A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint


Posted by Pepper on September 26, 2012

One of the advantages of moving back to India is that I can now afford things I couldn’t even dream of affording in the US. Take for example, a good massage. A few places around our home in the Bay Area charged $50 for a 15 minute foot massage. As a result, in all the time I spent in the US, I went for a massage just one single time, that too, when LivingSocial threw up a good deal.

In this regard, moving back to India has been a real treat. A few months ago, my neck and shoulder pain returned with a vengeance. I still haven’t identified the cause, but the pain is nasty. It surfaces and subsides at its own whim. One evening, I thought the pain was causing me a lot of discomfort. I could do with a massage. Since I couldn’t think of anything else, I went to the salon (or local beauty parlour) below my house, and asked them if they could use some hot oil to massage my shoulders.

They agreed. The lady there got to work. She used her fingers skillfully, to straighten my aching muscles. She used organic SPA oil, and went on for a good 30 minutes, kneading, dissolving the strange knots at the base of my neck and releasing the muscles of all accumulated tension. It was magic. The soreness almost disappeared. I felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders. Just when I thought it was over, she got a hot towel and pressed it against my shoulders. I could have moaned in pleasure.

When it was time to pay, I was a little apprehensive. How much would this indulgence cost me? When she told me, the total charge was Rs.100, I almost collapsed in shock. AΒ measly 100 rupees for such luxury? The owner of the salon happens to be somebody my mom knows. So they are always giving us good deals, but despite that, this seemed too good to be true.Β Β I realised I could get used to this. So it turned into a ritual. Every few days, I would take my achy shoulders to them for a quick fix.

A few days ago, I went to the salon for my usual massage. The girl who does it for me was not around, and I was a little disappointed. She does a splendid job. They asked me if I was okay going under the hands of a relatively new employee. Not having the heart to say no, I agreed. She got to work. After a few minutes..

She: Ma’am?
Me: Yes?
She: Are you okay?
Me: *Not knowing what this meant..* Yes, I am fine. Thank you.

After a few minutes..

She: Ma’am?
Me: Yes?
She: You don’t seem okay. You used to be such a funny girl at one time. Now you don’t even laugh.
Me: *Totally taken aback by that remark, I wondered what she meant. I used to be a funny girl? And she was saying that? Before this day, I had seen her a grand total of two times. I didn’t remember bouncing about like a clown on either of the two days. To prove to her that I was still very funny, I let out a small laugh*

After a few minutes..

She: Ma’am?
Me: Yes?
She: I think you have tension. See this pain here? It is because of stress. You can tell me what is wrong.
Me: *Really wondering where this is going..* I don’t know what is causing the pain. There is nothing wrong really.

After a few minutes..

She: Ma’am?
Me: Yes?
She: You should not be hiding things from everyone. You can talk to me.
Me: *Slightly exasperated* But there is nothing to talk about. I am okay. Why do you think something is wrong?


After a few minutes..

She: Ma’am?
Me: Yes?
She: R told me you are staying with your parents since a few months, though you are married. Did you have a fight with your husband? Is that why you are stressed and getting pain in your neck and shoulder?
Me: WHAT? *Suddenly realising what this was all about* Err, I didn’t have a fight with my husband. I chose to live with my parents while he is doing his.. actually, never mind.

She was silent after that. Probably because she knew it wasn’t a good idea to mess with me at that time. And I couldn’t help wondering, what was going on? After a while, the whole incident started tickling me. I felt sorry for the girls who work at the salon. They need some gossip to keep them going right? I don’t mind, being their source of entertainment for a while. Now I am left wondering. Who else do I unknowingly entertain?

52 Responses to “Entertainment”

  1. deepa said

    Unfortunately Pepper this is the situation in many of these parlours and saloons even in Dubai..especially if they are Indians. I prefer to go to a parlour where there are phillipinos or other nationality ladies who wouldnt want ask many questions and just do their job perfectly. I hate people asking something as personal as the one she asked you. Good that you kept quiet…and she would have probably understood what to do next time when you end up with her!

  2. Well as lonf as they do the massage properly..its all ok as youvsaid they need to gossip..

    But she seemed concerned for you…

  3. Pepper you are just too sweet for words,someone else would have been so so angry at remarks like that,initially you would have been angry but then you felt sorry for the girls who work at salons…..

