Health, Healing and Hedonism on India’s East CoastInteresting Towns — By Roona on June 5, 2012 at 01:05
Story by guest blogger Roona. Photos Copyright © Roona.
FOR THE PAST few years, floating along at the mercy of life’s capricious winds, I was despairing of ever bringing my life back to a sense of normalcy and my mind to a state of restfulness. When I set out for Vizag (short for Vishakapatnam City, in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India) with my husband Vj for a six-month stay due to his business projects, I had no clue what to expect—except that the beaches would be lovely and tremendously enjoyable.
What I got out of the experience was so immense, I’m still a little spellbound by its after effects.
Vizag comes across as a very unassuming city: laid-back but secretly keen to play catch up with the bigger, more advanced cities of India, but at the same time not at all devoid of its own sweet charm. A warm and sunny place with the greenest of hills, whitest of sands, blackest of rocks and bluest of waters, I had but one obsession when I got there: to find an apartment by the beach . . . and I did. A scruffy little place in a rather run-down apartment building, but with lovely sea views and the sea breeze blowing unobstructed into our home and keeping us cool on even the hottest day.
Although the property owner had done much to refurbish the place before they rented it to us, it still needed some massive cleaning sessions. I set about it with much enthusiasm, swinging the broom, mops and washcloths with a little too much drama! The result was a complete worsening of a niggling, right upper arm pain that I had been neglecting for the last two to three years. It became so bad it stretched up into my neck and down to my palm and fingers, even numbing them. At this point, I completely freaked out and ran to the nearest Ayurvedic clinic.
(Ayurveda is an Indian system of medicine. Treatments are administered with natural products, with no side effects or invasive procedures.)
An x-ray revealed that I had early cervical spondylosis and a degenerative disc in my neck. I was totally frustrated because that meant I had to curtail my physical activities and I had been looking forward to taking full advantage of the beautiful outdoors on offer in Vizag. Who knew it would actually turn out be a blessing in disguise?
Ayurvedic medicine—especially the body treatments for various ailments, including bone/spine related disorders—are a pleasure to go through. If you are the type who enjoys spas and massages (and who doesn’t?) then Ayurveda is right up your alley. So, when the doctors prescribed a fourteen-day body treatment package comprised of various kinds of massages and body masks, with an assortment of medicinal packs, powders, milks and oils, I was thrilled! I went ahead and added a daily head and face massage with soft decadent oils to this course of treatment to make it complete and well rounded.
At the same time, we discovered that if we drove a few miles out of the city, the coastline was truly stunning in its isolated beauty. There were long stretches of water and sands untouched by the grime of public use (unlike the city beaches, which seem to be littered all the time) with small fishing settlements, gracious palms tapped for their palm wine—a deliciously fizzy drink!—maybe a beached fishing boat or two, or hundreds of tiny, salted sardines drying on the beach.
I wish I’d thought to take a picture of the guy clambering up and removing the earthen pot from the palm tree in the photo above. The pot would be left there for a while to collect the palm wine (toddy), locally called neera.
Every day, the early morning found us exploring one or the other of these beaches: I enjoying long, long sandy walks, while Vj walked, ran, practiced his yoga on the beach and figured out ways to work out on the rocks. (Yeah! The entire world is a prop for his fitness endeavors!)
After these beach wanderings and breakfast, we would shop for the day’s food: fresh caught fish from the fishing harbor close by home, or farm-fresh vegetables at the not too far city market, or freshly-slaughtered meat or poultry at the nearby butchers. We bought and cooked fresh food every day as we had no refrigerator in the apartment. Although it was a lot of effort, it was definitely worth it!
After shopping, while Vj went to work, I spent an hour in the morning at the clinic getting my massages and then back home for a shower, cooking, lunch and a nap. Evenings were for exploring the city, occasionally downing beers and grilled meats from the beach-side vendors while sitting on our balcony, or simply lazing on the beach across from home.
The massages not only helped alleviate my aches and pains but also did much to perk up my mind and body wellness. Even after the completion of my treatment, we continued our healthy and enjoyable activities. When it came time to leave, I felt extraordinarily rejuvenated and intensely calm.
It was the calmness I had missed the most. In fact, it had been so bad that when I returned home to Ahmedabad, I waited for the sense of well-being to evaporate and for me to relapse into living in a constant state of restlessness. However, two months down the line, I am still waiting. . . .
ROONA has lived and worked in India and the United States and recently moved back to India. In the process of settling down in her home country, she continues to miss her life in the USA. On the other hand, for the first time in her life she has an opportunity to focus on her one true passion: writing. She blogs at IndiaRepat and Aesara Says.