Sunday, February 28, 2010

la luna llena y muchos colores

If you're enjoying the India bloggin', you should check out Wren's blog too!

Today is Holi, a festival of colors in India. The festivities began for some people yesterday. You could see people out and about, covered in splashes of brightly colored powder on their clothes, and even all over their faces. We haven't ventured out yet today - so far just asana practice and a relaxing breakfast/internet time at another yoga shala close to our apartment. But Wren and I have dressed in clothes we don't mind getting stained all over, in preparation. We'll see what happens...

The moped gave up today. She was going just fine, until last night when she began to lag and lurch as I was driving me and Wren home last night. This morning we had to leave her outside of our shala and walk away. Only about four more days in Mysore, so we may just go without our own scooter for the rest of our time here. We can take the little auto rickshaws around for cheap, and hoof it sometimes. (heh heh)

The past weekend was full of full-moon celebrations. A hilarious going-away dinner for an Australian friend of ours at a fancy restaurant on a patio beneath the stars. A full-moon party on Saturday night. Wren played fer little red uke and sang for a sizeable rooftop audience at one point during the party. People listened quietly and respectfully for quite a while, enjoying her music. And then dissovled back into their drunken banter. Low-key, mellow yoga student banter. We have been to a couple of parties since I've been here. And (no offense to the westerners here) I probably should have brought a book! Ha. The yoga people don't party like my people party. They sit around talking, maybe a little tipsy and probably a little high (or very...) No dancing. They liveliest thing I've seen them do was a pretty mellow jam session with some good vocals, and some folk music performances. The other night I was struggling to fight off sleep. Not my idea of a festive atmosphere, but good spirits nonetheless. And we have some friends here who are a blast to hang out with and talk to.

Our "western" friends here are from all over the place. Hardly any of them American. The people we hang out with the most are British and Australian. We make fun of each other's accents. And teach each other how to say special things in our own special ways. Wren is quite good at imitating their accents, and has even picked up many phrases and lilts from "the Queen's English." And so I find myself doing it too sometimes, unintentionally. It cracks both of us up.

We spent both days of the weekend at two different pools. Full of sunshine and luxury. How lucky we are!

I've been quite creative since I've been here. Still having vivid dreams, still seeing things I've never seen before, making music in my head, and drawing a lot for the first time in years. Sketching all sorts of things. I love drawing people the most (including myself), and one of my favorite pastimes here is sketching Wren while she is engaging in her own creative activities - like playing the uke, knitting, etc. I especially love the challenge of capturing the energy and movement of her quick, nimble, clever little hands. When I'm back in the states I want to start painting portraits again, with renewed inspiration and verve.

I love how full of spirit and magic and divine inspiration and faith everyone and everything is here. The other day I saw a man walking his tiny white dog, and even the dog had the little spot over its third eye. Love it. It really is a magic, tragic place here. I'm so excited to venture around and see more of India! Only a few more days, and then we're off!

And yes, I am still happy and doing well. Very happy, and quite well, to be precise. :)

Monday, February 22, 2010

suenos y faldas

It's getting hotter and hotter here! I think all the sweating alone has been great for my system - from the asanas, the pranayama, doing laundry, eating...really everything I do here makes me sweaty. I feel like my body is doing some serious detoxing. It makes me feel great sometimes and exhausted at other times. And I'm quite happy to be tan again. And every now and then I admire my own biceps, which have grown. (Just like you, Bronco!) Sweet!

I've gotten really into lungies. They are the traditional Indian man-skirts. Wren loves them and wears them all the time. Which seems totally normal to me, but is probably weird and funny to everyone from here, because she's so lovely and femme and wearing man clothes. And I'm used to wearing man clothes all the time, but it's been years and years since I wore anything skirt-like that wasn't in jest (like special dress-up drag moments in Indigo's costume room, etc). Anyway, it's freakin' hot here and the lungies are nice & breezy underneath. And the lungies come in super-sweet colors and patterns. I actually have a little bit of a collection of them now. Ha! I had no idea I would come to India and start wearing "skirts!" And in public! Whoa.

