Monday, 25 January 2016

Exploring Friendly Palampur

COUNTRY: Palampur
PROJECT: Individual
WRITTEN BY: Sarah Piplica

We had a yoga session last night and a little bit of a sing along following our dinner. My favourites in particular were the 90s hits: Backstreet Boys 'As Long As You Love Me' and Britney Spears’ 'Hit Me Baby One More Time'. It didn’t feel like it was long enough before my alarm went off at 7am.

The walk to the bus stop is filled with friendly hellos from every person you see. They will make the effort to call out from the roof of their two-story dwelling or from their patio, which is often a steep drop down to the road. Little kids will ask you what your name is. I will respond 'mera naam Sarah hai' and they let out a sweet high-pitched, uninhibited giggle at my attempt to speak their language.

By 9am we arrived at the placement, today it was at Kayakalp Himalayan Research Institute for Naturopathy and Yoga. It is a very lush and expansive hospital where patients check-in to resort-like rooms for long stays to receive holistic treatments in physiotherapy, naturopathy and panchkarma. Alternative methods like these are less common in Australia, so it will be interesting to observe the treatments over the next week.

Today we were taken through the Panchkarma department. Panchkarma or Ayervedic medicine is one of the world’s most ancient healing methods and is based on the idea that disease is caused by a build up of toxins in the body. The belief is that removal of these toxins will in turn heal the patient. Sitting in the Doctor's office, listening to her describe the treatments with such passion and conviction, I realised how rare and special an opportunity it was to be learning about these treatments in the country in which they originated. Being a science student, these methods conflict with what I’ve been taught, but they are still relevant to my degree as part of being in my field is having an understanding of different cultures and their health behaviours.

We had a bit of a break and were given the opportunity to wander the grounds. We found a canteen that served a masala chai that was the sweetest most delicious thing I had ever tasted. I happily sat on the hessian bag covered concrete seats and sipped away.

It was then time for yoga. The teacher was really good, incorporating a lot of breathing cues. It felt good to stretch and move.

On the way home we walked through some markets and I was feeling brave enough to finally get some Henna tattoo done on my wrist. I didn't want it on my hands as I knew it would constantly distract me if I did. It was really hard to explain this to the non-English speaking artist though, who no matter what hand gestures I made continued to try and paint on my hand. It was an experience I was only able to laugh about it later, but the result turned out okay.

At home, not much happened in the afternoon. I will say though that I spilt a whole box of what promised to be delicious Burfi as I tried to take a photo of it. Tragic!

That night we were treated to our lovely chef Jogindar's amazing curries. We had a tiny blackout in which I was happy for the opportunity to try out the head torch given to me by Antips in the early bird registration pack! It worked a treat when I did a late laundry load and hung my clothes on the line.

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