City Pulse

By Amber Roniger

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I’m sick of this blasted winter already. I pray every day that it just poof, disappears. Winter’s totally useless, unless I’m shooshing the piste in Davos.

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I want to confess that I’ve been feeling a bit rough-hewn lately, a smidge less than Dolly. My muscles are sore. My feet are trounced. I don’t wanna wear thick socks anymore! Old Man Winter, I’m sure you’re a lovely soul, but enough with this schizophrenic peek-a-boo spring! Please spring, just spring already! Bring your greenness, blooming flowers and that dewy jasmine air, I beg of you.

I’m beginning to go a little lu-lu, like spring may never come. My pop-psychological, higher brain tells me that I’m just stuck in the winter blah’s, an ugly feedback loop of bad winter habits and flakey skin. Suddenly, I feel icky. I crave immediate action. I require self medication. I need to be ravished.

I immediately book the Nirvana Package at Praba, my favorite little Indian salon on the Upper, Upper East Side (that no-man’s land between UES proper & Spanish Harlem) muy pronto. I want the nirvana package; I need the nirvana package. Thank God for Praba. Their prices are unbelievable. I’d love to claim that my Kirtan practice first led me there; that I channeled the ghost of Maharaji through my Rudrakshas, but actually, I just stumbled upon it one day.

I’d like to propose that spa’ing is a rite of spring; every tradition in the world celebrates spring-cleaning in some manner (it’s one of the few things we can all agree on). I tend to go in for traditional ayurvedic services in places that have yet to be stampeded by the hoards. I don’t wanna make an appointment two weeks in advance just to get my lip zipped.

I previously experienced my first eyebrow threading at Praba and it was surprisingly painless, despite the horror stories I’d been fed. But this time, I need an entire system overhaul, a true spring cleaning; the works.

GiGi leads me downstairs and submerges my feet in a vibrating tub. As my petunias soak, I drift off to the sounds of Indian chanting, while Bollywood music videos play upstairs. The foot mask (is this an oxymoron?) is akin to wolfing down a whole box of Makes-You-Thin-Mints (my fantasy spin-off on the Girlscout classic)… aah, cooling. I think I was fully in la-la by the time I imagine Naveen Andrews massaging my stompers, but it was just GiGi. And I’m pretty sure I saw Aishwarya Rai scoping the necklaces and purses upstairs, but then again, I could be mistaken.

As for the facial, the massage is downright dreamy. GiGi works me over, pounding out my skin until it is fully liberated of all that winter schmutz.

She finishes me off with a body massage that prompts my hibernating chi back into action.

At some point I plan on trying all the services on the menu, including the turmeric face treatment and the henna tattooing, just for the whimsy of it.

After all that, I feel steam-rolled and cleansed. I bounce out of the salon with glowing skin and a lighter step, and a new kaftan to boot.

1734 3rd Avenue at 99th St.

Originally published March 2006

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