I have really intense dreams every night here. Normally, in my daily life in the U.S., I rarely remember my dreams. But since I've been here I've been having wildly intenso dreams every night, and remembering them at least fairly well. Sometimes very vividly. I've been keeping a journal, and I write about my dreams in it everyday. I find that the process of putting the weird dream images into words helps me gain clarity and understanding. They are all meaningful. I haven't had meaningful dreams every night like this, well, ever. It's kind of cool and strange all at once. Sometimes I wake up feeling not very rested; my mind has little rest here. So much learning, growing, changing, and considering lots of things.

Wren and I are on our way to book the first of our train tickets for the travel portion of the trip. We are going to go see my friend Ethan in Auroville first, and then head to Kerala for a while, then Goa, Hampi, and then back to Bangalore to send Wren home. I will have 3 weeks after she leaves before I fly out. Haven't decided what to do yet. I'm excited about traveling, but getting a little sad to leave Mysore. Just as I'm starting to get used to things here! Isn't that the way it goes?

Monday, February 15, 2010

educacion, amor, y huevos

OMG! So much has been going on to fill you in on. I feel a big one coming on... (no, don't worry - I'm not talking about poop at all in this entry)
(Although now it seems appropriate to note that here in Mysore, and pretty much all of India from what I gather, there is poop EVERYWHERE. Cow patties, dog poop, monkey poop, human poop, etc etc. All over the streets, and on people's hands all the time, I'm sure. There's hardly any TP around and only sometimes soap at sinks. And they use ungloved hands a lot for preparing and serving foods. And for eating. I try not to think too much about it, and have faith in my immune system.)

Yesterday was a wonderful magical Valentine's day with Wren. We started the day by exchanging gifts in our little apartment. She gave me a beautiful yoga mat bag that was filled with fresh roses and jasmine leaves, and wrote me a beautiful letter. Wren loved the presents and cards I gave her and said she felt like a princess! (foreshadowing...) After we had breakfast at an outdoor shala cafe with some friends, we headed just outside of town, with our little posse, to a gorgeous & very fancy hotel. The drive there alone was amazingly beautiful, and the place was like a huge magical castle. Complete with a horse-drawn carriage out front that made for a perfect photo shoot opportunity! Still a bit in awe, we went inside and paid for day use of the swimming pool. We walked through the ornate sunlit hallways and out to the grounds, where a lovely oval shaped pool was waiting for us to jump in . We spent all day there, laying in the sunshine, splashing around, sharing a pile of fresh cut fruit off of banana leaves, telling jokes, writing, chillin out/maxin/relaxin... It was splendid. For most of the day we had the place all to ourselves. From there we went to an Indian cafe, where we stuffed ourselves with dosas before heading to Mysore Palace to see it all lit up again (see how this all follows the princess theme?). A magical day all around. I went to sleep feeling grateful for all the love I have in my life (if you are reading this, that probably includes YOU!)

I am learning so much here, all the time. I start each day with asana class, for challenging physical learning. Then I go home for a while to do chores and rest before I head to philosophy class with the guruji. I am enjoying it so much. There is only one other student in the class - a lovely young man from Kerala who teaches hatha yoga and paints murals in Hindu temples. He is very enthusiastic to be learning from the guruji. The two of us sit on straw mats on the floor in front of our guruji, who sits in a plastic chair and tells us the history and fundamentals of yoga and shares all sorts of wisdom on spirituality and lifestyle and lots of other things. He has an uncanny way of knowing things about us that seem like things a 'stranger' wouldn't just know about us. He doesn't even know my name or where I am from, but in moments throughout the lessons he turns to me and gives me little jewels of advice and wisdom specific to my life, without being asked. It's amazing. He is 83 years old and has fewer wrinkles than most people half his age. He rides a moped around town, and says funny little things all the time. Until now, I have been getting a feel for who he is and what he does. And today I feel sold on him. I want him to be my teacher. I think I could learn so much from him. So I am hoping I'll be able to return to Mysore in the future to learn more from B.N.S. Iyengar.

