A Travellerspoint blog

Christmas in Mysore...

and getting grounded in Bangalore...

sunny 27 °C

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Its been a chilled out festive season here. This is the first warm Christmas I've ever had in my life, the first Christmas away from home. My mum sent me a Christmas parcel which was mainly full of iron supplements (there's only one kind I can take without feeling urgh) and sexy pants (just in case, thank you Mother) and chocolate coins. Its weird, Christmas is so not a big deal here, I guess its part of a minority group tradition. Nilghiri's sold special plum cake and there was a Santa grotto in the More store and a few stalls selling decorations. I bought some pink tinsel and big stars and decorated the rooftop with Adolfo. It looks like like a very gay Brighton style Christmas vibe...

Ajay checked that we would be turning up for class Christmas morning, saying that in the past people hadn't turned up on Christmas so he needed to know- so everyone raised their hands and I got up at 5.30 am and started Christmas Day with the second series! This is the Ashtanga sequence that's after the standing postures and centred around back bending and hip opening. Its starting to feel really good, especially after nearly 3 months of the Primary series. All the backbending classes seem to have made a difference too- my spine feels like its waking up- very Vanda Scaravelli- not that I've ever had a really stiff back, its just that the more advanced backbends require this hyper awareness of the totality of the back, if that makes sense. That is, feeling every vertebrae, every muscle working from the feet, through the knees and thighs, butt, lower back, middle back, upper back and neck. Being aware of each individual organ playing its part in the wave, the arc of the backbend. If you don't use everything that you have and just go back its like you're putting a big nasty crease in a piece of paper that you could just bend and curve so it returned to its former state with no signs of stress after. You can't put stress on one area of the spine, you have to spread the movement around a bit, dissipate it. Its very easy to bugger up your neck too, speaking from painful experience- you have to create support for the neck through correct and natural posture. Anyway Christmas Day practice was especially exciting for me as I got into Kapotasana comfortably and safely, head cradled in the feet. Like in the photo above. Ajay helped me a lot and it felt AMAZING. And as I came out of it I felt this surge of lightness and euphoria coursing through me, like I was a grid that was lit up with this flow of electricity. Ajay only spoiled the moment slightly by saying "You see, if you only listen to me and do exactly as I say" as he walked off and I sat there grinning like a village idiot with Nok giving me the thumbs up from across the room...

Christmas afternoon I found I needed a ladies holiday so just lay in bed reading and eating chocolate coins and then took the 4.30pm class. I only had two students- a really lovely couple from the UK who looked vaguely familiar- then it turned out that I'd met them at a Michael Gannon workshop in Sheffield in May this year! Quite funny if you think about it- they travel all the way to India to get Ashtanga adjustments from a Yorkshire girl who's from the next town from theirs. I hope my eyeliner at least provided a slightly exotic and mysterious touch... I had another practice session with Nagaraj this week and I am starting to get a bit more confident with it and remembering the movements better. I am soooooo glad I decided to stay the extra month, its really good for me to get this opportunity to practice. I'll be taking two of the afternoon classes a week for the next month.

Christmas evening I went to a party at Stans house- I got there with Nok at about 7pm and it had been going on since 11am with many people having to be on the water after Christmas daytime drinking- very naughty behaviour for Mysore! I brought 2 bottles of wine with me which I shared as much as possible but still managed to get quite plastered! Julian, who runs the Santosha Cafe in Gokulam kindly gave me a lift home and took me, at my brattish drunken request for a bit of a spin, really really fast (how I love riding round on motorbikes), he's so very nice. Then we went back to my flat and talked a bit and looked at Chamundi Hill from the roof. It was a really good Christmas. And I actually don't feel ill today. Maybe the banana cake for breakfast was a good idea.

