A Well Oiled Machine

Posted on January 26, 2017 under Storytelling with 7 comments



Abhijith- Masseur extraordinaire

Everyone knows that for machinery to work properly, it has to be maintained on a regular basis. Scheduled maintenance is a must and when the time comes, it has to be replaced, often with new, more efficient technology. In my youth,  I worked in a saw mill on the maintenance crew and one of my jobs was to oil the machines every day. I also owned a car around the same time and as I recall, it required oil every time I filled it with gas.

The human body is a machine and must be maintained. This requires the proper inputs including good nutrition. The body needs regular exercise and plenty of sleep. Once a year, a trip to our doctor is recommended to get an update on how we’re doing , as time marches on relentlessly. And occasionally, we all feel the need to pamper ourselves and this could come in the form of a vacation, a spa treatment or a therapeutic massage…. or chilled Chardonnay!

Back in my running days, a massage was just a part of the program. Besides running, pool running, exercise classes and yoga, a massage was crucial to keep my muscles from disowning me. I still enjoy a massage every once in a while when my back acts up.

At the behest of a friend, I decided to get an Indian massage at the Santhigiri Ayureveda and Siddha Healthcare Centre in Kanyakumari. I stopped by their office and scoured their lengthy menu of options. I settled on “Rejuvenation Therapy” which entails a full body massage and herbal steam bath. Sounded pretty straightforward and the price was right: 1199 rupees or about $25. Canadian dollars.

I entered a well appointed massage parlor and was met by two men. At this clinic ( and others in India ), it is customary for men to treat men, and women to treat women. I rarely comment on men’s looks but these guys were quite “dashing.” The younger guy was stripped to the waist and as they say “ he was ripped.” There wasn’t an ounce of fat on him.

I was asked to strip down, which is customary but not usually with the masseur in attendance. I wasn’t one bit concerned until one of them approached me and strapped on the tiniest loin cloth … and waited for me to remove the last vestige of dignity.

I sat on a stool and faced the older of the two. He closed his eyes and said a prayer. “ When in Rome,  do as the Romans do,” so I closed my eyes and followed suit. He poured about a half a cup of warm oil into his hands and applied it to my head. I’m accustomed to using a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil when cooking. A half a cup seemed a bit much. As I was to find out later, this was just the “starter amount.”

He massaged my head for about 5 minutes and then he applied some short , sharp chops, followed by a slap or two and then a staccato of hand movements that I didn’t think possible.

I was then instructed to get up on the table. There were no warm sheets, pillows or heating pads… creature comforts back in Canada. No background soundtracks of tweeting birds and gurgling brooks. The wooden table had a slight bevel to it. I lay on my back as more oil was applied to my arms, torso and legs. Wrestlers know they’re in trouble when one of their opponents “tags” his partner. I didn’t hear or see the tag but before I could protest, they were both in attack mode. This was no gentle massage. This was war and they were determined to cast out toxins, poisons and possibly the devil himself. They twisted limbs and put my body in positions ( some quite compromising )  that didn’t seem possible. They slapped, whapped, scrunched, tweaked, scrinched, pinched, prodded , pulled and poked. They even cracked the knuckles in my hands which I found odd. When they did the same to my toes, I let out a yelp. Occasionally, they hummed or prayed.

I was slid over onto my belly. This was effortless as I was covered from head to toe with oil. I was often told by my former yoga instructor that my muscles weren’t very supple. So when they applied some killer wrestling holds and I whimpered, they told me to “relax.” Sure. I’m covered in oil and two guys are beating the crap out of me and I’m supposed to relax. A few well chosen Gaelic phrases put them in their place.

They poured me off the table and slid me over to the steam bath. I sat down and they closed the doors. There was something that looked like a guillotine that was wrapped around my neck. Ten minutes of profuse sweating and I was done. Cooked. Detoxified.

The bathroom was adjacent to the steam bath and I entered to find a bucket full of warm water to begin the “degreasing” process. You know how hard it is to get a bit of oil off your hands when you’re cooking? Try extricating a quart or so of 10w30 from your entire body. This was one time that having very little hair was a distinct bonus. In my fervor to remove the oil, I somehow managed to insert my pinkie finger into my right nostril. A geyser of blood erupted and started to mingle with the bucket of water turning the contents into a pink sea. Oh yes, my oily loincloth had been delicately removed before entering the bathroom.

There was a small hand towel on the rack that became my new loin cloth. Much earlier in the process I had surrendered myself so I didn’t feel out of place waltzing around so scantily clad. However , it’s hard to hold a towel in place and staunch a bleeding nose simultaneously. Something had to give. The two masseurs had a look of horror as an old man, wearing not much more than a smile, emerged bloody and beaten from the washroom. I think that they felt that maybe they had overdone it and had caused the Vesuvian eruption. I assured them that the wound was self- inflicted. They insisted that the bleeding be stopped before re-entering the waiting room.

A lovely young woman asked me if I would like to book a follow up appointment as I dabbed the last of the blood from my nose.

I grabbed their brochure and my eyes went quickly to a treatment that I thought might be in order the next time around.

Ayusha. Anti ageing therapy. Priceless!

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7 Responses to A Well Oiled Machine

  1. Thanks for starting my day with a chuckle Len PD….sounds like quite an adventure !

  2. Week 45 says:

    I had fun writing this one, Danielle!

  3. Greg Albert says:

    Really injoyed this one and I to got a chukle.I guess you will open one here in Antigonish when you get back lol

  4. Pat Cranford says:

    Massage therapy will never be the same:)

  5. Sharon Pinkohs says:

    I am a friend of your sister, Mary. The story I just read has to have been the one about which she was talking! She was laughing as hard as I now am, thanks for the riot of a laugh!

    PS I sincerely doubt that either Mary or me will ever venture into one of those much touted massage parlours. On the bright side, you did get a bargain, I go to the spirit spa in Hfx. and 25 bucks only get a look inside the place, maybe a hello, then they rope you in, much like they did you, you poor soul!
    Sorry, I still can’t stop laughing.

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