Some holidays are planned.
Carnoustie Ayurveda and Wellness Spa, in Kerala happened to me. I was talking to my mentor, and expressing the need for a small “me” break. A little pause to just breathe it all in. To make sense of all that was going great. And not so great. I don’t know about you – but I need these little breaks. They are a life-saver for me… much like a sea diver, who will emerge every now and then for a breath full of oxygen and then get back to what he needs to, I need these.
My mentor encouraged me to go ahead and take this little gap. Surprising, as he is quite the task master. It was a Monday evening. As I got off our call, I approached the Google Gods, closed my eyes and murmured in supplication – please take me to a beautiful place where I can just Be…
My hands, on their own accord, typed Kerala and within moments a few resorts showed up. I felt a draw to the name first. Carnoustie. And then to the images: spa, check; yoga and meditation, check; beautiful rooms, check; large pools with the beautiful rooms, check check! My mind was made up. In fact, I wanted to leave at the earliest. I quickly typed out a mail to the resort to check for availability for the very next morning, almost prepared for them to refuse at such short notice.
Ping! The mail icon showed up on my phone within thirty minutes and to my utter surprise, they had a room available. They had even heard of me (!) and offered a wonderful discount. I refrained from pinching myself – took a deep breath in and owned the good luck flowing my way with a happy grin.
The next morning, I was on a flight to God’s very own country. As the flight was landing I couldn’t help but delight in the sheer beauty of the landscape. The mist rolling upon the greens, the stark bare browns, the cooling blues. Aha… all mine for three complete days!
Carnoustie was a two-hour drive from the airport and in a way, I was glad for the time. It was a delight to feel the sunshine upon my face, the breeze in my hair, the sashaying of the slender coconut trees as we cruised along.
I was greeted with a warm smile, women clad in traditional Kerala style sarees and a garland. Something in me almost purred. Like a cat with a tin of cream. Pampering – I could do with some royal pampering. My room was called Malika which in Hindi meant princess and it came with a large sized pool and deck. Were these people mind-readers?
Within moments of relaxing in my room, I received a call from the spa saying they were ready for me. After reveling into a deep tissue massage – I made my way to the restaurant where I was told the chef would prepare anything on the menu. Or off it. This time the image of a Cheshire cat stretching luxuriously over a royal blue velvet sofa somehow came to my mind and made me smile. Ear to ear. I wanted to experience the Kerala fare and ordered various assortments of the South Indian delicacies. The food, I was told was grown within the resort and was organic. Good, that took off some of the guilt from the happy gorging.
When I returned to my room it was twilight. My pool was glistening in the full moon – with shadows being cast by the trees around. I contemplated a dip – but something within felt so relaxed that all I wanted to do was catch up on sleep. I thought it would be a short nap – but I woke up with the sun streaming through my windows. I had actually slept for fourteen hours straight without realizing it – a rare feat for nocturnal creatures like me who come creeping out of their dens in the dark of the nights.
I felt alive. Really alive. And excited for all that lay ahead. The reception had asked me to check their private beach and now seemed like the best time to do so. Wearing my beach chappals, a large hat and glares, off I went to explore. I was greeted by the middle-aged lifeguard who told me – the water was delicious for a swim right now. However, I was eyeing the even more delicious deck chairs laid out – with the view at my calling. Sometimes, I realized, it’s beautiful to enjoy things from afar – and so I lay, for maybe two hours, as the songs of the waves lulled me into a state of Silence.
Breakfast, yoga, meditation, spa – and then a chat with the owner – Mr Randeep. Carnoustie was already beginning to win my heart – however, after I heard the history of the land I felt even more deeply connected to it. I loved the fact that Randeep had bought the space from forty fisher families and has absorbed each and every one of them in the resort. He spoke of the wives of the fishermen with reverence and shared that they were the women I saw smiling around in the gardens – and since prayerfulness was their very nature, he used to get them all to pray each morning for the entire land. I got goosebumps hearing this. No wonder, the place had such a meditative calm. He also told me that through the day different Mantras are played across the resort – and each chant is aimed at healing the body and the mind.
There is one that I heard all the three days – that pretty much became a part of me. It goes like this:
Ajay/ Alai/ Abhai/ Abai
Abhoo/ Ajoo/ Anaas/ Akaas…
And so on and so forth.
I have no clue what it means. And neither did I want to find out. Some music pieces should just be enjoyed. Not understood. In fact, my very association with Carnoustie became this chant.
The next day I was taken for a half day cruise along the backwaters. Carnoustie has its very own private luxury houseboat equipped with a sitting area, a kitchen and even an entertainment section. I met a Russian lady here, who was pregnant with her fifth baby. We could have listened to the music… or watched the backwaters pass us by lazily – however, so intrigued were we by each other’s cultures that all we did was talk, talk and talk some more. I felt I knew a little more about the wonderful St Petersburg before we got off the boat that evening – and hopefully I had rubbed off some India to her.
That night, as a celebration to it being my last, the chef made a complete Kerala thali for me. I cannot remember most of the food I ate that night, let alone pronounce it, but all I know is each dish delighted my senses. Reds, greens, yellows and even bluish purples!
Just three days.
But when I sat back on my flight to Mumbai, something within me felt much more centered. Focused. Nothing very big had happened. There were no earth-shattering insights or revelations. And yet, a little bit of me, that needed to go – went. A little something of that which is good, became a part of me. And life, so often is about these little things – isn’t it?
Throughout the flight journey, I had a contented smile upon my face. The only image in my mind was fisherwomen praying for their land at the break of each dawn and the only sound that was lingering was:
Ajay/ Alai/ Abhai/ Abai
Abhoo/ Ajoo/ Anaas/ Akaas…
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