Originally from Finland, Parisienne by marriage. Happy mother of a happy daughter. I have traveled in more than sixty countries for pleasure and work. Love cooking, restaurants and food markets. Design and architecture catch my eye. This blog is about everyday life in Paris, past memories converted into travel stories and new adventures.
Friday afternoon we flew SpiceJet from Trivandrum to Bombay, so it hasn’t even been 48 hours in this charming city and already we have done so much!Straight from the airport, still carrying sand from the Indian Ocean in our shoes, we were taken to meet an art collector. Afterwards we were treated to amazing homemade parsi food (google parsis if you have never heard about them!). On Saturday we went on a shopping spree: Anokhi and FabIndia, and afterwards tasted super delicious Gujarati thali at Golden Star. In the evening drinks at one of the most exclusive private clubs of Bombay and a fabulous, mouthwatering kebab dinner at Neel, enjoyed with excellent Indian sparkling rosé Chandon and most perfect company… I don’t think even Louis Vuitton City Guide could do better!!
We have not had courage to get up at the dawn but this morning we walked to the beach just after 8 o’clock. It was already humid but a bit misty so we were not exposed to direct sun light (even without sun light it feels about 39C). I love the Chowara beach for fishermen watching. At night you can see hundreds of boats lit and out in the sea, and in the morning the fishermen pull nets back to the shore. In fact the fishing nets are so big and heavy that it takes almost twenty men on both ends of the net to bring it to the shore. Hard work! And beautiful to watch.
Ever since we decided to return to India for one month it was clear that one of the main destinations would have to be Kerala, because Kerala equals Ayurveda. I truly believe that if there is one type of massage therapy that suits us, it is the ancient healing medicine called Ayurveda. Even when we are in Paris we dream about Ayurvedic massage.
As many of you already know, we have been enjoying ourself at Somatheeram Ayurveda Resort since last Friday. Upon arrival we chose a full package (private cottage, three meals and two hours of Ayurvedic treatments per day) and started the therapy immediately. Today we completed the fourth session and we have three more days to go. It has been amazing so far!
Moreover, it has been interesting to observe daily changes of body and mind. For example, this morning my husband said that he feels our bodies look more toned and muscled. We are eating a lot but not gaining weight. Secondly, in the beginning of our stay we were very tired and it took us three full days to feel totally relaxed. I guess this is typical and this is why I am happy we stay seven nights.There are two therapists, young local girls, who take care of me. They are gentle but strong, sometimes they giggle (especially at my attempts to wear Indian clothes I think) and often they whisper to each other in their own dialect. By now they are used to seeing me naked, I am familiar with their hands and feet, and they have splashed tens of liters of oil on my body including head. It has been a fascinating encounter.
Today I had a treatment that was new to me, and it is the most curious therapy I have received so far: during fifteen minutes about one liter of hot herbal cow milk was poured on my forehead. Wow. How did it feel? Relaxing. How did it smell? Like some Indian sweets!
This stay has been fabulous and I will miss the herbal oils, the hot milk and the girls. And incredible India that never ceases to impress me.
I have never seen a country where a simple breakfast varies as much as it does in India. Generally speaking North Indian breakfast that tourists most commonly come across with is about masala omelette or puri (bread made of wheat) served with curry stew, whereas South Indian breakfast is more about eating things cooked with rice flower and coconut.
I have now had two breakfasts at Somatheeram Ayurveda Resort and it has been a great pleasure to sample typical Kerala delicacies while watching the enormous Indian Ocean in front of me. Yesterday I had herbal tea, banana lassi and coffee as drinks. To eat I had curry leaf idly (the round thing in the photo) with sambar, rice puttu (rice flour dough layered with grated coconut) with kadala curry and sweet rice ada (Kerala delicacy cooked in banana leaf).This morning there were some variations so I had green pea curry,tattu dosa (again, made of rice flour) with sambar and chutneys, and steamed banana. Rice ada was the same as yesterday.I am neither a big wheat eater nor a great fan of eggs, so I am very happy eating idlies and dosas for breakfast. In fact I like South Indian breakfast so much that I could eat them for breakfast even in Paris –all I would need is a live in South Indian cook!
Note: AsSomatheeram Ayurveda Resort welcomes guests that are serious about feeling better by eating well and by following special treatments, there are specific diets available for all sorts of people and illnesses. For example, when I told my Ayurveda doctor during the initial consultation that I don’t stand wheat and eggs very well he directed me towards a gluten-free diet (he printed out a list of items that are good for me to eat!).
The first morning in Kerala. It was nice to sleep windows open, without AC. It is humid and hot, but only around 33C (not 40C as it was in Rajasthan and Varanasi). The only sounds entering our cottage are coming from strong waves that crash on the shore of the Indian Ocean, insects (yes, this is tropics) and birds. Lovely.We are staying at Somatheeram Ayurveda Resort,the highly-awarded first Ayurveda resort in the world where we spent a few night in 2010. This time we wanted to return because the treatments had been very efficient and the location on a cliff overlooking the Indian Ocean is absolutely stunning, not forgetting the chef’s sublime Kerala food. So, here I am, resting my body, but also my ears and eyes. Southern drivers don’t seem to use the horn as much as they do in the north. Roads are quieter. Kerala is very lush and green –no wonder it is called God’s Own Country. There are palm and banana trees all over and in addition, there is the vast sea in front of one’s eyes. Pampering and rejuvenation can begin!
Yesterday morning we said good bye to Varanasi by placing a floating candle in the Ganges, rode a taxi to the airport and checked into a flight to Calcutta. There had been two options regarding flying to the south –via Delhi or via Calcutta– and since we have never been to Calcutta, we chose the latter option. The second reason was that we were really eager to taste Bengali food.Our time in Calcutta was limited to fourteen hours but it was enough to fall in love with this former capital of India. It seemed very colorful, lively and culturally vivid, and yes, the food was out of this world. At 4.30 in the morning when we got into a taxi, the city was preparing itself for a new day. Market vendors were getting thousands of chicken out to the street and the yellow cabs were moving fast as ants. It was indeed a very memorable departure from Calcutta, and we will without any doubt return to experience more as soon as we can!From Calcultta we flew to Bombay, changed into a different Jet Airways plane, flew over the house of our Bombay friends that we are going to see in one week, and some two hours later landed in Trivandrum, Kerala.
Almost every time I move from one place to another in India I fall in love with the new place. The Indian continent is extremely diversified and I absolutely love the fact the every new destination reveals something new to me, be it textiles, clothes, style, food, art, culture, religion or architecture.
Moreover, thinking about being in Varanasi, the holy Hindu city, yesterday morning, spending the night in the British-influenced Calcutta and writing this post from my bed in Kerala where I am surrounded by coconut trees, Ayurveda doctors and the Indian Ocean is mind blowing. Apart from incredible India, in which other country one can in less than 48 hours so easily travel between such culturally diversified places?