Hair Hair

I had forgotten the sheer pleasure of getting hair washed in the parlour.

Being pukka middle-class Indian, I only pay for things which I can’t do at home. It means I am willing to pay a small fortune for wood baked Pizzas but not Pasta- because we like the one I make at home more than anything outside.

In palourlance, this means I pay for my twice a yearly haircut, once in 3 years straightening, an occasional foot massage and monthly body massage. Thats it. I have trained ( read bullied) husband into giving the most fantastic head massage this side of town. I have always thought manicure and pedicure absolute waste of money and time – since I bite nails and my feet never manage to stay clean for more than a day. I don’t do eyebrows and facials. My teenage experience of waxing was so horrific ( I have a gore-torture scene in mind for the Hostel franchise in which they wax a man’s body using hot hot wax and peel the skin off with strips) that I have resorted to shaving. Other fancy treatments that the parlour people bully us into looking at? forget it.

This time I decided to get a hot oil massage from my neighbourhood parlour since a wrist injury prevented husband from rendering the services. It was mind-glowingly good and there is really no comparison no matter how much I love my husband. A phone call summoning me to a Skype meeting in couple of hours disturbed the massage. It meant that I couldn’t keep the oil overnight. In a fit on panic, I decided to get my hair washed in the parlour post massage.

Aaaahh… and what a heavenly experience it is. Like the most simple meals that pleasure us in the most soulful manner. Like the pungent smell of Pears soap in chilly winters. Like the slightly salty smell of husband. Like the soft weight of dog on my lap.

I think it was in Letters to Juliet that Vanessa Redgrave says that there is nothing more satisfying than getting your hair brushed by someone. Well, getting your hair washed by someone trumps it. The feeling of strong fingers stroking the scalp as hot water cascades down in the sink and smell of professional shampoo intoxicates you and the gentle hands that remove the foam and squeeze water from hair and the dryer putting one further to sleep- I was curled in the chair by the end of it in sheer sensuous bliss.

It is a gift of the dog that I have learnt to enjoy even smallest of things. It happened when your day is spent with someone who thinks going out for a walk even for the tenth time is the superestest thing ever. Well, except scratching, and playing and cuddling and sleeping in sun and digging and barking at enemies and sniffing, well you get the idea.

I am pukka going to get this blissful thing at least once a month.

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Massage, sex and men

A great massage= good sex. And this post by Made to Misfit was so good that I immediately wanted to go get myself a quickie.

And for the umpteenth time I wondered about the reason massage is associated with femininity today.

9 out of 10 times you will see it is women getting massage. Be it 5000 rs. an hour session or a sasta aur tikauu 300 rs. at home one. Women get massage to destress, to improve blood circulation, to feel relaxed, to feel pampered. Whatever the reason, I do see spas and parlours specializing in massage , sprouting up on every nook and corner. And while men might have started spending somewhat on grooming, massage is largely confined to the female of the species in India.

Don’t Indian men get any pleasure out of this epitome of human achievement then?

And you see, it was not always so. Who can forget Johnnie Walker crooning ‘maalish… tel maalish’??
The lyrics are surprisingly relevant even today.

Pyaar mein Howe Zagda … yaa business ka ho ragda
Sab lafdon ka boz hate jab haath pade ik tagda…

Even today, in Mumbai you can get surprisingly cheap tel maalish on street or in small Men’s Saloons ( usually plastered with Salman Khan posters) . And needless to say, it is always men who are writhing orgasmically under the expert hands of the Nhavi.

Dadaji’s generation was full of men who would sprawl on a khatiya with the local Naai ( barber is a humiliatingly bad translation for the institution of Naai or Nhavi) kneading their bodies like Atta.

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Uncles would ask us kids to walk on their feet and knead them in exchange of 10 rs.

If you had a grudge against any family elder, the easiest way to get even and also get paid was to slap their heads violently, and scratch spiky comb furiously through their sparse hair till their eyes watered.

Grandmothers would ask kids to press their feet, but usually to soothe the ache and not as some indulgance. In fact in my childhood massage for grown up women was largely limited to women who had just given birth. An imposing masseuse would come with fragrant oils and massage the baby and the mother for about a month. (I do remember I had thought that my beetroot red screaming baby brother would die on her spread knees during one such session).

So where have all these men gone? An occasional man might admit to loving a massage. But the sensuous self-indulgence mixed with vague spiritual well-being ness associated with a massage is aimed predominantly at women.

My theory is, ahem :

Women are more open about pleasing their bodies now than they were and have realized that a good massage is perhaps closest you can come to total bodily abandon. So women are running to SPAs and neighbourhood parlours and at home messeuses in thousands.

With globalization, this kind of passive and sensual experience is considered to be sissy by new Indian men. Just like boys holding hands has suddenly become chee thoo in middle classes.Or being extremely close to a guy friend.

So it is not that men are not enjoying massage, but it is not socially acceptable to rave about it for a man. Like Yoga, or salads or talking about life, which are considered as feminine and thus un-manly pursuits in modern India.

Anything that is feminized by market forces, slowly becomes off-limits for men in society. Like Pink colour. Or daily soaps. Or chocolates. Or emotions. Or common sense.

Massage also has been feminized and sexist logic dictates that it is not meant for men anymore.

Boo to you looser GEN X, Y, Z men. I am going to cheer for Omprakash in red chaddi get a rollicking massage in Padosan .

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