Thursday, April 29, 2004

Quiet times 

Everyone is leaving this week or next, it seems. And no-one is arriving. We have had two new students in the last week, where there were about half a dozen a day when I first got here, and a coupla dozen a few months back. People I got friendly with when I first got here, who were here for "ages yet" are among them. Has it been ages, these six-odd weeks I've been here for? It's flown by. If I only were to take three months at the shala, would be at about the halfway mark. Tomorrow's led class (where the postures are called out sequentially by Guruji, instead of us each doing our own practice at the pace of our own inhales and exhales) has been pared down to only one group, for the first time since December. Which means we have 50 or less students inhouse- or will mean a very crowded practice tomorrow! Sharath made the anouncement at 5:40 just before the opening mantra, so for those coming later (second wave who start at 6 and thereafter as the first group slowly wraps up and takes finishing ["cooling"] postures in the changing rooms) this all may come as a surprise. We'll see how good we've been at spreading the word.

Scooty has granted me three flats in as many weeks- I reckon it's about time we change the back tire, rather than constantly patching it up (with paper? cellophane?). Today's flat (or "puncture", as they call it here) occured just a few minutes from home, and I promptly left him at the autorickshaw stand as I've been instructed to do in case of flat (cut to me driving around with wobbly steering and completely flat tire to get to class and then to the repair shop, last time). Of course the driver tried to take me in a different direction than anything that would be going towards the shala. No tip for you, mister! Last puncture was on the road to Ooty, outside of town, where I was temple-hopping a good hour away from Gokulam. Long wait for the patch-up brigade ensued, but awesome people-watching at the cluster of stores across from the Ganpati Ashram was there to be had.

Buddy has been adopted. A yogastudent house that has seen a couple of parties since I've been here and is leased for a year has taken him in- he comes with the furniture, now. He still hangs out outside the shala and roams free, but he gets food and safety and shelter when he seeks it out. Eyes clear, fur less matted, air playful, Buddy is having a second puppyhood and tries to wrestle every time we meet. He is also trying to court a beautiful lady by the name of Bonita who is about twice his size and tan-brown and looks like one of those Egyptian sculptures and would likely never have anything to do with the likes of him- but he tries anyway.

Guruji has been adjusting me in badhakonasana (where you are seated holding feet together and hinging at the hips, go forward to touch head beyond feet) recently. Unassisted, knees are to floor and feet open to ceiling, but touching floor is possible only after many breaths and some effort. With a "relaaax" and a well-intoned grunt he gets my head down and chin out. Every time. "Very goood", the man elaborated today.

Yesterday, saw a toenail-painting session on my stoop. First Chettanah's fingers in pearly peach, then toes in ravishing rose, then her baby sister sat still long enough to get her own peachy stubby fingers and asked her mom also get the same treatment. Better get some acetone/remover soon since I did not exactly do a salon-quality job on them. As I was collecting my stuff to go upstairs, Chetanah's mom says "yes, rose". Unhh, yes, I agree, we did do them rose. What she meant was the grandmother was coming out with two red roseblossoms for me in thanks. One has made its way to the centerpiece of my clay flower-floating bowl at my entrance, the other gracing my coffee table in a glass bowl. Slowly opening up to these warm people.

The other night, big event. A diwan-couch was delivered to my place, since the family next door replaced this melamine one with a wood-lacquered bigger piece. They were kind enough to also include several throwpillows and a coverlet that matches my floors and complements my walls. If I am not careful, the place will start to look like a real household soon. Still adjusting to the idea of having to walk to a different room to get something or do something in a room that is a separate entity from where I am, coming from a NY "studio" apartment that is about the size of an icebox. Still loving watching life unfold in the field across the way, framed by my window in the washroom as I bathe. Cricket playing and herds grazing and people walking and driving and talking and squatting in the ever-changing light. Still having trouble believing that I am actually here, actually doing this, sometimes.

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