‘There’s plenty for human need, but not for human greed.’
The ‘India’ section in my autobiography is quite extensive so I thought I might sneak bits in in instalments.
In my third age my life has come to be about four things: learning, helping, creating, and travel. I trained as a spiritual healer and worked as a healer at the Leeds Healing Centre for a while, until my reclusiveness kicked in as usual. I now practise as what I call an ‘energy therapist ‘with friends and family. I have also become a pen-friend with a man on Death Row in Alabama. I’m also learning about spirit via books and magazines and extending my experience of music and art through concerts, exhibitions, listening at home, and books. My creativity is writing these ‘Life and Soul’s and fiction, and continuing to paint and draw as well as my usual glass-painting to make candle-holders. To describe my efforts with guitar and djembe drum as ‘learning’ would be an overstatement. And I’m always looking for unusual subjects for photographs. As regards travel Anthea and I went to India for the first time for the month of January, 2010.
We travelled south from Thiruvananthapurum Airport to Bethsaida Ayurvedic Hermitage where we spent the first ten days acclimatising amid wonderful buffet food, where the European guests, including the obese Mrs Two-Dinners, fell on the many dishes like gannets at a pilchard party … meditation, yoga, Ayurvedic massage, and our first forays outside the Hermitage to buy fruit, juices, and postcards.
Next we hired a driver, Dass, a short, plump, smiley man with a young family, He drove us up to Kumaly in the hills for a two-night stay at the Wilderness Hotel with its monkeys from where we visited the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. Then he drove us to Allappuzah where we boarded our very own houseboat for a two-day cruise around the Backwaters. From there he drove us to Kochi (formerly Cochin) where we spent a couple of nights at the Old Courtyard Hotel and said Farewell and Good Luck to our friend, Dass. Next a driver took us to Abbi and Minny’s homestay – ‘Arakal’ – a group of traditional Kerala cottages in a coconut grove on the coast where we spent a week before returning to Kochi for one night before flying home.
Outside Thiruvananthapurum Airport the scent of vanilla and an unidentifiable flower. The number of people waiting outside the airport reminded me of ‘Sixties scenes of the Beatles arriving, and the crowds milling beyond resembled those outside a major football ground twenty minutes before kick-off.
An early surprise was that the taxi for the 35 mile drive south was a humble, clattery vehicle from the 1950’s. The A road soon became a B road, lined like anglers beside a river by visibly poor people and their ramshackle shanties with roofs of loosely slung corrugated iron or vast banana leaves. The people were minimally dressed and skinny and stared out of hollow eyes. There were lots of shanty shops, often with many tresses of hanging bananas. An odd sight here and there were skyscrapers growing out of jungle.
Bethsaida Ayurvedic Hermitage was ornate with tropical flowers, trees, and shrubs, with winding paths around the cloistered low-slung buildings. Waiting for dinner as seven o’clock approached we calculated that including the stopover at Dubai we’d been awake for 31 hours. The Reception staff, who I christened the Vestal Virgins, were friendly, helpful, and beautiful with the wide-apart eyes, cheekbones, and heart-shaped faces so typical of the Tamils. One taught me that ‘Hello’ was Hello, and ‘Thank you’ was nanni, which was to cause hilarity whenever I tried it. I learned that 100 rupees was £1.50 and that a 10 rupee note was a reasonable sum to give to beggars, which I did at every opportunity.