Afoot and Afloat, Kerala Is Worth the Journey
By MICHAEL FATHERS
I never had one myself, but people say you get covered in oil and that the masseur or masseuse (you can choose the gender) does a barefoot foxtrot down your back and a tap-dance on your bottom before turning you over to launch a full-blown rhumba on your stomach. And if you want to go the full hog they'll even irrigate your colon--but that's another story, which I don't want to get into.
Wherever you go in Kerala, in every hotel, doss house or beach hut, you are invited to an ayurvedic massage. You get a hint of what's in store from the oil stains in your hotel bathroom, and the sign saying: "Please use the colored towel if you have been massaged and leave the white one for ordinary use." Even after being thoroughly laundered, the colored towels feel slightly sticky.
Massage and all the herbal extras that are part of ayurvedic medicine are big tourist businesses in this part of India. Add yoga and a bit of sea-side meditation in front of a spectacular sunset, and you have a package that foreigners seem to find irresistible. At my small hotel, I met a Russian migrant from Italy offering his neuroses across the banana leaf on which our thali (set lunch) was served. He wasn't sure whether the head massage that morning had relieved his immediate pain, or whether it was the assault on his back the day before that had done it. He had suffered from back pain for a year, and friends had told him his affliction would disappear in Kerala. We were eating on an open platform shaded by coconut palms overlooking the sea at the Coconut Bay Beach Resort, a delightful family hotel in a cove shared with a dozen local fishermen, south of Kovalam Beach.
its growing popularity, Kerala has all the charm of a backwater--the name
actually given to its network of canals, lakes and small rivers. You will
find none of the slick resort hotels that congregate around the beaches
of Southeast Asia. And none of the hassle and aggression that tourists
frequently suffer in North India. South India is different, as if an invisible
line had been drawn across the country below Goa and its hordes of tourists
ASIANOW Travel Home
Quick Scroll: More stories from TIME Travel Watch
|Back to the top||
© 2000 Time Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.