December 4, Rain in the Mountains

When I opened my eyes I couldn’t tell exactly where I was or why I was looking at a white netting all around me.  It was dark but I could hear the rain drops drumming on the roof.  I remembered that I was in India, sleeping under a mosquito net.  Safely cocooned in my silk sleeping bag liner and blankets I let out a long sigh.  I closed my eyes again.

Looking up from my bed

Looking up from my bed

It was still raining softly this morning when I drew the curtains back and looked out the window.  The birds must be hiding somewhere not too far away because I could faintly hear their singing.  I hoped they’re keeping themselves dry and warm.  The monsoon season is over here in Kerala and it’s the first rain I’ve had since arriving in the Wayanad mountains 10 days ago.  The rain quieted our energies and everyone seemed subdued at breakfast.  I was in an exuberant mood since I actually felt hungry for a change and I could finally have a normal meal.  I was thrilled to get a large green coconut to drink (I later asked for it to be cracked so that I could eat the yummy flesh inside), some idly (steamed bun made from rice and lentils), coconut chutney, sambar (just spicy enough for my first day back), and a few orange sections, watermelon, and papayas(!!)

I thought today was a “nothing” day for me since I had Vamana yesterday and tomorrow I’d start Nasyam (nasal drops).  But during my consultation with Dr. Abhijith he told me I would have 5 days of rest and treatments (pounding massage, head massage, etc) followed by Virechanam (the big D, more on that later).  I thought there were specific order to the Panchakarma process but I was wrong; prep (ghee) and vomiting (Vamana) are the same for everyone but after that, it’s up to the doctor to prescribe the course of your detoxification.  No problem.  So my treatment changed from oil massages to this very interesting “pounding” massage and I have say that I quite enjoyed it.  Basically a therapist stands on either side of you and pounds up and down your body with what I can only describe as a heated bundle of herbs (imagine a fist sized bouquet garni that’s flat on the bottom and toasty hot).  I had to swallow an involuntary laugh when they started pounding away on my stomach but I got used to it within the first few gentle hits.  They pound away and then using the same bundle your body is scrubbed vigorously.  I felt as if I was getting an aromatic exfoliation, a much nicer version of what the Japanese call akasuri minus the middle aged Korean lady scrubbing you down so hard that you lose the top layer of your epidermis.  My therapists then prepped my face by steaming and putting on a cooling mask, and a hot piece of cloth soaked in something mysterious (I have no idea whether it was oil based or what) was placed below my navel.  I practically fell asleep.  Afterwards my body felt relaxed and loose, and my face was so much brighter that some of the other guests even noticed.  This is good stuff!  And I get 4 more days of it.

I was going to do some laundry after lunch today but the rain actually picked up and continued all afternoon.  It’s almost dinner time and it’s still raining.  So it’s just books, yoga, and a bit of writing.  I’m going back and forth between Eckhart Tolle’s “The Power of Now,” Michael’s Lewis’ “The Big Short,” and Frommer’s Guide to Australia.  I know it’s an odd mix… maybe I’ll throw in a Jane Austen in there to stir things up a bit more.  It’s been years since I read “A God of Small Things” and I supposed since I’m in Kerala re-reading that would have been a good idea…  New York-Panamanian gentleman guest says he’ll copy a few movies off of his collection of a thousand movies on his laptop so if it rains again tomorrow, I may be watching a film.

One last thing- Dr. Abhijith showed me the leeches they keep here for blood letting today.  Some of them were very large.  He didn’t mention my having to get my blood sucked by leeches so I’m assuming they won’t be used on me (he did make a point of mentioning them not being the poisonous kind).  Maybe tomorrow I’ll go take some photos of them.  Doesn’t Maryann, played by young Kate Winslet, in the Emma Thompson’s movie version of “Sense and Sensibility” get the blood letting treatment when she falls ill?  Or did I just make that up because I think leeches and blood letting are oh so Victorian and I have Jane Austen on my mind?  I think that settles it, “Sense and Sensibility” will join my “currently reading” list of books.

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