The medicine used by most of the people of Kerala is Ayurvedic, the homeopathic alternative to Western medicine. This is an ancient traditional method which consists of therapies, medicines and diet. All around Kerala you can go on Ayurvedic retreats where you are assessed by a doctor and then you stay at the hospital for anything from 5 to 30 days. During this time you will eat a spice and onion free diet and have your treatments which includes massage, yoga and meditation. It all sounds quite lovely until you see the pictures of half naked men standing on your back amd very hot oil being poured on your face. I'm sure it's worthwhile but maybe a little intense for my liking!
The alternative was a 1.5 hour full body massage at the local Ayurvedic centre for r.550 (about £7), much more my style! The hospital itself has blue and white painted gates with soft geometric patterns. This welcomes you into a cool waiting area where the medicines are dispensed and five year old magazines sit on the table. The doctor came out and gave me a quick consultation and then she led me upstairs to a small room where my masseuse was waiting. All that was inside was some shelves for the oils and a teak table for me to lie on. I have to say the massage was the best I have ever had, starting with my oil drenched hair and head right down to my fingers and toes (which she calmly and one by one cracked with all her might!).
Once the massage was finished I was taken into the en-suite bathroom and put into a strange looking blue pyramid with the head chopped off. This turned out to be a steamer and I sat quite happily in the scented steam - only having a mild panic attack when I realised I was locked in and the girl had completely disappeared!
As you can guess she did come back and after a quick shower I was tucked up in an auto-rickshaw and told to go home, eat a good meal and take pleanty of rest - pretty nice for under a tenner