The hot pot lullaby
Science till date, cannot fully explain tickling. Theories abound, of course one of them claims it's the body's reaction to external stimuli, especially against a predator threat. Tickling is one of the reasons why I usually stay away from spas and their massages. While most clients slip into deep slumber, my nerves go berserk in there.
Before rubbing the hot pot, the masseuse kneads the body with her hands to remove the knots
So, I am a nervous wreck when I walk into the sprawling 7,000 sq ft Thai Privilege Spa at Inch by Inch, Versova. I am to take a Hot Salt Pot Treatment, an ancient Thai remedy that begins with acupressure to soothe body tension and balance energy lines. Kalsang Dorjee, the spa manager, tells me, "A warm Thai clay pot filled with sea salt and lily leaves is massaged on the body to assist detoxification and reduce water retention. The high temperature of the salt crystals re-energises the body and wards off flu and common cold."
I take a seat, and dip my feet into a bowl of hot water and flower petals. My masseuse, Muluah Ching, begins massaging my feet with a mix of walnut and herbs.. My 'tickle siren' is on but she promises to stay away from the sensitive spots. After she's done, my feet feel anew. I slip into a loose pair of pajamas and a top, and lie prone on the massage table, covered with a sheet. When the masseuse slowly begins kneading my legs sans oil, through the sheet, I have my own Eureka moment — it never struck me that indirect contact would make me almost immune to tickling!
Now, here's a massage I can thoroughly enjoy. The strong hands of my masseuse seem to have invisible sensors that detect all aching areas in my calves, and I sense the stress leaving my calf muscles I did not even know I was lugging around. My back, neck and shoulder muscles tell a similar story when she massages them, and every sharp poke in the area seems to relieve my fatigue. I feel I could pull off a cartwheel on ground.
The masseuse is rather light-handed, which I like, but those who prefer more pressure can certainly ask. She soon asks me to lie supine, and works up a rhythmic movement along my hands, which, thanks to long hours on the computer, are swollen and often in pain. She patiently works through the stubborn tightness of the muscles in this area, entwines her fingers into mine and rotates my palms. Over some time, my chubby fingers easily fold into a fist, unlike before.
My body is now ready for the hot pot. Ching brings in the sea salt-filled hot pot, and begins massaging my body with it. I am lulled by the aroma of lily, and with slow, careful movements, I feel the pot working along my calves, thighs and sides. I have never felt this close to levitation. Ching then turns her attention to the nape of my neck and down the length of my back. A song by my favourite band, Savage Garden, comes to mind: "I want to lay like this forever, until the sky falls down on me."
The heat rejuvenates my back, which has seen its share of discogenic pain. I can hear myself snore but cannot cajole my body into wakefulness. It is as if the clay pot is singing an irresistible lullaby. At the end of the session, my masseuse gently whispers that the therapy is finished. I look at her apologetically for snoring, but she tells me a dozing customer is the best compliment. "It only proves we have taken a hectic hour off their life and given them peaceful sleep. A snore is a cherry on the cake."
Hot Pot Sea Salt Therapy
Where: Thai Privilege Spa
Duration: 30-90 minutes
Cost: Rs 1,500-3,500