Aside from my classes at the shala, I have been learning Pranayama (yogic breathing exercises) from Wren at home. Every night or 2 she teaches me a little something new and then I practice it. I'm starting to feel it more intensely. And I think it is helping to improve my breathing during asanas, which is making my practice stronger. Apparently after studying with Iyengar for a little while here, people start to look and act noticably different. I could see it in Wren when I arrived. She is more healthy and radiant than I've ever seen her. Glowing! She has lost weight but gained muscle strength and grace. And she thinks I already look different, after only about 2 weeks. She says I look more composed in my body, and that myface looks brighter. Well, I think there are many things around here that probably brighten my face! ;)

Wren and I have been taking some cooking classes here as well. They are held at a woman named Shaila's house. She is a sweetheart and an excellent cook, and happy to have us there. There are only a few people in the classes at a time. She gives us recipes and we watch her make them. It all goes on for about 3 hours. We get to sample everything as we go along, and at the end we stuff ourselves with everything. And it's deeeeeeeelicious! All for about $10 per session. We've learned to make idlis (little white cakelets made from fermented rice & dal), chutneys, curry, desserts, rice dishes, chai, many types of dosas, etc. We just got out of our dosa class, in which we watched Shaila make dosas and then each cooked our own masala dosa. And then ate it, of course! Mmm.... I am truly stuffed.

I have entered the feeding phase. For the first week or 2 I was here my appetite was nowhere to be found. I never really wanted to eat, and when I did I got full right away. Unintentional fasting. Apparently that happens to a lot of travelers when they get here and start the yoga. And then comes the feeding. Now I am eating tons. And fudging on my veganism. (Which probably comes as no surprise to some of you!) I knew I would probably not be able to avoid a little ghee here and there, so I decided to have an open mind about it. But after 2 weeks of intensive yoga practice, I found myself eyeing and drooling over other people's eggs at breakfast. I've eaten eggs a couple times since I became vegan, if they came from chickens that I knew for a fact have a happy life (like at my brother Chalo's house). But I haven't actually craved any animal products at all since I became vegan 4 or 5 years ago. I think the combination of the yoga practice and my dietary differences here left my body needing something, so after a couple days of wanting I caved in. I ordered a couple eggs over-medium with this amazing millet bread toast they have here. I took a moment to respect the chickens and recognize my gratitude to the universe before hoovering every crumb of it and immediately ordering another plate of it, which I wolfed down as well. I felt amazing afterwards! It was like a kind of high, and I was full of energy and happy. So I felt good about my choice. And the next day I did basically the same thing all over again! I won't be eating them everyday, but I am trying to take good care of myself and listen to the things my body is telling me.

Being here is already putting a lot of things into perspective for me, in a healthy way. And I'm feeling physically stronger. Wren and I have a lovely natural way of working in harmony and balancing things in our lives together, like house work, scooter driving, paying for things, preparing food & tea, etc. Especially with the drastic change of going from never seeing each other and barely speaking for 4 months to living together and spending nearly every waking and sleeping moment together! It's all playing out quite nicely.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Today was a stiff first day back in my early-morning asana class, after a three-day absence. Why, you ask?
Yes, the shits I mentioned in my last entry lasted for days and days. Both me & Wren. One little apartment. No TP. (Getting to know you.....)
I tried to stay strong. I was a trooper. A few days into it, I was dreaming of toilet paper. Literally.
After one particularly rough and sleepless night for Wren, we booked it to the doctor in the morning. In the ER. It took about 5 minutes, and it was free (except for about $4 for medicine for both of us). A few days later, we are almost back to normal. And I still have a shred or 2 of dignity left, somewhere around here....

Yes, it's been a humbling experience.

I had my first philosophy class with the guruji today. I'm very excited to be learning more than just the asanas with him. He is a tiny, funny little man witha twinkle in his eye. Wise and hilarious in his ways. A bit hard to understand at times, but I'm getting better at it. Today we learned about the first 4 of the 6 darshanas. More tomorrow.

