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There's far too much pretension and pomposity in Indian writing: Anand Prabhu

Updated: January 18, 2013, 4:21 PM IST
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There's far too much pretension and pomposity in Indian writing: Anand Prabhu
The author, Anand Prabhu, joined IBNLive readers for an interaction on his book 'Massage No Boom Boom'.

Is massage an expression of man's hunger for the human touch? How does the massage experience vary from the West to the East? What are the different services that are on offer for the uninitiated? 'Massage No Boom Boom' answers all these questions.

The author, Anand Prabhu, joined IBNLive readers for an interaction on his book and more.

Q. What made you pen down this book? What was the inspiration or force that made you write it? Asked by: Hitesh Ratnani

A. It was a major part of my life, partly by accident, and it is a part of life. But there is hardly anyone who has written about it from a recipient's or aficionado's viewpoint. Just boring technical books meant to teach massage, or a few books of pure erotica. This is a slice of real life - and a book examining nearly all the issues, without puritanical or politically correct inhibitions.

Q. How did you come up with this title? Asked by: Hitesh Ratnani

A. I think I explain it in the book. In a few countries of Southeast Asia, when a tourist asks a taxi driver or tuk-tuk driver to take him to a massage place, the driver will often take him to a place where the massage continues into boom boom or sex. The only way to be SURE, or reasonably sure, that you did not get taken to a place that was more about sex than massage, was to clearly tell the driver or other guide: Massage NO Boom Boom! It seemed like a funny title to me, and the publisher liked it too, from a choice of titles submitted by me.

Q. Have you really traveled the world getting massaged? Asked by: Simran

A. 20 countries, I believe, in which I have gotten a massage. To say "traveled the world getting massaged" would be putting it flippantly--there are many such flippant moments in the book. I am rather influenced by American standup comedy, in which outrageous exaggerations are trotted out, and sandwiched in between, you have some really subversive message that the audience would not have accepted if their inhibitions had already been loosened. But it is true to say I would find it very hard to live in a country where massage was difficult to find, and was not within my budget.

Q. Were you worried about how your friends and family would receive this book? Asked by: Praan

A. The more difficult it is to write a book or to expose yourself, the more important and original the book is likely to be--this is the dilemma that many writers like me secretly confront (in my case, I am open about it). Sure. I am still a bit concerned. But you have only one life to live. No point living it like a mouse.

Q. In which country have you received the best massage? Asked by: Doel

A. Possibly Thailand. I have also received a couple of great massages in the U.S. and in London, but in Thailand, they are quite free about sensual massages. If you're going to read just one chapter from my book, I would suggest the chapter called The Thai Sandwich Massage.

Q. Who has been your favourite masseuse? Asked by: Krishna

A. Ha ha. That's funny. Occasionally, a good masseuse became a lover, and on one occasion, she did not (in New York). Now that definitely counts for extra points! In 98 percent of cases, they did not. So it's really hard to say when you have had hundreds of masseuses and great massages, as I have had.

Q. Did a lot of the book get censored? It is quite bold! Asked by: Prateek

A. Thanks for asking that. I actually admire my editors at HarperCollins, who were all women (a great statement about woman power), and they turned down almost nothing--in fact, they encouraged me to get a little bolder! But most of it just came naturally to me: it is part of my style to write as I think, and to think freely--to the extent that my childhood repression has left me (I think some of it is still around). So it was simply naturally part of the book, and I think it was an act of editorial and publishing class for the editors to leave it as it was.

Q. As you grew more experienced, did you find yourself relating differently/expecting different things from massages? Asked by: Ryan

A. Absolutely. I think this happens in any field of life. When you first eat a masala dosa, you are stunned by what a great thing it is. After 50, now you want a rava masala dosa. Then you want butter masala dosa. Then you want dosas with mixed vegetables inside, not just potatoes. It never ends! So, at first, I was simply grateful to be touched by a woman. Just to know that I was naked under the towel, and she had no problems about it, that she touched me caringly--this was in New York--and treated me with respect, compassion, and close to love. It was awesome. Later, I had a long-time masseuse who touched every part of me except the male projection you-know-what-it-is-called. So after that, if a masseuse left out certain parts, it felt incomplete. I would sometimes leave that massage and search for a second massage place where that hunger or touch-starvation was taken care of.

