Namaste. And for those that don’t know the meaning, it is the loveliest greeting ” I honour the place in you where love and peace reside. When you experience that place in you and I experience that place in me, we are One. Isn’t that beautiful and one says it to the other with the hands in the prayer position.
I am now in Cochin and at this moment probably being bitten to death as it is dusk and I am out with no repellent on. All I can say about that is that despite being completely coated in Burts Bees organic repellent, the mosquitos have had a feast. I tried 100% deet too and they loved it, yum yum they say, this white woman is delicious!
I have to go back and finish up telling you what we actually did at Chera Rocks apart from being prostrate in hammocks. We started the day very early, at 5 30am precisely when we got the call to prayer at roughly the same decibel level as a rock concert. I forgot to mention that particular small detail!
There was a tiny green mosque hidden in the palm forest between the kid’s hut and mine and they neglected thatdetail in the literature! Never mind. It wasn’t so bad because it gave me time to boil my mini kettle and have a cup of tea before the electricity went off at 7am. We also had a very dark and very hot (no air con, no fan) half hour in the evening just before dinner each night. The power is switched off twice a day all over the state of Kerala to save electricity, although breakfast and supper time perhaps wouldn’t be my choice of convenient. Hurrah for my new Kindle cover complete with light bought half price in Comet’s closing down sale!
The day begins with yoga at 7am and what a revelation, I loved it! A very renowned Doctor who is a professor at Kannur University in yoga and psychology came in with his wonderful assistants Robbie and Deepti to teach us. He is one of those people who come along and inspire you with their passion so that something profound changes in your life. Here I am, one of the world’s stiffest people, if God had not kindly given me knees and elbows I would be stuck in one position! Now I am thinking that maybe, just maybe, I can be one of those bendy, elasticy, pretzel type people whose knees go all the way down to the floor in the lotus position. Mine point to heaven!
I see now that yoga is not, as so many people think in the West, just another form of exercise, good for toning and maybe a bit of weight loss. What it is, is an incredible set of postures or poses which if practised each day can cure or improve pretty much everything, and is also a very spiritual, meditative practise. Yoga means union and that is what it is, the union of mind, body and spirit. I love the consciousness aspect of it. Feeling each individual toe and your whole foot connected to the earth and the energy created by each movement made me feel very connected to the Universe and very alive.
So Doctor P, who I was enthralled by, saw easily where I was or rather was not, despite my best efforts and he simply said, ” Today Monday, you can do only this, then comes Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and then, you can do! “
So, one asana (pose, get me! ) we were taught is where you lie on your back (I can do that part) support your hips with your hands and then up go your legs, vertically and up goes your ass so it is no longer on the floor! You then stop holding your bum up and lay your arms back on the floor each side, balance, and very slowly lower your straight legs over your head, as far as you can go and hold that pose for 3 hours. But if you do not have time, for 3 minutes! The Doc was a joker!
So Day 1 saw my bum having to be hoisted into position by gorgeous gentle Robbie, and then on Thursday my ass left the ground all on its own and I did it! Jubilation and glee! The Doctor and his assistants were endlessly patient and particularly to James who has a back problem so of course with that attention and care for my offspring I enjoyed having a little crush on the Doc despite his large black moustache, not my favourite look! But confirming that intelligence, passion and a SOH are what makes a man sexy!
My other son, the yogi, was of course in his element and was to be found sometimes standing on his head on Chera Rocks thus providing a wonderful photo opportunity!
It was great, and the best element of the retreat by far because I didn’t really engage that well with qigong. This is a very ancient Chinese practise and qui is another way of saying chi which simply means energy and so what you do, is with a series of light and mindful movements, move the energy, literally the life force, around the body to reach the parts other beers can’t reach( old joke!) and get rid of the dusty old energy by flapping a bit. I wont go on, but I don’t think I felt it!
I also did Reiki Part One again (I did it first also in India in 2005) so anyone who needs healing hands, I’m your girl! Well I am if intention counts, because I don’t think I got that either!
Then there was meditation which is something I am very familiar with but not a huge success here. First one hour of Vipassana style (a breathing meditation) followed by an hour of visualisation. Since we had got up for prayers with the Iman, I think I was just knackered to be honest. The boys skived off from everything except yoga by day 2 and Nina and I valiantly did our best despite visualising ourselves on the beach which was not in the instructions!
I only left the premises once the entire week, for a trip to Tellicherry (delicious name ) for an Ayurvedic consultation and massage. I was crushed after this much anticipated event! This is what happened. I was taken into a room for blood pressure checking and some questions and then weighed and measured and something tragic has happened to me. Someone, whilst I was not looking, has stolen my supermodel type body and swapped it for one considerably shorter and fatter! It must be a mistake I cried as I stood on tiptoe against the wall trying to be tall again and then on one leg on the scale attempting to be sylph like!
I was in shock and that was before the TWO Indian ladies stripped me naked, put me on a hard wooden table and poured about a gallon of oil over me before vigorously beginning by massaging a breast each for about 5 minutes (not unpleasant actually) and then attacking me in perfect synchronicity with such vigour that I almost shot off the table! A very long hour later, I was placed, dazed and bruised, into a contraption straight from a Carry On film. I was sitting in a large wooden box, head poking out like a battered and bewildered tortoise and they cranked this thing up till steam was coming out of my ears. Aaagh! Then they let me out and one of them led me into a shower, got in with me, fully clothed and proceeded to wash my naked body as if I was a very small and helpless child and then dry me with a small tea towel! That bit was pleasant too like the bosom rubbing! Shades of what is to come if I get to extreme old age and don’t practise my asanas……
So that was the retreat. Most of it was wonderful. And it is way better in life to pay more heed to the positive than the very few negatives.
As I said, we are now in Cochin. It is lovely here. The journey to get here was quite something. We were told 7 hours by road (no trains were available) and it took ELEVEN in the same mini bus described before. Indian road trips are Indian( well of course they are!) and that means unlike anywhere else on earth I think, so en route we stopped to see elephants at a famous temple as one does! We had endless bananas to eat and lots to look at and I perfected my rapping, Indian style, not JZ style!
India teaches patience and especially when travelling. The traffic is so heavy with thousands of scooters and motor bikes with entire families on them, trucks festooned with tinsel, rickety buses crammed with people, a million rickshaws and of course the odd cow or goat has right of way! You get there eventually and there is no use resisting, it all happens when it happens.
So while we are here in a town with internet cafes, I will try to give another update. Tomorrow we are going to see the synagogue and antique shops in the old Jewish quarter which we glimpsed today, it all looks amazing.
Love and hugs from Spice world!