Days 1,2 and 3
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
It is now 7pm in the evening and we have just returned to our room. A little while earlier, we took a stroll in the campus terminating at the Dhanavantri temple which is literally a stone’s throw from our room. The temple is beautiful, built in the Kerala style temples and the walls of the sanctum sanctorum are beautifully lined by stainless steel grids. At the intersections of the horizontal and vertical members of the grid are small metal cups designed to hold the wick and the oil and these wicks are lit in the night by the devotees and constitute a beautiful sight. The aarti itself is also pleasing to the eyes and after partaking of the customary prasadam we walked back to our room.
We arrived in this campus the day before in the evening and so it has been a full 48 hours since we were “locked” in the campus. The rooms are spartan with absolutely bare furnishing and so is the food which is delivered to the rooms along with the medicines at pre-determined time slots. Everything is functional and the service providers have smiles written all over them. The only modern intrusions permitted are the TV with several satellite channels, a world space radio and 24 hour good speed internet connectivity in the rooms.
The first week is a preparatory phase involving daily massages with at least half a litre of specially formulated oils and in the second phase, when treatment actually begins, we are advised against any form of strain including visual strain: no TV, no reading and no computer!
The campus houses a small library and they room deliver magazines and books for one’s reading pleasure. This place is totally celibate and one is expected to be totally in sync with the environment. It is for this reason that I found the presence of magazines like Stardust and Filmfare jarring carrying as they do saucy photographs and gossip. Of course, one also gets educated in the process (for example, one ad announced a variety of flavoured condoms (!!!): Strawberry Ecstasy, Pan Pleasure, Banana Fantasy, Bubblegum Delight, Vanilla Desire. For those interested, the brand is Manforce).
Outside our room at dusk time, we hear amazing sounds of the birds and we get woken up in the morning to these lovely sounds. It is indeed a pull-out from rustic India and I am certainly looking forward to the rest of my experience here at The Arya Vaidya Chikitsalaya in Coimbatore.
Days 4, 5 and 6
July 4, 2009
I have just had a wholesome, healthy breakfast and have been permitted a maximum of fifteen to twenty minutes on the computer at a single setting. This is because, the specialized treatment of Dhara and Pizchil which began yesterday is supposed to weaken the body and its immune system. We are not permitted to step outside our room for fear of catching infection and we are not allowed any strenuous activity inside the room. Consequently it is a no to the asanas which we began three days back under the guidance of a young Yoga instructor. We are however allowed to do the breathing exercises, but are not expected to sleep during the day.
The process of Dhara consists of specialized oil being continuously poured on the forehead by two masseurs and the Pizchil consists of another four masseurs continuously applying liberally (this is like being bathed in oil) and gently massaging the body. Thus the whole process involves six people at work on your body continuously for about 75 minutes!!! This treatment is continued for a week to ten days depending on the body’s responses…so if you find an oily tinge to my writing for the next few days, you can understand why!
I was asked to get a few tests performed at an outside hospital before my treatment began here and the results of those tests caused a serious discussion on whether the ayurvedic treatment could be done first or skipped totally. The allopathic doctor and the ayurvedic doctor went into a telephonic huddle and at the end, it was decided that I could get this ayurvedic treatment completed first, but need to get the other process done as soon as possible.
Two days back, we had the pleasure of dropping in at the residence of my ex-boss and spent nearly an hour with the 68 year old guru from whom I had learnt so much and his wife. They have been staying at a villa in a specially designed gated complex housing 60 residences. There is a common kitchen and common maintenance services and is located in the midst of lush greenery with a beautiful view of the Marudamalai temple atop a hill. The food is Spartan, typical home cooked South Indian vegetarian food and is ideally suited for the elderly. Apart from the fact that there is no vacancy, the admission is strictly based on the trustees evaluation on whether the incumbents would fit in with the ambience or whether they would bring in nuisance value!
I have exceeded my time limit for this session and will therefore resume after a few days!
Days 7, 8, 9 and 10
July 7, 2009
It is eight in the morning and we have by now got accustomed to our daily routine. Between 5 30 and 5 45 in the morning, we are woken up by the person who brings our morning dose of medicine to be taken at 6 am and between 7 30 and 8 am the breakfast boy brings the breakfast trays with a huge smile lit on his face and a warm morning greeting. In view of the Dhara and Pizchil treatment being given to us presently, Yoga has been given a break.
