Thursday, August 30, 2007

A day of discoveries…I discovered that it’s gonna take some time for my body to get used to waking up at 3:30am! It was hard today – used to waking at 4:45am – that extra hour and fifteen minutes really makes a difference – felt it in practice as well. Good practice as always, but body is sore, tired, heavy…

Discovered the fluctuations occurring in my body are partially due to the dance classes. Today was great but I was running low on energy, and boy do I have a lot to learn. When I’m in dance class I feel somewhat retarded ;) so many things to work on and you must separately think about each part of the body (feet, legs, knees, hips, ribs, stomach, arms, hands, fingers, shoulders, chest, back, butt, head, neck, eyes, lips – seriously too much right now – but Sindhu says it will come with time – I believe her.)

Discovered I do indeed have girly desires – like wearing skirts – never do back home! Want to more often – feel pretty when I do ;)

Discovered a new material for making bags (one of the major highlights of my day) I’ve got a friend in Bangalore who knows a good manufacturer there – selected several meters of new material, and inner lining cloth – and will get some sample bags made by manufacturer in Bangalore. If all goes as planned – I’ve made a major breakthrough today! The materials I’ve selected can be purchased in large quantities (takes away the issue of limited quantity due to few sari’s for few bags – i.e. can make much larger quantities of each bag I design…And if this manufacturer is indeed very good – then I can get more bags in a much shorter period of time. Also taking out the middle man – working directly with a quality manufacturer who can give me better making charge, who can also get notions at better rate, as well as textile material – oh how sweet it will be if this works out!

Discovered how wonderfully helpful and caring Sharath is!!! Yesterday Ganesh took me to his bank to see about opening an account. They said I could open an account with them, but I needed to bring them two passport photos, a copy of my passport, and a letter from AYRI that proves I’m studying there. So, I went to see Sharath yesterday afternoon to ask if he’d be willing to write me the letter. I explained my situation and the need to open an account. First he said, “Just have British Airways deposit the money in my account!” He smiled and started laughing. He told me he’d right the letter – then asked what bank I went to. I told him the Mysore State bank right next to the yoga shala. He got a sour look on his face and said that bank was ok. He told me he could help me if I wanted – he called his bank, but wasn’t able to get a hold of his friend there. Told me to come back Thursday and we could sort this out more. I happily agreed. So I came back this afternoon – he called his friend at his bank. Once he got off the phone he said that they would easily open an account for me with a letter from him. Then he told me he was going to his bank Friday anyway, so I could just ride with him and he’d help me open the account (the major highlight of my day ;)

Discovered a new restaurant in Mysore I quite fancy! Girish picked me up from the shala and took me into town – I was STARVING – we stopped at the Green Hotel, but they didn’t start serving dinner til 7pm…When you have to practice at 5am, 7pm is simply too late for dinner. Besides, I was hungry right then…So he took me to a place called Bopy’s – close to the Green Hotel. The restaurant was clean, inviting, and best of all – they were serving dinner! I think I ate a bit too much – but left with a very happy tummy. I will most certainly be back!

I also discovered, or rather am discovering a new passion for life! Feel it growing more and more with each passing day. There are so many things to do, to see, to experience. Each day I wake up with more joy, excitement, energy, and determination – each evening I feel exhausted, but fulfilled and at peace. Who could ask for more than that?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Wanted to let everyone know I will be staying in India an additional month this year! Now com'on, who is actually surprised...I'm the Queen of changing my travel plans ;) On a serious note though - for my students who may fear I'll stay away eight months or more - I PROMISE it's just an extra month - four little weeks... I will resume teaching in Orlando on November 20th. PROMISE ;)

Steve will be leaving for Thailand late October, so Debra has been kind enough to agree to cover my classes at Citrus club, and Linda will continue covering the Mysore classes at the Shala until I return.

I miss you all very much, and look forward to seeing you in November!

To Ed, Chip, and Mike: I most certainly expect you to give me some shit for this one - So BRING IT ;)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

When I got to the shala this morning I only had to wait about ten minutes and was on my mat in no time. I dedicated my practice to my daddy today! Do it alot but recently been dedicating to other special people in my life - It's really amazing for me in many ways - I mean dedicating my practice to others. I truly feel as though I'm exerting the energy and focus and devotion during my practice in order to connect or help or heal or somehow benefit the person I dedicate it to. Since my father is deceased, I always feel a far different energy when I dedicate my practice to him - it is as though his presence is right there with me. I needed him today. I love you daddy.

