Dharamsala, or more precisely Dharamkot.
The journey here started from Delhi at three am. Eight hours of plane delays led to a cancellation, led to a change in route and then a band together with other befuzzled plane goers to share an eight hour taxi ride to our destination. A rose coloured sand storm within the first hour of our car trip, turned into another monsoonal downpour, and takes us to a winding road of hair pin turns, that lasts two solid hours and lends us glimpses of the twinkling paradise that we are ascending to. Arrival at midnight and we collapse into our beds. Waking up, and plodding out to our balcony, we are greeted with a blanket of mist that swaths the pine green mountains. Soaked rainbow prayer flags flap reluctantly from impossibly high trees. And we have arrived in paradise.
Another layer of something falls of me, travelers fatigue, my thoughts of who, or what person I am supposed to be at home, whatever the source, the feeling of a new lightness is noticeable. We take another taxi to the yoga school, dodging horses, cows and travelers that almost blend into the hills with their felted shawls, collection of piercings, happy pants and Velcro-ed rubber shoes.
Lunch of a bowl of steamed vegetables, with more of the same collection of travelers, Israelis, Irish, American, New Zealanders, Indians, rolling joints, laughing, and surly feeling the same sense of freedom and awe in these magical mountains as I am, so far away from home. Harriet and I decide to have our long overdue massage, and since we start our yoga course tomorrow, it will be a great way to shake of the past two weeks of intense travel.
We pop into the massage parlor, (It seems Dharamkot consists of one main slopping street, with a few massage places dotted along) and are greeted by a small purple foyer. On a table; price lists, a log of previous guest comments and a portrait of a handsome Indian man, with almond eyes, wearing a black Northface jacket, and holding a puppy. Handsome and cute, if not glamor-shot-eque. The flesh version of the glamor shot floats in, with all the bliss and ethereal presence of those wandering the slopes of Dharamkot. We inquire about the price, and if we can have the massages at the same time, but as it is just the one guy, we have to go one after the other, he asks us for ten minutes to prepare the room, and I get the first go. Yes! We kill ten minutes by me trying to do as many farts as possible, less conspicuous on the street, more conspicuous when someone is massaging your bottom, and we stumble upon another massage parlor. Cheaper, and with the masseuse a gorgeous maternal Indian woman dubbed Mamma, Harriet decides, (for her first ever massage) that she would like a woman. She books Mamma, and we are set.
As I enter back into the purple incense haze of my booking, I am sat down and asked a series of questions, health, and travel related, with a dabble of polite chit chat. My guy gives me a run down of what to expect, and in no particular hurry. He explains that full nudity is required (and hopes that I’m okay with that?), and the massage is quite an intense experience, different to what I have ever had before. He picked up a book, and drops it, and instructs me to be as the book, during our time together. A thunderstorm of tension and apprehension (that I am sure he noticed) sweeps my face as he explains that some postures bring out emotional reactions. I am a worried that my breasts are not going to be the only thing uncovered here.
So, lead into the dark room, a soft melody in the air plays, he allows me to put my things in the corner, watches as I take off my rings, undo my hair, then gives me a robe to cover myself with, cover myself with, in the style you would sling a wet beach towel over both your shoulders on the walk home from the sea, it’s not covering anything. Nevertheless, I lie face down, on a heated futon, and we begin. He does the standard warm up routine, large sweeping motions over my back, although not so standard, straddling my thigh. He than announces the next move might hurt, and or, tickle a bit. Hot oil is introduced into the equation, and soon my back is surly shining in the flickering candlelight, or so I can only imagine. He then massages my upper butt crack, and I wince with embarrassment, but chant to myself that he has seen it all before. Upper butt crack soon turns into coccyx, and soon very tip of my spine. He has the very tip of my spine with both his fingers, and is massaging/pressure pointing something. Now, if you have the opportunity, feel where your very end of your spine is located, I assure you, for me, it is very close to where I was farting not moments before. One of the most bizarre, if not embarrassing, and arousing moments of my journey yet. And I have not even turned over.
He moves down to my legs, I am thinking, what is this guy doing to me? As I begin to let myself fall into whatever is unfolding. He works over my legs, contorting them into weird, painful frog like positions, that we both breath through, like labor contractions. I am sure the towel is just there for appearance, but I chant my chant some more, and it seems not to matter. His hands are then pressure pointing the very base of my pelvis between the crease that is made by my thigh and (for lack of a better PG term) my girly bits, and with their proximity, the hot oil, and heavy breathing, I start to get pretty turned on.
But before it gets any further, I am sitting up in lotus pose, his knees are in my back, my hands above my head, towel nowhere to be seen. He stretches and arches my neck and shoulders, and I lean back as if we are doing some partner yoga, onto his knees, and hear a beautiful xylophone crack of my spine. Arms and back done, I am lying face up, and he is massaging my belly. Hot oil is poured into my belly button, and moved around my hips and torso. He gets right into my lymp glands on my bikini line, and then firmly pressure points my neck and ears. Now I am sure this guy, as with all people working in professions of intimate natures like this, find the chemistry and connection palpable (or maybe it is just me) and try to rise above this. It seemed, that although intimacy, chemistry, and proximity aside, this had risen above being hungry hands of a sexual nature, and more as if he was feeling my body, for just what it was. That being said however, when he grabbed my neck, and was holding my hip, I was thinking a hundred dirty things.
He went on to massage my breasts, ten minutes each, and for the better part I remained passive, apart from the occasional swallowing of saliva and desire. My arms followed, and then an amazing head and facial massage. I lay there, with a cotton eye cover on, bliss-ed out, wondering when he was going to announce the end of the massage, when he starts playing the sitar, which had been sitting in the corner, and I had overlooked. Sweet twangy plucks, whose notes seem to fall over each other, filled my head. I had a vision, (how very yogi of me) of a pink lotus flower unfolding. I took it as me, being and feeling sexy, fulfilled (well.. ) as well as being reminded of my body, as being just that, a body, that I often forget to explore. I mean, who ever feels the very tip of their spine!?
After, we sat out on the balcony, soaking in the insane view of mist and mountains, and drinking tea. Before we said anything, I looked at him and burst into tears (India has a way of doing that to me) because I felt a massive release of something that I could not pin point. He needed not explanation however, as he looked at me and said I looked happy, and I smiled and laughed through my tears, and said I am. We gave each other a long hug. He asked me if I felt uncomfortable, about the aforementioned proximity, nudity etc. He asked if I would come back, and recommend me to friends. I wanted to ask; if he ever got propositioned, and can we go back in the room and have crazy hot monkey sex because I feel as sexy as hell, but I didn’t.