FAISALABAD: The Clock Tower of Faisalabad is an emblem of architectural beauty. It remains surrounded by hectic business activities and rush during the day hours; but surprisingly presents an altogether different scene after the sun goes down. This historic monument is now a place that provides customers with the oldest from of physiotherapy; a body and head massage.
Shopkeepers, who are tired due to the day-long hustle, instead of going home, are seen on the vast pedestal of the Clock Tower. They sit there with morbid faces, weary looks and wobbling stature and wait for professionals with oil bottles.
It is said that massage is the oldest form of physiotherapy which kings, wrestlers, and sportsmen used to have for relaxation of mind and body. Later on, it spread to factory workers and shopkeepers in order to ward away their lethargy, fatigue and redress their joints and muscles.
There is also a psychological crunch associated with the idea of massage that it acts as a stimulant for sexual hormones. This attracts many traders and businessmen who have made ‘massaging’ a profession helping many jobless and part time workers in search of a second job to earn their livelihood.
“Special importance is given to massage in European countries. Big parlors have been set up from where many countries are making huge profits. Unfortunately, no legal massage centers exist in our country but a number of such centers are operating under covers,” says a local masseur.
Massage brings a positive relief to nervous tension. Customers after getting a massage look relaxed mentally and physically. According to an old massager, Abdul Hameed, “Massage is useful for keeping a person fit. It stops wrinkles and makes one look young.”
An old massage fan, Shabbir Ahmad, says that he has been getting massages regularly for the last 3 decades. He said that it has kept his thighs and knees quite flexible compared to those of his age who face great hardships while bending or praying. Similarly, a hockey player, Junaid Ahmad, says that regular massage helps him produce better performances and win matches.
Historically, special emphasis used to be laid for providing comfort to the rulers and their favorites during the Mughal period. Maidservants and khawaja saras (eunuchs) were provided for their relaxation and special experts were deputed to relieve them of physical fatigue.
Moreover, horse riding, pegging, fencing, wrestling and Khabadi used to be popular games in the past. Messengers used to be reserved for sportsmen and were employed for beating away their fatigue during and after the game.
With the passage of time, massaging has developed in a regular profession and masseurs provide services to wealthy people in parks and at their residences. They carrying bottles of oil and towels and would perform the job for a few chips.
However, the creak from physiotherapy is not without hazards. According to medical experts, the oil used by most of the massagers is inferior or foul type and has negative effects on the body. These effects cannot be sensed earlier due to the immediate relaxation received but produces serious diseases later on.
Most of the massagers keep themselves unhygienic and carry infections. These massagers are generally victims of tuberculosis, hepatitis or other contagious diseases which can be transferred to their customers.
A massage service provider, Muhammad Shafique, says that “A masseur generally caters three to four clients in a day.” He says that the business has gone down nowadays due to gyms and various massage machines available in the market.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 13th, 2017.