Sunday, August 5, 2012

Extremes of pain and pleasure

I did end up running this morning, even though it was raining.

And so the story begins.

I probably wouldn’t have mustered up the willpower to go running by myself in the rain, but two other women were expecting me to run with them.  Small group exercise = accountability.
The run felt wonderful.  We went for about 4.5 miles (my Garmin watch still works in India!) at the top of the hill (the “chukkar”) where there aren’t too many sharp inclines.  The views were spectacular; it was surprisingly clear this morning, despite the rain.  I have really missed running and am planning on helping out with cross country practices at least a couple of times a week.  Also, there’s going to be a Mussoorie half-marathon sometime in November, I think.  It sounds really fun but also slightly terrifying.  We’ll see if I actually end up participating!
The run definitely lifted my spirits.  I was pretty down last night after I realized that Sunday was quickly approaching, and the rain didn’t help much, either.  Even though I can’t do much about the weather, I think a definite key to my happiness here—one that I can control—is staying busy (with stuff other than just schoolwork).  I don’t think that should be a problem… there seem to be many activities planned for staff.  There’s a hike scheduled for the 25th that I signed up for today!
At around noon, I walked back up to the grocery store at the top of the hill, where I ran earlier this morning.  I didn’t really need to buy anything, but it has been absolutely gorgeous all day and I wanted to take advantage of the weather. 
                                             ^ the grocery store

After I got back, ate lunch, and took a shower, I realized that my foot was starting to hurt.
I forgot to mention that on the way home from my run, I was running/walking on a foresty path when I stepped on a rock and my ankle twisted upwards.  I felt an intense sharp pain, but it disappeared after a few seconds and I felt fine, continuing to run with no problem. 
It was at about this time that my awesome spider-killing neighbor called, asking if I wanted someone to come over to my apartment to give me a full-body massage.  I debated for a split-second; I was pretty sure that I had a sprained ankle, so would this be a good idea?  Then I quickly realized that a sprained ankle, 20 bee stings, a bleeding orifice, and a shark bite would not have stopped me from wanting a massage.
So I answered in the affirmative.
The person who appeared at my door was a woman.  I was intrigued to know how an Indian massage worked, since the country (and especially this community) is more modest than the standards to which I am accustomed.  I’m not supposed to show knees in public, so would I be asked to take off any articles of clothing in private?
To put it bluntly:  YES.
I was originally wearing sweatpants, a tank top, and a zip-up jacket.  The masseuse did not know much English, but it was enough to communicate.  I asked if I should take off my jacket and she said yes, and she motioned to my tank top as well.   Then, she started the massage.
On my face.
I must have inadvertently asked for a facial, in addition to the massage, somewhere along the line.  Gah!  Why is my life filled with such hardship?!  When she was done, she asked me to feel my face and take a look in the mirror.  I made a point of hobbling over to the mirror to make sure she knew my foot was hurt.  She definitely got the point.  Still, when she started in on the feet, she was kind of merciless.  I tried to grin and bear it, but at one point I definitely jerked in pain.  She let up on the right foot after that, probably afraid I was going to kick her.
Despite the language barrier, we were having a nice conversation.  She’s 28 years old and has been married for 12 years.
I’m going to stop and let you do the math.
If memory serves me correctly, I held a boy’s hand for the first time when I was 16.  It was a very big deal. 
She also has three children:  two boys and a girl.  I’m not quite sure why, but I felt kind of guilty when she asked if I was married.  No husband.  No children.  So basically, no responsibility (ha!), though we did bond over the fact that we are both “working women” J
Then it happened.
My own sister has never seen me so naked, so long.  I’ve had two massages in the U.S.  The first one involved sheeted nudity, and it was wonderful.  The second was a “medical massage,” so I was fully clothed, but the masseuse somehow thought it was appropriate to make awkward comments about my body as she massaged me.  Plus, it didn't feel that great.
Surprisingly enough, the massage I had today actually wasn’t that awkward.  More like gynecologist-awkward, when you don’t necessarily want to be so exposed, but you know she’s a professional and that she’s probably seen worse.  Plus, she probably had to squint to see ‘em, anyway.  It was like an extended breast exam… with sunflower oil.  Now that I know what to expect, I'd definitely do it again.
And yes, there is currently sunflower oil all over my body.
She first asked if I had olive oil.  I do not, but if I did, I would not waste it on the outside of my body.  That stuff is expensive here.  And by expensive, I mean probably comparable to its cost in the United States.  My mental conversion from dollars to rupees is starting to happen…
After 45 minutes, it was over.  I almost fell down when I got off the bed.  During the course of the massage, my foot got super-sore.  She told me to put ice on it.  So did Google.  I don’t have ice, but I do have frozen peas and I have been using them.  I’m curious to see what the situation is like in the morning… so much for helping with cross country this week L

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