Tuesday, February 03, 2004


Long time no write. Sunday night we saw the palace lights. The music was Indian; it was cool and everyone was out and in their best outfits. We went to a temple (the palace has several) where the Brahmin priest told us about each and every deity in it. We understood about a quarter of it and I was kicking myself for not having the tape recorder (one of the deities was sitting on a prone Shiva; another had Chamundi (avator of Durga / Parvati and the patron goddess of Mysore) standing on a severed cow's head and the dome of the bearded demon Maysashura (which I've misspelled, and is where Mysore gets its name) ... That same day I had some scooter lessons w/ Prashanth on a new road that rings Mysore; no one was there and no one was hurt……

Yesterday (Mon) began w/ me waking up, wiping my eyes and noticing ANOTHER GIANT ROACH SCURRYING ACROSS MY PILLOW. All I could think was, “Was he here with me all night? What did we DO?” Then I realized I didn’t really want to know. That same day Miss Y game me some “chalk” (a stick of poison that has probably been outlawed by the US FDA) that you use to mark around areas where you don’t want the creatures to go. For some reason they won’t cross it. I drew a Line of Contol (just like the one up in Jammu/Kasmir, on the Pakistan border) around my bed as well as my bathroom drains and the doorway to the bath. It seems to work; this AM I woke up alone.

Also yesterday me, Bindi and P. went to see an action/kung fu/romance/drama at a nearby theater. It starred the son of the most famous Karnataka (the state I'm in) actor ever, Dr. RajKumar. He's 98 or so and has a doctorate in something. Anyway the outfits were awful (disco / 80s is in here, also cowboys), the fighting was stilted and the choreography was bad but it was still awesome. It was about Karnatic pride ("Speak Kannada, not Hindi") and villagers getting browbeaten by the underworld and the evil developers. It even had some political / religious elements that I picked up on.....All the women in these films look to me like Bridgette who teaches at NU (she's subbing my Sunday noon ashtanga class; see <www.yogamind.com).The style seems to be small (western) cheeks and noses -- but fabulous little bellies. Thank Kali there’s at least one culture where it’s not a mortal sin to possess a pot belly. On the flipside, the style for men has gone beyond ye olde fat dhoti guy w/ moustache -- they're now thinner and often facial hair-free. Also *they cry* (new thing according to Bindi).

I woke up in the middle of the night last night and decided to stay at the Kaveri (surprise) and keep the scooter for the trip to Gokulam. I'm still a bit unsure about how to get to the place so tomorrow I'm following the rickshaw; Bindi will ride on back. Tonight I practiced going thru some intersections (no traffic signals or signs here), doing more turning and then dealing w/ actual traffic. It seemed OK.

Today was about shopping w/ the girls (don't ask). Also after yoga we found the breakfast joint run by a sweet Brit who was here in 02, Tony, and his equally cool wife, Holly (Tony n Tina's B&B; it's interactive). They had the best coffee ever (French press). We most definitely will return.

So the yoga…… The shala is huge and the family lives in the palatial quarters above (it’s across the street from their previous Gokulam digs; before that they lived in the old shala in Lakshmipuram, near where I’m staying). The marble floor is covered in colorful carpets and there are changing/finishing rooms for men and women (the western bathrooms are a complete 180 from the tiny-stinky manual flush Indian toilet job in the old joint, which only fit 12 students at a time). Here some 50 or 60 practice at once, in close proximity. They say there are 120 people here now – a record, I think – but the wait is short (nothing like the two hours of two years ago). But you don’t see all that many westerners in my hood, which is near the city center. They’re all by the shala, in Gokulam (which, appropriately, is a very upscale, western-looking suburb).

I received zero adjustments on Monday and no help in backbending as Guruji was in his office and Sharath had left to teach his other class (Saraswati also disappeared at some point). I was doing my backbends thinking, “Goddammit, where are they? I’m being ignored.” Then I got over it and amused myself by doing a total of 11 BB’s; during the final few I worked on rocking back and forth and unsticking my hands from the floor. They came up a few millimeters, which is sort of a breakthrough…

I’ve noticed before that they don’t seem to remember me when I wear my hair differently so today (Tues) I quit the pigtails and put it back up into a single fountainhead. There was a bit more wait this AM and as Sharath was calling people in and he saw Lino and one of his teachers and told them to go. Then he looked right at me and said, “You.” (I think this may be my new Indian name -- "You"). So I waited for a spot and went in. Again there were no adjustments for me but it’s a relief in a way, and while not focusing on my breath, bandhas and racing thoughts I noticed that Sharath was keeping track of each and every thing happening in the room, just like Lino does. He came up to a person next to me and said, “You do Marichiasana D? No? Tomorrow. You wait for me.” Then he did the same to a guy regarding backbending. After doing several of the latter and coming up 2mm off the floor, I stood at the front of the mat and Guruji helped me in an abbreviated version of the dropback sequence (he’s not helping people up and down from BB or putting people back on their head like he useta, just doing the rocking five times and walking the hands in, straightening the arms and coming up for a big hug and butt-pat). After a leisurely closing sequence I had a very sleepy savasana…

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