Back at the home of a friend in Melbourne, Australia — someone I’ve known since maybe before you were born. (I used to live in Oz — the local nickname for The Land Down Under, but more about that later.)
Some R&R without all the moving parts involved with moving around. A break from the packing and airport security drills. Where I can actually sit in a comfortable chair; not in coach class of a plane, hemmed in for 13 hours with the reclining seat in front almost on top of me. Quel relief.
Anyway, In India, I jumped at the chance to escape the baking heat, kamikaze traffic and thick dust of Hyderabad (despite using Wet Ones all the time, I had constant dirt under my fingernails) and stay at a retreat. I was eager to try out my LA Fitness yoga and meditation techniques in this land where a lot of that stuff came from.
The retreat — the Aalankrita Resort — was about half an hour from Hyderabad. I was intrigued because it was started by a couple of doctors, had a meditation center, hailed as being the ultimate in eco-friendly, and called itself “the only four-star resort in AP” — Andhra Pradesh, the state where Hyderabad is located.
In reality, it was the locals’ idea of a resort. Unlike home, it offered acres of manicured greenery and unlimited air-conditioning and showers, though the water wasn’t any safer to swallow. Sort of Vegas meets Bollywood.
Where the well-heeled had weddings and conferences, and seemed to be more interested in the swimming pool and martini and cigar lounge than they were in finding their centers.
(Actually their centers, like mine, were getting pretty easy to locate, with the gargantuan portions of food, all of it darn great. I was in Indian foodie heaven.)
Eco-friendly meant just that: A lizard racing back and forth behind the headboard of my super-duper-sized bed that looked big enough for a family. I felt bad about calling housekeeping to get rid of this innocent critter, but didn’t feel like having it cozy up to me in the middle of the night.
I was OK with another teeny one under the table I was using as a desk. Our friendship was short-lived though; it expired soon after we met.
Seriously, after the initial shock, I wasn’t phased by these close encounters. Comes with the territory when you’re surrounded by nature in India.
My rating: Four stars for effort, eager-to-please staff (I was referred to as Miss Laura) and fab food. Though I could picture Jackie Mason playing there more than Deepak Chopra, the spa director knew his yoga.
MORE OF THE TOUR
The equivalent of The Hamptons, Santa Barbara or Lawn Guy-land, for the Hyderabad crowd. Setting up for a pre-wedding party.