A foot massage at a mall an hour-and-a-half’s drive away. Not exactly something to get ecstatic about. After braving Mumbai’s highway traffic snarls, the Nirmal Lifestyle mall at Mulund is in sight. The music gets louder as I approach. An overcrowded escalator ride to the second floor, and I’m at the door of the first Indian outlet of My Foot.
It’s a foot spa and de-stress clinic that first opened in Singapore in 1996 and later branched out to the US and Europe (My Foot will also open at Worli’s Atria Mall next month and at the domestic airport by the end of the year where it will offer sessions of short duration).
The cacophony outside fades. The about 600sq. ft area of the foot spa has seven lounge chairs and footrests and three back massage stations, some only a few inches away from each other. The assigned therapist arrives with just two sets of towels (clean and white) and a small bowl of moisturizer.
The most intensive session at My Foot, Combo2, which includes a foot bath, foot massage and an upper body massage, is for Rs2,899
The first five minutes seem exactly like a post-pedicure massage at the familiar beauty parlour. But 15 minutes into it and you feel the difference.
Reflexology is essentially acupressure with movement. Having been the subject of an accupressure therapist before, I can safely say the long-term effects of both would be more or less the same. The underlying theory behind both is that there are areas in the feet and hands that correspond to specific organs, glands and other parts of the body, and applying pressure to these areas can heal the organs “through energetic pathways”.
But My Foot is more of an on-the-go parlour-like place meant for instant relaxation, rather than therapy.
Deft use of the hand—turning knuckles, rotating fists and fingertips—on the entire length of the feet is key to the one-hour session. The feet are then stretched and wrapped in a warm towel. A glass of warm water or herbal tea is recommended for best results. Best results, of course, include an overwhelming desire to snuggle into a comfortable bed. If that’s any indication of de-stressing, then foot reflexology definitely serves its purpose. That afternoon, three out of the five clients snoozed as the massage continued.
The good stuff
The masseurs or “therapists”, as they’re called at My Foot, are attentive, careful and well-trained. Some in the staff are visually challenged who, the Indian franchisee holder Bhavna Vohra believes, “have a heightened sense of touch”. Perhaps, but we just think it’s cool to give employment opportunities to the physically challenged. Also, the centre is spic and span and the music is just right—that day it was a fusion sound of santoor and mild percussion beats.
First, the obvious. The chairs are too close to each other, so be prepared to be subjected to everything that the next customer decides to say and do (and there are no signs that ask you to switch off your cellphone). There’s no privacy necessary for a massage of any sort. Prices are steep for just a foot massage without a pedicure.
A one-hour foot reflexology session costs Rs1,345, an upper body therapy costs the same, and a hot stone foot therapy, to be introduced soon, will cost Rs1,445. You can also opt for a 40-minute (Rs945) or 10-minute session (Rs499), but be warned, these are likely to be ineffective.
Orama Krazy Kingdom
Plastic leaves, orange-painted trees and kitschy arcade games mark the gaming arcade, which houses a 4D theatre in a corner of Mulund’s Nirmal Lifestyle mall. At Orama Krazy Kingdom, a nentertainment complex for children that opened last month, Rs150 will buy you a seat for 10-minute movies meant for an enhanced version of the 4D format. An assistant straps your chair on so, as ‘Magic Carpet’ (the movie this correspondent saw) starts, you will be whooshing in your chair as if you were suspended mid-air on a carpet. As the genie helps you get out of jail through huge waves, you will have water squirted on you and, if he gets you through swirling fire, smoke will blow in your face.
As you shrink back in the face of danger, the chair shrinks too, and when you speed through tunnels , you will feel the thrill of speed. The escape ends with bubbles around the theatre and you will walk back dizzy, your heart racing.
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