It’s not often I go on for the woe is me, me me me, inner peace and finding myself and all that malarkey but right now, facts need to be faced.
I arrived back in India three years ago having kicked a three-year illness in the ass. This background is not asking for sympathy, merely providing perspective. You see, this illness, which I am genuinely thankful for had resulted in quite a bit of therapy, which it transpired, was the best thing that ever happened to me. It had helped me find my inner calm. I was more organised, focused, confident and settled than I knew it was possible to be. People who had known me for years immediately noticed the difference. It was a great space to be in. I was also relatively slim, or as slim as someone can look who has 32GG’s attached to her frontage. You see, my recovery was thanks to a year of carefully monitored nutrition and diet. In short, I was looking and feeling good and was ready to take on the world.
Three years later the situation is quite, quite different. Many people, in fact most people I know, think that I have a pretty cool job. I am inclined to disagree with them, it is a bloody great job! It involves traveling the length and breadth of India, discovering its treasures and having the privilege of being hosted in some of the best accommodation in the country, from five-star hotels, to wildlife lodges to homestays and many places in-between. One gets to meet incredible people, visit extraordinary destinations and fall in love time and time again. I do this on average for two weeks a month, but there is a downside to it, two downsides in fact. The first downside is the current size of my backside. You see, Indian hospitality believes firmly in the art of force feeding, it’s in their DNA, “Guest is God” and heaven forbid a guest goes hungry or doesn’t get to try every family recipe going back at least 6 generations. But, for those of you who have never been on a fam trip in India, this isn’t just a case of having to enjoy three, three course meals a day. You see, it is impossible to get away with just one, or even two helpings per course, in fact that is considered a downright insult. If one even attempts it, the now familiar (to me) lines of persuasion come to the fore “but you’ve hardly had, just a little more, you haven’t tried this one, this is our signature, you’ve been traveling all day, just a little more, you’ll become weak, hain ji, just have a little, it’s hardly anything,” and so the barrage goes. To resist is futile and sooner rather than later one relents, though even if you don’t, additional food seems to find its way onto your plate. Enduring this for one meal a day would be bearable, but bear in mind, this doesn’t even happen just three times a day, there’s afternoon tea and pre-dinner snacks too! In 20 years I haven’t managed to hone sufficient powers of resistance, though I do admit to occasionally having hidden in my room. When traveling it is quite possible to end up eating more at breakfast than is normal for an entire day. This is by no means a complaint, and I am ever so grateful for the hospitality, it’s just that when one travels SO much, it does start to overwhelm. Perhaps therefore, it is needless to say, that three years down the line and my body is now more of a bouncy castle than the temple it had previously become.
The other part of being a serial explorer is that one never gets to feel settled. Traveling is fun, but when one returns there is the drudge of daily life to attend to and a mountain of work to catch up on, clients to keep happy, writing to do, photos to sort, friends to catch up with, parties to attend and more food to endure before inevitably setting off again. It becomes a vicious cycle that one is drawn into; a whirling vortex of food, work, travel, work and food. Routine is impossible and I now feel that I have lost control. I feel as if my pre illness and pre therapy self has re-emerged and that I haven’t breathed properly in weeks. I am hideously busy, but not achieving. Chaos has intruded once more, and the dramas have restarted. Work never stops but my productivity has decreased dramatically. The realisation has struck, I have very exciting projects in the pipeline and if they are to succeed, then it is time to regain control.
What could be more perfect then than the timing of an invitation to a new spa? In this there is also a little story. The first person I met in this industry was George Dominic of CGH-Earth fame. He has remained a friend and mentor throughout last 20 years. Around 15 years ago he invited me, thinking the invitation would be refused, to try out their brand-new luxury Ayurvedic spa, Kolari Kovilakom. I accepted; we were both shocked. If you know anything about Ayurveda and the process you will know why (more on this in a link at the bottom). We were both convinced I wouldn’t last the course. We were both stunned that I not only did, but seemingly loved the process too. Actually, that’s a lie, I don’t think anyone can love the processes of Ayurveda, but you do fall in love with the results.
A few years later, another invite was issued, this time to another new CGH Earth experimental hotel, Swa Swara in Gokarna. I had just spent 8 months in the jungles of central India and had barely seen myself in a mirror in all that time. This time around I had been on my feet so much that weight wasn’t an issue but I had gone feral. My eyebrows had taken over the upper portion of my face and my feet had cracks in them that the San Andreas fault would be proud of. There was also the issue of having tweaked an old back injury whilst interacting with an elephant. I needed help and CGH came to the rescue with their next new spa. Swa Swara whilst still being about Ayurveda, has more of a yoga focus, I have a yoga phobia. Even so, I gratefully accepted my role of spa guinea pig and once again emerged much the better for it. They serve wine there, it helped!
Now those clever experimentalist owners of CGH have done it again and with, what for me, amounts to perfect timing. They have just opened another experimental hotel in Kerala. This one is all about naturopathy, raw food, yoga, meditation and nature. I know nothing about naturopathy, my views on yoga haven’t changed. As far as meditation goes, my dad summed it up quite well, “I doubt that you are going to be a model meditator!” He is a wise old owl. As far as raw food goes, I hate sushi but love a salad, perhaps both might be barking up the wrong tree. Which brings me nicely into the part I will enjoy, being back at one with nature.
Now I know these guys deliver, I have been on the receiving end of it far too many times to doubt that for a second. However, the last two times I was their guinea pig, there were zero expectations on my part. This time around, is different. I am the size of a Shetland pony with the chaotic personality of a rabid palm squirrel. In Indian terms, I need to find my inner shanti whilst shedding my outer goddess.
They have 12 days to help me achieve this. No pressure at all then! For more details of what will hopefully be a miracle destination check out Prakriti Shakti. Wish them luck!