The doctor tells me to go vegetarian for the course of the treatment and this proves to be no hardship as the vegetable dishes in India are absolutely luscious. In particular, the Kerala people cook everything in coconut oil and throw in a huge blob of coconut to boot. Vegetables cooked in a delicious cashew paste are also irresistible. I am wondering about the calorific value of all these dishes. Servings are huge so I compromise by eating half (or
mostly three-quarters!). Two vegetable dishes that I find totally yummy are Thoran and Avial. However, Dr. Jayahari has already said not to have any coconut oil as I had an oily condition. This presents a problem. The hotel does not serve an Ayurvedic menu. I notice an advertisement for a restaurant nearby that claims to be the only restaurant at Kovalam Beach that serves Ayurvedic food, though I never visit it. This might be a problem – surely a hotel which has an Ayurvedic clinic attached to it should offer the appropriate food? So I can hardly feel guilty if I eat the coconutty dishes on offer. I am supposed to drink banana stem juice after each treatment. I never did find out what that was like as they never had any available. Apparently cucumber juice is a good substitute 송파스웨디시.
When you are brought up on sliced bread, it is easy to go crazy about the Indian breads. They are the best. Garlic naan, roti, fluffy parotta, stuffed breads, etc, the variety is endless. The breads are crunchy, fluffy, garlicky and spicy and absolutely luscious.
One of the best aspects of Kerala for a recovering sugar addict like myself, is that there is absolutely nowhere to get a pastry sugar fix. Overall I saw only one cake shop in the whole state. Generally, most meals end in fruit. Some of their favourite desserts are dishes made of vermicelli or red rice (Payasam) or carrot (Carrot Kheer). I think that pineapple is not a bad way to end a meal here.
Day four introduces an interesting treatment. As per usual, I have an all over body (foot) massage, a head massage and a manual massage. Then a portable cooker and wok is brought bedside. The wok is heated and the masseuse places a tied up bulging bag in the wok until steam rises from it. Before I can argue, she pounds my back vigorously with the hot bag. As she bashes away she tells me that the contents are green leaves which ‘are good for losing weight’. She reheats the bag and sometimes it is a little too hot but what to do? It is after all, for my own good!
Afterwards, I decide to go down to Kovalam Beach and see what is happening down there. I have hitherto avoided it as I have to walk down about five flights of very steep stairs and then negotiate a narrow path that winds through the back of all the holiday resorts. Kovalam Beach is the most famous beach in Kerala, having been discovered by hippies years ago, but now it attracts travellers from all over the world. The water looks very inviting – but not so the unattractive black sand. I have been told that many overseas beaches have dark sand and here is a case in point. The surf looks very inviting but I notice no one sitting on the sand. The beach is littered with beach beds and umbrellas which are obviously for hire. Yes, a fellow sidles up to me and offers me use of a bed for 150 rupees. This would be open to negotiation but I just nod. Not today.