I was born in the village of Oachira in central Kerala, India. I used to practice Ayurvedic medicine at a Softouch Spa in the Le Méridien Cochin and work as a part-time consultant to the India Tourist Development Corporation. That is how I met the president of Kempinski [Hotels]; I did not know who he was when I treated him as a patient but he came back the next year and was very interested in Ayurveda. Before he left, he asked me if I would like to come and set up a centre in his hotel in Ajman. It was a lucky break. I came to the Softouch Spa at the Kempinski Hotel, Mall of the Emirates, Dubai in 2006. The difference at this spa is that most of the guests come principally for work or to go shopping. In Ajman many of them came for the Ayurveda and they would often stay for a month.
My day starts with answering emails. I get about 200 mostly beauty and health-related emails per month. There are a mix of questions but most are about appearance - everyone wants to look better and younger. I talk to the spa manager and check to see whether there have been any problems and I start my consultations. Half of the business comes from hotel guests and the other half from outside.
Working in a hotel spa is different to spas that are established as medical centres.The staff here try to encourage guests to come for a consultation but often [clients] just want a massage. Ayurveda is not just a massage it's the science of life - a whole philosophy of how to live; it's about diet, oil therapies and lifestyle modification. Each person is different. Take two people with back pain and the treatment is different; you have to analyse the disease and the diseased.
The strangest thing that I remember happening is when Konishiki, the Japanese sumo wrestler came to our clinic in Kerala. He was 268 kilos when I met him and was about to retire so he wanted to lose some weight through an Ayurvedic programme. We had to remodel the whole spa - he could not fit though the doors; he could not enter the steam room or the showers. He could not even get into the toilet so we had to make everything bigger. It cost a lot of money but his visit provoked a lot of publicity - the BBC and Sky sent news teams - so it was worth it. We had a lot of Bollywood stars coming to stay.
The best thing that has ever happened to me is my daughter, Tulsi. Her name means a holy basil. My life is a very happy one. My job would be easier if I brought more discipline into my lifestyle. I was brought up in a traditional family and we used to naturally follow an Ayurvedic lifestyle but it is harder to do that here. It difficult to get up early and go to bed early - life is so fast-paced. My body type is pitta which means that I have an inner tendency to be aggressive and competitive. I can sense in myself when there is an imbalance and I try to modify my diet.
Your constitution has nothing to do with health. It's to do with the time of fertilisation and activity of the mother during pregnancy.That determines your consitution - that is you and you can never change it. You have to accept your body type and go on a pitta- reducing diet. You must listen to your body, particularly when life is so fast and make time for yourself. As well as workinghere, I am regional director for Softouch Spas. We have six in the region and some new projects.
The environment in Dubai is not conducive to Ayurveda. India is the home of Ayurveda and it has been practised [there] for thousands of years. When I came to the UAE my qualifications were not recognised in the medical world here. I could not title myself as a doctor. We worked to change that and in 2003 the Government recognised [Ayurveda] as a medical discipline. I was the first to get a license.
I studied for eight and a half years for my management degree in Kerala and then, two years in Rajasthan for an MPhil in healthcare business management. I was a student for over 10 years. Why did I come here? I have to confess to a small glint of greed. It was well-paid compared to India and it's been good for me. I won't stay here forever; I want to go back to India. My parents are growing older and I want to be with them. India is my home.