Monday, June 19, 2006


Today's Vocabulary Words:

West Asia = The Middle East
Windies = The West Indies
SoMA = South of Montrose on Ashland*

Last Tuesday after backbends, Sharath asked if I'd done Pasasana (the first pose in the intermediate series, which students in Mysore are not allowed to do unless they can stand up from backbend). I said no, and he said, "Tomorrow." So on Wednesday I tried doing the pose (a deep squatting twist) but failed; I am currently too fat. Fortunately Saraswati saw my struggle and put me into the pose in no time. Sharath was nowhere to be found, so I continued to the next pose, Kraunchasana -- which I'd been "given" in 2004 -- and that was it for intermediate.**

Then it was time to stand up from backbends. It's definitely harder when Sharath's not around. But making it a thousand times more difficult was the baldie-sour guy behind me. He had flipped his body around to do Savasana (corpse pose) so that his head was at the head of my mat. -- WHO IS TEACHING THIS? PLEASE TELL THEM THEY MUST STOP -- I noticed his head where his feet should be while I was in backbend and thought, "If I start to fall while standing up and catch myself, I'll wind up stomping on his head and killing him." I had a hell of a time standing up with that thought in my head; I finally did it but had to run *sideways* to catch myself. I even managed to do it two more times, very badly, but without injuring the guy.

Class was cancelled on Friday for some puja at Guruji's village -- which many students (not this one) knew about and attended. Anyway the impromptu day off meant that my next crack at intermediate series poses would have been today.

But it was not to be. Ladies Holiday came to visit Sunday, just after led primary class. (When a woman menstruates she's considered dirty [at least by certain Brahmins] and is supposed to stay away from the shala for three days of "Ladies Holiday," lest she defile it. As a feminist I have a lot of problems with this, but it's their shala and they make the rules. However, many female students in Mysore "skip" their periods when they're here). Believe-you-me I thought about ignoring it This is the first week in ages in which we have four self-practice classes, in which new poses are awarded. And after these few weeks of struggling with backbends, which I'd previously "mastered," I'm more than ready to move forward. But I stayed away. It helped that my stomach hurt and that there was an early morning thunderstorm. But man, it was hard to do the right thing.

Later I went to see the popular, long-running Kannada (local language) film My Autograph. It's been playing for over 100 days, which is huge. But it's a ripoff of a Tamil film. Which reminds me -- the films I've been seeing are not subtitled,and you have to fill in the blanks. This one was about a guy who revisits the three (two?) loves of his life in flashback, while handing out invitations to his wedding. One woman is from school times, one is veena player from his college days in Kerala (the lush state south of here that abuts the Arabian Sea), and the third is a friend from work who's a dead ringer for Chicago yoga teacher Bridgett Piacenti. It was quite sweet and had me thinking about all of my exes. But that would be a movie that never ends....In other words, a sit-com.

My movie companion was J.-the-tough-coconut-girl. Her family runs a little store / coconut stand; they're friends with my teacher, Suddha. Last time I was here J. told me she was never going to get married and "be some man's slave" and I was, like, "Right on, sister." But now she's engaged and will be married in October. I think I met the man before leaving today; he has a good vibe and according to her he has either five houses or a five-room house, I'm not sure which. In any case the coconut family is still living in the single room behind their store. They have a new cabinet emblazoned with the word Videotron that takes up much of their sleeping space. It seems to be a refrigerator-cum-TV stand; whenever I come over they usher me into this back room (even if the father is asleep on the floor), and the younger sister gets me a chair and flips through the TV channels. Usually there's a film featuring the beloved Kannada actor Raj Kumar. When he died earlier this year there were riots in the streets of Bangalore. In the meantime outside with the machete, hacking the tops off green coconuts, putting in a straw and serving them up to walk-up customers. If technology ever becomes my friend, I'll make a video of this and post a link to it.

Which reminds me. Yesterday all of Beck-the-shala-coconut-guy's straws fell into the filthy ground. After students picked them up, Beck returned them to their plastic bag... and then popped a particularly dirty one into my coconut!

Anyways....I missed lunch today because of the movie and felt like crap all day -- it's weird and alienating not going to the shala, and it didn't help that a couple of fun things I'd been planning (like going to the jungle) have fallen through. But I've been revived somewhat by consuming a fluffy omelet, fresh lime soda and chocolate cake at the upscale and air-conditioned Southern Star hotel.

Now, on to the foot-wash (I can't put into words how good cold water on dirty feet feels after a long, sweaty day in India) and the final episode of Deadwood.


*Ha! Trick vocabulary word: SoMA is not really used in India but, rather, in Chicago, where it denotes a sleepy north side neighborhood that's home to an inordinate number of scribes -- ie; our version of Park Slope (where, to quote Suketu Mehta, "You cannot throw a rock without hitting another writer").

**There's some confusion about where I should stop in the intermediate series. It's a long story that has to do with Sharath telling me a couple of years ago to stop at Kapotasana (a deep backbend several poses after Kraunchasana) in my home practice.


  1. I would have no problem falling on dumb-assed baldie-sour guy if he was stupid enough to invade my saftey circle, especially if he is in 'corpse pose'

    You do need to video the coconut stand.

    Regarding the straws, for a guy, the 5 second rule applies.

  2. PSUMysore12:23 PM

    "Swalpa Adjust Maadi"
    That is also an all time favorite of Kannada people :-). I have been reading Matrika and your blogs since I discovered them about a month ago. Also, Dr. Disco and Reena's blogs. I just got into Mysore yesterday for my annual trip and made a trip into India and was welcomed by the rude and money grabbing auto driver!

  3. you can put the video on youtube, it's pretty easy. then just include a link. i'd love to see it!

  4. PSU - I'd love to get together if yr near Mysore / have any free time:

    yes, even you.....
    How is Montana?