MASSAGE…in a bottle

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It took a threat, an expiring gift coupon and the power of ten horses to pull me to one of the best spa treatment in Mumbai . 

I recently discovered that I am a type A personality. (there are mainly two types A and B, c and d have recently been thrown in .)

After being perturbed for a bit, I realize that like most personal epiphanies, I am not alone in this one either.

So I have made peace with the fact that worrying, stressing, chasing goals and time lines is part of the game. Getting bored, upset and even frustrated with imperfections in others and myself, in non anticipated delays and uncertainties; non deliveries of promises and intangibles, all comes as a package deal for the ‘A people.’

The good news is that we are literally the ‘A Team.’ In our pursuit of success, we usually end up winning a challenge, a game, a deal or even an irrational argument, by hook or by crook.

My posh cousin Farida probably fed up of seeing me behave as if I am the Prime Minister’s personal advisor, found an opportunity to gift me an expensive gift voucher for a spa treatment at the Jiva -Taj Wellington Mews with an expiry date(very cleverly) just so that I would indulge myself to a day of pampering and relaxation, out of principle if nothing else.

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She had selected the Aroma signature therapy option for me, threatening me to not return to my roots without breathing the entire restorative experience- Jacuzzi, steam, massage, lounge, etc.

Still, I have to make sure all features, manuscripts; documents are not pending and have been sent to respective editors and agents before I chugged off irresponsibly to fairy spa land. (It takes a year!)

(Type A!)

Adding to that, this Paradise peak is an hour and half away from the Suburb where I tent, perched at the other end of town-Wellington Mews, Cuffe Parade is way outside my comfort zone. (This means not on my daily route, almost equivalent to long distance travel and could cost an entire day of productivity)

Come August 2018; it is a week over due but with some light grovelling they agree to extend my gift certificate for another fortnight.

So I over pack my haversack for the enforced but much needed day out.

I carry with me paraphernalia I might need for the next few hours and God forbid in an emergency – 1.Extra undergarments 2. Glasses in case steam room fogs up contact lenses. 3. Extra Lenses in case glasses end up misty. 4. Shorts 5. Bathing suit 6. Two novels (Art of letting go and how to stop obsessing about everything) 7. Two extra t shirts (in case heavy monsoon winds bring storms and unable to make it home) 8. Two combs 9. Two lipsticks (surprise coffee date- what if?) 10. Torch (Power cut in Mumbai due to heavy pour- What if?) 11. Deo stick 12.Selfie stick 13. Brainwave diary (inspiration could strike anywhere- en route/ under massage duvet/ in heated whirlpool.) 14. Two pens 15.Three carry bags (dry, wet, fresh clothes) 16. Face wash (can’t change it for the day) 17. Face cream 18. Mints 19.Phone charger 20. Toothbrush. 21.Perfume bottle 22. Bag of chips 23. Water bottle 24. Earplugs (can’t leave home without) 25. Paracetamols 26. Umbrella 27. Facial swipes 

(Type A – Quantity over quality. Being prepared)

Organised Chaos 

Since I have mixed up the words Aroma and Ayurveda, as I never read small prints, instruction manuals or guidelines, I am now an hour early for appointment and hence have been encouraged to scout around the Mews  and order from the Menu if hungry.

Not one to refuse any form of nutrition, in spite of having a heavy brunch a couple of hours earlier on, I place mine and ask it to be served at the spa lounge which is a floor above .

Now I have ample time to kill so I start exploring the topmost floor, a pool side where I charm two pool boys to click some photographs. He understands my command, making me hold my breath every few seconds prior to fifteen clicks.

Finally he is satisfied, ‘Insta- perfect,’ he assures me; kudos- he can read my mind!

I walk down to the spa lounge, termed as a quiet zone and sprawl out on one of the lounge chairs until my sandwich, fries and coffee arrive.

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Soon I start including pics of my food fest to various wats app groups and promptly receive well meaning advice on the ill effects of hogging and caffeine sipping, just before a deep tissue massage.

Almost forgetting the reason why I am here, I quickly make myself one storey below to original massage paradise five minutes off schedule. The attendant hands me a robe which I take rather reluctantly. Refusing to strip myself of decency, I insist on wearing shorts under the white dressing gown they provide. The attendant explains gently that it is spa protocol, to go almost Full Monty.

I am shy! I can’t do a Sunny Leone I’m sorry!!!!

Personal baggage has been stowed in the safe provided and now realising that my celly is not with me I press the panic buzzer – how will I show off my ta- da ambience on social media?

Then again having a click of me lying on a massage cot in bare necessities was a brilliant idea only if I craved to be attacked by stalkers, trollers and criminals.

Pinning and Posting plan has been cancelled.

The Moment Of Truth

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A sweet bespectacled sincere looking girl therapist waiting in a private den leads me to a tiny tub where I am requested to dip my feet in warm water. She chants something deep but I can’t catch it so I nod and say thank you. (Hope she hasn’t said anything regretful)

It’s all quiet and serene. I can hear my self breathing. Nirvana is around the corner. I can feel it.

