Thursday, February 20, 2014

In the foothills of the Himalayas: My week with Macklemore at Ananda Spa

Okay, I didn't spend a week with Macklemore. That's more of a Daily Mail headline, and the only time I read those is when I am eating lunch back at my desk in Abu Dhabi. I did spend several days at Ananda Spa, a beautiful place near Rishikesh at the same time as the recent four-time Grammy Award-winning American rapper Macklemore, aka Ben Haggerty, and his lovely fiancee/manager-of-things/producer Tricia Davis. I have to say, it was a pleasant surprise when the pair of them strolled in to morning yoga class.

How great is this picture? I think Macklemore may have just had a head massage. 

It's kind of funny that they were here, for me, because although I had not paid more than peripheral attention to the whole Macklemore with Ryan Lewis story, not only was I so blown away by their Grammy performance of Same Love (Mary Lambert, Madonna, Queen Latifah and 33 getting-hitched couples) that I watched it three times before work - and then bought his latest album. I was also sufficiently impressed to several nights later watch an E! special called Macklemore's Big Surprise, in which he renovates the house of his fiancee's mother in a sort of lukewarm version of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

I didn't bother Macklemore and Davis when I saw them at breakfast by telling him how much I liked his Grammy's performance; I figured he was stressed out by that whole Kendrick Lamar brouhaha and needed some quiet time. Plus, the only time I bother celebrities is when they are Liza Minelli and I am with a theatre-loving friend after a very refreshing pre-Broadway dinner. (Minelli, while very gracious, wouldn't pose for a picture. But that was fine by us because she said "How about I just give you hugs?" - and she did!)

In retrospect I kind of wish I told Macklemore how talented I think he is and how much I loved that performance (and that there is no way he can win at this not-being-a-black-rapper thing so he should just keep doing what he does and be proud of it), but I am sure he has a lot of people more meaningful in his life than I do saying exactly the same thing.

And just as I can still conjure up a memory of a warm, momma-style hug from Minelli, I can look at the picture of Macklemore towering above some of Ananda's key staff in the spa (including the PR and marketing manager, a bundle of fun names Astuti Singh) and remember our brief and inspiring if unremarkable, for him, time together.

Lots of other celebrities have been to Ananda - including Ricky Martin, Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles and - drum roll please - Oprah, who stopped by on the way back from Africa last autumn. She wrote about it here, and liked the fusion massage just about as much as I did, it seems. (It was, as she described, "transcendent" - I wonder if she had Sandeep too?)

No wonder, it's a very special place. I'll link to a review as soon as it's up.

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