    Also,what luxury to get those soothing massages without having to burn a hole in your pocket πŸ™‚

  4. ashreyamom said

    hmmm.. people around us are more bothered about others life na.. i generally i dont speak much when i am outside.. especially parlors.. πŸ™‚

  5. R's Mom said

    hahahahah! gosh thats hilarious!!!

    The massages are good is it? Somehow I have NEVER had one ever!

    • Pepper said

      Try one if you can RM. I tried a foot massage in Bangkok a few years ago, and after that I was hooked. I couldn’t get too many massages in the coming years, cos it was too expensive. But if you find something affordable, definitely give it a try!

  6. swatimital said


  7. Nisha said

    Your situation is different. Living with your parents after marriage because your husband is studying is a unique situation in India. People will not easily understand it and will obviously talk about it. So there, you are entertainingly everyone in your circle! We all do at some point or the other with our own ‘unique’ situations, or maybe, just situations. Don’t even start to think about it, it will drive you insane!

    • Pepper said

      Of course, people won’t understand. The most obvious thing to do is to live with my in laws. That way, they will understand the husband is away studying and won’t doubt my marriage. But then, when did I bother doing what the world thought was right?

  8. Ashwathy said

    Hahahah!! I saw this coming from a mile away! πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ Especially when you said the salon owner knows your mom!!

    Salon people thrive on gossip. In fact quite a lot of such people do ! Add that to the typical mentality where ppl think u stay at ur own house only if something is wrong, and bingo! That’s quite a potent combination, don’t u think?

    I get a lot of this stuff as well. Quite used to it. Laugh it off. Not worth wasting your time over! πŸ™‚

  9. Visha said

    You snipped a budding counsellor’s career πŸ˜›

  10. metherebel said

    Ok now this was a different perspective to look at things. We need not mind being a cause of their entertainment. Do we? Thank you for giving me different dimension to look at things πŸ™‚

  11. DI said

    Hahahaha! Too funny! I am glad you decided to not waste your breath explaining things!
    100 bucks! That’s a steal anywhere :/ reminds me I have a coupon to an hour long massage at this fancy place πŸ˜€ need to use it!

    • Pepper said

      I think it wouldn’t have matter, even if I did give them a lengthy explanation. They wouldn’t have believed me anyway. They would’ve just thought I am covering up, for what the truth is. And the truth, according to them, is what they believe in.
      You’ve a massage coupon that you haven’t used? I’d go the first day πŸ˜€

  12. Tan said

    The gal in this salon is just so typical… on the lookout for gossip…. and its very funny to see how people form their own conclusions for things that can be seen with a straight eye.. πŸ˜€

  13. Kartikay said

    Damn! Rs. 100! My chap gives a nice beating with Olive Oil for around Rs. 300. I’m being swindled!

  14. Groan!!! I soooooooo need a massage *jealous*
    That’s both sides of the “moving back to India” coin. Huge Value for Money deals are easily accessible but it is almost always a two way street. They want access right back, to your life, your time, your money (hand loans, etc.) All kinds of interference actually. And it is not just the hired help – it is the social matrix around, I guess. Comments being passed with no sensitivity, demands made in exploitation, so many examples of how time and energy gets drained out in dealing with such issues. Tackling it head on with people involved or sorting it internally, its a drain in either case, I think. I like your nonchalant attitude about being a source of entertainment. Them or anyone else, will remain spectators and that’s all they can think for themselves to be. Adjust your life lens to fade them out – focus on your priorities. When you’ve reached your goal, they’ll still be spectators. Don’t mean to get preachy and sorry if it sounded vehement, but some ‘social’ stuff that happens in India brings it out of me.

    • Pepper said

      I know what you mean. Living in India always comes with a price. I think, if you immune yourself to the interference, it ceases to matter after a point. The hard part is being able to immune yourself. It doesn’t come easy. I am still not sure I’ve reached that stage, although, I know I am far better than what I used to be. Now I am capable of laughing, instead of flaring up. Not an easy feat!

  15. when a married gal go and stay with her parents people start thinking like this, where as a married men can go and stay with his parents no one question that..when do our society change this mindset?? I wonder…

    • Pepper said

      It’s not even like a married man ‘can’ go and stay with his parents. It’s more like, the married man is ‘expected’ to stay with his parents. That’s the norm. So people don’t question it. Mad world.

  16. I never talk when I am at salons. I dont encourage talking either. And it can get very uncomfortable if you are there for more than an hour because these girls, they are very used to chatting. And not talking makes them uncomfortable. So in an attempt to talk almost all of them have marveled at how tiny my nails are. It’s really funny and then annoying.

