What’s up with a Hindustani writing about his Russian Banya adventure? Well, how many Indians go to one? Not many i guess and this makes it more of a unique perspective since I personally don’t do hot stuff other than chai. I like cold and that’s why I am in Russia.
So last week my friend asked me to join him for a visit to the banya. And I agreed with jolly. Being my first time at the Banya the people helped me with instructions so it was a smooth sail as far as the process itself is concerned. Another first happened when I learnt that I have to be naked in the banya. What? I have never done that. But I obliged and it was OK because the regulars have a casual attitude about it. I guess this is the most macho thing I have ever done 😉
In the banya, one also gets a massage in form of being whipped by a venik. Venik is a broom made of a bunch of dried tiny branches tied together. I now understand that the whipping is a form of treatment to let the blood flow easily in the body.
After the whipping comes the ‘cooling off break’ which meant I had to go outside and lie down on the snow naked for a few seconds in the -10 degrees weather and then rub the ice all over myself. Then when my body is shivering, like a wire with tension more than its capacity, I have to rush back into the banya where all the water on my body is vaporised in minutes. We do this cycle 2-3 times in one banya visit and I agree it is refreshing and better than a regular hot oil massage anywhere in the world. Much much better.
A note of caution: I had to run out of the banya twice as the temperature shot more than 100 degrees celscius because we cant regulate it in a small, village banya. So its all about personal preference and if you feel not so good, then it is a good time to go out and take a break.
Well, that’s it about me being first time at the banya. And you bet I will be there more so much now.