Day 35: India; it’s more like guidelines than actual rules.

By on Feb 3, 2011 in The Unruly Ascetic, Uncategorized

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After a number of questions about day to day life in India (and complaints that my blog is not straighforwardly narcissistic enough), here is an account of my day (No yoga involved):

Moon Day!  Moon days are a mixed blessing.  One the one side, it is lovely to sleep late (7:15 o.m.g. I am such a bum). On the other side, as I pass the half way point on my time at the Shala every practice becomes more and more precious and I lament superfluous days of rest.  But, since it is out of my control… ah, sleeping late! It is amazing how my internal clock automatically wakes me up around 4:15 (the alarm sounds like my own voice yelling “You’re LATE! Your start time got moved up!”), and then once the rest day registers I am able to quickly fall back to sleep until 7:15. Maybe 7:18, sometimes only 7:13. I am not sure if Gokulam becomes too noisy, or if the sun gets too bright, or if it is just late enough, but something about that 10 minute window is non-negotiable.
The best thing about a moon day is that it is a day entirely free from Shala obligations.  Obviously, no practice, but also no chanting class, no Sanskrit, no office hours or conference.  You can’t do work at the Shala if you want to. Instead, we eat. Nicolas decided to make a party out of it. A breakfast party, naturally.  Since we are all usually practicing at various points throughout the morning this was a great opportunity for us to enjoy our favorite meal of the day as a group, Sharath and Saraswati’s students all together.  We congregated on the lovely terrace that tops the Jois Savitri (where I live) for a potluck breakfast. We swooned over banana bread, nutella, and an entire thermos of Guru’s famous coco stand chai (among other things).  The high point in any gathering on the terrace is almost always a Sharath sighting from across the street.  Today we got the greater pleasure of an entire shouted conversation with Saraswati about the nature of our party and a fervent, but eventually fruitless attempt to get her to join us.
It turned out to be lovely, but with mixed feelings as we realized that with the changing of the month many of the old faces would be leaving within the week just as we were introduced to the new faces that had arrived.  As one face that is remaining steady, it is exciting to see all the freshness and excitement brought by eager newcomers, but sad to realize that such close friends would soon be moving on.

Food coma for about an hour.

Then on to lunch!  Have I mentioned that all we do, when not practicing or in class, is eat?  So, moon days are about eating and transitions are marked by food.  We soon moved toward a restaurant for a fair well lunch for Jose. This rikshaw ride to Green Leaf was made epic when the driver flipped a switch and the speakers behind the seat start blasting (and I mean BLASTING) “hit me baby, one more time” by the infamous Britney Spears.  Needless to say, we sang every word and thanked the driver emphatically for such a truly Indian experience. I had the sense not eat any more and nursed a coke that did eventually settle my stomach. Jose is leaving us to pursue climbing adventures in Hampi.  I am more than a little jealous and he encouraged me to ditch and come with him.  Ah life, such hard decisions…  After lunch we took a leisurely stroll to the gelato shop (pistach! and forest berry sorbet… “better than Italy!” which must mean it is the best in the WORLD…) and through the back streets of Gokulam.

Food coma for about an hour.

Many of the bunch then headed to the coco stand to meet the group heading to the orphanage to play with the kids.  Those of us (me) with compromised immune systems stayed behind to read and eventually be joined by Jason looking for company on an attempted Library run.  Failing almost immediately in our attempt to find a library (but succeeding in finding watermelon!), we headed into the city to the book store.  Naturally, this involved the scooter. Ah, Jason and his scooter. (Note: Mom, please stop reading now.)  I don’t think any experience feels so much like India as riding on the back of a moped weaving through traffic and laughing nearly hysterically (no, not even riding in a rikshaw blasting Britney Spears).  Jason commented this evening that I laugh when it would be more appropriate to scream.  I noted that it might not help his driving if I released a blood curdling scream every time is was called for. I then informed that I am one of those people who is utterly sure that I am not going to die soon, so it isn’t worth concerning myself with the possibility (and if I’m wrong, I won’t be around to know). Plus, he used to race bikes back in Canada so he can handle himself, even in Indian traffic.
Naturally, we go the wrong way and end up getting pulled over in an intersection and asked for our “papers.” Shocker to me, Jason actually produces some papers, which only show the police that the scooter we are on has an expired registration, that he does not have a permit to operate it, and (well, we didn’t need the papers for this), he does not have a helmet. they seem unconcerned about my lack of a helmet. (because I was totally wearing one, Mom, I would never ride a scooter without a helmet. seriously, stop reading.) Anyway, I try, somewhat unsuccessfully, to control the fits of middle school laughter that accompany scooter rides while Jason proceeds to speak french and act confused and offer them a 100 rs note when they ask for 500 for the lack of registration.  They eventually accept 100 rs for the lack of a helmet (approx $2.15) and write him a ticket for 8000 rs for some unknown charge which he has to sign (“Elvis”).  The ticket is written for “Jason.”  No last name. No listing of nationality or address or anything.  Yeah, he’s on his way to the station to pay that ticket right now.
Of course now we are hopelessly lost, having driven away without actually looking around.  We stop on a corner to ask for directions, a rikshaw driver essentially says “you can’t get there from here” and proceeds to ask if we “are wanting marijuana?”  I laugh (the only form of communication I am capable of anymore) and Jason gets more information, promising to “come back later” to an unknown corner in an unknown part of the city.  The only direction we won’t go (back toward the cirlce where we got the ticket) turns out to be the only direction we need to go. Having been told to “go straight… turn left” in 4 different circumstances we eventually make it to Dasprakash where we leave the bike, inspect our ticket, and proceed with our errands. Aside from a speed ditch (opposite of a speed bump and not nearly as much fun to go over at high speeds) and a quick fruit stand run where we don’t even have to get off the bike, we get back to 3rd stage just in time for Jason to welcome his arriving girlfriend to their apartment and probably end up ditching me for the rest of his stay.
At home, Kjirsten, my newest stray, has spread her wings and left to settle into her own nest, Nicolas is cooking some dinner, Alyson is already in bed, and I thought I’d blog out before my 8:30 bedtime.

So, if you got through all that, then you have too much time on your hands.  Maybe you should consider taking up a hobby.  I hear Yoga is good for your health, maybe I’ll give it a try tomorrow.

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