entering the land of the gods

a study abroad journey

Archive for the day “April 21, 2013”

A dose of Ayurveda

In order to begin the official week of finals (and taking advantage of Groupon India), Brooke and I woke up this morning at 5am for an Ayurvedic Massage appointment! We thought a dose of ancient relaxation methods would suite us well.

Again, to reiterate the hastle of Hyderabad. We walked across campus at 5:30, made it to the bus stop at 6:00, took Bus 217 to Masab Tank, then walked to another bus stop, getting on Bust 49 to GVK Mall, then we picked up a rickshaw for the last few kilometers, but he got lost despite the landmarks we gave him. We finally arrived just after 7am! Hoof-dah!


Anyway, get this deal: Head massage, spine massage, full body massage, facial, steam bath, and shower for 500 rupees (for a 2000 rupee experience)! And it certainly was an experience!

For my 21st birthday in December, my mom and I got massages in the U.S- my first one. In preparation, one undresses, puts on a robe, and then upon entering the massage room, the therapist leaves the room to allow you to de-robe, lay on the bed, and cover your body with a towel. Then the therapist is very respectful in keeping parts of your body covered while working on different aspect of your body.

Well, this experience was the exact opposite! Once called into the room, my therapist gave me a cubby to put my things and told me to undress. I waited a few seconds waiting for her to exit, and then realized that she was not going anywhere. “Oh gosh!” I thought to myself. Taking a deep breath I undressed and turned around, subconsciously covering myself with my hands. The therapist gave chuckle. “First time?” She asked, and I nodded. Then she pulled out a paper loincloth of sorts to cover my lower body- haha!

Before she began the head massage I was surprised to witness my therapist offering a prayer. I should have known, all forms of art and ancient medicine are closely related to the Hindu religion. She brought her hands together in prayer, whisphered a few words (in Sanskrit I assume), and then touched my forehead, nose, and ears.

Ayurvedic massage is designed to detoxify and cleanse the body by boosting the effectiveness of the human immune system. First, I sat on a stool while the therapist massaged oil into my scalp, forehead, and neck. Then we moved to the table. I laid on the wooden bed, face down, and my therapist placed spongy pillows under my joins for cushion (elbows, knees, ankles). She poured oil up and down my limbs, the smell of sesame and coconut filling the air. The warm oil was massaged into my skin. Turning over onto my back, I felt myself sliding on the wooden table, good thing there were edges so I didn’t slide off! Next the therapist washed off my face and applied a rose-scented lotion, working the moisture into my skin through circular movements. She applied a neem face mask next that tingled as she applied it with a brush.

Then the therapist helped me rise from the bed and walk (without slipping) to the steam bath, which is not what you expect! An Ayurvedic steam bath is a steam box that you sit in with your head sticking out! A towel is put over your head to keep the heat in. Here is a picture from the interwebs:


I felt like I was melting as the oil soaked into my skin and the steam cleansed my body. When I was let free, I was shown to the shower to wash off. Neem was running down my neck and I was completely slicked with oil! Despite water and soap, I dried off (with a hand towel made that resembled cheese cloth) and found that I was still sticky with oil. Similarly, my hair was greasy and tangled, but I felt so clean and refreshed!



With fresh clothes on, I thanked my therapist, and entered the lobby once more. Here I received a small cup of juice to cleanse the blood cells. It was not very tasty, actually. It was more like a vinegary shot of wine. Yuck!

I hated to got out into the heat and grime of the city after feeling so clean but I was happy to have plenty of day in front of me to study and nap 🙂

On the agenda this week: Hindi final exam on Monday. Good byes on Wednesday. 😦 Film & Lit final on Thursday. And freedom from academics from there on!

Here are some pictures of Ancient Ayurvedic:





Hyderabadi Biriyani

My blog would be incomplete if I did not mention the famous biriyani of Hyderabad!

Biriyani is a rice dish traditionally made with meat (chicken, mutton, or lamb) and spices. The way I understand it, the meat is marinated in yogurt and spices overnight. Then the meat is layered with long-grain basmati rice and cooked in a sealed vessel.

It is a delicious concoction as saffron, cardamom, and coriander infuse their fragrances throughout the tender meat and rice.  The dish is served with a spicy gravy called mirchi ka salan, made of curried chili peppers, peanuts, ginger, garlic, and spices. Raita or yogurt sauce is served as well to add a nice cooling effect.



The final perfection, eating biriyani with raw red onion and lemon juice!


In Hyderabad there is a restaurant called “Paradise” that is known to have the best biriyani in town. Therefore, as a final hooray, I planned a dinner for all of the students of Tagore to convene at Paradise for a “final meal” before people begin heading home.


There were almost 30 of us that packed into cabs and headed to the restaurant draped in saris and bangles!

Brooke, Anna, and I decided to split the Chicken Biriyani, and I am glad we did. We each received portions of this size:


We spooned mirchi ka salan and raita over the steaming rice and dug in, hands first of course. Wow- that is good biriyani folks, however, I must stay that our hostel has a recipe that is just as good.


This recipe looks pretty authentic if you want to try it out at home: http://www.sailusfood.com/2010/02/14/hyderabadi-chicken-dum-biryani/

The heart was filled with joy as I enjoyed an fantastic meal with the people that have made this semester worthwhile! Yet, I could not help but feel a touch of sadness that these meals and times of laughter are coming to a close. Regardless, our memories will live on!



Harper and I


Harper, Maria, Emily, Brooke

IMG_2872Roomies: Emily and I


Me and the boys: Julian & Connor


Brooke, Maria, Rachel B


With Brooke…what babes 🙂


Rachel B & I

DSC_0740Think fast!



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