When I did arrive at the shala I couldn't help but smile becasue Guruji was up and about walking through the shala (something I've not seen him do since I arrived several weeks ago). He was right next to the door - he went up to a yogi doing backbends and tried to give him his dropbacks. The guy kept shaking his head no and waited (with Guruji just standing there not seeming to understand) for Sharath to come over and give his dropbacks. It kinda made me sad - regardless of how much help Guruji could be doing dropbacks - I'd of let him give them to me - for crying out loud you will likely never get one from Guruji again!!!!! Made me sad inside.

My spot, lucky me, was right next to the main door of the shala today. Not that I mind at all but you have lots of other people waiting to enter sitting right outside the door - literally inches from you just staring away as you practice. And Guruji, for the first 15 or so minutes of my practice, was standing right next to me inside the door. When he decided to walk back to the office I was in Downdog - and as he passed me he stepped on my left hand (I had to smile inside as he did - how often does that happen :)

Right as started second series, Sharath came up to me and said, "Tomorrow you come 5am!" I said, "Ok," and resumed my practice. But man did I feel rather indifferent about it. Now, I am grateful for the time slot b/c there are still a good deal of people here and I could have remained where I am - to begin when the shala opens is a magical thing - so I am grateful. However, the thought of getting up at 3:30am again is not so exciting....You see, when you start at 5am that means you need to be there by 4:45am shala time (which is really 4:35am real time) - and I have a fifteen minute walk from Tina's (which means I have to leave Tina's house at 4:20am real time). And I need some time to really wake up, shower, get ready and what not in the mornings. So it shall be...

Jake, Maggie and I went to the Mysore Zoo this afternoon. It was interesting - enjoyed walking around looking at the animals (and of course I got lots of pictures I'll upload for you all tomorrow)....However, I must say that I felt more like an exhibit than the animals. There were VERY FEW WOMEN at the Zoo in general - and Maggie and I were the only foreign women at all. We were stared at by everyone around (which is quite normal you must understand - but this was different) - for the duration of the three hours we spent there we were followed by hoards of Indian boys. If we went one way several groups followed - we'd turn and go another- they would follow...It was really uncomfortable to say the least....But that sometimes happens, especially here. Today I 'experienced' what it feels like to have your clothes ripped off with someone elses eyes, over and over and over and over again - that sure is what it felt like...I told Jake and Maggie that it would be a different story altogether if we had a blonde female companion with us (Maggie and I both have dark brown hair) - and the Indian boys can't get enough of Blondes....
Oh boy, I’m tired….Although its moon day I still got up at 5am…I couldn’t sleep anyway, but Girish and I had planned to walk up Chamundi Hill – he came and picked me up at 6am. I must admit, today’s climb was EXTREMELY difficult for me – I was so out of breath, and I could feel my quads with every step. Once we finally made it to the top – I thought I was in heaven ;) We had a lovely coconut and walked around a few minutes before making our way back down the hill.

When I came back to Tina’s I was STARVING! I had some scrambled eggs and a delicious fruit bowl – yum! I then proceeded to have great conversation with several fellow yogi’s – while going through and organizing my pictures from last night’s Odissi dance performance (you betcha – I can multi-task like the best of them.) Ran to Anu’s for a hot second to upload pictures and whatnot – then headed to my Dentist appointment – got me teeth cleaned today J While it’s most definitely not what you would expect in the States, really not bad at all – got my teeth cleaned twice while I was here last year – and must say you gotta find the right Dentist (first one I went to was horrible – but later asked Sharath and he sent me to his Dentist – whom I like very much).

With a clean set of teeth, I made my way to Rashinkar’s for a bit – ordered a sample skirt with a nice cotton flower material – then headed to Archie’s for some lunch. By the time I got back to Tina’s it was already 3pm, and my first Odissi dance lesson started at 4:30pm – so I took advantage of the time to spare and read some more of my most recent book – Damage Control. At 4pm I started heading to Sindhu’s house – about a thirty minute walk from Tina’s – but the walk was quite nice – it was a lovely day outside and I jammed my way there with some good ole tunes by Train!