Asanas are going well, despite the few days set-back. I think I'll be able to do a headstand without the help of the wall soon, which will feel like a victory for me.

Scootin' around town has been a blast! I've been doing most of the driving for us since I started, and I love it. Even with all of the crazy everywhere. I love the crazy everywhere. (And yes, the crazy is everywhere.) And I have no idea how to get around yet. It still all looks the same to me everywhere, so Wren has to tell me exactly where to go. Ha!

It's a weird vortex of time here. Life moves at an entirely different pace than I'm used to. So slow, it seems, but the days fly by so fast - I can't believe I've been here for almost 2 weeks!

I got the clothes back that I had tailored for me. They mostly worked out well, except an interesting orientation of the fabric on the drawstring pants I had made resulted in some nonsequitor bursts of bright color right in the crotches. Ha! It sometimes surprises me when I look down. Sweet.

The other night Wren and I went to Mysore Palace, where for an hour every Sunday evening they turn on lights that cover every line of the architecture, outside and in. It was stunning. We sat in a grassy patch with a nice view, entertained by each other and many little Indian children running and playing all around us, while a band played music for all.

Getting into the groove of this foreign (in more ways than one) domesticity with Wren has been going quite well so far. Yes, every moment with her is a blessing.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


(I wrote this many days ago, but the power went out before I could post it. Finally back at an internet place, so here it is.)

I'm starting to feel a lot more energetic today.

Finally starting to get over the jet lag, I think. I've easily gotten used to Wren's yogi schedule. We go to sleep around 8 or 9, and wake at 4:30 (believe it or not!). She makes us teensy cups of coffee, and we're off to the shala for practice.

My practice is going quite well, I think. I'm still a bit wobbly at some of the asanas, and sometimes I fall over and laugh, but I'm getting better at others, and stronger little by little. Wren thinks I'm naturally talented at it. (She flatters!) Says she thinks it's my vegan diet and open mind/heart. :)

I got my first bought of the shits yesterday! I was expecting intestinal turmoil at some point on this trip, but I was a bit surprised that it has happened so soon after my arrival. But then again, not surprised. Ha! But I feel fine in spite of it. Yes, it's all part of the experience.

It's hard to keep anything clean here. It's just dirty everywhere. I've already gotten quite used to having dirty feet and smelly armpits all the time. Everybody else does too! We have a very "rustic" bathroom at the apartment. Wren calls it a "medieval princess bath" - it involves two big buckets for hot and cold water, and a little plastic pitcher (just like the toilet ones) to pour it on yourself with. It's actually quite nice. We do our laundry in there as well, by hand with a detergent bar, and hang it outside to dry. I'm enjoying that so far too. (And it makes me feel so much more grateful for all the conveniences I have in my normal daily life. So spoiled we are!)

I've been driving the scooter around for the first time today! I was a bit nervous about it, but once I actually started doing it I was having a lot of fun. I'm still just a bit tentative and wobbly (I've never driven a moped before), but I don't mind the crazy traffic. I'm getting quite used to it. There's something a little relaxing in the chaos of it. And it's exhilarating to zip around, with my darling in tow.

Yesterday we went to the lake here in Mysore. Wren and I layed in the sunshine, meditated, watched the water birds. It was so peaceful and beautiful, and there was hardly anyone around. Such a nice break from the heavily populated, dirty, noisy buzz of life everywhere else here.

Today we spent hours laying in the sunshine by the pool. We shared the headphones and listened to songs from my tiny ipod. Our current fave: Bad Romance by Lady Gaga. I introduced Wren to it, and she loves it like I do. It's so wonderful to have such relaxing downtime here. I feel like I'm really living in the moment for the first time in months. Before this I had been so busy with moving and traveling and making plans and preparing for things. And now, life is easy and great. Oh yeah, and I'm getting tan already from all this sunshine.