“MAY I SEND A PICNIC basket with your airport pick-up?” Brindha Ramprasad, Svatma’s front-office manager, messages me. There’s a sense of warmth and welcome in the message, immediately conducive to well-being. Chauffeur Mani, our old friend from previous visits, greets us at the airport, handing us resplendent baskets teeming with local snacks so fresh they are still warm. Mani’s driving is as swift as his mind is still. Here lies a philosophical message for the experience that is Svatma.
On arrival, Brindha anoints us with tilaks, offers exotic herbal libations like panakkam, nannari, and vasanta neer. Then, she escorts us to the Heritage Swappanam Suite. Beautiful floral arrangements and brass figurines bearing jasmine in cupped hands exude a hypnotic scent; stately Chettinadu pillars standing behind the antique four-poster bed evoke trees: it’s as if the outdoors are ushered in. This suite comes with its own terrace embowered in the gushing foliage of a neem tree, conjuring the Tree of Life. Birds encrust the tree. They serenade all day, deep into the night. Swaying on an old rocking chair on the terrace, observing two birds in the tree, I recall the parabolic birds of the Mundaka and Svetasvatara Upanishads symbolizing the jivatma and Paramatma. One may see metaphors in the lavish bathrooms, too, where the central stand-alone marble-topped basin boasts a two-faced mirror, framed in a tree-shaped stand, seemingly reflecting that mental and physical wellbeing are two faces of the same coin. I’m snatched from the reverie by the jangling phone: the Siddha doctor has arrived for our consultation.
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