As a few of you will know Sophie and my birthday’s fall within three days of each other. This means that we get to have a birthday treat week, this birthday treat week consisted of two massages!
The first was a foot reflexology massage in the Mylapore area of Chennai. We came across this place by chance as it was opposite a little arts and crafts place that we had wanted to visit. They couldn’t offer us anything but a foot massage which was lucky because that’s what we had had in mind. We entered the massage room in dim light to be shown to two nice, comfy chairs amongst relaxing Asian flute music, and candles. It all sounds too good to be true. It was, the massage itself wasn’t that relaxing and it wasn’t supposed to be either. The man used a pointy wooden instrument to press on pressure points in the foot, each one seemed to be more painful than the last, this lasted an hour. I did feel like it was releasing some tension in my body though although we were a bit stiff and drained for a few days afterwards.
The second was today, on Soph’s birthday, in a place called Franco-Indian Ayur Centre on Tippu Sahib street, Pondicherry. It was a ‘Njavara Kizhi’ which means ‘put some hot rice all over someone’. I don’t actually know what it means but i’m pretty sure it’s that. It started in true sub-continent fashion with getting naked. Then having a loin cloth fashioned for you that looked like you’d run off to join an Amazon tribe. I joked with Soph in Chennai that it would be easier to trek through the Amazon and find a tribe than get anything remotely difficult done, I didn’t realise that i’d be looking like one in a couple of days.
Once I got over my western horror at such a thing it was pretty relaxing, first they rub oils all over your body (except for the loin cloth of course), this oil has 24 different types of herb and roots from plants and smells a bit like figs although I was assured that it didn’t have figs in it. Then comes the hot rice solution that is boiled on a stove at the back, put into cotton bags and used to rub over the oily skin. When they first apply the rice it burns, a couple of seconds later it gives you the sensation when you first get into a hot bath, after they’re finished with one section it gets very cold; strange. The bags of rice give you the feeling like when, as a kid, you jump into a beanbag except there’s pressure being applied from the other side and there’s warm liquid oozing out of it. The rice solution is layered up onto your skin to form a paste, it actually felt like I was being made into a rice pudding! The sound was that of squelching through the fresh mud flats just after high tide. It did smell a bit like you were sat in a bag of peanuts.
It was explained that this particularly thing is used as more of a treatment for any skin conditions rather than a massage and it’s good for rejuvenating, all in all it was fun.