Having a head massage in India is as authentic as pork pie in Melton Mowbray and mint cake in Kendall. After a dreadful experience in Mumbai where I had to tell the owner to either call the police or let me go, I was looking forward to the “very good” treatment my driver organised in sleepy Cochin. Sebastian, my masseur, told me I would have a head and face massage then full body, and finally a body steam with wash. Nice. I was a bit worried I hadn’t brought my swim suit but was immediately instructed to strip naked while he tied a little string around my waist and looped a bit of gauze in between my legs. That fixed that.
After the invigorating face massage (next time I will shave first) I laid on the bed and Sebastian went on to drench me in warm oil and massage ever inch of me. The gauze was removed and he worked away. He would repeatedly go from rubbing my nipples to rubbing my... (what’s the best euphemism? “bits”?), and kept doing this at regular intervals. So it would be arms, nipples, bits, left leg, nipples, bits, sides, nipples... Now fortunately for me, Sebastian was not my type and I managed to control myself. Still when someone is doing this to you for 40 minutes it does take considerable mind control not to respond. My technique was to practise Portuguese verb conjugations. It worked and I managed to avoid the indignation of “you want happy finish, sir?”.
By the end there was so much oil that I was literally sliding all over his little plastic bed and it was a relief to be invited to enter the steam bath. This was not the marble tiled oasis I expected. Instead a portable contraption resembling a one man tent with a hole in the top like the kind of thing you might find in Argos (see picture). Still it did the trick. Then it was wash down time, and I was ushered to the toilet where a bucket of hot water, a small bar of soap and a small towel awaited. Again it did the trick. Who needs power showers with 8 oscillating massage heads when you’ve got a bucket in a toilet?
When all said and done, the massage was great and the experience was authentic and real. I’d much rather have that than whatever the Hilton might be offering. I felt invigorated, relaxed and it only cost me £10. That’s my kind of happy ending.