Life | Damsel In De-Stress

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Damsel In De-Stress
Text by Sona Bahadur and Illustrations by Bappa
Published: Volume 17, Issue 8, August, 2009

City weary and bone tired, Sona Bahadur makes an appointment with serenity by spending a detox weekend at the Trident, Mumbai. Does she emerge cleansed and converted? Read away

Saturday, July 18, 3 pm
Destination detox
I have a date with my endorphins. They havenít been behaving lately. Nothing cataclysmic. Just that new-age pandemic called urban stress. Deadlines, pollution, junk food, road rage, insane commutes. The usual suspects. Super-stressed-me is off to break this vicious cycle of abuse with a detox weekend at the Trident. Detox devotees Gwyneth, Oprah and Beyonce would approve. They all swear by cleansing, which claims to flush the body of accumulated toxins through diet, exercise and massages. Paltrow has been raving about it all over her newsletter, GOOP. Iím curious. Is there really a truth to the benefits of detox? I decide to throw skepticism to the wind and surrender. The stunning view of the Arabian Sea from my 20th floor room is to die for. Iím ready. Paltrow, make way.

3. 30 pm

Time for a quick minestrone and leafy salad at Frangipani before my massage appointment at Shanti Spa. I eye that mango chiffon mousse with puppy eyes. Alas, Jyoti, my detox guide, gently reminds me itís out of bounds. She spells out the deal. Alcohol, tea, coffee are strict no nos. Drink a ton of water (like eight litres a day). Easy on food with a high Glycemic Index. Fruits and leafy veggies rule. I squirm uneasily as memories of yesterdayís sinóAmerican double chopper and deep-fried potato wedgesócome surging in. Iím not telling her.

4.30 pm
Spa way to heaven

My detox journey begins. Spirit of Ayurveda, a leisurely Ayurvedic massage at Shanti Spa is first. I fill a questionnaire to figure my dosha based on weight, body movements, hair colour. Iím a pitta. Is that a superior dosha, I wonder. (Dosha competitiveness! Iím nowhere close to nirvana.) Ayu, my petite masseuse from Bali, whisks me into the bergamot-scented spa chamber. As my feet soak in the warm water, salvation seems like a distinct possibility. Ayu begins with an Indian head massage combined with inhalation therapy using essential oils. I feel my breathing passages opening. A body exfoliation using dry herbal powders, then a brisk application of pitta oil. A 10-minute-steam further opens my breathing passages and skin pores. Then, a purifying marma point face massage followed by a hot herbal poultice therapy to stimulate blood circulation and lymphatic drainage. The neem purifying soak is last. I do a Mena Suvari a la American Beauty in my rose-petalled bath. Sipping honey and chamomile tea, Iím the girl in the bubble.

7.30 pm
Lean equals light

Iím peaceful. Iím famished. Happily, I discover fit and healthy is not equal to bland and tasteless the way the chefs at Trident make their detox meals. My salad of asparagus parfait, smoked chicken and burghul relish, wild rocket is a masterpiece of taste and texture. A wholesome entrťe follows: Tamatar wali methi macchi, yellow dal and unpolished brown rice. The massage seems to have set in motion a virtuous cycle. Just mineral water with my healthy meal, please. Wine? Diet Coke? Whatís that?

9 pm
Room with a view

Time to sit back and dream. I recall Jyotiís advice. Detox is as much about recharging the mind by spending time introspecting and cleaning your thoughts. Looking out from the huge bay windows, I see a glittering Mumbai skyline and an unending sea. Thoughts of the day flit in and out. Walter Cronkiteís passing, Hillaryís visit, work, my own unruly love life. I catch my reflection in the mirror as Iím about to turn in. My skin glows. Detox beats botox. Anytime.

Sunday, July 19, 7.30 am
Inhale, exhale

Morning begins with Pranayam, that age-old panacea for stressed out souls. I breathe in-breathe out under an instructorís supervision. My Iyengar yoga guruís words return to guide me, ĎLet Go. Let Godí. A 15-minute cardio-vascular session with some gentle stretching exercises is just what I need to warm up for the day ahead.

8.30 am
Fresh as a pea

Frangipani for breakfast again. No sunny-side-up. Instead, three fluffy mounds of green pea upma with a light sambhar and tomato chutney, a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice and dried prunes. Later, sitting by the pool with a James Patterson, I feel relaxed, renewed.

10 am
Spiced out

Iím in for a two-and-a-half hour body and mind treat at Shanti Spa. Mumbai Masala combines full body exfoliation, body envelopment, mini facial and a fire massage using spice-based ingredients and therapies with a cleansing effect. The exfoliation with its blend rich in anti-oxidant and detoxifying agents opens my pores to soak in the benefits of seasonal herbs and spices straight from Mumbaiís local market. Iím enveloped in a warm cocoon, which Iím told releases toxins and reduces water retention. Mummified, I feel myself entering deep relaxation as Rene, my nimble-fingered therapist, cleanses my face with cooling thermal minerals and a clay mask. The Hot Lava Shell massage, using smooth, warmed lava shells from The Philippines, is the last word in decadence. Rene tells me it involves continuous heat and pressure combined with minerals, sea kelp, algae and salt water to promote release from muscular strain, improve lymph circulation and complete relaxation. Iím too blissed out to care.

1 pm
Broth on

A light lunch at India Jones, Tridentís pan-Asian gourmet haven. Chicken broth, baked tofu with laksa sauce, bok choy and fresh steamed buns. A bit frugal. But Iím not complaining. I wouldnít trade my newfound euphoria for anything. Rahul Bose is at the next table with a couple of women friends. Trident chef Joy Bhattacharya swings by to say hello.

3 pm
Coming clean

Check out time. Not sure how Iíve fared on Project Detox. But Iíve succeeded in wooing my endorphins back. All those spa soaks have left me feeling like a pampered Cleopatra. No drastic liquid diets and colonics for me. Iím no cleansing convert. Iíve enjoyed this version of Detox Light, though. Pure pleasure and relaxation. Iíll be back for that amla soak. Ah, the unbeatable lightness of being.

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