By Dya Singh | OPINION |
A number of questions have already been received. All from Malaysia. I shall attempt to answer them in this interim post. I am treating this 21-day treatment/retreat like an Akhand Path, or Sehaj Path, if you like. We have reached the madh!
I am writing this not to promote Ayurveda. I write because I am reaching age 70. To put it bluntly, my hanyi (age group) friends are either dead, dying or having ailments, many of which could be averted by some good health management. Some, thankfully, truly look after themselves. Some go running and trekking regularly.
No doubt we need to become conscious of our health needs. We need to watch what eat eat and drink, and exercise regularly. Beyond that, a good regular detoxification is necessary because try as we may, even healthy foods are these days contaminated with herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, etc. The earth is overloaded with artificial and chemical fertilisers. I just happen to find such pampering as this convenient and hopefully help me to remain healthy until the sedha, the final call, comes.
I consider this kind of a retreat, even better than going to religious or spiritual retreats, simply because my body, too, is getting nourishment – proper nourishment. I carry my Guru Ji on my I-phone to address as often as I can. I have created my own body, mind and spirit retreat! So have some like minded friends and relatives!
The diagnosis, herbal medication and massages started on the very first day. I am here mainly to have the proverbial ‘service and oil change’ – basically a good detox. The result, hopefully, is weight loss too, especially because once here you have no choice but to eat and drink what they prescribe. ‘Prescribe’ is the right word. They prescribe and watch what you eat and drink and you end up measuring and counting each bite because it is minimum and precious! Food and drink certainly become medication and meditation.
By the way, my wife claims that the food has improved! It was good three years ago. It is now better! The food is tailored to your specific needs. And change can only take place with the express permission of the chief surgeon. I needed oats a few days ago for breakfast due to a tender stomach and it was communication between kitchen staff, junior doctor and senior surgeon before it was approved!
Food and ingredients are fresh grown. The fridge is non-existent. Basic carbs are chapatti, idly, puttu mayong, dosas of different grains, like wheat, dhal and rice floor and even millet. There is also a mixture called raagi, and there is rice. The chutneys, coconut and also tomato, are to die for! They do not do salads but there is half cooked green mung and concoctions of onions and tomato etc. There is a sambal-like mixture of half cooked onions and tomatoes which I swear, tastes like our sambal sardine or a good taufu sambal!
I guess I am writing about food first because my stomach has had little for the last 10 days, not the usual tambah (add, in Malay) portions. Even the dosas and chapattis are small. As I said, one counts every bite!
But, I feel good already.
Fruit, if allowed, are mainly bananas, pineapple or water-melon. Water, at all times is room temperature or hotter and treated with some herbs. You are constantly urged to drink as much as you can. We all know the benefits of water consumption.
The diagnosis at first meeting is very thorough. I mean, it takes the surgeons about one and a half hours to ask searching questions, your medical and injury history, observing you, checking your blood pressure, pulse, inspecting your eyes, tongue, etc. Your start weight is also recorded. The senior surgeon is a highly-qualified doctor and a qualified Ayurvedic surgeon. He will probably tell you things about yourself which you have forgotten or did not know. Each patient (client?) has a dedicated junior doctor who checks you on a daily basis and supervises the treatment and the medicines. The junior doctor who reports to him sees each and everyone every second or third day.
I receive a full oil massage almost every morning and a paste (medicated mud?) massage with a herbal poultice rub in the afternoon for the first six days. Every fourth day includes a sauna. Two massues massage in tango with each other with a third assisting. The junior doctor steps in at least once to oversee. The massage is finger-tip to toe-tip literally! Ayurveda massage is not deep tissue massage. It is more to let the oils and herbs be rubbed in firmly and properly and do their job and also allow the energy (chi?) to flow. On the seventh day it was an oil bath – yes literally warm oil was poured all over the body. In the afternoon oil was dripped on the forehead – teladhara, I think it is called. The price is a tasty fresh coconut to drink after each morning massage.