I also went to Bangalore this week. I was feeling a little India-ed out and needed a taste of home. So I got a hellish 4 hour long bus journey into Bangalore and went and hung around in characterless malls. AAAaaaahhh, I felt right at home. There was air conditioning! There was a cookie stand in the manner of Millies Cookies! There was a bookshop that actually smelled like Borders Books and had staff in matching T-shirts and Happy to Help name tags. A music shop that sold CDs that were not religious. And no-one hassling you to buy anything. I tried on perfume, and got a tiny bottle of Gaultier '2' perfume for my birthday- its so beautiful, it has to be one of my favourite smells. And the guy who sold it me slipped me his phone number. And apart from that I just got a black t shirt to replace the one with holes in, and a Capricorn 2010 book, so I was pretty restrained. I saw some amazing clothes- by the Indian designer Ritu Kumar- unbelievably expensive, even by Western standards. And I have enough pretty dresses. I tried to get a taxi to another mall and got into a bit of a detour- this guy wanted to take me to this Indian clothes emporium- a lot of drivers here get commission if they do this. And I was like "NO- I absolutely do not want to buy a sari- take me to the Golden mall!!!" and he was like "Madam, if I take you to this shop I get a free t-shirt. Worth 200 Rupees. I am a poor man you have to think of this" as he drove exactly to where he wanted. So I took a deep breath, showed a polite interest in the shop, bought 2 metres of cotton I liked. He got his t-shirt. The man in the shop was going "Ah this man! we call him 'Tinker' Madam!!!" as they all smiled at me. And then Tinker didn't charge me for the taxi fare! Maybe he felt bad for semi-kidnapping me... After 5 hours of malls and iced coffee I was ready for home so got a bus back. And bumped into Robbie at the bus station so I had a travel companion on the way home. And this time I got the air con bus, not the riff-raff one which stops EVERYWHERE..... It was a good day out. I'm going to go back in a couple of weeks, look at some temples rather than malls...

So now I'm having a restful Boxing Day Saturday, reading about backbending in 'Light on Yoga' and drinking a lot of water. And I should really clean my flat so its nice for my Birthday tomorrow....

Posted by victoria8 22:26 Archived in India Tagged women Comments (0)

Dissipating the black seeds...

and how home is where the heart of stillness is......

semi-overcast 24 °C

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This weeks been different. On Saturday I went to my Pranayama class with BNS Iyengar ("Yes Yes, come in come in, to where are you wandering, sit down sit down!!!") and that was amazing. This week we've been working on nadi sodhana variations and the exercise took about an hour. It was a simple exercise- 3 rounds of alternate nostril breathing with a 1-2 ratio, repeated 15 times. As can happen I was quite detached afterwards and lay down to rest for a while. Something happened. As I lay there it was as if I went somewhere else entirely. And there was this unearthly being- not unlike the creature in the Star card of Aleister Crowley's Thoth tarot deck communicating with me without words. This being that felt like a force of good but at the same time was completely dispassionate, like some kind of spiritual administrator. It became clear that there was something in me, something in the past that had been getting to me, making me angry and upset and the event was like some kind of micro chip or seed - something that had been planted in me to learn from. And this being, this creature, removed it for me. It was as if it dissipated it. And it told me that I had a choice. That if I chose to pursue the dark thoughts it would be entirely my decision from that moment onwards but there was no real, valid or even 'karmic' need for those thoughts anymore. And whats been so interesting is that I still have certain thoughts that I would prefer not to have, as changing patterns takes time, but it doesn't feel like a part of me anymore. I sort of watch them go by. Its like the thoughts are an empty box.

So after this I spent a long time floating in the swimming pool, looking up at the sky, at the circling eagles, at the trees moving with the breeze and felt stillness. Then that evening I went into Mysore with Su and we went out and sat on a rooftop, had a glass of wine and fish kebabs (nice) and talked for a while, had a great night. And in the rickshaw on the way home I felt like I was exactly where I need to be. And the thought of leaving was just abhorrent. And I realized that I don't have to go anywhere, that my plans can change. So I changed them to stay for another month. Its so weird. I haven't left Mysore since I've been here and I'm generally someone that moves from place to place a lot. I don't like not escaping at least once a fortnight to go somewhere new, even if its only the next town. And i was so looking forward to going to the ashram. They were great though, they told me not to worry, they have someone on the waiting list and I can do the next course if I want. I just feel that I'm changing, my practice is changing, and even though my existence is quiet its exactly what I need right now. And maybe if I'm starting to understand about stillness after quite a few years of trying I'll get more out of going to the ashram at a later date and next time it won't feel so much like an ordeal, but like somewhere I am really growing rather than the Betty Ford clinic (my last trip to India was a bit of a journey to 'dry out' it has to be said!)...

