Final Panchakarma Update – and on to other things…

Bugger! Damn! That coffee thing? A big fat no-no. Noooooooo!!! 😱 😞

As you know, at times through the #Panchakarma programme aspects of it were a bit fraught, the most significant of which was the whole diet/what-the-hell-to-eat thing. I had hoped for (in truth expected) clear, unambiguous dietary guidance from the professional, in this case Dr A. Despite our attempts to gain that guidance, both me and my #Panchakarma Comrade never got the clarity we wanted.

That said, for various reasons I’m glad I did my treatment with Dr A, but she was not my first choice. My first choice was another female doctor (I’ll call her Dr M-Taj). Back in 2013 (when I foolishly thought I could train-up for a 100km charity walk) I’d had a couple of leg massages from her. She’d been calm, thorough and communicative and I’d liked her, so it was she I was searching for this January. Although I didn’t find her, but Dr A instead, such is the magic of things I shan’t knock that outcome.

Nevertheless, a few weeks ago, just after having a rare opportunity for a one-to-one chat with #Panchakarma Comrade over a fresh carrot juice each (which we later discovered are not allowed during a panchakarma programme – grrrr!) I happened to see a sign for Dr M-Taj’s clinic and her local Ayurvedic retreat centre. WTF! Not only had I discovered her hoarding, worse still that sign was on a short and narrow lane I go up and down at least once a week. Bugger! Blast! Fiddlesticks!!

(In my defence – of being blind to her sign up until that point – there’s a lot going on along that street; Kashmiri-run shops selling jewellery, silk scarves, signing bowls, rugs, knick-knacks and various other trinkets, with tunics, dresses and trousers fluttering from awnings and roadside clothes rails; on entering the lane on the right is one of my regular grocery stops – so that’s a wave and a “hello” as I pass; on the left is the milking station with a gathering of cows each afternoon; there are also a couple of restaurants and a small temple off to the right with a large billboard out front. All in, I tend to let the scenery wash over me as I pass up and down. Also, a lot of folk along that lane are eager for business and as I don’t want to give false hope I tend not to make much eye-contact but rather just plough straight ahead on my bicycle or the back of Mr D’s motorbike. And yet another thing in my defence – coz, you know, I’m kind of feeling shamefaced at not noticing earlier – Dr M-Taj’s sign is not at eye-level and is tucked in next to one of those awnings strewn with tunics and tops of various colours. Which just goes to show, don’t it, that even in such a pedestrian location there can be all sorts of new things to notice – if you go slow enough of course. OK, my protestations for being a numbskull over.)

So because I was, and still am, keen to get a handle on the diet aspect of my health I figured a consultation with Dr M-Taj would be a good idea. After a bit of faffing with timings and whatnot, finally on a baking hot 7 March Mr D and I motored over to her retreat – a few kilometres west of town. The Ashok Tree is a lovely ashram setting that serves as both an Ayurvedic treatment centre (residential or non-residential) and a retreat centre. On site there are two, three-storeyed guest houses, a large yoga/meditation hall, a dining area serving scrumptious food, and a building housing the doctor’s clinical area. Also on the ashram land is a small nursery school run as a charity for the local community. A wonderful serene atmosphere and probably a great place to undergo a residential #Panchakarma programme. Maybe next time!

In the meantime, however, I had a nutritional consultation with Dr M-Taj and got the low-down on the kind of approach to take on a new and improved regular diet. As Dr M-Taj pointed out, maintaining a good diet post-treatment is vital to ensure the detox benefits keep on rolling. Which is the point, no? Make sure I don’t lapse back into bad habits – like that bloody coffee thing.

Here’s a bit of what she told me:
Coffee – big fat no. Toxic. Poisons the plasma. Bungs up the joints. Crap! Double crap. I still love my coffee…..!!! 😱
White flour and anything made with it – another big fat no. Basically our intestines get bunged up with the stuff and the build up gets harder and harder to shift (or is that shit?!).
Garlic and onions – not recommended because they create extreme reactions in the body (I’m going to investigate that a bit further – it’s tough eating out and avoiding them).
Mushrooms – avoid. Can be toxic in the body. Quite frankly, again, fuck! I eat a lot of mushrooms. Especially here in India where the limited variety of veg can be frustrating. And I always thought mushrooms were a good source of vegetable protein. Bang goes that idea then 😞
– Other than that, stick to the usual criteria – fresh, whole, unprocessed, or rather lightly-processed foods.
– She also mentioned the macro & micro aspects of diet: macro is the carbs, protein and fat that are essential for survival – wholegrains, pulses & lentils (non-veg can be chicken or fish), good oils; micro is the good but less essential requirements of vegetables and fruit.
– Generally aim for a tridoshic balance with food – that means incorporating food combinations and cooking styles to satisfy all three dosha. For example, bananas apparently are mucous-forming. To balance that out eat with salt and pepper. Sounds disgusting no? Actually it’s not a bad combo with an added dash of lemon juice and sprinkle of cinnamon. And no mucous to boot!
– Dr M-Taj also recommended a Vitamin C fruit-and-juice fast one day a week (which I’ve not tried yet as I’ve been crazy busy since I saw her.)
– A new thing on the menu and which I’ve only tried once is kitchari. I’d already discovered that kitchari is not the same as kedgeree – which in the UK is a dish of rice, peas and smoked kippers but which I think comes from the original kitchari of rice, dal, veg and various health-boosting spices with lots of water all cooked in the one pot. Apparently kitchari is a good all-round Ayurvedic dish because it hits all the dosha requirements whilst also being easy to digest and, rightly so, is classed as comfort food. Mmmmmm.

#Panchakarma Comrade also went to visit Dr M-Taj for the very same reason. We’ve since had a chance to compare notes – and commiserate!