I must admit my body was stiff the first six days, lethargic and painful, with a slightly heavy head. On the seventh day I felt rejuvenated. I was told that often happens because the body gets set in its way. Muscles are not used. The massage jolts the body from its inertia and comfort zone and initially it does not like it. Slowly it becomes supple and the massage becomes more beneficial. Even my ample midriff only responded after 4 or 5 days from its stiffness and bloaty feeling and became soft and responsive to the massage.
No, there are no exercises. One is so fagged out by the massages, that all you want to do is sleep! There is internet coverage and also a TV in every room. Some overseas news channels like CNN and BBC, when there are no thunderstorms, or you just watch Indian movies or listen to Modi Ji. He is very prominent these days. The new Indian ‘god’ on the scene!
There are daily afternoon yoga classes if you wish to join and your surgeon permits it. Jessiee and I try to go for a walk every evening along the river or through the villages. Friendly. The kids speak English. Kerala state has the highest literacy rate (98%) in the entire country. The countryside is like going for a walk in rural Malaysia or the Malaya of old. Lush green, with tropical vegetation. Jackfruit is in season. Mangoes are just over. No durians. Not that you are allowed to eat any of these fruits! Coconut trees, and all the tropical flora you can think of with beautiful tropical flowers on the roadside. All villages are linked by small one and a half lane roads and the most frequent vehicle is either the scooter, bicycle or three-wheeler.
5Ks AND OTHER TOUCHY ISSUES
Now the ‘touchy’ issues. 5K’s, modesty etc. First of all, the massage team with you amongst them say a prayer to their goddess of good health. There is normally soothing south-Indian spiritual music playing. You are in ‘So-Dar-Land’ or ‘simranland’ straightaway, if you know what I mean. Only men massage men, women for women. If you have difficulty in exposing your body to strangers (at first), then you will have to overcome that inhibition. If you can’t, then this is not for you, or take a leap of faith. I pretend that I have died and my body is being given its last cleansing by close ones! It has taken me and my wife time to get used to this. Once we overcame that, we have benefitted.
If you insist, you can keep your kachhera on, at the detriment of getting many kachheray dirty. (They are washed. Laundry is part of the package.) They provide a small loin cloth with a string to tie around your waist. So, there is minimum clothing for maximum massage benefit. Kara, kirpan and kanga can be respectfully kept close to you at hand. Your head will be massaged. So be prepared to bath kesi (hair bath) everyday! Bring along some good fragranted shampoo and hair oil! Their oil mixtures smell of mainly coconut, and sesame oils with other herbs. You can ask for your hair not to be touched or head massaged. Your loss.
More in 10 days at bhog!
What strikes me most about this place and the people is the ‘family’ atmosphere they have created. The staff – doctors, surgeons, admin., massage staff, kitchen staff and all other workers – the gardeners and, cleaners, smile and are very accommodating. And it is also heartwarming, most patients/clients, who come from all parts of the globe, are friendly. Those that do not want to be friendly stay to themselves. Staff also give cookery lessons and there are talks on Ayurveda philosophy, healthy living etc. on a daily basis.
Now, the crunch. I told you that I stood on the scale at 110kgs. On the first day. One Day 10, the scale says 106.5kg. I have lost 3 and a half kilos in 10 days. I am a little disappointed as, like most people would, I expected a greater loss of weight. I am told that the weight loss does not happen overnight. What you do today has an impact on your weight normally a week later! So, I look forward to what the scale says the day I leave…
Again, any questions, write either to Asia Samachar and your note shall appear at the bottom, or if you require privacy, email me.
I will write a conclusion on the finish and any questions that might come in.
Chardhi Kala and Guru dhi meher.
Malaysian-born Dya Singh, who now resides in Australia, is an accomplished musician and a roving Sikh preacher. The Dya Singh World Music Group performs full scale concerts on ‘music for the soul’ based on North Indian classical and semi-classical styles of music with hymns from mainly the Sikh, Hindu and Sufi ‘faiths’. He is also the author of SIKH-ING: Success and Happiness. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
* This is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.
Dya Singh revisits Kerala ayurveda journey (Asia Samachar, 26 May 2019)
Postcards from the Road: Delhi for Dastarbandhi (Asia Samachar, 18 Feb 2019)
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