Monday, March 29, 2004

Swim class 

One of the first things I did on my first day here was to purchase a monthly pass for the Southern Star Quality Inn pool. For just under what many pay for a month’s rent, I got a photo ID granting me limitless pool access and a membership number that allows me to deduct 15% off all food and beverages purchased onsite. Which would be great if I were so inclined, but being that prices are 4 to 10 times what they can be on the outside, I tend to not. Although the veggie burgers and grilled tomato and cucumber sandwiches sell more than you’d think. And you can get the most expensive lime soda (fresh-squeezed lime juice in a glass to which you add sweet concentrate and soda water) in Mysore, 40 roops, I believe. The hotel itself is very pink, modern and midrange but the egg-shaped pool is clean, the lounge chairs plenty and the shade cool.

It is such a scene, here. Even over the “quiet” weekend the place had many yogastudents miling about and soaking up the sun and sleeping and reading and chatting and swimming- but mostly sleeping. I amused myself, the other day, with thoughts of what kind of impression the waiters and workers have of us western students- yah, those yogastudents are a fit bunch, and they sleep a lot. We show up and zombielike retreat to recover from the day’s practice and heat’s assault. Although we can also be plenty active- recently someone brought an oversized innertube and much fun derived from diving into it and handstanding onto it and fighting over it.

We had few Indians, until this week, when Swim Class takes place and for an hour three times day a couple dozen kids take over the shallow end. 10-11 in the a.m. (I am usually still breakfasting), 12-1 (usually doing minor errands or laundry or cleanup at home before the heat strikes for real) and 3-4 (which usually finds me sprawled on the grass behind some potted plants). Something vaguely troubling: in all these days and all these kids, I have never once seen any of them, in their bright caps and brighter swimsuits, head to the boys’ and girls’ room off to the side. Cess-pool? Their hour-long efforts are very much for the benefit of the proud parents, who watch from a procession of plastic chairs duly set up on one side of the pool. Who tend to watch us westerners more than their children. Most are just plain curious, many filled with the kind of sentiment I come here to get away from, for a bit.

Mixed feelings about coming here, in the first place. Part of me absolutely recoils at the image of me sipping sodas under a coconut tree, which is not what I came here for, what I am here for. Some of me loves that I get to come here, cool off, chill out. Sanskrit and chanting afternoon classes start soon enough. In the meantime, pledged to myself that I would not take on too much too quickly as I am prone to, first few weeks here, and allow for adjustment period. Am achieving that just marvelously- many assume I have been here for way longer than I have, and it sure feels that way. Am even starting to look like I am no longer fresh off-the-plane, with hair getting lighter and skin darker, stride more confident and communications clear. Have met some great people, many poolside, that I may not have otherwise, or not for a long time in any case. A couple of students who have actually moved here. The ladynurse from the Tibetan settlement a couple of hours outside of town. Couple of students who are here as long or longer than myself. The greek lady who is wonderful and a long-time student (this is something like her ninth trip to see Guruji). I will try to visit her and see the new littlestudio she built adjacent to her home on Mykonos, later this summer. Also a couple of students of Sharath’s (Guruji’s grandson who assists at the main shala and has classes out of his home, the man who stands to inherit and continue to transmit the lineage) who I was pleased to see very devoted to him and have good things to say about him both as a man and a teacher.

Practice has inevitably plateaued somewhat, after the first few phenomenal days here. Now, I look forward to building it back up, slowly, day by day.

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