Blow Hot, Blow Cold

There is always the first time. The memorable first times, usually, are the time you ride your bike without falling, your first day at school, your first friend, and the first fight – and the list goes on.

The novelty of the ‘first time’ starts wearing off – once you reach a certain age – may be when you are a teenager. Then everything is ‘déjà vu’; and ‘nothing’. Nothing matters anymore, and all the questions are met with a stoic gaze and monosyllabic answer ‘nothing’.

“What do you want to eat?”

“What did you do at school?”

“What were you talking to your friend for more than one hour on the phone?”

“What are your plans?”

These and numerous other questions – all are met with the same answer ‘NOTHING’.

Being of the age that I am (no more a teenager – which went away almost forty years ago), I have lived my life, and have done almost everything – except travelling to exotic places which are still on my bucket list. I have no desire to climb Mount Kilimanjaro or Mount Everest; neither have I had yearning to sail solo around the world. My life has become more or less predictable, and mundane. Except for getting my first ‘ticket’ from the traffic cop, there are not much ‘first time’ incidents happening in my life.

Yet, today was the big ‘FIRST TIME’. May 26th – our anniversary – Pragna and I complete 35 years of our married life – and no regrets! And this year, to celebrate our anniversary, we chose to travel to Montreal / Ottawa. A Good Samaritan – a person to whom I had spoken only on the phone (believe me, I never met this person in my life hereto before), offered me the use of his condo at Mont Tremblant. And besides the use of Condo, the family gave us many tips, hints to make our stay in and around Montreal a very memorable one! A visit to Scandinavian Spa was highly recommended. Equipped with gift coupons purchased from Costco (coupled with off season discount), the cost of going to the spa ‘for the first time in our lives’ was within our means. And with heart in our mouth, we made the reservation and took the plunge!

SpaThe Scandinavian Spa – To make it divine – only one ‘e’ is missing. Otherwise, Divine is in Scandinavian!  Let me describe the location – situated off the main road, a small drive takes you almost in a deep jungle. Just by the river (aptly called River Diablo), it has many hot and cold water pools, including few artificial waterfalls – some hot and others cold.

Back to present – Going to the spa for a massage – it has its own rules and regulations. I thought for a massage all you needed to do was undress, slide under the bed sheet, and let the masseuse do his or her work of art. But no…..

Pragna and I entered the spa place at the appropriate time – which unfortunately was earlier than warranted, and we were escorted to the comfortable lounge. Sipping hot chocolate (everything needs to be paid separately), we waited for our names to be called. And at last we were informed to follow the lady. Incidentally, we had to rent bath-robes, though the towels and lock for the locker was provided pro bono.

At the designated place, we were given the strict rules and regulations. I travelled back in time to the days of our school picnics, when the teachers used to recite the rules, with promises of hell, if not obeyed. It is not the case that the rules were always obeyed, but the point is that memory is so weird – it travels and jumps all over the place with random or seemingly no connections. Let it be so….

After stripping off the clothes, and donning the bath-robe (Pragna and I could have saved 50% by renting only one – as it was adequate to cover both of us, and some more), we went to meet the two lady masseuse. Fortunately, their English was much better than my High School French, and the communication proceeded smoothly. Pragna and I lay down on our respective tables in the massage parlour (welcome to my parlour, said the spider to the fly, the memory flashes).

Now what? Suddenly, I was no more brave. Being ‘first time’ in the massage / spa place, I had no firsthand experience. And the gory (actually as retold by the people with great relish and leaving somethings or nothing to your imagination) stories of the massages in Thailand and Malaysia and other South Asian countries jumped out from the hidden and cobwebbed corners of my mind. Again, the memory is most wonderful – it elicits and evokes responses when none are required. With Pragna – almost at arm’s reach – I consoled myself that nothing is going to happen, and chaste I am, and that chaste I shall remain. And we waited for the arrival of the powers that be.

My other great worry was the ‘fart’. Having relished Mexican dinner previous night at the village of Mont Tremblant, I was hoping not to choke anyone to death with venomous gases. My children fight NOT occupy seat behind the driver (that’s again moi) after enjoying family dinner at our favourite Mexican restaurants. I shuddered to think of the consequences – law suit? A nice headline – Patron without bathing suit, now faces a law suit! But, I digress:

The party began. As both of us were having our faces down, we couldn’t see what was happening, except a rustle here and bustle there. Soft fingers started playing piano on the tense back muscles, and slowly I felt relaxation creeping in – slowly, very slowly! I continued thinking (so I thought), when someone whispered: Please turn over – with your face up. And immediately on turning over, a towel or a piece of cloth was placed over my eyes – so I couldn’t see anyone or anything. And the piano playing continued.

All of a sudden, it was time to get up. Sixty minutes had passed already. The same voice whispered: “Get up slowly. Once we are out, please change back into your swimming costumes and don your bathrobes!” – the instructions were carried out and the masseuse were back in the massage room to bid us fond farewell.

“The time seemed to pass quite fast.”

“Of course, with you falling asleep – everything would go fast”

The masseuse confirmed that I was snoring to glory almost fifty-five minutes of the sixty.

Well, better a snore than the fart!

Our spa saga continued. First a dip in the hot tub (for about fifteen minutes), followed by a quick dip into ice cold water for a few seconds; and then relax for fifteen minutes in a tranquil nature. Flowing river, forest, sound of waterfall, everything to relax you. We did the cycle four times – Hot, Cold and the Relax. Repeat. By end of fourth cycle, we started feeling hungry; and though we would have loved to carry on the cycle for at least couple of times more, we started our winding down journey. Once out, I insisted on heading straight back to the village – where I ordered (for a change) a pitcher of red beer, followed by vegetarian Italian food. The order was a bit reversed – Cold (beer), followed by Hot (food) and then total Relaxation. But the effect was the same. Serene and divine!

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