The asana practice is flowing too. I did the second series today which felt good. Ajay has an extreme Supta Virasana adjustment- he stands on you- skilfully though. Backbending is really coming on also- it feels like my spine is beginning to be 'unstuck'- though I had a really great massage on Thursday which helped. Handstand I can maybe mange for two more seconds than last week...I also ran my first Mysore style class on Friday which went ok I think. Practicing with Nagaraj has helped quite a bit. I had about six people so it was manageable. And theres a guy who doesn't speak much English- and my Telegu is limited- who just loved being adjusted and kept requiring adjustment by going "Push me down..."! And thats another challenge with adjustments, if you are not very tall, adjusting big men who are perhaps not that flexible- you have to get creative and use the wall to balance and that kind of thing...

Another really great thing that happened was that my friend Simone who I met last year in Mysore turned up! She was on her way to Vipassana with her partner but I got to spend a couple of evenings with her which was great. And hopefully she's coming back here to do some practice in January too.

As for today I've been quiet, I had a dizzy attack this morning (due to all the practice and impending Ladies Holiday) so I've been lying in bed all day reading 'Bitten by the Black Snake' again. Its so beautiful. So here is the fourth sutra...

'Stillness.

All things arise, suffer, change and pass away.

This is their nature.

When you know this nothing perturbs you, nothing hurts you, you become still.

It is easy.

Sooner or later fortune or misfortune may befall you.

When you know this, you desire nothing, you grieve for nothing.

Subduing the senses you are happy; whatever you do brings joy or sorrow, life or death.

When you know this, you may act freely, without attachment.

What is there to accomplish?

All sorrow comes from fear, from nothing else.

When you know this, you become free of it, and desire melts away.

You become happy and still, the world with all its wonders is nothing.

When you know this desire melts away, for you are awareness itself.

When you know in your heart that there is nothing, you are still.'

Something to meditate on...

Posted by victoria8 03:25 Archived in India Tagged women Comments (0)

Pranayama Pathways

finding new roads...

sunny 26 °C

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This last week has been busy, busy. I was doing asana practice twice a day until the end of the course and then collapsed in a heap the end of last week. My neighbour Adolfo who's from Southern Spain and entertaining and adorable pointed out to me that I was always running around and should take a rest. He was languidly knitting a pair of socks and I thought 'actually, you have a point'... So I sat down with a pile of Indian childrens books- the 'Tell Me Why' guides to all sorts of things- the history of revolution, the environment, well-known mysteries and the like and drank some coke and sat in the sun. I've also been hitting the swimming pool a bit more. I have a more intense exercise routine at home thats not really feasible if you've been doing a lot of the physical Yoga practice so swimming feels ok, just gently.

The focus of this week really has been starting Pranayama classes with BNS Iyengar. He has his own course that he teaches in 2-3 weeks as and when. So myself and a girl called Jill turned up the same day to learn and we have him all to ourselves. He's fantastic. I think he was Ajays main teacher actually. He must be at least in his sixties now and he's a real character... The first day I turned up to meet him for a class he barked "We start tomorrow!!!" so I left. And then according to Shanthala five minutes after I left he was going "Where is she? we'll make a start now...". Then on Sunday he turned up half an hour early and as we had not turned up yet, just went home... Anyway, entertainment aside, he's a great teacher. The breathing exercises we have been working on this week are 'Vishama Vritti'- that is, alternate nostril breathing to a ratio, varying the ratio so that it becomes more challenging daily. Today felt really intense- there was a long retention to work with and fifteen rounds of this particular exercise took just over an hour and when I came out of it I could only feel one of my legs. I have sadly neglected pranayama this past few months and whenever I do it I don't know why. When you have a good teacher especially, and the right practice, you get this sublime feeling of travelling outside of yourself. Its like finding yourself on a road that you think you've travelled down before, it looks vaguely familiar, but its still new enough if that makes sense... Its definitely takes you somewhere else, and on the way there you can passively observe your thoughts. I noticed that I seem to think about sex and death a lot (I'm such a goth)and I have quite a few arguments going on within. But thats ok, thats just the way it is, no point fighting yourself. Just maintain the practice. I was exhausted after the class today.