I am now asked to put my face into a three quarter donut and lie flat on my tummy on the 10 by 10 flat bed.

I start my chain of directives, just as well, for there should not be any surprises for either of us later on….

Mostly it is about body points and zones that she should not press, tug, squeeze, pull, poke or manipulate. (Lower Spine, feet, stomach, chest, face…..)

She looks quite terrified but nods a quick yes.

And a last demand, to kindly turn off the birds- chirping score in the back ground. It is supposedly therapeutic, one with nature and beauty kind of thing but I don’t think I can handle an euphoric Aviary for a whole hour.

(Type A-  need for control)

That being said it is time for blissful resurrection.

I could feel her little hands hesitating, probably egg shelling on the parts which had been banned from treatment and touch.

‘Relax,’ I tell myself ….’enjoy it.’

‘Detach, recoil, space out…..’

Suddenly I am taken to flash back island where miserable ex boyfriend who had been detached, recoiled and had asked for space resides. He had recently started nasty texting me… the Slime ball!

Pressure is rising. He needs his neck massaged ever so forcefully.

Maybe will send him spa voucher and request such….

Gently, Miss Spectacles asks me to release any tension.

It makes me wonder how many women she must have witnessed trembling and plotting under her deft hands, devising plans to seek revenge at ex husbands, lovers and losers. Countless!massage 11

Rumble tumble, burp– the fries are taking over now, they were so right…. you can’t have a two course meal and a full fat cappuccino before a massage.

‘Let go, divert, think positive!’

I steer myself to a happy place –

Luscious garden, streams, tulips, meadows, trees, meandering brooks, picnic, picnic mat, picnic basket, sandwiches, fries……

Gosh this is clearly not working!

 I’m almost half way into this heavenly experience and I am still not feeling that complete disconnection and freedom.

I try again …I have to make my cousin’s thoughtful gift worth it!

Almost there …yes…. I am bathing under pristine waterfalls, twirling like an abandoned Sufi until I realize I have suddenly become ‘Vikram.’

Tiny Betal has now climbed over my back and kneading it strongly.

(Google – Vikram Betal old TV series)

Gosh why is she striding me? I’m not a horse or  an elephant.

How can I relax with a human being piggy -backing me?

Finally she is off, signalling me to turn over.

Panic buzzer. I start pulling every edge of the towel to cover the important stuff.

Aroma Spa done; the born freebie I am, I talk her into giving me a complimentary head massage.

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Chapter over and the first attendant guides me to the Jacuzzi and steam zone.

Jacuzzi is fun. For like five minutes, until my eyes dart toward the clock every few seconds. (Type A- Sense of urgency and impatience)

Traffic jam.Congestion. Bills to pay.Legal matter pending. Credit card verification. Reply to latest FB posts. Make trendy plan for current you tube channel. Call friend in trouble.

Darn, what’s happening in the outside world? Is it still 2018? What if I had missed a whole  or worse still an important insta update?

I leap up onto dry ground.

Last halt ‘Steam cubicle’ which the attendant refuses to let me miss.

She also looks a tad concerned.

Either I have never had a normal life or I’m slightly off my rockers… For there is no other reason in the world, anyone would inquire about good looking men in the steam room.

‘It’s a ladies section’ she whispers.

Perhaps one had sneaked in. An author’s brain is allowed to hope and imagine anything. It is the unwritten rule.

Middle Aged lady, a regular in bare minimum (or not) is sitting pranayam in the burning chamber.

Thirty seconds and I shoot out of that door, worried about being trapped in forever in an unflattering swimsuit and being excavated at my flabbiest best.

No this wasn’t going to happen in a million years by choice.

 Quick power shower to remove the oils, application of body lotion to make it all look complete, I change thrice unable to make up mind of which T befits the phrase ‘I am the new Diva in town’ .

Matching it with pink lip gloss and silver hoops, I step out into the world that awaits the Invigorated me!

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 55 unseen alerts in two hours.

So Mumbai had moved on without me ….my cousin had been right.

But only this much.

Back to my desk at home, I start creating this blog, checking my f b page, my personal yahoo account and work gmail all at once; stick  four To DO posts it on my wall for the next day, make a hair appointment for the day after, edit summary of a friend’s copy, simultaneously surfing for cures and remedies available for Type A personas…..

Apparently there is none. It is what it is.

We back to square one.

Bless us!!!