It does get a little boring, particularly since we are not expected to move out of our room during the Dhara and Pizchil treatment: if this could be boring, we wondered as to how frustrating life in a prison can be. Everything is so predictable; we begin to become conscious of the value of a few unpredictable events in our daily life. After some time, even the normally soothing radio channels like the Moksha channel sound drab and dull!
This is despite the fact that I watched the brilliant four hour plus Wimbledon Men’s Final which ranks as the best ever match that I have watched till now. What amazed me as to how both Federer and Roddick were able to maintain their calm expressions on their faces in the midst of the tension on the court and in spite of the four plus hours of sheer exertion. No tantrums, no grunts, no over-reaction to elation or disappointment. We also have been watching two episodes on National Geographic channel featuring air-crash investigation and the way the investigators attempt to reconstruct the accident is marvelous.
Our room is located just in front of a small garden and there is a hammock tied between two trees as soon as we step outside our room. The day before the Dhara Treatment began, I got tempted and managed to get on to the hammock wondering as to whether it would stand my weight! After a few minutes on the hammock, the feeling of fear was replaced by a feeling of calm fuelled by the gentle rocking of the hammock under the thick foliage.
Across the garden is the entrance to the temple and we are constantly treated to the sounds of the ringing of the temple bells and the chanting emanating from the fore court. This is indeed a blissful experience. I have just begun reading the Nobel Prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s creation: Love in the time of Cholera. The original book was written in Spanish and the translation is by Edith Grossman. Going through the first fifty odd pages of this translation is an equally blissful experience. More about this beautiful book after I complete the book!
July 15, 2009
Today is the eighteenth and last day of our wonderful stay here and in a short while from now, we will be bidding goodbye to this place which was in many ways a truly relaxing abode. It is now a little past half past five in the morning and as usual, I was awakened by the myriad sounds of the birds outside preparing to start their day’s chores. This sound of incessant chattering has no rhythm and yet I felt blessed to be woken up every morning to the sounds of these birds. In a little while, the temple bells will start ringing and that adds to the ethereal combination of the sounds created by man and Nature.
Yesterday, a friend asked me over the phone as to whether I was feeling lighter in body and mind and my answer was: Lighter in body, probably not, but perhaps this is the lightest my mind has felt since I started working 33 years back. So used did we both become to this routine that we are visualizing our missing this place even before we have departed from here. With no deadlines to be met, our routine still felt fitted in a nice timetable without any accompanying stress. The typical day begins with the oral ingestion of Kashayam, a small portion of a herbal decoction at around 6 and this was followed by our switching on Channels 604 and 621 on World Space Satellite Radio to listen to commentaries and discourses by gurus interspersed by bhajans. On a few days, when we were allowed, we took a stroll in the campus, visiting the temple on the way back. Then it is breakfast time and by the time we finish our breakfast, the two newspapers which we had ordered: The Hindu and The Economic Times were at our doorstep. A little while later after we had digested a bit of the happenings, was the time for the Yoga master to come. And after a 45 minute session, time for another round of Kashayam and the massage treatment for one of us in the massage room, which is one of the rooms in the cottage. After that, a little amount of relaxation (I used to attempt the daily crossword and Lata would work on the Sudoku puzzle) and then it would be time for lunch served in the room by the ever cheerful Nainar. More relaxation after that during which we would be either reading books or at the computer during which time herbal tea would be served and then it would be the massage time for the person who did not have it in the morning. Evening would be the time for another stroll when permitted, ending with the Temple Aarti and after we used to come back to our cottage, we would either watch TV for a while or play a game or two of scrabble( we even found another innovative game to play after we had finished Scrabble: what is called “Unscrabble”!! Dinner followed and between 9 and 10, the main doctor and his retinue would come on the rounds to check about our progress. And, then after that would be bedtime after consuming a few more rounds of Kashayam and Lehyam.. Of course, during the day, the junior doctors would be popping in and out to keep posted of any developments. Each of the persons here has a strong service orientation and credit for that must go to Padmashree P R Krishna Kumar whose brainchild is this institution. He resides on the campus and we had the pleasure of meeting him on a few occasions.
It is actually difficult to describe in words, the feeling which we experienced here; suffice is it to say that Inshallah (not to forget that we will be home bound in a few days!!!), we would like to revisit this place next year too!