From today’s New York Times, this lede:
SHE was Glinda in a sari. Early that morning, she had glided ethereally across the courtyard with her fellow healing goddesses, their feet bare, their flowing white garb edged in gold. The bird trills reverberated off the palace walls.
Â“Please sit,Â” she said prayerfully. Soon, thick warm sesame oil infused with medicinal herbs began to permeate my meager muslin thong. She breathed heavily, karate-chopping the oil with the edges of her hands. She gently pummeled me with poultices, hot bundles of herbs resembling bouquets garnis. In the background, I heard oil sizzling. I felt a strange compulsion to go fry myself in a wok.
Pummel me with poultices! Stay me with flagons! Gag me with a spoon! What on Lord Krishna’s blue earth is going on here?
It’s just San Francisco-based writer Patricia Leigh Brown receiving treatment, for research purposes, at the Kalari Kovilakom Palace for Ayurveda in the hills of Palakkam, Kerala, where “ayurvedists — longevity-seekers who are already deeply into the present moment — come … to detoxify and purify with ayurvedic doctors, the new yogis, for whom mind, body and spirit have been fused for more than 3,000 years.”
Exempted from the resort’s two-week minimum stay rule, Brown was able to pick and choose her treatments, avoiding the “stamina-challenging sequence of enemas” and secretly brewing Peet’s Coffee in her room.
The article is long, and not entirely as ridiculous as would appear from the opening. By the end, in fact, some interesting cultural analysis has crept in. En route, however, you get lines like “My spine was a cobra unfurling,” and the apparition in Brown’s mind, during treatment, of a vision of Dick Cheney. Surely that can’t be therapeutic.