One month since leaving Helsinki, one month to go. And I just finished the last of the salt liquorice I brought with me. How will I survive? I so know what I’ll be buying on the Finnair flight back…
Yesterday dawned grey and chilly. With all the rain we’ve been having this past month more rain seemed like a very likely possibility. But not ones to fear a little rain Anni and I jumped on my scooter and headed for the lake. It turned out to be perfect weather for running and we made it around the lake in a pretty good pace and finished off our morning outing by walking one more kilometer to cool off a bit. After a quick shower I joined Maija at Anokhi’s for a second breakfast. While enjoying my coffee, juice and chocolate crepes the clouds started to clear and the sun came out. Pool-time! we thought and after a quick stop at home to get our bikinis we headed to the pool at Regalis. Ah, how lovely and perfect a lazy day in the sun was. As the hours passed by more and more yoga students gathered at the pool until finally all the sun beds were taken. I guess everybody had longed for a sunny day. By the end of the day I was a little red but nothing too bad. I do hope for another sunny day soon.
Led intermediate again today. Still somewhat nervous about the whole thing I guess as I woke up at 4 am. But at least wakin up early keeps me in the rhythm. The morning did become quite long though and by the time it was time to head to the shala I was ready to go back to sleep. The practice was fine though. Sharath allowed me to do Dwi Pada but then told me and a bunch of other students to stop. But the practice felt pretty easy even if the holds are long. It’s actually feels like it barely starts before it’s time to stop as it is so short. But I was tired all day as I only slept for maybe ten minutes before it was time for chanting and after that Maija and I made another trip to Rashinkar’s to pick up my pants. No verdict about them yet. We also took a walk through Devaraja market. It’s an obligatory thing when coming here, to go there and soak in the atmosphere. It’s a bit funny though, how it feels so traditional in a way but then all the vendors have their smart phones that they talk or text or surf the web on. Coming back to Gokulam I once again got so frustrated with a rickshaw driver who was such a complete fraud. This happens at least once every trip and the list of which drivers not to use keeps getting longer. No more rickshaws for me unless absolutely necessary during this trip.
A tired afternoon during which I could not stay awake. Hope my nap won’t disturb my sleep too much.
The past week has been quiet in the sense that it feels like not much has happened. The moon day probably contributed to this feeling as it was a day with very low-energy. But in the sense of sound it has been a loud week. This week has led up to Diwali with each night being more loud than the previous. So far last night was the worst so maybe that was the main Diwali day. Many shops and restaurants were also closed yesterday. Hopefully tonight will be more quiet. Last years neighbourhood was, however, much louder when it comes to Diwali, with a lot more boys blowing up their seemingly never-ending store of firecrackers. So in that sense we’re lucky, but we have a few firecracker-crazy youngsters across the street here too and boy are some of those firecrackers loud. Ear plugs were needed last night already before going to sleep, just to protect my hearing. Some families mainly light small oil lamps, I prefer that. But the loud noise of the firecrackers is supposedly meant to scare away any evil spirits. If there were any around I think they will have fled by now.
Even if the week has felt very slow and quiet we did do a trip into the center to a jewellery store on Wednesday. Heidi and Subbu took us in their car to a relative of Subbu’s who has a small store on Ashoka road where he sells gold and silver jewellery. I mainly went along to watch and enjoy this huge happening of us getting out of Gokulam ;) but I did make a small purchase as I found the perfect souvenir for a friend. No gold though. Anni found a pair of beautiful earrings and Heidi found a lovely nose button thingy.
Thursday was new moon so no practice. But Anni and I did take a walk around the lake and Sportstracker told me that it’s 3.8 km around. So now we know that.
During Friday’s practice Sharath finally told me to split primary next week. I am to do the first part of primary up to Navasana every second day and from Bhujapidasana to the end of primary on the other days. And intermediate up to Eka Pada after that. Doing only the latter part of primary is something I have never done before and will be a bit odd. I wonder if Supta Kurma is even possible to do so soon in the practice. I’ll find out next week.
