A Service Economy?

Ideas are viral around here: once somebody does something, everyone else jumps on the bandwagon. I saw it happen with my tailoring addiction — I bought a few saris and had clothes made from the fabric, and now all the girls are doing it. Yesterday it was dentistry. Charlotte decided she would go to the dentist, and once she had been the rest of us realized a burning desire to do the same.

So off I went. Our administrator called up in the morning and made an appointment for me at two o’clock the same afternoon. The office looked similar to an American dentist’s office, except that everyone inside had bare feet (following the normal Indian practice of taking your shoes off at the door). The equipment was modern and the dentist very dentisty and spoke excellent English. The only hitch was that the hygienist didn’t seem very good with the suction tube; during the entire cleaning there was spray hitting my forehead and drool dripping down to the back of my neck. After not having been to the dentist for at least six years, I was relieved to find I had no cavities, although apparently I brush my teeth far too aggressively and am wearing away my enamel. I’m going back this afternoon to have him fill a ledge I’ve made with my violent brush strokes. All told I’ll pay about 500 rupees – 10 bucks.

I also had a massage yesterday afternoon. It was free, included with the price of staying at the center, so there was no reason to turn it down, but I was a bit apprehensive after hearing about it from other people. You turn up at a little house on the main road that has a huge wood table. A little old woman looks you up and down, then declares “everything off”, herself unwinding her sari in order to better get at you. After disrobing, and I mean everything, you climb onto this oily table and close your eyes. The ayurvedic oil she rubs into you smells like a health food store – strong, somewhat unpleasant, but undoubtedly good for you. You smell like it for the next 24 hours and really grow to hate it. After an hour she takes you into the bathroom and throws what feels like hot oatmeal all over you, then you wash yourself. The massage itself actually felt pretty good once I get used to the circumstances, but I’m not sure I’d pay for it.

I’m sort of fascinated with Ayurvedic medecine. There’s a course here, so I’m hearing about it from other students. The treatments you undergo depend on what ‘type’ you are. The way you figure out what ‘type’ you are ranges from looking at the shape and fullness of your eyebrows to the kind of fesces you normally have to thinking about what sort of memory you possess.  I’d like to undergo a course myself to learn more about it, although I’ll have to find one somewhere else. I’m not particularly interested in the treatment that causes you to poop 32 times in one day, but I would like to know if there are things I shouldn’t be eating, or better times of day to sleep.

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