Jabbar the street oil masseur relaxing at street, Photo by Yasir Kazmi, Karachi, Pakistan
It seems that over the years malish (massage) has gained quite a bit of popularity among Karachians, as many people, mostly from the rural areas of Punjab, can be seen on the streets of the city — bottles of oil in hand — calling out to customers with the distinctive clink of their bottles.
Massage is an age-old profession, passed on from one generation to the other. These malishwalas, called masseurs in expensive spas and saloons, are well aware of the ins and outs of the human body and can relax nerves and muscles with a flick of their hand. At times they can ease the body to such an extent that their clients fall asleep then and there.
The experts or gurus of the field charge between Rs200 to Rs500. They are usually spotted near the Quaid’s mausoleum and in front of some famous tea houses. They spend an average of more than an hour on a single client. Seen after 10pm, these people usually draw more affluent clients, who drive up in their own cars.
The majority of these malishwalas hail from Multan and its surrounding areas. With their families back in their hometowns, these men try to make as much money as possible so that they can send a major portion of it back to those at home.