My plans last night were simple: stay home and read. Then I got a text message from J, and everything changed. We went looking for the place to detox our bodies – through our feet. J had been sick over the past few months, had grappled with a quick succession maladies; and she wanted to rid her body of accumulated toxins. I was just along for the ride. Or so I thought.
J suddenly spotted the place; it was nondescript except for the large sandwich board strategically placed on the side of the road, only partially hidden by parked motorbikes. The store front was empty, two female employees shooting the breeze, as if waiting for our arrival. They’d been sitting around and talking with a Balinese man who we were introduced to as Mangku Made Mardika – mangku being the title given either to a low-caste priest or, in this case, to a naturally-gifted healer.
I was immediately suspicious of his motives when he handed us his card that read: Healing Therapy Clinic: Power of Peace, Love and Gratefulness. I also noticed, in his email address and Facebook name (because, really, it was hard to miss) the words “eatpraylove.” Oh no, another local jumping on the bandwagon, duping unwitting tourists with his Ketut Liyer-style shpiel, playing to their vulnerabilities, advertising his services of “chakra clearing, energy balance, esoteric healing, psychic palmistry…”
But then with one glance at J and quick scan of her body, Made brought his hands to his neck and precisely identified the health issues that had compelled J to seek out this therapy. J sat down on a plastic chair near Made and placed her bare feet into the tub ‘o warm water – to which was attached two cables with battery-like chargers. I immediately expected to see her jolt in her seat. Nada. She just soaked.
Then Made turned his attention to me, forthrightly noting that something was wrong with my spine. That obvious? I wondered. He called me over, reached for my hand and gazed into my open palm. Many seconds passed before he spoke. From the get-go, he was spot-on with my personality. My doubts melted away as he studied the lines, chuckled and expounded on my virtues, challenges and frailties.
My turn came, and they brought out a pile of towels to lay on the floor. I retrieved my pillow from J’s car, then lay back on the slightly-padded floor and lowered my feet into the tub for a soak. I couldn’t see for myself, but I was told that the water was turning a murky white – from blockage in my spine and bones.
J turned her palms up for Made while my feet were in therapy. Oh, he said, there is so much in there, so many unusual lines, and J was hooked. But alas, Made couldn’t explain it all in English so I urged J to return with a bilingual friend.
“Can you lie on the (massage) table?” he asked. Yes, of course. And up I went. On my stomach. He placed his hands, emitting energy that vacillated between cool and burning hot, on my upper back and sacrum. And there we stayed, for awhile. By now I am almost oblivious to having yet another strange man’s hands all over my back ‘n butt. Such is healing. Such is life on this strange journey…
Is he or is he not the real thing? Is he a bona fide healer? Does ion electric therapy deliver on its promises – of eliminating toxins and acne, reducing weight and arthritis, lowering cholesterol, resolving feminine health issues? Who knows? But those questions are all really beside the point, because once in awhile, we are led and called to places (and people) for reasons that we do not yet (need to) know…
With a heated back, our warmed-up feet and a promise to re-visit Made for more healing, J and I headed out into Ubud’s cool night air.
Most certainly a far cry from what I might have typically done on a Saturday Night in another part of the world.
Amen to that.