So, “How was my first lesson?” – It was awesome! Much more detailed and demanding than I’d imagined – but I did know it would be difficult. I’ve never actually learned any type of dance before so I’m really intrigued to do so. Sindhu explained if I work with her five days per week for two months I’ll actually be able to do a dance by the end – five days per week for one month will only give me all the basic tools I need – but I won’t be able to perform a dance (same if I only do three days per week for two months – so I’m gonna give five days per week for two months a go and see what I can learn in that time). That will be pretty demanding on my body – 1 ½ hours yoga per day and 1 ½ hours dancing per day – in addition to the 1 ½ plus hours I spend walking everywhere – must drink lots of water ;)

Today was really interesting though – There is a beautiful opening and closing prayer of sorts (a physical one though using different movements with the body) which has four parts. The first part is a prayer to the gods, then to the earth, then to your teacher, and finally to your audience. You begin and end each session with this prayer – quite beautiful! I also learned the basic masculine and feminine ‘stances’ – and there are ten ‘postures’ to each stance – so basically I’ll be learning 20 different basic postures (but each of these 20 become more and more elaborate as I advance) that I’ll use to move and create a dance. Hope that makes sense. OMG though the stances, the postures are sooooo taxing on the quads – they were burning through the duration of the 1 ½ hour session – and she did tell me the first few days my body would be pretty sore – I most certainly believe it! I also learned ten of the hand gestures, five neck movements, five head movements and a couple other little things. I have to learn the Sanskrit names for each movement, stance, posture, etc….It’s quite a lot – I’m ready for the challenge though – will be so very rewarding.

After class I stayed and had a Chai with Sindhu, her husband Kiran, and their two little children. They are a lovely family and I know I’m really going to enjoy working with Sindhu and getting to know her personally.

On my way home I stopped into Loyal World as I was close by and Jake was grabbing some stuff – we then headed to Green Leaf for a bite to eat. Girish called me over dinner to let me know all materials had arrived from Bangalore, Barti had hired two new tailors, and the work on the bags had begun. He picked me up from Green Leaf to check out the first two bags! To my delight – they were gorgeous! I had purchased the Sari’s last week and was quite happy with my selections (and eagerly waiting for the lining material and zippers and straps to arrive so I could see one complete sample) – must say the stitching work was far better than I could have imagined! Yeah!!!

It’s been quite a long day – and I am just about ready for bed. Another long day awaits me tomorrow – for which I am grateful – I love to stay busy and be productive and also do things I really enjoy (I feel like the luckiest person in the world because I’m able to do all those things here – every second of my days are filled to the brim with things I love to do – couldn’t ask for anything more.)

Tomorrow I’m going to the bank with Ganesh to open an account here in India (as British Airways – for whatever reason, will only issue me a check from India – and only to the passenger (mwah) – and it can only be deposited/cashed through an Indian bank – and here in India you MUST have a bank account to deposit/cash and Indian check….BA has told me it will take about three weeks to process my claim for my stolen items and the ones I had to purchase while waiting ten days for my luggage – how much of the claim they will reimburse to me is up in the air – but I want to have an account ready and waiting when the finally do…Besides, I’m quite certain there will be some issue with obtaining a bank account anyway – its India.) After doing a little Indian banking, Maggie, Joyce, Jake and I will be making way for the Mysore Zoo! Excited? You bet!

Sweet dreams, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite (and if you read my installment on the highlights from Bryson’s book – well that may just have a whole new meaning to you ;)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Today was possibly the most productive, and definitely the most enjoyable day I’ve spent in India thus far! My practice wasn’t my best, primarily because of the horrible nights sleep I’d endured the night before (but I was most grateful for my practice nonetheless – and very happy to be able to work on Tittibasana and grabbing my ankles.) After practice I came home and enjoyed a wonderful social breakfast with other yogi’s at Tina’s – enjoyed the company of some friends, met a few new people, and said goodbye to others. We soon started discussing the Classical Indian Odissi dance performance that was taking place tonight at the India Song House. I had already planned on attending as I wanted to see what that particular type of dance looked like (and was interested in taking lessons with the dancer, Sindhu Kiran.)

I’ve wanted to start taking some classical Indian dance lessons for over a year (just never got around to it last year – and honestly don’t think I would’ve appreciated it as much then anyway) – and After breakfast I took the opportunity to go observe Sindhu giving a private Odissi dance lesson to a fellow Yogini. It was quite lovely to watch – and I was amazed that they are private lessons! She gives 1 ½ hour lessons for 300 rupees per session, or about $8.00 – not shabby! I told Sindhu I’d really like to take some lessons with her – so we agreed to meet tomorrow from 4:30-6:00pm. This week I’ll be meeting with her in the evenings, but she will have morning spots opening up next week. Some people work with her six days per week – I’m gonna start with three – likely Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 11:00-12:30 from next week on.