    I am glad you look at this in a positive way. It would have ticked me off.

    • Pepper said

      I don’t particularly enjoy conversations at the salon either. However, if somebody is trying to talk, I can’t sound cold and non committal. I start responding and participating in the conversation. This isn’t just an Indian phenomenon. It happens world over. Even in the US and UK, each time I went for a hair cut, the men/women working on my hair would chat away to glory, talking about the weather, the country I come from, etc. It’s considered polite. So I just play along. In India, it becomes a whole new ball game though.

      Ofcourse, this would have ticked me off too, had I not decided to take control of myself and say ‘balls’ to them πŸ˜€ By being ticked off, we do more harm to ourselves than we know. I just hope my zen attitude lasts for a while though. Lol.

  17. You had to post about a 100 rupee orgasmic massage just when I was feeling elated about a new discovery – $20 awesome body massage for 30 minutes in a spa nearby. Hmmph 😦

    Sulking apart, I do agree when you say the parlor people need their dose of gossip. You get asked so many questions..and if you are anything like me would be pouring out to a stranger πŸ˜€
    They are pretty skilled in retrieving info like that. I am glad we have a strong soldier in you who went to the field and returned without revealing anything personal . More power ma lady!


    • Pepper said

      Wait, wait! Did you say $20 for a 30 minute body massage? That is a fantastic deal. You have all right to feel elated, my girl!
      Lol, you know, I really doubt it would’ve made any difference, had I revealed anything personal. They will only choose to believe their version of the truth.

  18. I have experienced this in Indian salons here in Sydney as well.. they need some topic to gossip on..

  19. haha..

    Beauticians and Masseuse(excuse me for generalizing) in salons thrive on gossip.
    How do i Know? My best friend is the Salon head at a popular salon. She tells me its unbelievable.. the kind of stories they spin…
    come to think of it, they are very naive in a way. they think they are building customer relations by asking so many questions.. they dont even realize that their questions are highly personal and can be really offensive to clients…
    The gossip is the only source of entertainment in their otherwise dull, hard, poor, tough lives.

    I hate to come across as so judgmental…but i get a regular dump from my friend, who becomes the subject of some gossip many a times and she wants to let some steam off,,

    • Pepper said

      I do believe those people are naive too. They don’t realise the harm their questions cause. I feel sorry for them, like I said. Their lives definitely need some spice. Otherwise, constantly working towards making women hair free, waxing and threading and massaging them can get quite monotonous.

  20. Jazz said

    I so want to indulge in a spa soon. And don’t bother about the remarks, good that you did not entertain their questions.

  21. Bubblegum said

    If you ‘have to’ go to parlors like Lakme or Garnier, they wont try to dig out personal information, apart from ‘Which shampoo do you use’ and ‘Do you oil your hair or not’. Again they are costly, well after coming to Singapore I feel they are pretty economical too πŸ˜€

  22. Music said

    Pepper, There is never a dull moment in your life πŸ™‚

    Long Time Reader.

  23. My Era said

    I am a very boring person when you look at me from a beautician’s point of view.

    I say so, for I play along as long as the conversation is about anything but my personal life. The very minute I face a personal question, I will answer it in a way that doesn’t lead to any more direct questions (without sounding rude). I don’t divulge any personal information and prod them to share a professional secret tip or two of their own or ask their opinion about any beauty care products.

    This has always kept the conversation going, keeping me entertained for the rest of the time for soon the beautician will begin sharing her experiences with her clients πŸ˜‰

  24. Swaram said

    Hey bhagwaan!
    While in bengaluru, I used to have this lady come over too who would do hair massage, pedicure etc.. wonderfully. But but but she used to keep talking all the time and somehow massage times are those where I enjoy resting rather than answering her qs . Once she told me she could feel a lot of heat during head massage bcoz I was newly married πŸ˜› πŸ˜›

  25. Hahah, neck massage and gossip reminds me of Legally Blonde! πŸ˜€

  26. Deeps said

    Hahaha! Oh you find such curious-minds here in Doha too, Pepper! The parlours are full of them! Especially if they come to know that you are a fellow Malayali like them, they go on an overdrive..they want to know about your native place, your town, your family history..argh!

    • Pepper said

      Oh really? Haha! I hear that happens whenever Malyalis bump into each other, in any part of the world. But then, that probably holds true for any Indian community. πŸ˜€

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: