Spreading smiles, Lakshmi style!
"We are all going in for microwave cooked food but it is actually a health hazard. I can make out the difference quickly and I try to avoid whenever possible."
Paula Horan...Food for health at Cafe Turtle in New Delhi. Photos: Sandeep Saxena.
THE FIRST thing that strikes you when you meet well-known Reiki master and writer Paula Horan is that she smiles a bundle! Not that it is a complain but it definitely pilots you to a quick thought - how can anyone cackle and chortle so much in today's high-speed, stress-laden life? Well, Paula seems to have all the answers.
"The greatest challenge that we face today is how to be happy and glow with positive energy. And, Reiki helps me do that. You might think it is difficult but believe me, it is very easy," says the middle-aged American, yet again pasting a broad smile on her pretty face.
Claimed to be one of the world's largest selling authors on Reiki - her first book, "Empowerment with Reiki", considered a classic in the field, is translated into 14 world languages - this believer has her own tale to make a case for her steadfast conviction that if you have faith, in anything, it works your way.
"At age 19, I was suffering from cancer but it is the faith in Reiki that it can tame the carcinogenic virus in me that I finally succeeded," she informs, somewhat proud at her achievement.
And, her conquest of the deadly disease has taken her through a long and snaking path achieving in the process, six book titles on Reiki and the seventh one on the way, mastery of related healing techniques like Taosomatics, Nadiprana, Tai Chi and Ozone Therapy, and also two more forenames besides her Christian name!
Sitting cosy against the appealing backdrop of the yellow and blue décor of Café Turtle atop Full Circle bookstore in New Delhi's Khan market, she awaits the arrival of the waiter with the menu card in hand: "What dressings have you got for quiches?" A few words and then the decision: a Quiche in spinach and cheese dressing with a bowl of fresh seasonal salad and some juice, please.
Keeping aside the menu list, she gets back to the conversation: "Till some time ago, we Americans were thinking that we were leading the best life in the world till we realised the fault in living such a life. For example, even the fluoride content in a toothpaste, which we use every morning, is a health hazard. It is now banned all over Europe but unfortunately, still used in America. But, the awareness is building up very strongly in the U.S. and people are getting back to Nature and natural healing," says Paula.
A slight break and you attempt to unravel the secret behind her three names: "My Reiki guru gave me an Indian name - Lakshmi and when I was studying Tibetan fields of nature cure, my Tibetan guru called me Dechen Wangmo. Hence, the three names." And, when Paula wanted to marry her present husband, her Indian guru said Lakhmi could marry only Narayan. "And so, my husband named himself Narayan. Similiarly, when I took the Tibetan name he too adopted a Tibetan name, and now calls himself Narayan Choyin Dorje," she says, thus breaking the bubble behind the name-ring.
At that point arrives her dish. One spoon in the mouth and then, again with a smile, this time an uneasy one, she waves at the waiter. "Has this been heated in the microwave?" Yes, and so a big no, no. Some instructions and the waiter with a curious look retreats. Minutes pass and then he returns, this time with a fresh oven baked quiche as per her request, only to be appreciated for its taste.
"We are all going in for microwave-cooked food but it is actually a health hazard. I can make out the difference quickly and I try to avoid whenever possible," says Paula.
Even though always packed with travel schedules across many countries to hold seminars on Reiki, which includes Indian cities like Bangalore, Mumbai and Pune, Paula has an impressive lifestyle, which includes 14 days of fasting twice a year!
"For those 14 days, I take three litres of water every day and a carrot and bean soup at night," she says, adding, "For the first three days, a beginner might get fever only to get even thereafter." Well, that needs a bit of solid determination and by now, you develop a feeling that she leads a real regimented life with no spice and flavour.
But you would be wrong. She relishes Italian and Middle Eastern food, not that she likes to miss out on Indian curries.
"I don't cook but my husband is a fabulous cook. His Italian dishes, specially pastas, are marvellous," says Paula, still not forgetting to smile again.
This time you smile with her too for, by now, you realise that leading a life filled with do's and don't is not after all so bland!
SANGEETA BAROOAH PISHAROTY
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