I have been reading 'Bitten by the Black Snake: The Ancient Wisdom of Ashtavakra' which is a very old text consisting of 6 sutras. Brief and to the point, with a great commentary by Manuel Schoch who also wrote 'Yoga and Time Travel'. Basically this text cuts to the chase. It says all we have to do to achivev liberation is to be constantly aware that we are the observer, and observe from within. Not react. Scoch makes the point that we so very often tailor our behavior according to whatever it is we think other people are thinking about us, whether thats good or bad, and henceforth we live in a state of near- schizophrenia- that is, creating scenarios around issues we only imagine to exist as we will never know exactly what is going on with someone else. Our patterns clash with other peoples patterns and our perception is skewed, henceforth we are always in a sense, vulnerable. And it occurred to me as I digested this, that maybe the Yama of 'Satya'- telling nothing but the truth is so important in the practice of Yoga. That its not an entirely moral issue but also a way of maintaining personal freedom. And then an image came to me of a thorny gorse bush which was created from lies and skewed emotions. Easy to get entangled with, difficult to escape from, and the more you struggle with it, the more injured you get. And realized I must learn to relax, learn to detach. This realization helped me this morning when my asana practice was physically not all it could have been due to a very sore shoulder. I felt a new kind of lightness... And my hips have never been so open...

Quite a few people have left the Shala now, it seems to be quieting down a little for the Christamas period so Ajay is going back to just teaching the two classes. Which is a good thing, he works incredibly hard and gives one hundred percent to anyone that attends his classes. As well as attending college and all sorts of other things he has going on. He's studying Sanskrit diligently. I'm so glad I did the course with him. Today in the afternoon I got together with Nuk, one of the girls from my course and we met up with Nagaraj and practised our adjustments again. I'm teaching the evening class this Friday evening and don't want to mess up. Nagaraj is so fantastic- such a kind and helpful person who never cuts corners. Afterwads we needed a break so we jumped in a rickshaw and went to the Corner House in Gokulam for ice cream. Ohmigod their honey and fig ice cream is possibly the best thing I have ever ever eaten. And they have their own generator so its safe to eat ice cream there as you can be sure it hasn't been melted and refrozen 10 times due to power cuts... Afterwars we went to see Aparna at the Pottree, a cool handicrafts shop nearby, Aparna is ever so nice and used to live in the Uk so lots to chat about, and hopefully going to have lunch soon.

Its a new moon tomorrow so no practice. Just sleeping, reading, and hot towels on the sore shoulder. The weathers a little cooler now. Still at least 10 to 15 degrees in the morning though. The kind of weather where I might think about putting a cardigan on but probably won't bother. Then a bunch of guys walk past wearing fleeces and earmuffs!!! Even the cows look like they're shivering...
I'm going to head into Mysore with Nuk, look at the night market, eat some curry...

Posted by victoria8 03:14 Archived in India Tagged women Comments (0)

Ashtanga Vision......

from Samskara to Samskara and back again...

all seasons in one day 26 °C

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Its been such a busy two weeks. The teaching course with Ajay really took a lot of time and effort- and he has just taught us the adjustments for the Primary Series. But learning those was a lot of work and its only just scratching the surface really. I have to practice them and practice them- especially focussing on having my feet in the right place. Attention to detail is so very important- its easier than you might think to tip a practitioner over with a well-meaning nudge in trikonasana. Like a delinquent in the countryside who tips sleeping cows over for entertainment... Its interesting though, how when you get the alignment correct you can give someone an adjustment that looks as if it requires a huge amount of strength but really its how you do it, not how much. And then you discover how you can lift up big men in shoulder stand without breaking your back. Interesting. And this realization applies to the whole physical practice of Ashtanga. There is this Zen-like element to the practice, especially when learning the Vinyasas. That is, you practice, and practice, and practice, and practice and practice some more, just about every day. The same thing day in, day out, working through your limitations, your frustrations, your temper tantrums, bargaining with your spirit guides and the Gods for assistance, having hissy fits at home etc etc... Then you clear your mind just for a moment- and when you manage this, when you step outside of your habitual patterning for a fraction of a second, when you actually empty rather than just talking about it, this is when something changes. I have been standing on my hands this past couple of weeks, after not really having been able to for years, not since I used to walk on my hands when I was about 12. And then today I was able to stand on my hands and balance for a few breaths. And felt calm... So much of Ashtanga is about your interpretation of how the practice should be- the entire vision of it- of getting your head round putting weight in your hands, your forearms, and freeing your legs, freeing your midsection. Not always easy.

