CACA AND THE GURU
Guruji's birthday was yesterday.
Over the weekend I accidentally found out that the celebration was changed from 1PM to 11:30 AM.
Two-thirds of The Three Sisters did a wonderful of wrapping my sari, if I do say so myself.
Everything matched -- shoes, ring, sari pin, earrings with hair-chains, over-the-top-necklace, bangles; everything but my knickers.
I missed most of the puja and caught all of the entertainment, which was a little long-ish but quite good. Jayashree-the-Sanskrit-professor sang some of Guruji's favorite Krishna slokas, and hearing her is always a treat.
Jammu and I sat behind some Brahmin priests, who were really nice. It was lovely to look at Guruji and see his family (and students) dressed to the nines.
Then it was photo-and-gift time. Since Guruji can't even have sugar-free chocolate, I brought him the traditional gift of flowers (in this case, several metres of jasmine wrapped in a leaf and decorated with more flowers.
By the time I got to the front of the line the pile of gifts - mostly flowers - was at least three feet high.
Twice we tried to take my picture with Guruji and it didn't work. It was a full moon.
Elena-from-Italy tried the third time, and it worked. She also took the fab snap of Guruji above.
Too late I realized I should have given up after the second attempt and left Guruji alone. Non-attachment and all that. Oops.
Finally we went downtstairs to eat a meal on banana leaves (bailele).
They were out of chairs, so some of us sat on the floors - the traditional way.
It was awesome, although this year there were four rather than five desserts.
Later Ammu and I drove 20km on the scooter to KRS (the dam) and Brindhavan Gardens. The latter are water gardens, at the end of which there's a lighted fountain that dances to Indian filmi music.
I wore the sari, and rode sidesaddle -- just as I did in 2002, which was the last time I was there.
The ride was uneventful, although there was plenty of staring (in a good, approving way).
Five of the dam's gates were open; on the other side was the grey, swollen, backed-up Kaveri River. Everyone swarmed to see. The water rushed, and there was plenty of mist.
They also seemed to like the sari.
No, they loved the sari.
Some even laughed, and I asked Ammu about it.
Apparently when locals laugh at a westerner in Indian dress, it could very well mean that they approve. Yet another lesson in avoiding conditioned thinking.....
We did a puja (religious ritual) at the statue of Kaveri, the river goddess. I love it when they break the coconut. But still I did not drink the holy water, but poured it over my head.
It began to rain when the sun went down and we made our way to the dancing fountains.
And my feet began to hurt after ten hours in those thin gold slippers.
So we took a boat back (Rs7) and I dared to try some lovely deep-fried street food (so far, so good - knock wood).
Still it continued to rain.
We rode all the way home in a downpour.
I wore a bright orange rain poncho over my sari.
Not a good look, if I do say so myself....