I’ve always been a little suspicious of “alternative” medicine. It’s always struck me as something that attracts gullible Westerners with a little too much money, looking for something to fill their empty lives. The time has finally come for me to test my theory.
I am in Bangalore, India at a Holistic healing centre called Soukya. I’m here because I’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea, a condition that means that I stop breathing for up to 60 seconds at a time more than 90 times a night. In London a “conventional” doctor told me to lose weight, get healthy and use a CPAP machine that blows air into my nostrils whenever I stop breathing.
I needed something to kick-start my new regime and I was told about Dr Isaac Mathai’s Holistic Integrative Medical Centre in Bangalore. Set in a beautiful wild garden, the centre is a one-stop shop for your alternative treatments and a favourite for royals like the Duchess of Cornwall. You can do yoga, acupuncture, massage, colonics, meditation, Naturotherapy, Ayurvedic treatments… basically whatever you want, they’ve got it.
I threw myself in head first and opted to try pretty much everything. It’s been a crash course into a strange world. There are a couple of things that really upset me. For some reason, whatever you are doing, paper pants are always involved. You are taken into a room, shown the tiny paper pants and then left alone to try and get in them. There is no dignified way to wear the paper pants. Once they are on, people start coming back into the room and do their best not to laugh.
Then, whatever therapy you are having, whether it be two men vigorously pounding your body using herb-filled pouches, or a man constantly dripping warm oil onto your forehead for half an hour, there is some truly awful Indian lift music playing in the background. I know that this is supposed to relax you, but it drives me crazy. The whole thing would not be out of place in Guantanamo. I eventually started taking in headphones and playing my own music in an attempt to distance myself from the horror.
Everything within me wants to be cynical about Soukya, especially when I wandered into the library (opened by The Duchess of Cornwall) and spotted a couple of books by David Icke and Loose Change, the ludicrous 9/11 conspiracy samizdat. But, despite this clearly being a destination for some kooks, I am more relaxed than I have ever been in my life. I actually really enjoy yoga, despite being as flexible as a steel girder. I’ve learned to stop questioning and simply go with the flow although, speaking of flow, I have drawn the line at colonic irrigation. The idea of a pipe being shoved up my backside was one alternative too far.
Anyway, must go, I’m about to be covered in hot termite mud and left in the sun to bake. Why? Who knows? Namaste…