Parker has the earliest start time and I have the latest one they are giving out this time of year, 4:30 am and 7:00 am respectively. This is Shala time and you have to figure that out (basically 20 minutes earlier). He is at Saraswati’s Shala and I am at the main Shala which is a 6 minute walk. We are the first to arrive where he is is supposed to go and we sit outside the gate. I thought it was going to rain on us and just then two men walked on by, thru the gate and up the stairs. Parker took the opportunity to follow. These guys knew the ropes and from what he told me they started their practice. He waited for Saraswati and I told him to wait for her. He would not have started even without that advise. Best not to pretend that you know when you don’t and that seems to be the first thing one has to learn anywhere. She would teach him and we had time. His practice was nice with lots of sun salutations and the first part of standing poses. Sit in lotus and rest. It was an hour, it was good. He will learn and I will let go. Chanting class is at 10 am. This is out of the comfort zone but feels right here at this time and place and he is enthusiastic about the process.
After I leave Parker, it’s 4:30 am and nothing is open for me to go and wait for my start time. Parker has our key to the apartment. So I figure I would go to the Shala and wait there. I am in the waiting room and I look up and Sharath is there in front of me telling me I can’t wait here. I mention that I know my start time is later but that my son is taking practice now with Saraswati and I thought I could wait. He listens. Anyway, no problem, I go outside and figure I would wait outside on this nice bench just inside the gate. It’s safe there and I figure I’m not bothering anyone. Just then I hear Sharath talking to me from inside the window to his office and he tells me to come inside and take practice. I was taken back and not sure it was him as it seemed that this was not something he normally does, talk to people outside from his window. So I come back in. The Shala is full and I really don’t see a spot. Now what? I am back near the door to the Shala and see a spot just in the corner near his office. It was like it just appeared there, like an oasis. It is just next to the men’s changing room and no one in front which is sort of nice. But his office is right there so I am working hard to mind my drishti and all. Nice practices all around me and the breathing is steady and strong but not forced at all. Energy is building all around me as I start and I feel a slight shake but it quickly leaves as I start my sun salutations. I have been doing these a long time, no problem but I want to find my Bandhas and be sure to push through my heels and all that. What I found in this mornings practice is that my practice just flowed. It was easy and just as I got to Utthita Hasta, Sharath jumped up out of his seat on the stage to assist me. I thought that was pretty cool. Chuck knows how much I like that adjustment. I think I may associate it with love.
I kept moving and breathing and kept my head down in the forward bends to touch. This is calming to me and I was working to maintain my calm and not to let the mind wander too much. I had a lot of mind stuff going on from my restless sleep and going over words and conversations in my head and then waking from a cool dream. Every asana felt right today, sat up took my legs in Supta Kurmasana, slide my arms effortlessly thru in Garbha Pindasana and then in back bends made an attempt to stand and just waited. He assisted me again and when he said walk in, I walked my hands in. Again, I did it some more. I was really glad I had been working on this with Chuck. Come up, sit down, push down and go.
Upon leaving to go to the finishing room he says, “you come same time tomorrow.” Then asks “how old is your son?” He smiles with my answer and I felt blessed, so very blessed to have made a connection . . . again.
Parker waiting for his first class
Such a weird release to take all my rupees and get registered for class. Remember, it’s Parker and I so we had a lot and then we had none. After going by the Shala, taking a picture in front and getting scolded and then coming back today, getting told to wait (we were too early) and now having my card and Parker has his we feel real. He can count the times on both hands that he has been on the mat and is so looking forward to practice, chanting classes and so forth. Going with the flow of the place so to speak. He says I cause ripples. I’m trying not to, especially when Prasad gave him the key to the scooter and started it up for him and said “you want to go for a ride?” I couldn’t look . . . no helmut and p.s. the traffic is on the opposite of the road remember?
The main Shala is cool with pictures of Guruji and Ama and it feels nice to be there and wait. Ronnie is short with you (very efficient) and is not so much into small talk but she’s pleasant and hands out the forms. Sharath’s son walking around saying “you know my name” and exchanging smiles. I told him that he did not know my name so how could I know his. Then we exchanged names and I loved the way he accentuated the “B” at the end of my name. I should probably call myself Dev, like the popular Indian pop star Devin then it would be so easy.
I have a regular time which is probably late for this season, 7 am. Parker on the other hand starts at 4:30 am and will have led on Fri and Sat at some unknown time right now. Saraswati’s Shala is 6 minute walk from the main Shala. We may just have to go for that scooter after all but for now we will be sure to get good rest tonight and be up at 3:30 I guess. Of course I will go and sit somewhere and wait for my time to start. Then we have chanting class on Monday so that will be fun.