Today a led primary ended the practice week and conference was already at 9.30 am shala time. That and a lot of rain and a long power outage made this day pretty long. Usually conference is in the afternoon and is, at that time, a welcomed brake to lying on my bed. Anyway, Sharath talked a lot about the importance of mula bandha and of the practice. He quoted his wife who says that “Practice makes man perfect, but women are already perfect”. This of course yielded a lot of laughter. But Sharath stressed that practice is important, that practice does make perfect and only with practice can we progress in our asana practice. But this is of course not the main focus for the practice. Progress happens also on other levels. Practice should reduce the ego and increase understanding, clarity. Again, more detailed notes can be found elsewhere.
Sharath’s son Sambhav was also present throughout the conference. He’s very cute and wants to do everything that Sharath does, like for example sit the way that Sharath does. Sharath was teasing him, changing the way he was sitting and Sambhav was copying him until Sharath drew his feet up into his chest in that way that looks pretty nasty, maybe you’ve seen a poster of Sharath doing it. At that point Sambhav couldn’t follow anymore. Maybe in ten years he can do it, Sharath laughed. Sambhav also had a surprise for all of us. After conference, as we all gathered around, Sharath and Prakash with a little help from a few hyoga students fired off Sambhav’s surprise, a long “rope” with 5000 small red firecrackers!
There seems to always be something or someone keeping me awake, be it day or night. If it’s not my neighbours making lots of noises then it’s something else. Last night it was barking dogs, this morning some annoying birds woke me up from my nap and later in the week it’ll be Diwali with all the firecrackers. I think Thursday is the main Diwali holiday. At least our landlord is Christian so I suppose they won’t be celebrating Diwali but who knows what the neighbours will be up to.
Thinking about where we lived last year, which was a very lovely but a pretty loud street, made me think about the time I woke up in the middle of the night to this odd sound. I don’t remember if I ever wrote about it last year. For a while I lay awake, wondering what on earth was going on as it sounded like someone was yelling or arguing. Finally I got up and went out on the balcony to see if I could see where the noise was coming from as sleeping was impossible. Right there on the street, just opposite our house, was a small gathering of people. A man lay on a mattress on the ground. He had passed away. The sound was of a woman, maybe his wife, crying loudly in the street. The people around her were neighbours and I suppose family and friends trying to console her. Some time later the crying stopped. The man had been moved away somewhere. Just something I came to think about. I remember thinking then that here everything comes so close upon you, life and death and everything in between. Much more so than what we are used to from back home. It’s in your face and it gets under your skin, like it or not. Sometimes it’s very easy to get offended by some things or to feel uncomfortable with the bluntness. But that’s the way things are here. Kind of refreshing really if you think about it.
Anyway, I kind of got off track there a little as I was really about to write about Anu’s cooking class that I joined today. Anu is this lovely woman who serves a lovely lunch at her house, but also smoothies and and other small stuff in the evenings. In additions she gives the occasional Indian cooking class. Today we learned how to make dosa (rice and ragi), the potato filling for masala dosa, tomato chutney, mint chutney and masala chai. For those of you who don’t know what a dosa is it is basically a thin crepe or pancake that is made from gluten-free flour (rice, ragi, chickpea, lentil) or soaked rice and lentils. Anu showed us how to make two kinds of dosa batters. Once the batter is made, either by mixing flour with water or by soaking rice and lentils in water and then blending them to make a smooth batter, the batter needs to be fermented, usually over-night. Only then is the batter ready to be used. So preparation takes some time.
Brown rice, parboiled rice, ragi flour, fenugreek seeds (bockhornsört), fenugreek flour and lentils for the dosa batters, ginger, garlic, herbs, chilis and spices for chutneys and potato stuffing.
Anu’s masala box with turmeric, chili, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, mustard seeds and something I can’t remember.
So much delicious food: dal, tomato chutney, mint chutney, upma (made from semolina), carrot salad and cucumber salad.
Now, doesn’t that look amazing?
