Pampered like a princess
Megha Bajaj took an impromptu holiday at a resort in Kerala where she was charmed and calmed by meditative chants and the prayerful fisherfolk
Some holidays are planned. Others happen.
Carnoustie Ayurveda and Wellness Resort 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 lifesavers for me. I need them much like a sea diver who will emerge every now and then for a breath full of oxygen and then get back to his task.
My mentor encouraged me to go ahead and take this little break. Surprising, as he is quite the taskmaster. 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 drawn to the name first—Carnoustie. And then to the images: Spa—check; yoga and meditation—check; beautiful rooms—check; large pools with 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, and owned the good luck flowing my way with a happy grin.
Off to God’s own country
The next morning, I was on a flight to God’s very own country. As the flight was landing, I couldn’t help but take 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, and the sashaying of the slender coconut trees as we cruised along.
I was greeted with a warm smile and a garland by women clad in traditional Kerala-style sarees. 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?
A royal welcome
Within moments of relaxing in my room, I received a call from the spa saying they were ready for me. After indulging in 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 realising it —a rare feat for nocturnal creatures like me who come creeping out of their dens in the dark of the night.
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 that 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 realised, 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.
Chatting with Randeep
Breakfast, yoga, meditation, spa, and then a chat with the owner, 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 throughout 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 for all the three days and it 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.
A cruise along the backwaters
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 and talk. I felt I knew a little more about wonderful St Petersburg before we got off the boat that evening, and hopefully, I had rubbed off some India on 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 that 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 centred. 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, I had a contented smile on 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…
Carnoustie Ayurveda and Wellness Resort, Mararikulam, Kerala, is two hours from Cochin Airport.
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