DAY ONE AT THE SHALA
Today's vocabulary words:
round table = traffic circle
marriage = wedding
function = get-together
mela = really big get-together
Sunday was my first yoga class -- a led primary series class in which everyone practices in unison. I was apprehensive about making the 6KM trip on the scooter in the darkness; apart from a brief ride home the night before, I hadn't ridden since 2004 and thought I'd get lost. I got to the shala without incident at 5AM, and people were already waiting to get in. I didn't recognize anyone in line.... except blogger Joey, whom I don't even know. NOTE TO SELF: Stop looking at and talking to people you know from blogs and yoga videos as if they know you.
When they opened the gate everyone filed in quickly but it wasn't the mad rush I'm accustomed to, and no one yelled at me when I put down my mat. In fact I heard the girl next to me say, "?Quieres cambiar conmigo?" I didn't think she was talking to me but found myself replying in some slow John Wayne drawl I'd never heard come out of my mouth before, "I'll cambiar with you." She seemed surprised but we switched spots and that was my first contact with westerners since begging the male air hostess for water on Thursday (Lufthansa was literally rationing it, which seems very wrong indeed).
While I was putting my things in the changing room I heard someone say "Satya? Satya?" It was Krista from Manju's teacher training; she's here til August and wants to go to breakfast sometime, which would be lovely. It's so nice to be recognized and spoken to. I realize I spend most of my time walking around expecting to be attacked, and am so surprised when the opposite happens. But in past trips here that feeling has diminished little by little until my outlook has veered towards optimism. I hope it happens again. It is happening again.
The led class was a treat. Guruji's counting was not too fast, and that competitive mood that I'm accustomed to was missing. Maybe it'll show up at Friday's led class; we'll see. Sharath was not there but his sister (?) Sharmila, who teaches in Bangalore, was. She gave me a firm adjustment in baddhakonasana that was right on the money. I missed conference later (I felt awful that afternoon) but from what I've heard her explanations are excellent. Maybe next time. In any case I really enjoyed all of the female energy in the room.
Afterwords I went to Bik for a coconut. He recognized me immediately and handed me one that had mostly water and sulpa gunji (less "meat"). It was exquisite. The Indian coconuts aren't as flavorful as the Thai ones we get in the US, but they contain far more water -- which is just what one needs after all of that sweating. I also exchanged a few words in Kannada with Manju the tailor. "You were here two years ago," he said. Uncanny. I should learn to say more things in Kannada. Of course I should really be learning Sanskrit...
I picked up a copy of the Vijay Times -- the writing kind of sucks but it covers regional issues -- and headed towards GreenLeaf restaurant. I tried many routes before finding the right one -- which goes past a graveyard and some cows tied to cement blocks and standing in dirt. Those are the ones that Bindi and I fed desserts and bananas to last trip. I can't decide whether that makes their lives better (a treat!) or worse (creates craving) or affects them not at all. There's a pony family living near the Kaveri Lodge and I'm keen to give them some carrots; but the ones that really need it are the stinky tonga (cart) horses tied up by the park -- which is dotted with piles of dirt and is being redesigned.
I finally found GreenLeaf but it didn't open until 7:30 so I headed home. On the way I remembered that in 2004, Zoe had mentioned the Kesari Bath (a sweet breakfast food with raisins and cashews) at the Nalpak restaurant on Devaraj Urs Road. I sat upstairs, away from the rabble, and got to watch the street awaken as I ate very fresh Kesari Bath and Wada (fried lentil donut). I chased it down with two chai.
Today was a "normal" primary series class. I arrived too early and sat and waited for some time while the others went in. After awhile Sharath looked in and said, "Caca! You come."
Which reminds me. Contrary to conventional wisdom, SHARATH IS INDEED TEACHING AT THE SHALA. I was so focused on dristi I didn't notice how many adjustments he was or wasn't giving; I think he's suspended his private classes for awhile. The rumor is that he's building a new shala in Gokulam, near the orphanage. But he is definitely there.
My spot was in the second row right behind Joey, which I thought was auspicious -- although I hope he doesn't think I'm stalking him.
My body was rather tight and weak but the prana (energy) of the room carried me along; the guy to my right was doing advanced A and the guy to the left was doing intermediate series, which also helped. Saraswati gave me a light adjustment in Supta Kurmasana. At one point Guruji saw some students' infant lying on the stage and said, "When you come? When you come?" -- which something he usually asks students. The place cracked up.
Since it was my first real practice I thought I could get away with going straight into the counterpose after backbends. But Guruji, who was sitting on his fancy chair, saw me and said, "Backbending?"
I haven't dropped back in ages with help, let alone on my own, and the experience (where they help you drop from standing into an Exorcist-style backbend) was so intense and I was so nauseated that I thought I would faint at the end, when Guruji hugs you (if you're a woman) and tells you to "Breathe! Breathe!" I had to breathe through my mouth and then sit in child's pose for awhile after the forward bend adjustment.
So today has been another day of enforced rest -- after getting the newspaper (Deccan Herald) and eating at GreenLeaf there was a mandatory morning nap followed by lunch at Three Sisters (their food is the safest and healthiest and they're steps away from the Kaveri Lodge). Although what I really want to do is go shopping for a bowl and spoon (for mueseli) and Tupperware. But I'll try to be good instead. I'm not to the point yet where I'm drinking my morning urine (which is rumored to drive the immune system through the roof) but I am doing what I can to stay a little healthier this time 'round....
BONUS * BONUS * BONUS
I just realized that I stepped on the human turd Saturday with my left foot -- my poo foot.