P.S. I can definitely feel yesterdays led class in my body. Yes, every time I do something “new”, even if nothing really was new, just different from what I’ve been doing since being here, I feel it. But it’s fine, it’ll pass and the body will get used to this too. And a few sore muscles just shows that I’ve done something :)
Between Saturday and Sunday I slept for nine whole hours. How lovely it is to get enough sleep. Equally lovely was the brisk walk around the lake in the morning with Anni. A day without practice usually feels really long and yesterday felt especially long as it started raining around lunch time and so we had to have lunch at home. Just to get out for a while we went to Depth ‘n’ Green on Main Street for chai in the afternoon. I do not particularly like this place, it tries too much to be hip and fresh and green and for the yogis and Westerners in general and they even played Deva Premal yesterday. Sorry Deva, nothing personal but it was just too much. Also I can’t get over that this place replaced that local lunch place with crappy service but good food and genuine people that I loved to visit. But it’s close and just opposite to our favorite fruit stall and they do serve a decent chai.
Today was the day for my first led intermediate class here in Mysore. Starting only at 7.30 am could have meant a nice sleep in today also but I was too nervous to really sleep very well and finally decided to get up at 4.30. Compared to led primary there’s a lot of space in the shala but still there were more students in the class than I had expected. But that’s a really good thing as one might stand out less in a big group ;) I scored a good spot in the third row. Although Sharath’s count is pretty slow the practice went well. Some asanas are really hard with the slow count, such as Dhanurasana, Parsva Dhanurasana, Bakasana and Dwi Pada. Yes, he let me go on until Dwi Pada, but I don’t think that means that I can do Dwi Pada tomorrow during self-practice. On the other hand a slow count in Kapotasana is good for me because I need some time to get in to it. A tough but in the end a pretty fun experience. And I did my best to try to ignore those sitting in the entrance watching. After Dwi Pada I took my mat to the changing room and finished there along with a few others. The best part of the practice was that it’s short enough to leave me with much more energy than the crazy full primary plus part of intermediate practice that I’ve been doing for the past two weeks. The bad thing was that there was not enough time for a nap before chanting class :)
After chanting Maija and I took a rickshaw to Rashinkar’s in the centre. Rashinkar’s sell saris and scarves and yoga rugs and bags and fabric and also custom makes about anything you might want. We went there last week also to but some yoga rugs and scarves and Maija had two dresses made that she needed to pick up today. I wanted to have a pair of pants made so I went along to leave the pants and pick out the fabric. I’m not sure that the end result will convince me but with the fabric and the work costing a total of 540 Rs (6,80 euros) I’m willing to give it a shot.
Thali lunch at The Sixth Main with the girls. This is a North Indian thali with puri (round puffed breads ordered instead of the roti that is usually served with this thali), rice vegetable pulao, curd (yoghurt) rice, curry, dhal, tomato soup and a sweet dessert.
These past two days have been cool and rainy, maybe 20-25 degrees. Quite nice weather but I’m hoping for a sunny day soon as I do want to get som pool time in soon.
A tired led primary after too little sleep. The early group has gotten bigger and is pretty crowded now. I ended up practicing in the changing room and there was at least one person upstairs. Sharath seemed to enjoy seeing us ladies in the changing room suffer through his slow count to ten in Utplutih as he did not only check us but remained standing in the doorway until the final count, quietly laughing at us. No cheating under his watchful eye and so you suffer through it even though the muscles in your arms, shoulders and stomach are burning.
A three-hour nap and another mug of coffee later and I’m starting to feel human again. A bored human. Yes, now I’m bored. Can’t wait for some more friends from back home to arrive here next month with some new enthusiasm and news from home.
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In the afternoon it was time for conference again. Sharath talked about a lot of things; about that yoga has no age, about the importance of the breath and how we, by prolonging the breath, can prolong our lives, and about how yoga is not something you do on your mat for 2 hours every day but how it is a 24 hour practice. There was a lot more and of course questions and answers as well but I’m sure someone else will post more detailed notes in a few days if you’re interested, once again a was too lazy to take notes. And also I’m starting to feel like I’ve heard most of it before. Still going to conference is always nice. And what I hadn’t heard before what when Sharath told us that when he is not teaching his wife asks him when he will be teaching again, saying that he becomes so irritated when he is not teaching. Also he said that even though everybody wants to talk to him and tell him everything he doesn’t care to hear everything or to get involved in the “politics” of yoga. And that what’s the point of doing yoga if people feel the need to fight about it.
