Friday, March 12, 2004

(Yoga outside of the shala)

The last time I was at the shala was Monday. Ladies Holiday morphed into a nasty cold, so I've been staying away from yoga (it's hard to breathe when you can't breathe). Yesterday (Thursday) I made a trip down the street behind the Kaveri Lodge to the Ayurvedic doctor. I told her my symptons (exhaustion, sneezing, sore throat, swollen glands, stomach gurgling, loose motions) and she had me lie down and drummed a tattoo on my stomach ("Taka tika taka tika ta. Ti taka TA. Tata. Ti taka TA"). Fortunately the gurgling was more like a #1 rapid rather than a #4 (BTW The Paramedic says taking an antacid at the first sign of gurgling/loose motions will make the stomach antagonistic to bad bacteria and cure it; here the Pepto Bismol type stuff is *yellow* and just as vile). The good doctor prescribed me a bunch of stuff for Rs 300 (just over $6), one of which is nose drops which are *hell* to take -- nothing wakes a girl up like mentholated liquid going through nasal passages and down the back of the throat -- and which work amazingly well). So after a recordbreaking IM session w/ the Man in the US, I went back to my room and read (Raj by Geetha Mehta) and tried to crochet (looks like a retard did it) and stared at the ceiling fan, which was on #1 (low) so I didn't get too cold. (Can I just say a couple of people know I'm sick and only one [apart from the Man in the US] -- Jammu -- asked if I needed anything?).

I've been told by people who read this thing that it seems like I'm always sick. I'm not -- not really. As I've said before, everything is magnfied in India. When you feel good, you feel really, *really* good and tend to overdo things. The sun shines every day, the weather is perfect and dry so your hair always looks good and it's always warm so you're super-flexible in yoga. But when things are bad, they're *really* bad -- anyone else remember Bindi's three-week cold? Or my vomiting migraine last time around? This happens because the US is so santized our immune systems are weak and can't handle India, which is dirtier (and whose people are tougher). So you learn to take care of yourself early on, instead of waiting til you're so ill you can't walk. After awhile you also learn to rest and not do too much. The lesson here is that sometimes you have to let go of the yoga -- very hard to do -- AND learn how to be alone with yourself. So that's what I've been doing over the past several days (AGAIN). After many episodes of this you start to think, "Why am I here?" and "Why am I always sick?" and "It's almost like I'm not even in India, I'm spending so much time in my room." Just when you start to give up hope of ever going to the shala again, or of ever being surprised or seeing something magical, the distant drums get louder and there's a mind-blowing procession....

Last night I saw the finale of the Festival So the Children Don't Get Sick in the Summer

I'd just gotten home with my chappatis (four)
Had just enough time to drop them off in my room
And grab the tape recorder
I ran out to the street
Head clear from nose drops
The whole 'hood was there with prasad
(food, flowers, etc)
To be blessed by the priests/goddess
First major drumming
All men of course
Big drum circle right in front of the lodge
Orgasmic, frantic, out-of-control
Men in orange, men in no tops
None taller than my shoulder
Beating hard and fast
like in a Tamil film
Saw the same one in '02
Folks had salt and water to pour on the shirtless guy
with the giant piece of wood
(who came after the drummers, with some other drummers)
and represented the goddess
This was to cool her down
First the drummers, then the tube lights
Which preceed any procession
Also a guy with a long pole
Moving away the electrical wires
Then more drums and a floatlike thing
With three images of the deity
Being carried on three priests' heads
Walking in the middle of the "float"
Which has no bottom
The float has its own generator
Last time the lights went out
At the exact moment the brightly-lit deities came
Very dramatic
During the climactic drumming I thought
Oh, now my cold has broken and I'm well
But I was wrong
I sneezed so many times last night.....
Right nostril was like a nozzle, dripping
And itching
"How many times did you sneeze?"
Sneezed so violently
That when I woke up (for the final time)
I saw that I had snotted my mosquito net
No yoga today, either.


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