Udaipur is known as the Venice of the east. It is also called the city of lakes. The Lake Palace on Jag Niwas Island in the middle of Pichola Lakes is the finest example of its architectural and cultural explosion. The grand City Palace on the banks of the lake compliments the palace along with the Monsoon Palace (Sajjan Garh) on the hill above. Udaipur is also the centre for performing arts, craft and its famed miniature paintings.The Shilp Gram festival is a center of attraction during the season. Ok, so much for the tourism brochure explanation of this city - now for the real story...
We were taking a tour of the city palace. I would like to tell you that it was amazing and beautiful, but I can't. Not that it isn't, but I was so sick that 5 minutes into the tour, I felt like throwing up, which I figured wasn't a good idea right in the middle of the ballroom. I excused myself, and walked back to the hotel. So much for my tour of the city palace, but this is where my adventure was to begin. Near our hotel was this strange building, restaurant/hotel/massage centre/art gallery. Since I had to go by it to get to the hotel, I stopped to find out about the massage. I figured I would get one the next day when I was feeling better.
I asked his price, and what type of massage he did. "Give me your hands" was all he said. My reply, "I just want to know your prices". Finally, he just took my hands, and looked at them. "I will tell you my price, when I determine what type of massage you need". He tested various sections of my hands, asking if I felt pain. Occasionally, I did. He determined that my hip, right shoulder, lower back, and stomach were hurting me. He said, "Your stomach is pained. You feel like wanting to throw it up"
He was completely right. I was convinced there and then to get a massage. After all I felt so bad, he couldn't make me feel worse!
I followed this stange massage wallah up this narrow, winding staircase to the second floor and into a tiny alcove of a room. Upon walking into the room he started to reomve his pants - I grabbed my bag, ready to leave and I asked him what he was doing. He was just changing his pants so as not to get oil on his clean pants - but he changed right in front of me! I started to undress and waited for a towel or robe or something. Finally he got the clue and gave me a sarong to wear. He started shiatsu massage along my spine. It was painful at times. Then he worked on my shoulder. He moved my arm behind my back and twisted my shoulder into alignment. It was definately a deep tissue massage! He even asked if it was too soft! He applied accupressue to my legs, and then worked on my hip. His fingers cut into my flesh finding their way to my muscles and ligaments.
It really hurt and on many occasions I winced in pain, but he didn't lessen his massage. Afterwards I rolled over onto my back and he proved I was out of alignment. Taking a string he measured from my belly-button to my big toe, and then whipped the string over to the other big toe. Naturally, the string length was different. Next he measured from my belly-button to my right shoulder. He also wanted to measure from my belly-button to my nipple - but I axed that idea - the shoulder was proof enough.
Pretty weird massage, but then it started to get really strange...
He placed his thumb in my belly-button and closed his eyes. It was like he was reading my body. Then he said "ah-ha". He grabbed my big toe and pulled. Same thing for the other foot. Then my ankle was grabbed and twisted while being pulled away from my leg! I was now aligned. He retested with the string, and yes I was in alignment.
Next he planned on fixing my tummy problems by placing his thumbs just below and above my belly- button, and applying pressure. I thought I was either going to throw-up or have a bowel movement right there and then! Within minutes my tummy settled down - no more cramps or sounds.
The finale to this stange massage was a vigorous shoulder and head massage. I jumped off the table dazed and confused, but full of energy. As I was dressing, he made one more comment "They are not good for women". "What?" He walked over to the dressing table, and showed me a box of bras. "They are not good for you", showing me the underwire. "Many women leave them here", referring to his collection box of bras. "Thanks", I said, "I will take that under consideration when I buy my next bra (referring to the underwire)". My bra and I paid, and went back to the hotel (together).
Note: It was been two days since my massage. I have energy, an appetite, and I feel great. Perhaps the strange massage wallah knew what he was doing afterall!