I had my assessment on Friday evening- that is, running a 90 minute class with one anothe student- Preedara, a beautiful girl from Bangkok who reminds me of one of the 'Kill Bill' girls. Cat like, sinuous and dressed in black... We did the opening and finishing prayers and then ran a class of 9 people, Mysore style. I did 85 adjustments according to Ajays's counting. Oh and I think I sweated more than any of the students. We got a long feedback from Ajay afterwards- all mistakes had been duly noted and we had to go through them all and then he emphasized the importance of practicing and practicing- and this certificate is validated by the Yoga Alliance too, which I hadn't realized. Ajays a perfectionist- he'll commend people for how hard they try but rarely tells you you're doing well. I guess that stops you from being lulled into a false sense of security as that would make you think the journeys over and its ok to stop there. Its never really ok to stop with Ashtanga, you keep going, keep going, keep going, ever changing, ever evolving, never slowing down to get rusty. And if your body hurts, you modify the practice until it gets better, and you have Pain as a teacher too. Actually you have to put up with discomfort sometimes and this is a practical application of pratyahara- it is possible to disassociate with pain if you concentrate. And if you can do it with physical pain, you can extend it too, to emotional pain. We are so often encouraged to go through the emotions over and over, sometimes its too much. You can learn from them, experience them fully, then let them go, because if you stay with them you stagnate. I think most self help books are bullshit...

So basically I've spent the past 2 weeks either in lessons or practicing the adjustments. Two of the girls from Bangkok, Preedara and Nuk, are staying in Ajays old shala in Laksmipuram and so I was going round there a lot. Also, one of Ajays long term students- a local guy called Nagaraj really helped us too. He's taken part in nearly all of Ajays courses and has a very advanced practice and knows the Primary Series, and the adjustments perfectly. So he would perform the Primary Series with us taking turns to adjust him, and it was a bit like that game 'Operation'- as in, if you put a hand, or foot, or anything wrong, he would go "NO! Is wrong!!", jump up, get you in the right spot, and make you do it again. And again. And he is amazing- he would do the full series 2 or 3 times in a row, effortlessly. We all have a lot to thank him for. Because its so much better to make mistakes when you're practicing, rather than out in the real world, where you could get sued... Anyway, the course is done and dusted- we got T-shirts and certificates with angel wings on them (!)- really sweet. And as I am here for another 4 weeks I will be doing some teaching in the afternoons to practice.

So I haven't had that much time to myself but I got out last week and went for a colonic with the acclaimed Sista Shree!!! I LOVE colonics and go for one every couple of months at home- I think I was definitely some kind of weird religious nut (maybe a Cathar?) in a past life, as I like to feel as clean as possible, inside and out. Sista Shree is a very interesting woman- charismatic, with a strong presence, but theres this deep stillness about her. When you're around her, because her waters are still, if that makes sense, you feel more conscious of how turbulent your own waters are. I was very conscious of my 'vata' tendencies, my butterfly mind... She is American by nationality, I think she would consider her home town New York although she has lived all over the world as her father was in the army. She was a student of Pattabhi Jois from 1990 onwards and also studied in Pune, at the Iyengar institute, and was very involved with Iyengar Yoga for 17 years. And meditation too, in Gujurat. Theres that opaque blue quality to her eyes you see in Yogis sometimes and her voice is gentle, her skin smooth. Oh, she's also a musician, and has family too. Multi talented. And the best colonic I ever had!!! Her equipment was the most up to date I've seen and her house is beautiful, serene and spotless. She was like 'Its so nice to meet someone that knows how to release!!!'. If you have never had a colonic, go for it. Put your prejeudices and cynicism on hold and give it a go. I guarantee that a day later- especially if you follow it up with fresh juice, you'll feel calmer, happier, more loving and content...

