to come home, they normally charge Rs150 for body massage. But then I think we pay here for the ambience and the feel good factor.

After the foot massage, I am asked to sit on lower stool and she gives me back and head massage, stretching my arms backwards and sideways and finally ended with massage on my arms, shoulders and fingers.

I was just thinking of visiting a natural ice-cream parlour across the street, post massage, when she entered again with the tray of fresh fruits (grapes, kiwi and apple) and a cup of hot ginger tea.

Light and refreshed I felt like a royalty in the kingdom of my own..

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