Read the Fine Print First: A Massage Gone Wrong in Udaipur, India

My dad made a friend in India, Udaipur to be exact.

He was a charismatic friendly restaurant owner who would sit and chat with my dad for hours about anything and everything. He seemed to have a lot of time on his hands; a clue I should have picked up on. I spent so much time there that I had memorized not only the menu but the tile floor. Looking for something, anything to do, I found the man’s tourist book.

Now tourist books filled with quotes and recommendations from fellow travellers can be an effective tool. However his tourist book had nothing to do with his restaurant. He was also a masseuse; his side business; and from the looks of the tourist book, a more profitable one.

These sorts of books are very common on the backpacker trail. If Sally from Spain, Son from Singapore and Sergio from Suriname all think Mr. Masseuse gives great massages, than people like me, will surely want one too!

I am living proof that such tourist books work well to increase sales.

Having read through the numerous comments in a variety of languages, it appeared to be all above-board. Well, except for a couple of comments that warned that “conservative” customers might be taken a bit off guard. I thought – key words – “thought” that this must mean people who are not accustomed to getting massages. As I have had massages around the world, I wasn’t too concerned; I have seen it all. I have been rolled around and stomped on in Thailand, beautifully worked over in Indonesia, surely a massage in India couldn’t be that different. 

I have never been more wrong.

Heading up the tiny narrow winding staircase to the massage room, I enter, what looks like, a regular room with a bed. No fancy massage table, no mat, just a bed. Ok. Well, this isn’t quite what I was expecting but I reflect on the tourist book and put faith in it.

And from that moment on… the tourist book fails me, lets me down, and I begin to curse Sally from Spain, Son from Singapore and Sergio from Suriname who have clearly led me astray.

Mr. Masseuse is most likely a real masseuse but in my mind, his liberal approach is a bit too much for my conservative Canadian blood. His need for full access to all my joints, all my muscles, all my aches and pains might work for those who were raised on European beaches or nudist colonies, but it didn’t work for me.

Pretending to be ill, I jumped off the “massage table” and made a run for the restaurant where my dad was eagerly awaiting his relaxed and much calmer daughter. Instead, he received a much more flustered and stressed out version of myself. Inquiring, I said to him, later… much later…like, when we have left India, later.

And so the tourist book remains, maybe to this day, in that very same restaurant. Unfortunately I never added my 2 cents worth but maybe someone else has by now or maybe it was just me, an ultra conservative Canadian who should stick to Canada for her massages. I don’t know. But I do know now… I should have paid closer attention to the fine print or just have eaten another meal at the restaurant.

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