Feet First

Absheron Spa, JW Marriott Absheron Hotel, 674 Azadliq Square, Baku. www.absheronspa.com Tel.: 012 499 8889

It’s true, most expat wives, particularly those without children, have nothing or little to do. Some of us get involved with doing good works, others play cards or join book clubs, many take part in coffee mingles, lunches, afternoon teas and a broad spectrum of evening events, we learn the language or work out or cook, perhaps, we explore our new environment and a few get stuck into the gin and tonics. Most of us have left our families and friends behind and often good jobs to follow our husbands. We have drivers and maids and plenty of time on our hands. Some suffer quite considerably from a loss of identity and resent being as the oil giant BP so unflatteringly calls it  a ‘trailing spouse’. Professional expats, diplomat’s wives and those of oil workers, for instance, are often already well experienced in this life style, they know the score and have efficient coping mechanism in place, being on their umpteenth placement. And then there are those of us who relish the adventure and the temporary break in established routine, knowing as we do that before long, in a year or two or three, we’ll be back where we started from, and our expat time becomes, in essence, an extended holiday.

So, in the holiday spirit, another day, another treatment! This time I indulged myself in a reflexology session at the 21st floor spa of the Hotel Absheron Marriott, right at the core of Baku’s town centre expat community. Reflexology is a complementary medicine practice which involves the massage of feet (and sometimes hands) by putting pressure on reflex points which are said to correspond to certain organs and body parts, the result being, in short, a sense of improved well being, ‘detoxification’ and better circulation. To some people this is complete mumbo jumbo, of course, but to those of us who believe in its effects, it is a most valuable health enhancing therapy.


The AbsheronSpa has a South East Asian ambience with supremely comfortable and well fitted out treatment rooms. Dark wood, natural stone, low indirect lighting and water features make you feel as though you have been transported to a Balinese jungle hideaway beside a waterfall.


The reflexology therapist is a smiling, gentle and knowledgable young (and newly married) Indian gentleman, Arif Ahmed Zia. Arif has a very welcoming joyful aura about him (and yes, I’m aware that I sound very new age here!) and you instantly know that you are, literally, in safe hands with him. You lie on the treatment couch fully clothed with a loose light mask covering your eyes and just one lower leg and foot exposed at a time. For an hour he washes and then firmly kneads, massages and presses your feet. So relaxing is it to lie there in the semi darkness with soporific water sounds and discreet temple music washing over you, that you can easily drift off into a doze. Afterwards you awake invigorated and revitalised and ready for anything the day might throw at you. In my case, my slightly puffy ankles completely disappeared after treatment.

This was my second reflexology treatment with Arif and I know I will go back regularly for more. An hour’s reflexology treatment cost AZN80 reduced to AZN56 with my IWC (International Women’s Club) membership card.

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