Just trying to blend in but I like to talk, take pictures, ask questions and laugh! Oh yeah, the Indian people love to practice saying “Hi” and “How are you?” so we (I do anyway) exchange pleasantries a lot. They love getting their picture taken too!
Where’s the party?
Wow! So you may have seen pictures but when you see The Mysore Palace all lit up it is pretty magical. We took the rickshaw and the driver waited for us which is always comforting. So crazy how they can find you and how you can find them in a sea of people. Bumped into my buddy Prasad inside while on the way out as there was a mix up – too long of a story – and amazing how he could find us as well. Fun place, still taking it all in. I was thinking of first impressions and the first time to do anything and how wild that is. Just when you get used to it and used to the way things are, you secretly sort of wish for the newness again or just yearn to see it through a child’s eyes. So how this relates to relationships, to travel, to life, to the practice . . . enjoy the ebb and flow of them and not to be too concerned when things settle or there are some ripples and when it’s not so difficult as it was, or it’s too difficult, because just when you think you have it all figured out it’s gonna just change on you.
Think of how boring it would be otherwise, right! I seriously like when it’s good though and when my faith is strong. So much I have learned through the practice and facing the difficulties there help me here.
Lit up just for 1/2 hour Sunday night
Celebration tonight with pooja and singing.
Acclimating to a new environment always takes time but sometimes you just have to jump in so you don’t miss anything. The journey to India sort of turns you around when you think about not just the time to get here but the time difference from home. Arriving at 4:30 in the am is just right for India it seems and you have to think hard about exactly what day it really is. Seeing a driver with “Deb and Parker” written on a white piece of paper was very welcoming as I was not sure just how this was going to work. Somehow you just feel right at home seeing your name in a foreign land. It’s like someone is expecting you. The drive was long and it was a good thing that we left when we did as the towns were waking up along the way just so that we can slide right on by and catch the glimpses of life in India.
It’s good for me and I feel blessed to have ventured to this land in 2009. Here is the thing . . . it is somewhat of a culture shock. I feel very accepting of the way things are and there is not much fear of what is not familiar. Tonight I encountered the Pooja happening. Parker and I were cautiously adventurous tonight and went further along the road than we did during the day. Food was not at the forefront of our minds this day as we were more focused on sleep and getting the lay of the land for the daily walks to the Shala and to get the necessities for registration during the day. The timing was a little late and we just asked if they were serving and sure enough two masala dosas appeared before us. Freshly made and easy to like I knew we would be okay. Just as I am thinking we are the only ones doing this, a group of four Indian people sat next to us and got the same thing. I was comfortable and smiled at the older woman and took in her beautiful color sari and bindi. There is a level of comfort when you know you are not the only one in something so simple as this and how many other things can this relate to when you think of it.
Parker had no desire to take in the Pooja tonight. He had his fill and I can totally understand. I mean cows in the road, dogs roaming everywhere, garbage, noise, 4 people on a scooter, the heaviness of the air, not seeing many other people like us (yet) and a being dropped into another culture so really foreign to many. It was funny as we were getting our photos we needed for registration at the shala, there was a modern Indian woman observing my bangles and my anklet and saying how we westerners want to be more like traditional Indian woman and how the Indian women, the modern ones want to embrace the Western ways. Tradition is important to India and the people and it is rich in many many ways. We spoke of what married women are supposed to wear verses what single women are supposed to wear. I guess she was not being so traditional for lack of bangles, necklaces and the toe rings. She looked very young, had a good sense of humor and had a 3 year old and was helping to run this business.
The Pooja was cool. I ventured there and Parker ventured home. He worried about me and I worried about him but we departed and let each other be. Take you shoes off, cue the line and pay 20 rupees and just observe and slip quietly in. The man who sold us the dosas said it was an auspicious night and I had to think about this. That was good right! It is good. People lining up for the blessings, to take in the singing and prasad. The Indian women smiled at me and said it must be hard for me to stand and wait in line. The Indian men just shoved. It was really cool to see the deity’s adorned with flowers and the garland strung flower decorating the inside of the temple. Then there was the chanting and singing of songs as well as the Brahman Priest at the various alcoves. I got to the room where they were singing on the tail end but recognized Govinda and wanted to sign along too. Everyone is so uplifted and it is beautiful to see these families taking this in together. You could tell this was all from the heart and that the people came alive when they were there and treasured the blessings this night.
I was glad my shoes were just where I left them