Post-conference paper masala dosa with Maija accompanied by a little rain. It’s good to get out of the house. It was a much cooler day also, which was nice after all the hot days.
One more led class tomorrow before the well deserved day of rest. It’s the first six-day practice week here and it takes its toll on all of us. Especially as this week has been so hot. I don’t know if I could survive here in March or April when its even hotter. My practice also got longer again. Yesterday Sharath told me to do Eka Pada but he didn’t tell me to split primary yet so I’m doing a pretty long practice at the moment. He also told me to come to led intermediate class on Monday. I was hoping to avoid this for a few more weeks but what Sharath says you do and so I just replied “okay”. At least I get to sleep a bit longer on Monday as led intermediate isn’t until 7.30 am. And the practice will be shorter, although not necessarily any lighter.
I’ve been pretty tired this past week as I haven’t been sleeping too well. It’s too hot in the evenings. Finally I got a good nights sleep last night but now I’m again wide awake and it’s almost 10 pm. Tired but not sleepy. The alarm will go off in less than five hours… Why is it so difficult to fall asleep in the evenings? I sleep like a baby in the morning after practice and even have to put my alarm on so that I won’t sleep too long. I could easily fall asleep every single afternoon if I allowed myself to do that. But when it’s time to sleep I can’t sleep even though I’m tired. It’s so frustrating.
Last night there were the cutest little puppies outside our house. Probably after some stray dog. Our landlord got all excited when he heard about the puppies, he likes dogs and said he’d been wanting another one. So he took in one of the puppies. The male one. Too much trouble with a female was the reasoning. So the female one was left to her own on the street. What were we to do? We couldn’t take the female puppy in because what would happen to it after we leave? But it broke my heart a little to leave the puppy there in the street. It was sweet that our landlord took at least one of the puppies in but somehow it made me think about how girls are considered less valuable than boys in so many parts of the world. Female puppy or girl, not much difference?
I suddenly crave a glass of cold white wine. I might not be able to completely stay off chocolate or ice cream while here and avoiding sugar is almost impossible as it is everywhere. I also have my stash of salmiakki brought from home that gets smaller in a worryingly fast pace. But even if I enjoy having a glass of wine now and again back home being here always turns into an alcohol-free period. Some people back home do a “tipaton tammikuu”, that means no alcohol during the month of January. I guess this is my yearly detox. Not planned, not enforced, it just happens. Some other things are certainly enforced upon us. Like the lack of rye bread. Or good cheese. Oh, I miss rye bread and good cheese. But on the other hand we get to eat as much delicious papaya as we want and drink liters of coconut water to a price of 20 Rs. per coconut. And it tastes so much better than that ridiculously expensive boxed stuff you can buy back home. I won’t say no to a glass of wine once I return home but for now I’ll stick to coconut water. And lime soda (plain, no sugar, no salt). And chai. And coffee. Of course coffee. Yes, that’s my one true addiction.
Okay, now I miss the rains already. It’s been two very hot days and the heat is definitely taking its toll on me. There’s no energy to do anything more than the bare essentials. The shala was ridiculously hot this morning and I somehow managed to do my practice around 10 minutes faster than usual as I so wanted to get out of that sauna. Definitely two coconuts needed after. The apartment is of decent temperature in the morning but heats up during the day, making the afternoon, evening and night quite uncomfortable. The fan doesn’t help much, it just moves the air around.
Not much else is going on. As it turned out there is no level 3 Sanskrit, at least not this month. I don’t know where the others who asked about classes disappeared to. Maybe next month but I fear I might not have the energy for it anymore by then.
I kind of miss… something. Not really my current life back home but maybe life back home with some added content. There’s a restlessness growing within me. I need to do something. I need some purpose with my life.