Thursday, July 31, 2008


I was resting nicely yesterday evening when Ammu called and asked if I wanted to see the footage for his documentary about his local ashtanga teacher, BNS Iyengar (who is not to be confused with the famous Pune-based props-and-alignment "Light on Yoga" BKS Iyengar. Both Iyengars were students of TVS Krishnamacharya (also Pattabhi Jois's teacher) as well as relatives of his. Iyengar is a common Brahmin name in South India, and many of them seem to own bakeries that bear their name).

Anyway BNS Iyengar , the ashtanga one, was also a student of Pattabhi Jois for six months before leaving and teaching on his own (he teaches at the temple where Krishnamacharya used to teach). It was interesting to see the similarities and differences in his approach; he does teach Malasana before Pasasana in the second series (rumor has it that it used to be taught this way and was somehow deleted), and in his Marichyasana B and D the left side is done first. When he helps students to stand up from backbend, he simply grabs their right hand, which they hold up towards him. It seems to put very little pressure on his back. But it also seems like it can result
in a sort of spinal twist for the student.

After I got home and went to bed, the men down the hall decided to start a chat-cum-shout fest. This was at about 10:30PM. So I stuck my head out the door and let out a long, loud "shush," which worked for about five minutes. Then they started up again even louder. Finally I padded down the hall, stuck my head in the door and put the index finger to my lips and said, "shussh - sleeping." They did the head-bobble.

Fifteen minutes later the noise started up again, got louder, and did not subside. So I went down the hall, and started to close their door. The man closest to it stopped me and made a "just a minute" motion; apparently he was about to leave. I panomimed "Please knock it off, I'm trying to sleep,' and they seemed to get it.... Until about 2AM, when they all started up again in the loud voices. This time I no longer had patience. This time I yelled out the window near the ceiling (which opens into the hallway), in a loud, clear voice that startled even me, "SHUUUUT. UUUUUUUUUP!" It worked. But it wasn't very yogic.

This morning the stomach was again up in arms, gurgling and being annoying even after the lemon water. Again there were a few eggy loose motions and a lot of gas. The urine was quite yellow. Nonetheless the pre-asana practice sitting practice was quite good.

The sun began to shine as I rode to the shala. The waiting room / lobby was crowded. I only did one shush - to some people who were having a long conversation in a normal tone of voice. The stomach was upset, the body felt weak and I considered leaving (in other words, I was not up to policing the lobby today). Instead I tried to teach myself the mantra for Aarti. At one point a woman sat down next to me on the bench and asked if she should open the window. "Yesterday I was closing it and they told me to keep it open," she explained in a foreign accent. "I think you should leave it alone, and let them decide what to do," I said. She nodded, and then proceeded to open the window.

The stomach was so annoying I considered leaving, but then decided to wait and see what happened on the mat. After a few sun salutations the body felt fine. I started in the next-to-last row, until Saraswati moved me up (to make room for her students, who start later, in back). I was in the middle of Triang Mukh Eka Pada Paschimottanasna on the right when I heard, "Cara, you come!." My head popped up, and I saw Sharath gesturing towards the front row, where he was about to give someone a forward bend adjustment. I went, and was very happy to be in the same spot as yesterday. Also it is nice to be known. I've been thinking a lot about Sharath lately, and his back pain, and the awesome responsibility he has taken on. On top if it, he is in the midst of losing not just his grandfather, but his teacher -- who's rarely been seen in the shala lately (although I heard he dropped in on Laksmish's Sanskrit chanting class in the shala last week). Of course we students are upset about Pattabhi Jois's health. But imagine what it must be like for Sharath, who has had Guruji's one-on-one attention and guidance for so many years.s

Sharath was nearby again when I got to backbending. Because of the parasite, or whatever it is, the body felt light and I decided to test the waters after just three backbends. Boom, I started to float up before I was even ready. Of course Sharath was nearby. I tried again, and came right up. I'd dropped back twice (and stood up twice) when Sharath appeared at the front of my mat. "One more?" I asked in Kannada, and explained that I'd done only two. Yes, he said, one more. I did it (sloppily), and when he helped me with the final bit I tried my best to put as little pressure on his back as possible. Again I went on the stage for the closing sequence.

After two coconuts I went to Anu's to use the internet. The USB port didn't work, and when Ganesh said it had just broken, and was to be serviced. He said I could I wait for another machine or come back later. For some reason I became a bit testy about having to wait. I was surprised by my behavior. It was like I was watching someone else. Later I apologized profusely to Ganesh. As I did, he said he remembered me from two years ago. He remembered who my friends were and even some of the bile I'd spewed about browsing centers that use Windows 97 and don't have USB ports on any of their machines. I was horrified; someone is always listening. And I realized how important it is to learn to shush myself first - before I go around telling others to control their mouths.

On the way home from Chakra House pancakes, I got caught in some rather heavy malay (rain), and joined some others who pulled over their two-wheelers and took shelter under some trees to wait it out.

I rather enjoy these enforced time-outs. After a hot bath (for some reason there was still warm water at 12:30PM), I walked over to see my pharmacist friend. As I listed my symptoms he said, "Is there flatulence? Farting? You call it farting, don't you?" I nearly burst out laughing at his proper upper-class English pronunciation of "FAH-ting." He fixed me up with some pills (rs 4) to take after meals ("nothing spicy!") and told me to come back tomorrow if the problem has not been solved.

Then I washed some clothes (some of which were the ones from the trunk, with the bugs and the mothball smell). It began to rain 20 minutes after I put them on the clothesline. But by then Ursula and i were dining at 3 Sisters, whose food is very strength-building and sattvic (ie; their vegetarian food does not contain hot spices, garlic or onions, which are not part of the yogic diet because they are thought to disturb the mind and impede meditation).

Afterwards I needed a nap, and had a big one before waking up and watching Indian MSNBC. Then it was on to dinner (set dosa) and mosquito net shopping (this is the fifth one I've bought from the same seller (Rs 400 this year), whose daughter lives in the Chicago suburbs). When I arrived back home, I asked the night manager for two heavy old pillows - which I stuffed into the window in my room, where the sound from the hallway comes in. No more shusshing for me.


*The post title comes from the well-known yoga sutra, Yoga chitta vritti nirodha (yoga is the cessatio of the mind-stuff).


  1. Anonymous11:02 AM

    I'm no doctor, but I have been, um, intimately acquainted with various intestinal parasites and it definitely sounds like giardia. Giardia, however, usually takes a little bit longer to become symptomatic than you have been in in the country, so who can say?

    Good luck, and do keep posting. There are many of us who enjoy experiencing Mysore vicariously by reading these various blogs.

    Cara (yes, another one!)

  2. Thanks for posting and hope you feel better soon! Sounds like you are the official "Mysore Shussher" ;->

  3. i love your posts cara! good decision on the shushing. sounds like you only create more annoyance for yourself and noone quiets down anyway.

  4. Dear Cara, I hope you feel better in the meantime. Let me know when I can bring you anything.

    I am in my new home now. By Sunday I will be able to offer tea and chocolate if you like it. You are invited whenever it suits to you.

    I know I cannot give you any advice regarding the "worms". I hope you get well soon.

    All the best.