Tuesday, July 24, 2007


I finally went to see the Coconut Family at sunset on Sunday.

Only the father was there, minding the store.

I said hello and he offered me the plastic chair in front.

I sat and watched the traffic, which is highly entertaining. The store is on a busy corner and I never tire of looking at what people are wearing, how (and what) they are driving, and how many people can fit on a two-wheeler (the max I've seen is five). Some women are driving a thin, pointy new Honda scooter that comes in pink, purple and blue. Of course I want one, too. Only about 1/3 of two-wheeler drivers are wearing the mandatory helmet. More young girls are wearing western dress, and on Saturday in the cave of the cyber Saddhu I noticed that more married women have eschewed the sari for the salwaar kameeze, which I find a little bit depressing....

But back to the Coconut family.

After sitting me down, the father went to the Hotel Srinigar and returned a few minutes later to mind the shop.

Soon, a young man was crossing the street with an armful of glasses full of steaming hot liquid that turned out to be sweet creamy coffee.

It was delicious -- made even moreso by the glucose biscuits the father handed me.

I'd nearly finished the coffee when the two daughters arrived.

The younger one (who designs salwaar kameezes) looked exactly the same. She was flanked by a young girl of about eight.

The older one was wearing a sari and a thali and toe rings -- and carrying a baby.

When I left her last year, she was engaged and excited to get married.

Now she has a two-month-old daughter (and a new mother-in-law), and has duties and can no longer do frivolous things like go to Kannada movies with me.

Her daughter is tiny.

DeeDee looks good, and is staying at her father's house while her husband's place is being painted. From what I can tell, she lives there with him, his parents, and whatever siblings he still has at home. In the novels I've read, the new daughter-in-law has a tough time adjusting and is constantly being tested by the mother-in-law. I've no idea if that's the case for DeeDee, who couldn't stay outside talking and had to go in and take care of the baby, etc.

The other big change is that the sisters were flanked by only one black dog (last year they had two very happy, excitable matching pups).

The younger sister Ash's English is only slightly better than my Kannada, but she made it clear to me that her dog had expired. "Dead," she said. "Two months."

I assumed it had been hit by a car.

But no.

From time to time, the Mysore City Corporation put out poison to kill off all the stray dogs that roam the city.

Apparently this time it killed off at least one person's pet.


After my rather wobbly dropbacks yesterday, Sharath came over to help me with the final backbending sequece. But first he asked me if I'd done Pashasana (ie, the few intermediate series that I do).

With all of those people in the room, and with his grandfather-the-Guru ill and the weight of running the shala on his (sore) back, he's still able to keep track.

I love that about him.

Later I thought about it and realize that I've spent more time studying with him (and Guruji, although I only began coming to Mysore in 2002 and even back then Sharath was the one trying to teach me to stand up from backbends and getting me to touch my heel with my hand) than with any other teacher.

I had loose motions all day yesterday (even after lunch near the Nandi statue with several other westerners and the Cyber Saddhu -- who has a satellite dish behind his cave) -- and today I woke up with a massive headache and nausea in addition to general weakness. I went to practice anyway, but it was a struggle.

Perhaps Sharath sensed this.

I was "testing the waters" between backbending and dropbacks -- ie, bouncing a few times in backbends and seeing if I could stand up -- when Sharath appeared at the front of the mat.

Our eyes met.

Then I did another backbend and stood up with ease and grace.

He's like a magnet.

And, thankfully, he did not make me do any more unassisted, nausea-inducing dropbacks (even though we're usually supposed to do two or three).

I think he is doing a fine job of carrying the torch....


You should never even COUNT money with your left hand, let alone hand it to someone with your left hand. Nor should you count it in your left hand and then give it to someone while holding it between your right index and middle finger. Ammu informed me today that that too is "bad."

Spotted in the shala this week:
Lino, Rolf, Regina-from-NYC, David Swenson+wife, Vance-from-Berkeley, and Peter-from-New Zealand.