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The Massage and The Undergarment (from July 01, 2008)

I'm consolidating my favorite posts from my previous blogs. This was originally posted on July 01, 2008, during the quarter I worked out of the Google Hyderabad office.

Last month I went for a massage at a spa in Hyderabad called Latitudes. Google has a deal with this spa so we get a discount on full body massages, and the other expats make it a frequent weekend destination. On this Saturday, I went with a couple of other expats who had been before, but it was my first time.

I haven’t had too many full body massages before, only ones at Google Mountain View, all by women. But at Latitudes Hyderabad, men get men masseurs and women get women masseuses. I was not looking forward to this at all, but I trusted that since the other expats were comfortable with it I would be too.

The facilities are really nice and clean, like a normal day spa. They started out by giving me a bundle of things to change in to and leading me to a dressing room. The bundle included a large cloth robe, paper slippers that you normally find in Asian hotel rooms, and a plastic bag that contained with what can best be called a paper undergarment.

It was on this last point that I stopped in the dressing room and was bewildered. I opened up the plastic bag and removed this horrific undergarment with a big “WTF?” look on my face. They wanted me to wear this? and only this?? The best description I can come up with is that it is two triangles connected by a very thin string that goes around the waist. Also, the two triangles are the same size in front and back. I can’t imagine why this was necessary or how it would even make one feel that they were being, ahem, contained, but after putting it on I immediately took it off and said “hell naw!” I know the only person who would see me in it was the (male) masseur and me, but that was enough. I put my boxers back on, wrapped myself in the robe, and shuddered that such a thing existed.

The dude walked me to the massage room, which looked like a normal massage room and had a bed, chair, counter, etc. He washed my feet in rose petals and water and asked me to disrobe and get on the bed. Now, when I get my massage at Google MTV, the massage therapist said I could leave my boxers on or take them off, and she left the room as I got on the bed and put a sheet over myself. But this guy just stood there as I took off my robe.

Dude: “Sir, you did not wear the undergarment?”
Me: (Thinking) Oh shit, is that a problem. Be cool…
Me: “No, I prefer this”
Dude: “Ooooook sir, noooo problem”
Me: (Thinking) haha, I should have said I am wearing it underneath my boxers

So I get on the bed and he starts to massage my back. But it was really awkward in there because there was no music - not even Enya! - so it was really just me and him. And he kept talking to me, like “where are you from?” and “where do you work?” Now, I have a feeling that in India when you’re a non-Indian expat, they don’t pepper with you as many questions. But if you’re ethnically Indian, they want to know all about you. When you have barely any clothes on and just want to relax, it’s not fun.

Finally he turns on that new age massage music so I didn’t have to listen to him talk and he lights some lavender oil lamp that smells nice. He moved to my legs and massaged the back of my thighs. You know how when someone squeezes your thigh it is really ticklish but also painful. This was like that times 10. I turned back to say that it really hurt, and he was like “Yes sir, it because you sit at a computer all day and it is tense” and keeps going. Normally, if you tell a massage therapist that something does not feel good, they stop! He just goes at it harder!

I protested again but he kept going because of course he knew better than me about my own body and what I like. And oddly in India, when you get a massage, they go up the leg enough for it to be uncomfortable. Aaaalmost like the episode of Friends where Chandler goes to Joey’s tailor to get measured.

Later I turned over so he could get my arms, and the dude is just staring at me the whole time. Every time I open my eyes, there is his big face staring at me. So of course I kept my eyes closed.

After he finished up my body, he asked if I wanted a face massage and I was like “no no nope.” So he just finished with a scalp massage that was the worst thing ever. He kept doing the thing they hit your head, and I have no idea how this is supposed to feel good other than that it felt good when he stopped hitting me.

Afterwards, he lead me to the sauna room. It was over 100F outside and a sauna really is the best thing to sit in… if you want to pass out. I got lightheaded after two minutes and made my way to the shower.

Since they oftentimes give you comment cards in India at restaurants and hotels, when he gave me mine as I was waiting for my friends, I just wrote “Let us have a choice between a man and a woman. Please do not talk during the massage.” I wonder how that’s gonna go…

Obviously I haven’t been back, but I am contemplating it just to get a picture of the undergarment (not on me!) so I can prove to you that it exists.

Roshan Vyas