I've also met a local lady called Aparna who runs a shop in Gokulam and we've been having some interesting chats. She's lived in the UK and we agreed that Sheffield is a far better place to live than Brighton, in terms of how clean and relaxed it is. She wants to meet up in Rishikesh in March so that would be good, its nice to have a travel companion sometimes. I've also organized my travel next month. On the 2nd of January I'll be leaving Mysore, getting a plane from Bangalore to Mumbai and staying in Mumbai for 2 nights, checking out the art galleries and so on. The I'll be meeting Thea, a Swedish lady who was at the ashram with me last year and we will head to Nasik together to spend a month doing the Advance course at Yoga Vidya Gurukal, near Trimbak, a very sacred place. It was funny actually, I was in a cafe having a coffee last week and one of the guys from the ashram walked in!!! Michael from Italy- he's lovely and I was very happy to see him. Doubly odd because I'd been thinking about some of the things he had said just the day before, and the see him in the flesh nearly 2 years on, completely different part of India. Cosmic. Man. THEN after Nasik, to Delhi, plane to Thailand, new Indian Visa, New Zealand, then back to India in March to hear David Frawley speak on Tantra. I will be resting a lot in February. The ashram is quite hardcore- the days are long and regimented, but you learn a lot. I'm still reading a lot- I've nearly finished the story of the Buddha by Karen Armstrong, still reading "Yoga and the Sacred Fire' by Frawley (AMAZING) and 'My Friend Leonard' by James Frey which is another beautiful book I couldn't put down.

I had a rooftop party at my flat on Friday evening and loads of people came along, it was another wonderful night. Robbie and Brian came along with a guitar and we had a few beers and some food. Adolfo who's in Claire's old flat next to me, and his girlfriend made these amazing rotis and hoummous. They are nice neighbours to have, studying with Sheshadri. Adolfo's pretty advanced in his practice and funny, charming. There are some real characters here- Robbie and Brian are very interesting, very intelligent, very well travelled, articulate. If only I could remember which one is Robbie and which one is Brian. I keep getting it wrong but I think they're just toying with me now...! It was Beri and Dorothea's last night, so sad to see them go, but a great night. The next day we had a Thai lunch at the old Shala with Preedara and the others- my God if you think Indian food is spicey you should try home cooked Thai. It can make you cry but its gorgeus... I've also got quite into wearing salwar kameezes, North Indian style, with the long flouncy skirts- they're like dolls outfits, so pretty. I have 4- a pink and blue one, a deep blue one, a sexy vampy black one and a dark scarlet gypsy-looking one. I brought old clothes with me as you always end up buying stuff (a whole outfits usually about 7-15 quid) and so my rucksack will carry those instead...

How I love being here.

Posted by victoria8 03:36 Archived in India Tagged women Comments (0)

The Art Of Adjustment...

Ashtanga Vinyasa Ajay Kumar stylee........

all seasons in one day

I hardly know where to start here as its actually been a hugely busy week..... The course is really quite intense- 28 adjustments that I am supposed to have down pat by now and I am struggling despite repeated practice. Its like that expression 'Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did but in high heels and backwards.....'. Its kind of the same with Ashtanga adjustments. Every part of you, hands, elbows, knees, ankles, feet, hips etc has to be spot on perfect in order to get someone to fully experience the asana to their maximum potential... It really is an art and quite difficult. A lot like learning to drive, you have to be doing 10 things at once with the main priority being not to kill anyone.... Ajay can be quite hilarious sometimes. When asked how we would know if the strap was incorrectly placed between a man's thighs in a Down Dog adjustment he spluttered 'Are you kidding??? You'd know because he'd be DEAD man!!!'. He has huge amounts of energy and enthusiasm, and sometimes when he's teaching us- bearing in mind he's only 25 (!)- I can see exactly what he'll be like in 50 years as a grey haired sprightly old man barking orders at students! You forget he's 25, it must be his twentieth lifetime teaching Yoga....! And he wears a Kali Yantra on a black cord for psychic protection when teaching Yoga- you should never forget to protect yourself. Even the most well meaning of people can be carrying nasty infections on the astral...
Anyway, its like anything, learning a new skill is always hard to start with and although I'm pretty bright and can grasp new intellectual concepts swiftly, sometimes I struggle with more hands on logical things... So I keep reminding myself that I learned to get my head round mortgages for work last year (and I didn't even particularly want to know about them) so I'll get this too.... Just practice and practice...

