Shivaji Park’s Al Fresco ‘Spas’: Rest Your Feet While You Walk The Streets

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Johnny Walkers iconic 'champi' song
Shivaji Park's East Gate
Shivaji Park’s East Gate

Located slap bang in the centre of Mumbai, the legendary Shivaji Park is many things to many people. A lover’s haven, a teenager’s hang-out, a housewife’s gossip zone… But every evening post 9.30pm the North East section of this lush 1.17km in circumference park is transformed into an al fresco ‘spa’ thanks to masseurs like Lalaram and his posse of fellow therapists.

Setting up their individual sections consisting of a vinyl sheet and a plastic holder for their various oils, these masseurs—who are all from Uttar Pradesh—lay claim to the low concrete wall that defines the park’s boundary. Once their vinyl sheets are spread atop the wall, they are ready to welcome patrons who come in all shapes and sizes ready to experience the magic of these nimble-fingered magicians of touch.

The masseurs of Shivaji Park at work
The masseurs of Shivaji Park at work

From a traditional head massage or champi to a soothing foot rub after a jog around the park, you can get it all here for a fraction of what it might cost you at a fancy spa or even at your neighbourhood salon! Think Rs 100 for a foot massage and Rs 50 for a champi and you’ll get the drift. “I don’t mind the relatively low charges as it is the sheer number of patrons that I get in a night that makes this a profitable business,” says a camera-shy Lalaram, who gets between 7-10 clients on a good evening. “And it is not only men that come to me, I have my regular stream of women clients as well.”

And as if to highlight his point, Vimla Joshi, a 65-year-old retired banker settles down for a foot massage. “Earlier, it used to be a bit embarrassing for me to sit down and get a massage in full public view, but now, I couldn’t care less,” she says, as a group of giggling girls passes us.

Johnny Walkers iconic 'champi' song
Johnny Walker’s iconic ‘champi’ song

Ask Lalaram what his biggest problem is and you’d be surprised with his answer. No, it isn’t the heckling from the police. He can deal with that, he says. It is a little ‘up-market competition’ that is irritating him these days. “My fellow masseurs and I face the toughest competition from those salons that used to earlier charge Rs 400 and above for a foot massage and are now giving 50% discounts on the price post 9pm. Now, who will come to us?” he rues.

But discount or not, with the kind of value-for-money service provided by these street spas, they needn’t worry about the dearth of those desirous of a healthy dose of R&R!

So will you be trying them out this weekend? Know of other such alternative spas, tell us!

Shivaji Park Images; Raul Dias; Johnny Walker Image: Anuradhawarrier.wordpress.com

Post By Raul Dias (102 Posts)

Lists travel, food and luxury as the tantalizing trifecta that defines him. When he’s not travelling, eating or getting pampered at a spa, you'll find him assaulting his notebook's keyboard with a feral vengeance, churning out what he hopes are intelligent, informative and entertaining stories.

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Raul Dias

Raul Dias
Lists travel, food and luxury as the tantalizing trifecta that defines him. When he’s not travelling, eating or getting pampered at a spa, you'll find him assaulting his notebook's keyboard with a feral vengeance, churning out what he hopes are intelligent, informative and entertaining stories.