What goes around, comes around, sometimes sooner than you think. Last October, I had purchased what I felt was a very thoughtful gift for a dear friend of mine who is a self-proclaimed massage-aholic, namely 3 Ayurvedic Hair Therapy Head Massage sessions. …Why yes, it was a voucher, why do you ask? We both own those spiky head massagers that give us goose bumps all over, which we love, and, in his case, makes his leg drum like a dog’s when its ears are being scratched. Not surprisingly, his Chinese zodiac sign is also shared with all the Fidos of the world, especially Snowy. But I digress.
The deal was only good for 6 months, and we were both living abroad at the time, making it difficult to squeeze in the treatments during our brief visits home. He has since moved even further away to Thailand (land of the cheap massage, lucky mutt), basically ensuring that he would not be able to use the voucher prior to its expiry in April. So, when the deal came back to its mama, all I could think was that most Indian women I know have gorgeous, healthy-looking, shiny black hair that could soon be mine, all mine! Well, at least a blonde version.
Now, it is entirely possible that I have had an ‘Indian’ head massage as part of a spa package sometime in the past (ah, more of life’s little details that now elude me); however, I can guarantee you that I have never stepped inside the doors of Ayurvedic LifeStyles Inc. before today, and have certainly never had an ‘Ayurvedic Hair Therapy Head Massage session’ done by Rakesh Ramesh Modi, Ayurveda Guru, and President of the International Council of of Ayurvedic Physicians Inc. (ICAP – not to be confused with either the polar ice cap, or the Iced Capp at your local Timmy’s. Those are different).
Rakesh is the proud owner of the most crowded business card I have ever seen, with plenty of info on both sides, and no fewer than 6 sets of initials after his name. Okay, I get it. He’s qualified. In several different areas that I can’t even pronounce! I must be in the right place, then, which happens to be about 3 miles from Little India, just before Scarberia.
My first impression of Rakesh is that he’s all business, as he is wearing one of those wireless headsets tucked behind one ear, and is deeply engrossed in some kind of a deal. I’m no longer in a rush, so I patiently browse the, uh, ‘store’. I immediately wonder if I was somehow teleported to another country, as there is quite an unusual variety of shiny objects on the shelves behind glass doors, including a scale on the floor with a rod across it that could only possibly be a chin-up bar for Smurfs.
After a quick introduction, and the completion of the requisite medical history and consent form, Rakesh shows his altogether practical nature, and offers me 2 x 22.5 minute sessions instead of the 3 x 15 minutes as touted in the voucher. One less trip outside the hood? Sold!
I am then led into a treatment room, where I sit in a chair, and Rakesh sits on the treatment table directly behind and above me. During the intermittent drumming and kneading on my head with some kind of a cooling oil, I continue to pepper him with questions about his life and practice, secretly hoping to distract him from the clock on the wall, and elongate this blissful encounter of his fingertips dancing on my scalp. He has been doing these kinds of treatments since he was a young boy, learning and eventually taking over the practice from his father. He also routinely gets involved in charity work in the community, and is currently helping to organize a Global Ayurveda Congress in Toronto in June, to promote adequate training and certification with the newer practitioners of these increasingly popular alternative therapies.
I personally love his story about how he gets orders for products from customers back in India and Pakistan, for goods that he sources from India. He tries to tell them, but they do not trust their local suppliers, only him. It makes me laugh. The importance of face-to-face meetings in building trust is a lesson we have learned repeatedly in software implementations, particularly when dealing with off-shore Indian resources. Who would have thought it would be so applicable to other businesses as well?
Back in the room, Rakesh’s answer to one of my questions startles me. All that I can recall about Ayurvedic medicine, I learned from a yoga weekend retreat several years back; namely, there are 3 basic constitutions (Vata, Pitta and Kapha), and typing you involves answering a myriad of questions, also taking into account your physical stature, diet and metabolism. What does Rakesh do, though? He checks the pulse of his patients to diagnose them. Um, what? Really? Okay, along with a few other things, but this completely intrigues me. Sadly, we are out of time, but I will be back, with a long list of questions at the ready, and possibly an appointment for a brand new thing. Stay tuned!
…And now, some random captions. Enjoy!