Q. Can you share your most awkward moment in your journey of massages? Asked by: Pradeep

A. Oh, there have been too many awkward moments, and funny moments too. Did not someone say, "Humor is disaster and humiliation recollected in tranquility?" Absurdity is the human condition. Usually, they have to do with going to a new place, and often, you don't really know what kind of inhibitions a masseuse brings to the table. In certain countries, Bahamas for instance, the masseuses think that massage is an extension of a beauty treatment. But in the U.S., and in most other countries, it is considered a form of health or medical treatment. A masseuse is like a nurse. A nurse cannot refuse to administer a catheter, or to apply a bandage on a buttock wound. She has to accept the entire body as natural, and that we are whole human beings, we cannot be stripped down into particular parts. So I think she massaged me, as I was lying face down, halfway from my knees to my buttocks. Which left a large portion untouched. So I pointed to my posterior and the thigh below it, and said, "Do you mind? I also have quite a bit of tension here." She ran to the supervisor and complained . . . it was comical as well as awkward.

Q. Was it difficult writing such a personal book? Asked by: Ishita

A. All personal books are difficult to write, but there is also a feeling of release, of liberation, from writing them. I think that we need to encourage such writing in India, to applaud people coming out and telling the deep, inner, difficult truth. We live so much of our lives for others, posing, pretending, quoting high authorities, trying to impress others on what impeccable persons we are. But under our clothes, we are all the same: we all have the same needs for warmth, food, love, touch, acceptance, sexual release, and so on--varying, of course, depending on genetic factors and upbringing. There's far too much pretension and pomposity in Indian writing.

Q. Are there any launch events line up for this book? If yes, anything happening in Delhi? Asked by: Pradeep

A. No, I am not aware of any. But thank you for asking this question. I think we may depend entirely on the Internet, and on satisfied readers who will hopefully tell their friends about the book, write good reviews online, perhaps gift copies to their good friends and lovers!

Q. Have you spoken with anyone who has had similar experiences, and how was the exchange? Asked by: Sunita

A. Not exactly similar. I have not met anyone who has had remotely as much experience as I have had (though there may be people). But if someone tells me their massage experience, and it turns out to be interesting or funny, and I think it has a place, I might include it in the next edition, or in a follow-up book, if that is called for. There is at least one experience from a friend which I quote in the book: the "Hole in the Door" massage! I don't actually reveal too much about myself in conversation. There are people who have known me all their lives, and have not read my books, and they know next to nothing about me! Because this is the special thing about writing books, if you can arrive at this relationship with the page: it becomes your confessor, your non-judging friend, and then becomes the heritage of humanity, something in which a stranger, maybe even 10 or 50 years from now, can see himself/herself or a part reflected.

Q. Do you treat massage as a vice and ever thought of quitting? Asked by: Pradeep

A. That's funny. But that's an attitude one will encounter in India, and so it is a real question that we need to address. Did you realize that India may have invented massage, that it was a disciple and physician of the Buddha who brought massage to Thailand (where it is now much more easily available, there are sometimes 4 massage places one ONE BLOCK. I don't mean one street, but just one block!) Does Vatsyayana regard sex as a vice? He speaks of the body and its functions and how to make a woman/man happy as naturally as he might describe the way to build a house or to run a government. "Nature knows no indecencies. Man invents them."--Mark Twain. Think of that. We (and who exactly is "we"--some people whose lives may not be as "pure" as they would lead us to believe) decide what we will consider to be vice and virtue. Which is why this country (and the U.S., partially) is so full of hypocrisy: ministers giving speeches to schoolchildren about virtue, and then returning to the Circuit house, where lavish meals and women are provided for them by underlings. Massage is in fact mentioned on the Mayo Clinic's as a health therapy. It is provided for in the Canadian medical plan. I think we in India need to be open about it, to openly inaugurate massage parlors, to have public universities award degrees and diplomas, and to honor the profession as we honor (or should honor) nurses and doctors. We are a really stressed nation, and this is why we periodically explode in public, there are demonstrations and strikes every second day in some part of the country or the other . . . I cannot think of any country that needs massage as much as ours. Yes, yoga is a solution--but it cannot work for all.

Q. Was this all your own experiences or have you added anecdotes by other people too? Asked by: Karan

A. Nearly all were my experiences, but a few of other people's experiences have been added. Also, to protect identities, I have fictionalized episodes here and there, without particularly mentioning it.

First Published: January 18, 2013, 4:21 PM IST
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