I realised (well the clue was in the name, ‘Aditya Ayurvedic Hospital’) or better put, I finally got the reality of where I am this morning before my first treatment of the day-a lovely full body Abhyanga. The therapist looked worriedly at my shoulder and asked if I had a skin problem. Err, not that I knew of. Or black spots on my face? You tell me I was thinking, they weren’t there last time I looked but stranger things have happened. Thankfully the doctor’s wife was there to consult with us both and diplomatically she asked if I’d had this ‘skin condition’ since birth. Another realisation hit me, she was referring to my freckles.
“Well I was a bit silly in my youth and got burnt trying to get a tan while abroad on holiday so the skin on my shoulders is probably a bit sun-damaged but yes otherwise this has been since birth.’
Phew! No horrible black spots although I’m slightly concerned that that’s what the locals see when they look at me rather than an exotic redhead goddess (which I’d hoped was the reason they usually stared but clearly not).
I have luckily and thankfully never been in hospital-I really don’t want to jinx things by writing this but I haven’t had any major illnesses, broken bones and I have even managed to dodge having my stomach pumped as a teenager, although a couple times I thought that really that’s what should have happened.
It has also never been a particular desire nor had it scared me, it kind of seems inevitable that it’ll happen one day, but perhaps that’s the negative outlook I have about getting older creeping in. Anyways it might seem bizarre that I have voluntarily admitted myself to a hospital for treatment and I know this is exactly the type of place most of my family would be mortified by. However I feel extremely grateful to be here and I can put a big fat tick next to something that had been on my bucket list for a wee while now.
This is no ordinary hospital but an Ayurvedic hospital in Kerala set in quiet surroundings with smiley staff, birdsong and unreliable internet. It’s a simple, humble yet efficient place that a friend recommended, with lovely people taking care of everything. My fellow inmates, I mean ‘patients’, include a married Russian couple, a Ukrainian, an American and I’m told, a famous, Australian yoga teacher. Similar to hospital back home only in that there’s really not much to do here other than to try to relax, rest and recover. Oh and there’s black, horrible tasting medicine and food on metal trays.
Unlike hospitals back home, there’s no caffeine (and I’m really surprised at my lack of cravings for it or cold turkey moods wings), no vending machines full of things to momentarily bring you comfort, much to the Russian guy’s dismay, and there’s no one hanging around outside having a smoke, although the Russian guy, who is staying here for 3 weeks with his wife and coming to the end of an intense ‘cleanse’ nipped out last night after dinner. Sneaky. Apparently it’s to help curb his hunger pangs.
Most people come for 4 weeks to do the full panchakarma detoxification and rejuvenation treatments. This involves cleansing the body by ingesting ghee, having daily massage treatments and eating a ‘sattvic’ diet which is mild rather than spicy and is aimed at balancing the ‘doshas’. I’m not going to get into the finer details of Ayurveda but I came here to experience it first-hand by authentically trained therapists and a doctor from a family of Ayurvedic medics. I hope that I will learn a lot in the process despite only having 10 days here and therefore not being able to take part in panchakarma, and that the experience will enhance my own Ayurvedic massage therapies.
I had therefore looked at this as a lovely sort of retreat. Seeing as it’s the most expensive place I’ll stay on my 4 month trip to India, I had secretly hoped for a bit of celeb rehab luxury. A lovely room with a view, maybe some beauty treatments now and then and most definitely a pool. 4 days in and it has finally hit me; this is a serious hospital. I mean I knew it was before, that’s why I chose it, but it’s a family run home-stay kind of hospital and I really do think that if I had to do some rehab time this would be where I’d come. There’s no TV, wifi has just come back on, hence posting this but it’s been very sketchy, and there’s a small town but nothing to really tempt you away from the serenity offered here; other than a bottle of Pepsi if you’re the Ukranian patient who told me the other day he had sent his wife home after two weeks here because she ‘doesn’t understand India and just wants to smoke cigarettes and drink coffee’. That was an hour before his contraband Pepsi tanning.
Well this is not a glossy blog, no fancy camera so excuse the photos but since being here I have really had the urge to write, not having posted anything in ages. So with the time and space to do so and wifi permitting, I’ll be posting a few things about my time here. I’m doing this for the first time on an iPad app so it’s even less picture perfect than I would like but hopefully I’ll get the nac and I hope you enjoy 🙂
My home whilst here.
The murky, foul tasting mysterious medicine-bottoms up!