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My name is Uja. I am a spa-holic.

I am ashamed to admit that despite the fact that I am a full-grown adult (with a full grown body to reinforce that fact), have 20 people reporting to me at the workplace (yes, that planet with a recalcitrant alien tribe called The Bhemdods which refuses to banish itself from the universe) and a husband to take care of (albeit the fact that he is so far away) – I have lost control of my addiction to spas, scents and kneads. How unbecoming. How weak.

I succumbed on Friday night. I broke the spell of my self-imposed, cold turkey no-spas for 2 months plan. It happened on the night that I felt so lost in Esplanade Mall, all because I have 1.5 hours to kill while waiting for my 66-year-old mother and her equally 60-ish-year old best friend to finish watching ‘Impenjarament’, the play that I helped to translate. I was nursing my dissapointment of not being able to watch the play (not enough tickets, long story) and as I was walking around the Mall toying with the idea of grabbing a cuppa somewhere and continued to read Da Vinci Code, I felt down, moody and in the pits. Pathetic to be caught reading a book in a cafe on a Friday night, I know. In the middle of town, to boot. Cis bedebah! Sungguh tak sanggup.

Suddenly, my heart raced. My breathing was shallow. My pupils must have dilated. And my brown hijab must have turned blonde. As I was standing on the escalator on the way to the cafe to reconcile my conscienciousness with my pathetic Friday night life, I saw a huge sign right in front of me. It says Kenko Wellness Spa…..the 3 letter word at the end of the sentence was so inviting, I did not realise that by then, my mouth was 10 cm dilated. It was short of oozing foam.

I hurried myself into the apparent heaven. There is respite after all. I must have talked so fast to the reception counter, that the next thing I know I was seated plumply on a white seat, warm orange hues enveloping my tired eyes and a soothing score of xylophonic symphony started meandering its waves through my ears. Aaahh…blissss.Bring it on!

It was barely 5 minutes after that I realised I have walked myself into a reflexology-based spa. This is no aromatherapy-based one. There are no warm hands kneading my frenzied nerves. No strokes, no gentle movements. I was horrified at the pain that the therapist inflicted on my fragile toes, but I could not run. I could have told her to stop, paid and walked out of the new agey reflexology centre, but do I really want to read a book in a cafe on a Friday night? Thoughts of being booed and visions of waiters walking past me and making the L sign on their foreheads were threatening my ego. Gosh, it was a painful thought. All that tasawuf reading did me no good, I chided myself. Banish the ego, woman! Save yourself from the pain of traditional Chinese torture. Go to the cafe and swallow the stares, I battled.

But, I failed to fight. Instead, I closed my eyes and grit my teeth, day dreamed about my husband and tried every way to distract myself from the therapist’s punishment to me. Serves me right. I blew another $103 on an hour of ‘treatment’.

Oh, I am so very ashamed of myself. Someone please, help me hide my head.

Knead me crazy

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No, the above message is not for my DH. Its for the masseuse – who epitomises the direct, unflappable bond between a hard turning, firm hand that can knead the hardest dough (often, that’s my flesh!) and a stressed out, tangled piece of muscle which has been exposed to the frustration of battling Bhemdods at work.You want to be the first to watch War of The Worlds? Come to my workplace. And no, I am not the alien.

What’s with us girls and spas, massages and salons – aku pun tak tahu. I overdid it this month. My bank balance say so, my husband just shook his head (well, I can FEEL he shook his head, although I cannot see him on the phone when he is 18,000 miles away) and my own conscience just grin and smile at my weakness for spas. This past month alone I have been to Anggun Andaman Spa, Balik Kampung Spa twice, spa partying at The Retreat Thalasso Spa, twice to the hair salon (to reperm my rebonded hair, and then reborn again!) and cancelled on Wayan Retreat twice too.

I think I have spent more than $1000 on these treats, and all because – to keep my sanity. It is no wonder that what happened this week at work was the final straw for me, and I am still contemplating my next move. Should I quit and move on to green and snowy Canada, where a doting husband, mountains and husky sleigh-rides abound (*grins to my Seoul Garden dinner companions*), or stay a while longer here in SG. Sigh, I dont know. All I know is that I cannot be spending more than a 1000 in cold cash everytime I need to be sane, yes?

Stick to berzikir, you say? I hear you. Itu tasbih sekarang jugak kena cari!

Rumsfeld for coffee, ma’m?

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I had a giggly spa-party yesterday – so giggly that it will be considered pornographic if I were to describe the details of what made four 33-year olds former schoolmates giggled non-stop. But I had such a good time I have to tell some! 😉

The 3-hour session was supposed to be filled with a massage, steam/sauna bath, a soak in a seaview jacuzzi and then some refreshments of sushis, chicken fingers and Japanese beans. It was absolutely hilarious to be paired with KYC, my former classmate in our all-girls secondary school, who was also my seat-partner. Back then, we were so noisy and talkative that our form teacher made us sit right in front of the class, as that was the only way he could control our ‘noise’. In my report card, I had Bs and Cs and he would write – ‘You survived this on natural wit’. Damn. Why didn’t he just write ‘Work harder’?!

Anyway, I digress. Back on the spa table, KYC and me were yakking non-stop – about love and marriage, the publishing firm I work for, F1 and Bernie Ecclestone, a Malaysian datuk who was a scam, a former boss and many other issues while the therapists dutifully knead our knots and tangles with what felt like hot massage oil. We must have yakked non-stop, and then complaint about how stressed we are with work and life that the therapist actually stopped massaging and said – ‘You girls better stop talking about work, you are suppose to relax here!’.
We said sorry, fell silent and just 2 seconds later, she quipped – ‘Err..but your conversation very interesting lah!’. Gosh, make up your mind woman.

The spa-party was a form of celebration for KYC’s birthday, and so we decided to join her b’day dinner with her family at the Shangri-La. When we reached there, there were like 100+ policemen blocking the roads to the hotel, gurkhas with guns on stand-by (I heard later that the instructions given to the gurkhas were – anyone who circled the area more than 3 times have to be shot – at the tyres ) and the hotel’s carparks were all non-accessible. The last time The Shang had such a Level 1 tight security was when Bush was in town. It was my kepo questioning to the guards that we realise there was an international ministerial conference going on. Ok, so be it. I wanted my dinner, and I could not care less who was in town and how many security clearance points I had to go through. My dinner agenda stays.

Today, I flipped the papers and realised that was a conference attended by 250 defence delegates. DEFENCE. That spelt Rumsfeld, Teo Chee Hean and Najib. And so I was right.While we were dining away downstairs enjoying our pizza and lassi, Rumsfeld was a few floors above our heads either snoozing, resting or perhaps bidding on eBay on his laptop. What a thought. I would have lost my appetite.

But alas, political preferences aside – I enjoyed my dinner. See, keeping focused always help. My food – will always, always come first.

Fortunately, none of the waiters asked me – “Rumsfeld for coffee, ma’m?”. My reply would probably be – “No, kopi-baba would do”.

And I AM serious.