“Tourists don't know where they've been, travelers don't know where they're going.” Paul Theroux
Diabetes and Blood Pressure are diseases that do not afford you much latitude in terms of diet and medication; any negligence of either or both is fraught with serious consequences. Since late 2010 I have been on medication for a host of ailments and the 9 tablets had to be taken without fail so as not to upset the medical balance that had been stretched thin over many years of wanton use of the body and its capabilities. Ummachan suggested a trip to the Bishop Kurialasserry Nature Cure and Yoga Centre at Idayirikkapuzha, near Changanacherry/Kottayam, Kerala. He had benefited from the ‘treatment’ there a few months back for a bad back; in the process he had also shed a few unwanted ‘bags’ around his waist. When I got back from the Coast-to-Coast and East-West drives in early February Ummachan asked me if he could book us both in for 6 days into the Centre in March. I agreed to be ‘billetted’ in the Centre for a week in early March and accordingly I reached the Center late on 3rd March. Dr. Sr. Jyothi, the Doctor in charge of the Centre, reviewed my condition late in the night and suggested that I undergo a 15 day course at the Centre. An inner voice got me to agree to the suggestion and I was scheduled for a 15 day treatment course. Since that morning I had also stopped the medicines I had been having for Diabetes, BP and Reflux. I mentioned this to the Doctor, who was more in favor of it being gradually tapered; I went ahead for the drastic action, nevertheless. Ummachan and I settled comfortably into the spacious double room, which had an attached bathroom and toilet. A couple of youngsters from Cochin had ‘checked in’ too – they were hilarious company throughout the stay and became good friends too. The ‘dinner’ on 3rd, when the treatment had not officially begun, set the tone for the rest of the stay at the Centre. We were expected to have only drinking water from the mud pot in the room. Dinner consisted to a few table spoons of thick porridge accompanied by specks of ‘thoran’. When I ‘encountered’ the dinner I knew that I would either collapse in the Centre or go back in ship shape; what happened over the next fortnight was nothing short of a miracle, as far as I was concerned. In the first four days I dropped 7 kgs and felt fitter. Within the week the Blood Sugar readings showed normal and so did the BP. I did not have any problem with my digestion and the Reflux issues were nightmares of the past. Within another week my shape changed and I sensed as if a sculptor had worked on my body. The look of 32 weeks of pregnancy vanished – I could look forward to taking my expectant daughter to the hospital without being asked who the patient is! The treatment at the Centre starts with Yoga early in the morning, a brisk walk for an hour thereafter, physiotherapy sessions, mud packs, a vigorous 60 minute massage, a steam or mud bath and many glasses of nutritious drinks made of gooseberry, watermelon, papaya, lime, ash gourd, etc. I discovered that a glass of Ash Gourd juice is a recipe for all round health and a panacea for Reflux. Solid food and salad were limited, but extremely tasty and nutritious. The 15 day stay also gave me an opportunity to hear mass daily at the local church and be part of the evening prayers in the chapel at the Centre. The three Sisters at the Centre were great company and it turned out that the Mother Superior, Sr. Modesta, had taught in Nirmala Bhavan and was my sister’s class teacher, where I had studied for a couple of years too. All in all, the experience brought about a life style change in me and I wished to continue with it. Most importantly, I considered the experience His gift, for I was completely rid of my physical problems and I had become more active. This change helped me considerably in setting the new record for the Golden Quadrilateral Expedition. I did not feel tired or soporific during the entire drive and it was only on account of the changed physical condition. It helped me go on for long hours – in fact on the first day of the drive I drove continuously for more than 22 hours and stopped only because I thought that the car deserved a rest!
Therefore, the aches and pains during the drive were limited to just that of the lower body due to long hours of squatting. At the conclusion of the drive the legs felt leaden and were swollen. In fact, when I met Ajay, Anita and Joe at Millers46 for dinner my legs almost gave way. I could not balance properly. Early on the fourth day of the drive I fell to the ground when I got out of the car to relieve myself. The legs could only react to vibrating pedals – I could feel the throb even when the engine was cut. The swelling vanished after a night in bed. Most importantly, the sense of achievement pales into the background every discomfort. After the expedition the biggest discomfort was the pain in the rectum. The many hours of sitting behind the wheel must have generated so much of heat that the sight of a toilet or the urge to do the big job was mentally searing. Food which consisted mainly of dry fruits and nuts must have added to the ‘internal combustion’. I did not have cooked meals during the entire duration of the drive.
The wonderful meal at Millers, the excellent company of Anita, Joe and Ajay, the tremendous sense of fulfillment, the ‘gift’ of Peated Amrut Single Malt by Anita and Joe; all sealed the action packed four days. The planning had paid off yet again and another record was in the bag.
“Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I see.” Benjamin Disraeli