Wednesday, September 10, 2008

THE TRIP: I went back to my roots recently, Kerala, God’s own country and stayed in a rather rural place for 23 days. A guy who has born and lived in a city like Bangalore all his life will feel a little apprehensive the minute he sets foot there as I most definitely felt. This feeling remained with me for a couple of days; then somehow you learn to slow down. No more pacing thoughts, no more awful rat race of the nasty city. There were no modern amenities out of which I missed my beloved 256 kbps internet connection the most. I learnt a lot about myself while I was there. First let me explain why I “had to” do this to give you a clearer picture as to the conditions and all I had to go through during my stay there.

The reason is that I somehow managed to get my vertebral disc slipped while playing football and no I didn’t fall. People have been asking me whether or not I fell. Once again, NO I did not fall. This happened a long time ago which is like two years. I roamed knocking on every doctor, orthopedic and neurologist’s doors and sometimes little cubicles in search of a cure or someway to at least restrict the pain. The only thing the smart ass doctors could do is to prescribe me cool drugs which kept me high all day and night. The nights being special as they helped me write some great stuff. "This is the only use of those little pills" I would say. Finally some neurologist dude said chop off the tissue. I in turn said, “HELL NO”. Two years up and still nothing besides a few abuses for some blogs and beginning of a small novel. This is the part where you imagine me being pissed off and cursing a lot of doctors.

I hated the pain, more than the pain, I hated watching kids play football on the streets. I’m fortunate enough that not many play this game in Bangalore. This is when my uncle suggests that I go see an Ayurvedic doc. I had this in mind but was always a little skeptical. He had Spondylitis which was cured by this doc I’m referring to. Even in his case some modern med doc had almost cut him open giving him a deadline of 24 hrs.

My uncle told me that this place is somewhere in the Western Ghats far away from any form of urban dwelling. I won’t mind going to hell or even selling my soul to fix my back! That’s right my soul is up for grabs, real cheap.

The moment I reached there the gravity of the situation hits me like an apple from a tree. Bangalorean is what I am. Although a malayali by birth, I have no resemblance to one. You need to look at me from a certain angle with specific lighting to figure out I’m a mallu. My Malayalam is so pathetic I could rather speak Brielle fluently!

I don’t know how to wear a lungi (colorful cousin of the Dhoti) which is the official attire there. They even keep their mobiles phones in their lungis which is like some kind of a new magic trick for me. Imagine millions of David Blaines outwitting each other pulling out mobiles, wallets, laptops, LCD televisions out of their lungis instead of a scared little rabbit out of a hat.

I felt like a faker. Everyone there lives on boiled rice, I don’t like boiled like. I’m definitely a faker. I had to share a room with four other guys; the youngest one among them being 34 and the oldest 64. I already feel like an outcast. I don’t like politics and if you have ever visited Kerala you would know by now that’s all they speak about. I can’t get myself included. They look and me and think “Faker” but they are kind enough not to tell me on my face.

* I wore a Lungi.
This was the most uncomfortable part of my whole stay there. They always seemed like they were improving on their David Blaine act. Folding it, running in it and even tying it in different styles. I was truly amazed at all these tricks. I felt I was at level 1 in some weird little video game where failure leads to public humiliation. I used to look down every other second just to be sure that it’s still on.

* I ate boiled rice
I’ve had boiled rice before, never liked it. Whenever I went to my relatives' place I used to douse it with a lot of curry and somehow gulp down the entire thing. This time around no such luck since they gave me a very limited quantity of curry with no spices whatsoever. The first meal I had there was so hard I kept reminding myself that if Bear Grylls (Google it) can eat a live lizard, this is nothing; proteins, vitamins and all that good stuff. I didn’t want to project myself as a snob. "This is health food" was all that I was thinking at that moment. I’ve never been happier to finish my meal.

* I built a fire
Taking a shower is the only thing that brings me back to my senses. Hot water is a luxury that I can’t do without. I soon realized it’s hard to build a fire when the firewood is wet. Yes, I was building fire with firewood... old school baby. I spent like an hour to build a fire and this surely wasn’t helping my back. But my ego is getting a massive boost out of this. I felt like an adventurer and I understand male chauvinism with this little experiment. Man builds fire and woman cooks.

* The Indian Tie
In order to massage your back into shape they need complete access of your body. Underwear is an obstruction. So they gave me a small little piece of cloth with 2 strings on the top left and right corners. The inmates there called it “The Indian Tie”. This is not the traditional Indian underwear, the langoti. This is specially made for this purpose. I was supposed to cover my manhood with this. Like the dumb ass city slicker I am, I wore it the wrong way. Nuts covered but still the wrong way. I proudly go into the tiny area where they do the massage. I remove the towel of my waist and my doc starts staring at me with utter disbelief. He didn’t know whether to laugh or slap me for my ignorance. I apologized and laid down on the table. After it was done, he was supposed to tie a cloth around my waist real tight. I said I’m up for it. I just ate boiled rice and wore a lungi... piece of cake. He said strip. Damn.

* I stripped
I took off everything and my Indian tie was in my hand facing my worst fear of being completely naked in front of a total stranger. If the stranger was the beautiful Angelina Jolie I won’t mind much. Here it happens to be a bearded man in his forties and he is standing right behind me, not the best of positions. He starts tying the cloth around my waist and between my legs. His cold fingers touching my penis in the process, not a good feeling. A man’s hand touching my dick, not good. The result of this weird nightmare is that I can now strip anywhere. Watch out Times Square you haven’t seen anything yet!

The funny part is I want to go back; I felt free there. We know little of ourselves until we push the limit. This sure wasn’t the limit, nevertheless a start.
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