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Hats – no shirt or pants yet – at the Delhi High Court. In a trademark order, Judge Rekha Palli prevented the Delhi government from banning transgender massage services throughout the city. Even if that leaves same-sex massage services of all kinds suspended, thousands of flyers with 10-digit phone numbers will stick on walls and streetlights until another day.

“Massage services” are, as anyone with a spine will know, one of the most notorious euphemisms known of any genre. Add a “living room” and there will be movie visions of 1980s South Indian “A” morning shows, Bangkok Getaways, and OST from Anurag Kashyap. But massage services, as the court rightly pointed out, are also, well, massage services – back massage, shakedown, whole body, hammering of tendons, joints, bones – provided by qualified masseurs and masseuses or, at least, experts. When a man came to “give my grandfather a massage”, the therapeutic “mushroom-double plus” was not delivered / staged in a dimly lit room above the Chandni bar, but on his. balcony – with me watching sometimes with half-horror, half-fascination.

Judge Palli isn’t a blushing purple, let alone shrinking purple. She is well aware that the goal of the state government to ban transgender massage services – that is, a man working on a woman and a woman on a man – was to crack down on illegal trafficking and prostitution which come under the rubric massage. services / salon / spa. Both “kothi” and “escort service” do not have the comforting double meaning that the middle classes look for in “massage service“, which also has the logistical ease that “hotel” and “guesthouse” lack. . In fact, with ‘massage service’ it is wise to confirm, as delicately as possible, that a massage that one can seek out is indeed a massage, not a massage – the message being terribly mixed up on purpose by people. professional euphemists. One way to avoid confusion – if avoidance of confusion is what you are looking for – is to go to spas without the word “massage” attached to them. The difference between the two easily confused separate industries still prevails in the same way that there is a fundamental difference between a “finishing” session and a “happy ending” session.

What sparked my interest … let me rephrase that. However, what particularly interested me about Thursday’s High Court decision was the qualifier “transgender”. Now, I don’t like body contact, not even hugs, especially when it comes from random strangers, barbers, doctors, prime ministers included. But on the very rare occasions that I have had a massage – always at a resort with a known company nearby, and usually because there is a discount offer which, if I don’t take advantage, will be lost – my only concern is sex-based.

For reasons that may only seem obvious to other regressive readers, I emphasize masseurs (men) and not masseuses (women). But still, a serious problem persists … let me rephrase, a serious problem remains. Remember, my brain – the parietal lobe, to be precise – registers the sense of touch. But it is the amygdala, my amygdala, a member of the sleazy family of joints that is my brain, which receives all types of massages – effleurage (light or deep strokes), kneading (kneading), tapping (slaps soft) and friction – and reads them as nudge-nudge, wink-wink.

The first time this happened I had a man with a mustache as a masseur. Everything was going well, until things got too smooth when applying aroma oil. Through no fault of my own, my 1980s amygdala refused to read the gender neutrality of the art of rubbing that the gentleman deftly exhibited. Terrified that my body would betray me (or was it the other way around?), I wrapped a towel around my waist and ran out of the room and the spa.

I’m glad the High Court thought of all the employees in the spa industry who would have gone out of business had there been a ban on massage services. But may I suggest that the authorities insist by law that when a masseur massages a man and a masseuse massages a woman, they keep talking. If the masseurs continually talk about, say, JSW Ispat actions, the Kohli-Ganguly spat, or ask, “How’s your aunt?” – referring to my mother, not my wife – while they massage, I will gladly avoid confusing massage services with massage services. My tonsil will do it anyway.

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