VISITING FRIENDS IN THE LAND OF RAJAS
Due to my new start time I was up at 3AM for Friday's 4:45AM led primary series practice. I was the seventh person to arrive at just after 4. It was dark. This group is much quieter than the 6:15AM group. I got a spot front and center. I did indeed feel that it was Day Six of practice. In fact I was so tired I nearly fell asleep in some poses - which could mean that I"m doing them correctly, since the definition of asana is "stira sukam asanam: - a steady, comfortable seat. I did not fall asleep during Utplithith. Afterwards S. gave each of us a form to fill out, telling us to bring it back on Sunday.
After coconuts with J, who leaves on Sunday, I went to chanting at the ashram and then to breakfast down the street at Nalpak. Chow-chow bath again. I also got a lentil and wada to go ("parcel") for the train trip. While waiting for the food I studied the menu; they open at 7 (quite early compared to other places), start serving lunch at 12 (the usual time is 1:30) and dinner at 4:30PM (most places make you wait til 7), which was very good news indeed. I also read the paper; the headlines refer to Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf, as "Mush."
After the bath and morning nap I found a riksha (and argued for some time over fare) and went to the railway station. The train to Bangalore, the Tipu Express, was waiting on Track 1. There were only eight people in the AC chair car.
During the 2.75-hour trip, vendors for coffee, chai ("choy!"), dosas, wada and badam (almond) milk came through the car. Chai is rs 5 (12 cents). Other highlights; the stainless steel squat toilet drains directly onto the tracks and is spotlessly clean.
Rural women toil alongside the men in the rice paddies. LIke Ginger Rogers doing everything Fred Astaire did, only backwards and in high heels, these women do it all while wearing saris and flowers in their hair (and the go home and take care of the house / children while hubby has a beedie)...
Suresh-the-driver was there to meet me at the Bangalore railway station, which is just as busy as I remember it. After a 1.5 hour drive across town - which is way WAY WAAAAY more contested than it was just six years ago - we were in QE's disconcerting gated community, where they were checking the unknown cars with a metal detector. The community has Indian-style houses and native foliage, but reminds me of an upper middle class British suburb. Very strange. QE and baby Sanbate (by far the cutest toddler in the world) were in the window waiting for me. Their furniture is still in Dubai and is slated to arrive any day now - as is their internet service. QE fed me and I drank all their (filtered and boiled) water before we headed to The Club, which has countless swimming pools and restaurants and a health club and even a special room just for toddlers. It seems most of the people who live in this place are German, English and Indian. Many blonde children were there.
After H came home from his IT job, we hung out on the terrace before walking to The Club for a posh North Indian dinner, complete with live musical accompaniment. It was wonderful. Then back home for some special Mysore Pak and sleep.
Next day I awakened to friends and soy-chai and real sourdough toast with real butter, which was consumed on the terrace, while watching the baby and the cats and chatting and keeping an eye on the street below (the cats are 14 years old and survived the 24-plus hour plan trip from Ohio, sans drugs, in coach except for the last leg of the trip). It was heaven.
Then Suresh drove us 1.5 hours to a massive Bangalore mall, where they wand you before you can enter. As I held up my arms,I remembered that Bangalore had been hit with a dozen bomb blasts just two weeks ago (they were delivered by terrorists on bicycles, and detonated with cell phones). After being waved through we started at the food court, where the grub was good but you could not find a cup of local chai to save your life (yet there was a Gloria Jean’s coffee shop). Then it was time for shopping (QE and H arrived last week, but all their worldly possessions are in Dubai and they need some things to tide them over). The lights, the colors, the sounds, the frenzy – the mall was the land of Rajas, or activity (BTW, the dressing rooms are called "trial rooms" - and the queue to get in was loooooooooong). It was all very draining, and by the time we left we were all quite happy to go; how nice it is to have a driver. Then we spent the next hour or so crossing Bangalore again, to get to the railway station where we said a sad goodbye. Hopefully the next visit will be a bit longer.