One year ago, flute music had greeted me as I entered in the Mumbai immigration line. Maybe Krishna himself would float on by me, soothing me with his gentle tune. 

Now I was returning to India for a monthlong panchakarma cleanse in Nagpur, the most transformative and calming experience I have had in the 6 years I’ve been coming. The healing power of panchakarma to change you on a cellular level had spurred me to write Cleanse Your Body, Reveal Your Soul, a practical guide that gently invites readers in to transformative ways to heal what they thought could never be healed.

But let me start at the beginning. The year before, in January 2018, my travel back into heart of healing was not without a few hiccups. First, I flew out of Albuquerque into Houston’s William P. Hobby Airport, only to find out that Turkish Airlines was not at that Houston airport— it was at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport. Booking a journey through the internet has its unique moments. The good news was I had enough time to Uber through rush hour traffic and make my connection.

Enroute to India

Mumbai International airport in the baggage claim area

We arrived near dusk in Istanbul, landing near the Bosporus strait. The sun streamed through the clouds, briefly illuminating the brilliant blue water. Cargo ships fanned out in the harbor. Large apartment complexes dotted the horizon. We were unloaded on the tarmac into the blustery, moist wind. It helped to wake us up from the twelve-hour flight.  Buses waited for us. They deposited us near an entrance at the airport. My new friend from the flight guided me to the Turkish Airlines lounge, where lockers were available during the layover. For me, I had three hours to wait. 

In the quiet lounge, Turkish delights awaited us. It was nice to be in a separate area, away from the loud entertainment, food kiosks and long lines.

But the dessert bar! Undoubtedly, this featured the best dessert in the world—apple strudel with the softest filo dough I have ever known, and with fresh whipped cream. Near it was an espresso bar, the last food stand before leaving the terminal to board. For me, it was a slice of heaven. 

Arriving in Mumbai, my connection to the domestic flight to Nagpur was easily made, though I had to collect my bags again. Gone are the days to make the transfer in the middle of the night with our luggage on a bus, then jockey for a seat on the bus. I felt grateful I no longer had to navigate that jet-lagged and on sensory overload. Jet Airways or Air India make that process seamless now. Cheaper airlines still fly out of the domestic terminal, so a taxi ride a waits if you have booked with IndiGo or SpiceJet. 

Smooth connections

Within the year, I was returning, this time in December 2018, arriving two days after Christmas. The flights were similar flights except I did book with IndiGo so I made the switch to the domestic terminal. It took all of 10 minutes to transfer. I had purchased extra kilos for my luggage but did not need it in the end. Of course, no refund was offered!

At Nagpur, a driver waited for me, holding a sign with my name. I know the way to the clinic well, after many times over the past 6 years, but this time, he took me a new way,  through a small forest. We were on the road less traveled.

It was close to noon at the Dr Sunil Joshi’s Vinayak Ayurveda clinic so lunch was soon available. I noted a few familiar faces, as well as new faces. The staff, including Neetu and Asia in the kitchen and Pravin as head ayurvedic technician, greeted me with smiles and heartwarming hugs.

In my first few hours in India, I found it most comforting to partake of nourishing ayurvedic food with chapatis. Two women, Martina and Janaki, have been here with me before so we eat lunch and catch up with each other.  Martina is from Switzerland and Janaki is from the US.

I received my first massage treatment that afternoon. The traditional body work here includes two people working on you in tandem with each other. The rhythm supports the way the prana (life force) moves in the body. 

And so began the almost monthlong retreat at the clinic in Nagpur, my longest to date—and the most life-giving. Over the next few months, I will share more about the rhythm of  the day-to-day transformation that I found to be the most profound experience I’ve had there.

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