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A Train to nowhere…

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“I need to experience the juice of travel,”
I told a friend on the phone,who pleaded with me, to not take the semi rush hour train into town.
“There are other ways to experience this juice or milkshake or whatever you want to,” he  tried convincing me but I was adamant.
I needed to get to Churchgate for a Poets Meet that Sunday evening from Bandra and I was hell bent, on not img_8600spoiling Uber or Ola with over priced fares that day.
Rs 30  return trip versus Rs 800….Do the math!
I must admit that I haven’t jumped in a local one in very many years. But how bad could it be?
I was glad to discover that the ticket counters were still positioned, where I remembered them last.
Looking for the shortest queue, my eye caught on the one which seemed slightly less intimidating than the rest, ‘Booking Window for physically disabled persons’ it said.
The line seemed to have only women standees which made me slightly irritated; ‘did they think they were handicapped as women?’
Then I realized it was the short, smart way my gender could be using at times to purchase quick tickets and my hesitation turned into silent applause.
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I stood there excited, clutching a fifty note, like a five year old about to embark on her first train journey.
Let me add that I have taken plenty of these, in my days at St Xavier’s College,Marine lines; with Rs 100 a week pocket money in place.
Patting myself on the back for remembering where the ‘fast train platform’ was, I walked quick paced, almost missing the swinging lathi that two railway cops were mock scaring the urchins with, on the bridge.
As I stood waiting for the 3.33 pm local to arrive, I sheepishly asked the bystanders where the second class ladies compartment was. They sized me up and down before answering ‘Last Last.’
Which I assumed meant :walk further and you will eventually slip upon it.
I started clicking ferociously on my 16 GB cell phone explaining to a group of giggling girls that it was for my blog and they asked curiously,”Kya aap foreign se aye ho?”(are you from abroad?)
 
I began to show off my minuscule Marathi skills; it seemed to turn on some laughing gas switch in their system and I was thankful that my train had drawn closer.
Everyone around me seemed to be geared for some action.
I believe that shoving each other before time of this action, can be totally avoided, if we all formed one neat, straight line, in a civilized manner.
How hard was it? Didn’t we do it on the London underground?
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I decided to impart this; I would teach everyone to do things in an organised way, for that day at least!
“Go easy, form a line, don’t push. Let the ladies with the kids go first….” I started to request the confused and flustered faces around me.
Soon, my red P cap had somersaulted on the floor, my ray bans in my hands, as two boxy women shoved me hard, “What are you waiting for princess?” they howled in Hindi, agitated that I was not pushing ahead of order, before the train had come to a halt
Having no opportunity to quip back, I quickly joined the mass struggle, realizing that if I didn’t, I would be camping on Bandra platform until dusk.
Phew! I just about made it, tasting parachute strands in my mouth and an armpit in my face.
Well I did say I wanted to experience the juice of life, did I not?train1
Not to miss a photo moment(yes yes for my blog) I started once again to shoot random faces around me, startling the others sardines who are as tightly packed as me in the overcrowded tiny space.
Dadar brought a welcome vacuum and when I could breathe once again; I continued with more selfies.
The hair accessories vendor boy smiled coyly at me, “Didi mera picture khico na.” (take my photo)
Snap!
Then came his mother, in tow; with her fruit basket…Snap!
Aha I felt like news reporter on the go, already….! img_8586
I spotted some girls on the seats bending over a box; curiously I go over. Ooh nail paints.
“Which brand is it?” I asked among some weird stares.
I Wondered why? Don’t they sell Sally Hansen in Mumbai locales? Apparently not.
I contemplated buying some ‘My colour,  Rs 20 each only !’ … And there were so many interesting colors for grabs.

The stern face of my manicurist appeared out of nowhere, “Yellow cuticles madam you will get; only OPI products you must use.”    He wins. Plan cancelled.

Snappy Music in the background did I hear? Oh we have progressed!

In house Bollywood entertainment?

Brief second of  glee was cut short; it turned out to be an audio advert for Badshaah masala pav bhaji ka masala, etc etc.

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Got me wondering  if I should make a catchy jingle for my forth coming novel too and let it sing in local trains? Clever gimmick, worth considering.
As Grant road station approached….it dawned to me that I haven’t made any friends yet. I looked around. What could a possible ice breaker be on a twenty minute weekend train ride?
I smiled at the neatly plaited lady at the far left corner, she looked amicable.
I went over and took a seat; she looked at me a tad suspiciously like most around did.
“Do any of you have a hand sanitizer?”I finally questioned the trio opposite me.
My O.C.D. had kicked in as I  had a flash image of being bathed in railway germs.
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One of them stammered as she asked me, what it was?
I gave them a brief: ‘We touch things in trains like seats, handles, doors, even currency notes.  When was the last time, all of you, cleaned your hands?’
My reply seemed to make her spring from her perch and hang her head out of the door.
The other two started talking in low whispers, avoiding eye contact in an obvious manner.
Okay, I got it …I was going to leave that train with no new friends or fans and failing to impart my hygiene concerns.
On my return trip post seven pm, I purposefully sat in a quiet corner all by myself, staring outside….Counting the number of trains that crossed us and thinking about the poetry reading session I had just attended.

Poets they say are highly intelligent people who have a depth beyond common understanding. dfhthruhru

I had clearly established at the attended reading, that I was definitely not one of them.
I don’t recall being carried away into a beautiful world of poetic beauty or literature, ever….
But that did not mean that I could not get carried away elsewhere. In this case- to Andheri; which happened to be five stops away from where I was supposed to originally skip off.
Eventually, I called it a night as I hopped off the carriage, on to the wrong platform and apped for an Uber straight back home.
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