Saturday, August 29, 2015

Kabul: Green Spa

Eitan and I were one month into our tour before we tried Green Spa, the Embassy's very own day spa.

It offers all the usual services (hair cutting and coloring, manicures, pedicures, waxing, and so forth), but we were interested in one thing: massage.

The space in which Green Spa operates has been constructed from a few modified shipping containers.  The salon part is in the front; the massage area, in the back.

When Eitan and I entered, we only had to wait a minute before our massage therapists met us and led us to the back.  The massage area has four or five beds, only separated from each other by a curtain, or rather a hanging sheet.  Eitan and I got beds two and four; the person in bed three had just finished and was getting dressed to leave.

The masseuse entered my room.

"Leave these on," she told me, as she gestured toward my underwear.

I guess full nudity is frowned upon.

The lady left the room, and I undressed and laid on the table on my stomach.  Normally there is a towel or a sheet to drape over your body at this point (at least at most of the other spas I've been to), but nothing was provided at Green Spa.

My massage therapist returned after a minute to start my treatment.

"Soft, medium, or hard?" she asked.

I opted for medium pressure, and she began.  She did end up draping me with a sheet, exposing different body parts as she kneaded, but I could have used something a bit more substantial (like an electric blanket!), as it was a little too chilly to be lying around in a state of undress.

My discomfort did not go unnoticed.

"Are you cold?" the masseuse asked.

I'm not sure what gave it away (my chattering teeth? my uniform coverage of goose bumps?), but this lady had figured it out.

"Yes," I answered, and she broke out laughing.

I failed to see what was so funny.

Meanwhile, Eitan was two beds over, and since we were separated only by a few thin pieces of fabric, sound carried perfectly between us.

This convenient fact was not lost on the two massage therapists, and they struck up a conversation.  It must have been a good one because there was a lot of cackling.  Maybe my lady was telling Eitan's about how cold I was.  I couldn't make heads or tails of the language they were speaking, but Eitan later told me it was Kyrgyz.

On top of the incessant yakking, helicopters were continually flying over the spa, giving the building a good shaking and causing even more noise.

The massage itself was also not to my liking.  Forget soft, medium, and hard; this lady was trying to pull the strands of my muscles apart.

When I flinched, of course there was more laughing.  She may have been sadistic, but at least my masseuse enjoyed her work.

Maybe 15 minutes into the ordeal, Eitan's lady asked him if he spoke Russian.

By chance he did speak it, and he admitted as much.

Now we had a three-way conversation going, and I was well and truly over the whole thing.  It's one thing to have a chatty barber, but it's quite another thing to have a chatty masseuse.

I wanted to listen to the orchestral version of "My Heart Will Go On", the saxophone rendition of "Never Gonna Dance Again", and maybe some Enya for good measure.  Is that too much to ask?

Instead, I got half an hour of boisterous banter, a few more helo fly-overs, and several more rounds of "Are you cold?"

When my time was up, I was grateful.

A massage cost $27 for 53 minutes, which at first I thought was a great deal.  After it was over, though, I wasn't so sure.

I settled my bill and tipped 5 bucks.

As I paid, the receptionist flipped open her ledger.

"Shall I put you down for next week?" she asked.

I told her I needed to check my schedule, but I don't think I'll ever go back.

There's nothing like a good massage... and this was nothing like a good massage.

1 comment:

Augie said...

Good times