Once I left her home I ran some errands with Girish – the more exciting of them was the trip to the city to buy a one piece bathing suit (I did leave a two piece here last year but it’s seen better days). I would have preferred a two piece, as the primary purpose for going to the pool is for getting some much needed sun – and do a little swimming – but the two piece suits they had at the store were atrocious! The one pieces they had at the store really weren’t much better – most of them with frills and bows and all kinds of interesting stuff (not)…I opted for the most appealing of the options given…

Once I returned to Tina’s I got in about twenty minutes of reading before I met with a group of people who go to a local school twice per week to teach conversational English to grade school students. They meet on Mondays and Thursday at 1:30pm and we discuss lesson plans for the day – then we make way to the school (only five minute rickshaw ride from Tina’s) and spend a little over an hour with the kids. Today was my first day volunteering – and while I honestly didn’t know what to expect – I had such a wonderful time. Jake, a lady named Dot, and I were given a group of six girls and six boys. We spent today working on colors, pronouns, and clothing. Jake spent the duration of the hour working with the boys, and Dot and I worked with the six girls – Dot spent most of the first thirty minutes writing words and drawing pictures on the board – I was the luckier of the two of us b/c I actually got to really interact with the girls – speak to them and ask them questions. Three of the girls obviously understood more than the other three – although they all did really well. I made sure (I actually couldn’t help my enthusiasm) to tell them they did well when they were able to put sentences together and ask me questions. They already knew a little English (truth is that they can read some simple English – they are learning that in school – but they really aren’t taught how to speak it – so this is such an exciting experience for them and for us foreigners!) One of the bigger challenges of the first part of the lesson was to explain what to say to someone if they didn’t understand. For example, wanted them to be able to tell us when they didn’t understand what one of us said to them…It took a few minutes – but soon three of the girls seemed to get it (I was rockin with excitement, joy, and appreciation)…One of the girls smiled – I said, “Ok, so if you didn’t get what I just told you what would you say to me?” She said, “I do not understand, please can you repeat?” “YES!” I said so loud and excitedly. Dot and I then opted to split the girls up as well – Dot stayed up front with the three girls that seemed to have more difficulty – and I took the other three in the back of the room. I spent the last thirty minutes of the class conversing with the girls – to the best of both of our abilities. I know a little bit of Kannada so I was filling in here and there with that in addition to English when they asked me questions. They were excited to see I knew even a little – although I explained I only knew a little. We asked each other many questions – and it helped me to see just how limited their conversational English really is. Many things (topics) I wanted to bring up simply weren’t possible b/c they don’t know the English words for many things (for example birds – as we started to talk about animals they liked and they really like birds – know a lot of diverse names for birds in Kannada but not English). Oh I learned sooooo much today – had such a good time, and can’t wait to do it again. I never could’ve imagined that this experience would be so fulfilling and fun at the same time! For the month of September we will only be working with the kids once per week – Monday – I am a little bummed about that.

When I returned from the school, I was able to relax for a bit before heading to the India song house to watch the show. It was absolutely gorgeous to watch Sindhu Kiran dancing – she is so strong yet also so graceful. I took many pictures – but they simply don’t do this dance or her grace justice – I do hope that they can give you some idea!

It is said that Indian Classical Dance is the most gorgeous compliment to yoga - for yoga is the reflective meditation, and Classical Indian Dance is the Expressive meditation. Both are said to bring a profound connection to the object(s) of ones devotion - I am very excited to embrace this new experience!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

I spent the rest of my lazy Sunday with Jake and Joyce (two super nice yogi's). We made our way into the city for some grub - we ate at RRR - a local spot in town - turned out to be a very entertaining lunch - not the restaurant as much as the company. The RRR serves your food on Palm Leaves, quite nice - and I must admit that today was the first day I've ever observed the Indian tradition of eating with your hands (don't have a picture of that - unfortunately).

Around 5pm I met up with Jake and Joyce again so we could take a rickshaw out to a nearby lake (the name of it escapes me:( But it was simply beautiful...I went with Jake last week - but today I had my camera with me :) So enjoy the beautiful pictures...Jake fell in love with my cannon on Saturday during the 'Safari day' - he asked to hold it again today -He was like a little kid in a candy shop ;) He's in love - think he is actually gonna go to Bangalore to find one for himself!

On our way back from the lake we stopped by Temptations, a restaurant close to Gokulam - and ordered some takeout - I got some chow mein noodles that didn't end up sitting so splendidly in my tummy - oh well....However, I think it was the noodles that messed up my nights sleep. I went to bed a little after 9pm but was awakened around 11:30pm by a rather violet, extremely vivid nightmare...It took me well over an hour to fall back asleep - and even then it wasn't sound - was up and down most of the night - finally opted to get up for the day around 4am, as I wasn't enjoying the topsy turvy sleep I'd been trying to have..