With the orange sun lazily dipping toward the western horizon over the Indian Ocean, our toes feel the pleasant undulating mixture of smooth, wet sand followed by warm, gentle surf washing over them, as we slowly meander down the coast along the tide line past the early evening beat of drum circles and young Bohemian travelers selling their boot-leg crafts, paintings, jewelry, and clothing. Indian women, speaking fluent English and Russian, lap the beach dressed in their colorful saris, aggressively attempting to sell henna, massages, bracelets, anklets, scarves, and sarongs to the throngs of vacationing tourists sprawled out along this long sandy strip of coast known as Arambol Beach. The setting sun gives way to the night, and multi-colored neon and LED lights illuminate the scores of restaurants dotting the beach to the incessant thump of techno beats which, when viewed and heard from the water’s edge, leave us slightly befuddled as if a small slice of Burning Man had just crashed the party of this distant Goan shore. We realize that even though we are still in India, this place is distinctly not Indian, but some global twilight zone of its own design. We sit down to a candle-lit table at one of these ocean side restaurants, and to our gustatory delight, enjoy the catch-of-the-day, consisting of fresh-grilled kingfish served whole on our plate, while we listen to a pleasantly funky European traveling brass band playing on a wooden boat-shaped stage in front of us. We are slightly taken aback; onstage there are five performers with their normal-sized instruments that are convenient enough for international travel: a horn, a trombone, a saxophone, to name a few, but then there’s the bouncing musician in the back belting out his low-pitched whale sounds on a gigantic tuba! As we listen, we wonder what kinds of extra baggage fees he must have incurred in bringing this brass behemoth along to India from his home country.
Arambol is located at the northerly tip of India’s smallest state of Goa, situated on the western coast of the country, a twelve hour overnight bus ride south of Mumbai. What had begun as a simple week-long plan to have a small beach vacation after our chiropractic service trip in Mumbai turned into a month-long residency in this progressive and touristy tropical coastal town. Arambol hosts a respectable array of yoga classes, and we began our mornings with a short walk from our guesthouse to practice Yoga with Raj, led by a very gentle, playful, friendly, and knowledgeable Indian teacher (Raj), after which, we would get our daily isotonic fix from Arambol’s endless supply of fresh coconuts. On most mornings, we prepared our breakfasts in our small kitchenette, which consisted of either soft-boiled eggs or a bowl of fresh fruit, muesli, and curd, and as we ate, we would look off the third-story porch of our very blue guesthouse and watch a daring Indian gentlemen climb barefoot high into the surrounding palm trees in order to harvest the coconuts for future use. In the afternoons, we took the small windy path underneath these palm trees past the resident chickens to the beach, where we would watch the dogs play in the sand and slurp delicious banana lassis while brainstorming future chiropractic and business ideas. We would spend hours swimming in the warm therapeutic waters of the salty Indian Ocean while watching kite surfers launching off big waves on one side and paragliders catching thermals off the cliffs on the other side. Afterwards, we took cold, refreshing showers to rinse off the beach sand, but not before our daily greeting from Frida the Frog who loved to hang out in our bathroom! To our delightful surprise, Arambol attracts an impressive array of hip international musicians who rock up to this part of the world to showcase their skills. In the warm evenings, we frequently walked from our guesthouse past dozens of shops on the main road selling hip beach attire, instruments, jewelry, and tapestries, dodging the scores of international tourists zooming by us on their motorbikes, over to Organic Vibes, a popular local music venue and restaurant. There, we listened to traveling artists such as the talented Tetouze, who can play just about any Indian instrument from the tablas to the sitar mixed to the backdrop of his self-produced techno rhythms, while we dined on rainbow salads and rolled vegetable sushi from the comforts of ambient tropical tiki decor. Two nights a week, we would trek all the way down the beach just after sunset to boogie down at Ecstatic Dance with hundreds of other international movers and shakers.
After spending our first week getting acquainted with Arambol’s warm sunny beaches as well as the plethora of vitalistic activities such as yoga, live music, ecstatic dance, cacao ceremonies, healing circles, meditations, sound healing, and shamanic breathing, to name a few, we decided to get involved in the community by providing chiropractic care. To our pleasant surprise, we very quickly experienced a nearly overwhelming need for our services. By our second week, we had our tables set up at the local vegetarian and silent retreat center, and Magic Park Chiropractic Clinic was born! While we learned many valuable lessons while running our first temporary clinic in Rishikesh, we really got the opportunity to spread our wings as a chiropractic unit in Arambol. It was our intention to build a heightened sense of professionalism and confidence with our work in Arambol, and in addition to successfully fulfilling those intentions, what we found was a natural playful cadence in our co-creation. As patient numbers continued to grow and then challenge the limitations of our scheduled work hours, we found ourselves getting out of our own heads, and learning how to flow in the magic of the momentum that comes with running a busy practice. While we were intimately involved in the healing dance of the patients on our tables, we also began to dance together. That subtle playfulness was palpable in the air both to our patients and onlookers around us, and I think it was a significant reason why this clinic was a huge success.
While there are many difficult hurdles that will present themselves in the year ahead as we get our professional clinic off the ground in the United States, I know we will prevail, because as a unit we naturally bring that playfulness to the table. We were reminded of this vital quality between us under a starry night at a hip venue called Twice in Nature just a few nights before we left Arambol. A rotating collective of extremely talented traveling musicians, called The Blind Orchestra, gave a unique stellar performance that evening. Each member of the band wears a blind fold, and is prompted to play his/her instrument when tapped on the shoulder by the conductor’s wand, to stop playing when tapped on the other shoulder, or to play a solo when tapped on both shoulders. The completely improvisational act shocked and surprised listeners with their ability to create powerful ballades simply by listening to each other and committing to dance together. This musical experience was creative, inventive, playful, and unique. While chiropractic is something entirely different from playing in a band, I could feel those similar qualities resonating between the two of us during the time that we adjusted in Arambol. As our work evolves together, we continuously discover that the practice of chiropractic is much more of an art than meets the eye, and that successful practice requires harmonic balance between creative forces, scientific principles, and vitalistic philosophy, cradled by the graceful dance between patient and practitioner. I am both honored and filled with gratitude to be able to organically co-create this company with my partner, colleague, and best friend.