A new Chinatown story

I have been going to Chinatown since I was a starving grad student working at the Henry Street Settlement House for credit. Use to have to walk thru Chinatown to get home to the West Village. Got to know lots of good food places. I still to to Shang-Hai on Bayard. Then there is the great Malaysian meat soup place on Doyers off Pell. The best $1 electronics store is on Catherine. You can get a $25 massage on Mulberry, and I always get the bag of almond cookies on Mott.
But yesterday I found a new place. Back story is I have had a pain in my right shoulder/neck for a few months. Have gone to chiropractors, acupuncturists, big time massage people and low level massage joints. Nothing helped. Then the pain spread to my left shoulder blade and finally my left hip. I was desperate. I heard of this Chinese guy who is known as a magic healer. Supposedly was a neurologist in China, now works out of an office in Chinatown and says he does acupuncture. I call. Chinese girls says. “No need appointment, walk in.”
So I go. Its below Canal in a skinny tall office bldg. The directory looks like something out of faith healer’s voodoo palace. They do everything in this bldg.I find my guys name and he’s up on the 8th floor, where there is a simple hallway with 2 doors. Mine is 807. I walk in to this just about big enough to call it a room with a wooden bench running around its periphery. Sitting on the bench are 8 Chinese people all chattering away. There is a small receptionist window, but no receptionist, just a fan where the sign in book would be. Nothing but one Chinese lithograph on one wall. No one pays me any mind, they are Chinese, they won’t talk to you unless you ask them something. While I am scratching my head, the inner office door opens and a patient leaves. The man standing there is nicely dressed in a pressed shirt and pants. I tell him I am new and what should I do? He speaks Chinese to the people on the bench and one man raises his hand. The man tells me have and seat and you are after him, pointing to the guy with the raised hand. So I take a seat on the hard wooden bench. People leave, new people arrive. All Chinese. Then a Peruvian looking woman shows up with a 6 year old and a baby in a stroller. She looks around, and she had the same look on her face as I did. She’s muttering out loud in Spanish, asking if there is a receptionist, how long will this take etc. I tell her in Spanish that she should just take a seat and I point to the last Chinese person before her, and tell her she’s after him. Takes about ten minutes per person. She sits. All the Chinese smile at me. I’m in.
After 80 minutes its my turn. I am wondering if I should tell him about the pain in my ass from that bench?
He tells me to sit on the small wooden chair and he asks,” So what’s wrong?”
I tell him about my pains. “Did you have X-ray?” No. Was it accident? No.
Ok. He gets up and walks behind me, examines my neck and back. Puts his finger on my shoulder neck area and pushes. Hurt? No. Does the same to my left side back. Pushes. Hurt? No. Then he starts on the outside of my left hip. “Oooohh here it is.” He pushes and I just about come out of the chair. “ I found it, you have popped tendon, I fix.” He’s pushing around doing something and then then pain eases. “You need medicine, I come back.” He leaves the room and returns with two gauze pads filled with brown oatmeal looking stuff with a white cream in the center. He slaps it on my back and hip and tapes it. “ You fixed, no need to come back unless you have pain, leave on till bedtime.” I give him $40. He says “its $50”. This is Chinatown they try to get what they can. I tell him “my friend was here last week and it cost $40.” OK he says.
So I leave and start walking around. Now the goop he put on my back is starting to heat up and feels pretty good. I get lunch at Shang-Hai. Sesame noodles with veggies. I take a bike up to the Village. Hmmmm forgot about pain, because there was none. Could it be that simple? No pain last night and woke up today pain free. Chinatown, No names. No medical record. No insurance company. No forms to fill out. Just a guy with a magical herb and a hell of a lot of knowledge. Treatment time 10 minutes. Except for the bench, really easy.

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