It’s often purely by accident that you stumble upon a great café, or fantastic restaurant or even a supermarket that stocks ALL the dairy. There’s a network of chit chat that mutters some tips but if you’re not listening to the right conversation it’s often less hit and more miss.
But early on in our Timor-Leste adventures we found a great little Thai place, Timor Thai, tucked down by the New Zealand Embassy and with the promise of good, tasty, cheap as anything Thai favourites it has quickly become one of our “crap, I don’t want to cook tonight” places.
In the spirit of why only be one thing when you can be many, Timor Thai supplements its great wee restaurant with back room massage. Before you clutch your pearls and phone the authorities and the sex trafficking hotline, the only happy endings you’re likely to get here are the ones where you hand over 25 bucks for a job well done.
We’ve been several times. I’m lucky that when Mark comes with me I can push him on to the younger woman while I take Grandma all to myself.
She’s tiny. I know I say that a lot about the people here. I said to Mark she’d be half my size, he said, keep going…and while that may be a rude dig at my ampleness I don’t think he’s wrong. Literally her head comes up to just below my boobs.
But don’t let size fool you. She’s fierce. And more than a little terrifying. I’m both filled with excitement and dread at the thought of the next hour with her.
It’s got to the stage now where I help her get the table ready and whip my clothes off while she stands in the room. The table’s wide and low and she’s on it with me from the get go.
I guess there’s a slight easing into proceedings, washing my feet and giving my toes a wiggle but after that it’s all on.
Her thumbs are like steel and she’s got them into my calf muscles before my brain can even register the impending pain. I remain stoic. And silent.
Her English is as good as my Thai, so non-existent, although she can say “relax, relax” which just makes me giggle through the pain.
I want to tell her when she’s got my leg bent at all angles and she’s pushing my hip into the table, I’m sorry grandma, I’m sorry I’m just not bendy enough for you. I want to say us Celts aren’t renowned for our ability to stretch and squat and we’ve become stiff from not enough use. Has she seen us dancing? There’s no hope.
There’s also no music, no whale noise, no sounds of the forest volume 3, for which I am grateful. I can only imagine the distress to my psyche being tortured to the calls of whales would do for my future relationship with these gorgeous creatures.
And torture it is. There’s arms pulled to fit more snuggly into sockets and thighs kneaded like pudgy dough, there’s fingers snapped into popping and there’s a weird manipulation of joints that at some stage as I am hovering above my body I imagine now resembling a discarded wooden puppet. All angles and disjoined joints.
There’s a moment when she’s between my thighs with her foot wedged into my groin, pulling on my leg. The relief as she finishes this particular move is short lived as I remember I’ve got TWO LEGS. Dear God.
At one stage as I lie on my back, Grandma appears to be standing on my guts. I say appears to be because while I am ok imagining that’s what she’s doing, I really don’t want to see her doing it.
She pokes and prods me til I move to lie in her lap and she rubs my head like an overly affectionate pet owner. I am not sure whether I hate her or love her.
When finally she gets me into a sitting position and lies the full weight of her body up along my back, bending me in the middle like a rusted hinge I can’t bare it any longer , she says relax, relax and I just collapse into hysterical laughter. Are they tears? She’s laughing with me and stroking my arm.
A final hot small brown hand on my shoulder and an admonishment to “drink water” and I’m floppy, drained, and goodness what is this feeling, supple.
She walks me to the door holding my hand. We smile like old trench mates, we’ve been in the wars eh Grandma, we’ve seen some things…well mainly you cos I’ve had my eyes closed the whole time.