The day is languid, hot and sweaty, the humidity dripping off the trees. I spend the morning going to breakfast and walking around. During my walk, I see a sign for an Ayurvedic massage, which are all over the place in Fort Cochin.
This type of massage is one of the several things on my list to do in India, so I step into the hotel and walk through a white dark hallway. A thirty-something sari-ed India woman named Bina greets me and with limited English we negotiate a full body massage for 500 RS (+100RS tip).
With even more limited English and generous hand motions, I gather than I am supposed to strip completely naked and put on some sort of thin white loin cloth that looks big enough for a Barbie doll. This is a little more (or a little less from POV of clothing required) than I bargained for, but what did I really expect? I surrender to India once more and Bina reassures me it’s OK as we are “lady to lady,” really I would leave if the masseur was an Indian dude. I strip down in front of her, she straps me into my loin cloth, getting closer than any doctor has in a while and sits me down in a wooden chair for a head massage.
At this point, I’m hoping the massage is relaxing because sitting upright, in a bright room, naked with a thin strip of white muslin up my butt is the furthest thing from relaxing I can think of. But it is, she works her magic and, when finished, guides me to a dark wood table with grooves in it. There’s no cushion here, just the hard wood and I climb atop and lay down, quickly closing my eyes. It seems that Bina has a Camel Pak full of oil and a spritzer in her hands because she deftly and seamlessly pours loads of oil onto my body and rubs it on in one fast motion. The massage is not deep tissue or mildly relaxing, it’s SLAP on the oil, RUB RUB RUB in gross circular
She motions over my body area, including all over my chest. Then MORE OIL and onto the next part of my body, the shoulders the arms, my fingers all in one circle that she repeats 10 or 15 times. I’m being WORKED on and am slippery, downright skiddish with oil. Bina motions for me to flip. I’m like a runny egg in a butter soaked skillet, impossible to move without slipping all over the place, I nearly fall off the table. The loin cloth is long gone and I’m naked and oily. I’m onto the back with more motions and a liberal application of oil all over my backside, legs and back. STROKE STROKE CIRCLE CIRCLE and MORE OIL. I could be cooked right now and make a lovely roast with all this oil on me. After an hour, it’s done, Bina helping me off the table and into the shower in delicate movements after she witnessed me trying to turn over mid-massage. I can now count Ayurvedic massage off of my bucket list.