An ancient Thai massage, which has been introduced in India for the first time, taps the body with a mallet and wedge in conjunction with palm pressure and accupressure to relax stressed, stiff muscles
Sending a bike-riding, torn denims, sweatshirt and chappal-wearing writer with ruffled hair to an upscale spa for a rare, exotic massage is like sending an investigative reporter to cover fashion week in Milan or sending a vegetarian to review the food on Jamaa el Fna square of Marakech, Morocco, on a Ramzan evening.
On my way to the newly- opened spa Rewa Escape, off Peddar Road, I was mentally preparing myself to get this over with, much like a ragging task, something I fortunately didn't have to go through while I was in college. Standing outside the beautiful Rewa House bungalow, which overlooks Haji Ali and tiny little abandoned boats getting lashed by the waves, I paused for a minute, took a deep breath and prepared myself to be stripped by an unknown lady, lie down uncomfortably on a narrow table, and feel like a suckling pig that is gently rubbed with oil before it is placed on charcoal -- in our case, in a sauna room.
I entered a quiet room, and after all the warm greetings, introductions and hand shaking, out came a petite little lady with a cold towel and two tiny little bottles of packaged water -- room temperature and chilled. A bit taken aback by such indulgences, I then duly removed my dusty blue chappals and wore a pair of clean footwear as instructed. All ready to surrender, I then got what seemed like the best news of my short career so far -- the spa gave only dry massages. It was music to my ears.
"You don't have to strip. You don't need to take an extended shower after the massage. You can change into spa clothes (homely, loose kurta and pyjamas) only if you wish, else we can give you a massage even in the clothes you are in. That's the USP of Rewa Escape."
What seemed like a ragging assignment was slowly turning out to be a much need relaxation session. I was escorted to the massage room for an hour-long ancient Thai massage called the Tok Sen that has been introduced in India for the first time. The therapy uses a mallet and wedge made of tamarind wood to gently tap along the energy meridians in the body to produce deep vibrations that resonate through the layers of tissue and bones. These vibrations are meant to relax stiff bodies and provide pain relief.
It got better. Instead of a table-like, narrow bed, the dimly-lit room turned out to have a queen size mattress placed on a wooden floor. The masseuse very gently started massaging my foot with her hands, gradually increasing the pressure.
In about five minutes she realised that her client's battered and stressed muscles didn't feel any pain, and started to apply the maximum pressure she could. The feeling was extraordinary -- like a strong, expert sculptor, shaping with utmost care a statue made of clay that was quickly hardening in the sun and then scraping off the rough edges with a hammer and a chisel (in this case the mallet and wedge).
And as if the rhythmic massage wasn't enough, at the end, the masseuse stretched my hands, legs and back. The cracking of my tired bones were just an indication of what I had subjected my body to in the past few months. The 60 minutes, which now feel like forever, were over before I realised. At this point I was advised to take a short nap and just when I was about to do that, I bounced back on my feet and realised that I had a few other assignments lined up for the day. The dream ended right there, and in shorts and dirty chappals, I was back on the streets. If this is what ragging feels like, then I am willing to get ragged every week, as long as I don't have to pay for it.
At: Rewa House bungalow, Bank of India lane, Opposite Cadbury House, Bhulabhai Desai Road.
Cost: Rs 2,500 for 60 minutes