Claire left yesterday, with Mette, to go to a Zen retreat. I was quite sad to lose such a good room mate. A really nice girl to talk to, and very very funny, a Leo. We had a party on our rooftop last Sunday evening as Monday was a new moon so no practice. For a Mysore party it was quite debauched. Because without wanting to make sweeping statements Mysore parties can be a little dull. A few lentil snacks, orange juice to drink and everyone leaving by 9pm... Not this one!!! We had a couple of guys from California come along, Robbie and Brian, who are brothers and one played the saxaphone which really made for that atmosphere and the other played the guitar. We had beer, we prepared sandwiches and samosas- Claire even handed them round like the hostess with the mostess... We wore pretty dresses, and when we ran out of beer, Alex, who's from Israel and can be a little, mmm, not exactly grumpy, but prickly, though he's a sweetheart, really got into the spirit of things and organized a beer run... So we sat up all night under a starlit sky. People of all ages, all backgrounds having a great time. It was one of those nights you don't forget... I had a pretty sore head the next day so went for a swim, at which point it started pissing it down with rain and didn't let up... The weathers been odd- quite cool for a few days but now its downright hot, humid and sweaty and lots of insect bites...... and just for the record- some of them really aren't put off by citronella oil....

I continue to read a lot of David Frawley. He's running a retreat near Rishikesh the 9th till the 14th of March- proper authentic Tantric teaching- I am quite determined to go. The only problem is my visa expires. So I have booked 12 days in Bangkok to get a new one in February after I have been to the ashram in Nasik. And then it occurred to me that I have been meaning to visit a dear friend in New Zealand for a long time now and it is not that far from Bangkok- so I'm going there for 2 weeks too! Yay! And all 3 air tickets cost so much less than they would have from the UK.... so the Ashtanga journey will be out of India for a little while... I've never particularly wanted to visit Thailand but I'll make the most of it and probably love it... And I'm a big fan of Thai food so its all good... I had a nightmare booking tickets online and ended up doing it over the phone. I had the most horrific PMT last week. Really bad. I thought it was just my negative samskaras surfacing with the Yoga practice but no, it was good old fashioned hormonal fury. I missed two practices because I was lying in bed in tears with existential angst wondering what IS the point, really... Then my period came, I felt a million times better, cheered up and realized how very lucky I am to have the leisure time to think about existential angst when I could be stuck in domestic hell.... And I was on 'ladies holiday' this weekend, so it was all about chocolates and magazines. If my plans come together I'll spend March in Rishikesh area and then probably return to the UK the beginning of April. Rishikesh is somewhere I want to return to. Sit outside the Madras cafe, bathe in the river- its not polluted around Rishikesh- and go do some Sivananda Yoga...

I'm feeling very happy and settled in Mysore. I have my little rituals- supermarket and fruit shopping in the morning after practice, rest and hot shower, set dosas for 18 rupees for breakfast in Mahesh Prasad- the best breakfast in the world... course all day, internet, bonda sambar for dinner in Mahesh, then I lie around in bed reading and eating cheikku fruit. I also found the house of the guy who makes the most divine banana bread and health foods like hoummous so I'm very well fed... Theres sweet shops everywhere and you often succumb to temptation but you rarely get home with them. Because these little kids come up to you with big eyes, smiling, and the sweets just leave your possession. Which is good. You're happy because you can still get in your jeans, the kid who gets the sweets is happy (this little boy actually screamed with excitement once) and you feel like a nice person too. Its easy to be generous here. Ajay says not to give the kids money- they never get to keep it and grow up begging. But sweets or fruits ok..

and a lot more stuff to write about too, but I'm feeling pretty hungry now and need to get to Mahesh for refuelling... Will continue asap.....

Posted by victoria8 05:19 Archived in India Tagged women Comments (0)

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