Speaking of #Panchakarma Comrade. Just before our respective visits to Dr M-Taj she came to my house for a visit. The first non-Indian visitor for Mr D and me. We had afternoon tea that was in fact good coffee (made by yours truly) and a couple of chapati. Yep, those chapatis are definitely a firm feature of my food intake these days. It was great fun giving #Panchakarma Comrade a tour of my Indian home and letting her sample my chapatis. And of course, as all good guests do, she was gracious with her comments on all she saw and tasted 😉

Living Room

The Bijou Pad – Tiruvannamalai, India

Because #Panchakarma Comrade had been finding the increasing heat of Tiru too much she decided to head north. As I write she is ensconced in a sweet-looking hotel room, with very necessary heater, wrapped in all her clothes and enjoying tea at its source. She’s in Darjeeling! Definitely a contrast with here. Anyways, as she was starting out her journey north by taking a taxi to Chennai I hitched a lift.

The Monday night just gone #Panchakarma Comrade and I had fun in Chennai shopping and eating. The following day, after breakfast and before I got to the reason for being in Chennai – a flying visit to see a friend – I walked from the hotel to the beach. Just wanted a glimpse and sniff of ocean air. After a twenty-five minute trot fending off several offers from auto-rickshaw drivers (and not just for the fare, two wanted to chat as they puttered alongside my pavement-pounding), I got beachside. Right next to a striding Gandhi replete with a crow on his crown.

Gandhi & Crow

Gandhi, replete with crow on crown – Marina Beach, Chennai, India

Marina Beach in Chennai is not only one of the longest beaches in the world, it’s also wide. I had to do that slushy, swivelling, mushy excuse for a walk across sand littered with debris and bits of broken glass to get to the ocean’s edge, but it was worth it. I sniffed salty air, my tootsies got an ocean soaking, and I got to view the familiar location of many a Tamil movie scene.

Ocean-Soaked Feet

Ocean-soaked feet – Bay of Bengal, Chennai, India


2017.03.20 - Marina Beach boats

Marina Beach, Chennai, India – oft-used setting for Tamil Movies

On the walk back I felt buoyed by all those ocean ions and also got the chance to make a quick stop at the local Waitrose. Yes! A Waitrose in Chennai!! Who’d have thought? (Unfortunately it was a banal and sad excuse for our UK version.)

Chennai Waitrose

Waitrose Supermarket, Mylapore, Chennai, India

Then at noon I met with the lovely woman who runs the Chennai Writers’ Circle and hosts a year-long short-story writing challenge which I did last year (anyone interested, let me know and I’ll pass on her details – highly recommend doing it if you’re into writing short stories). I’ve been wanting to meet up with her since last April! Bonkers!! Finally made it. We mooched around a bookshop together where she gave me great recommendations and then we had lunch. I saw a new part of Chennai and also got to meet her mum. Following a full day it was time for my return to Tiru on one of the least reassuring types of vehicles – a state-run bus. Last year we passed a bus that looked as though it had nose-dived into the road from the overhead bridge – the front axle must have snapped because the front wheels were behind the bus and looking like a pair of lost sheep wondering where the rest of the herd was. I have never, ever, not in all the years I’ve been travelling to and visiting India, seen a state-run bus that was anything other than a mess – dirty, dusty, rusty (really fucking rusty), cranky, noisy. God knows when they last put any new buses on the road. That said, mission to see my mate? Accomplished. Woohoo!! 🎉 🎉

Now back in Tiru I’m mildly depressed at the thought I’ve only three weeks left before I return to Chennai for a flight back to Britain. And that means I’ve got shit-loads to do, one of which is to do a spot of job-hunting. There is other news too, but I won’t be sharing that publicly just yet.

With just over two weeks since the #Panchakarma programme finished, what can I usefully report?
😞  The hair-fall is still a concerning issue.
😞  My flesh is not as firm as it was during the early part of the programme.
😞  For the first 10 days after the end of the programme I was constipated, but I’m not surprised. After 21 consecutive enemas acting like a hand snaking up my arse and grabbing a handful, I’m guessing my body needed time to readjust. Along with the lack of enemas is the fact the temperature has gone up which probably means my skin is doing the bulk of the waste elimination now (and yes, I am drinking bucket-loads of water…!). In the end it took up until I got back from Chennai this week for my daily motions to return to normal!!
😍  But – and this is the important bit – the awful, daily, energy-robbing, life-draining, dull-but-definite discomfort in my lower abdomen has gone. And that’s crucial. That’s what I needed. That was what was killing me – incredibly slowly, but very definitely squeezing the life out of my life. Every aspect of me was affected and afflicted. I feel freer in my body and in my mind, in my emotions and even in my personality.

So after all the labours of undergoing a #Panchakarma programme I endorse the process. Even though there were elements that needed to be handled more professionally and with better communication, I’ve come out the other side with the key health issue addressed. And I’m really fucking grateful. If I hadn’t taken the course, me and my life would have continued to be fucked. I’d have been dragging myself through endless days of failure upon failure, grudge upon drudge, disappointment upon dismay. The failure is still there, but at least I’ve got some energy to face and deal with what comes. As the slogan on one of my T-shirts says, “I’ve worked too hard to quit now.” You’ll have gathered by now I enjoy a proper bit of profanity, so I shall rephrase that to “I’ve worked too goddamn fucking hard to quit!”

Got #Panchakarma questions? Fire away. I’ll give answers from a novice perspective, answers that can help you ask a professional the better questions. Otherwise, knock yourself out – detox, clean out, find something that works for you, make it healthy.

White Flower Burst

And so it goes. And so goes love.
Health and Peace out beautiful people, wherever you are 😍  💚 😍