Monday, August 10, 2009

Putting his best foot forward

Though visually challenged, Ansar has a thriving career as a foot reflexologist

By Shevlin Sebastian

In C.A. Ansar’s visitor’s notebook, the Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor wrote: “You are a remarkable human being and you do your work with great care, hard effort, and good knowledge of what you are doing.” Another entry is by Leslie Lewis, of Colonial Cousins fame: “You are very focused and dedicated to your work. God bless you!”

The man in question, Ansar, works at the five-star Gateway Hotel (formerly Taj Residency) in Kochi. His specialty: foot reflexology.

Some years ago, Ansar, 28, began suffering from redness in his eyes. Despite treatment there was a sudden deterioration. Soon, glaucoma set in, and Ansar lost sight in both his eyes in 2007.

By this time he had learnt foot reflexology but fell into a depression. Fortuitously, he met M.C. Roy, project head for Society for the Rehabilitation of the Visually Challenged at Kochi. “I told Ansar he is young and there was no point staying at home,” says Roy. “There are many ways a disabled person can earn a living.”

Roy met the general manager of The Gateway Hotel, and told him that because the young man was visually challenged he could do the foot reflexology in a customer’s room. “The guest does not have to worry about his attire and could continue to enjoy his privacy,” he says. So, Ansar was hired.

Today, two years later, on an average he has about seven customers a day. He spends an hour with each person. “And all are satisfied,” says the hotel’s Health Club in-charge, K.S. Reejesh. “He is known as the man with the magic hands.”

Incidentally, foot reflexology has been practiced for centuries in China, Egypt and India. On one’s soles there are many nerve endings. When pressure is applied for a period of time it has a soothing effect on the organs, the glands and the brain.

Ansar’s future plans include setting up a training school for visually challenged people so that they can learn foot reflexology. “There is a big demand and there are not enough people for the job,” he says with a smile.

(The New Indian Express, Kochi)

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