Arriving in Mysore concluded one of the longest days of my life. I have trouble sleeping on planes and I was sitting in the middle the whole time, thank god for spinal twists. I got into the airport and paid for a taxi to Mysore which was about $80 for a 4 hours trip. It was 3am and my only option until 9am. Pretty easy decision to make.
So I get my driver, he is very nice and respectful, etc and we drive for a while until stopping for tea. Now this was an obviously milk based tea, in India they call it tapas, and I was very happy to not get sick. This is when I started to realize that nobody here really speaks english, but some can communicate a little. I need to learn Hindi.
I arrive while the sun rose, though there wasn’t a sunrise due to the fog. Trash is everywhere. So is shit. So are stray dogs. Cows line the streets. Some are yellow, probably from eating curry and such, it didn’t seem to be a problem of malnutrition because a lot of the white cows were eating trash too.
So the driver found my hotel and I knew that I would have to stay up as long as possible to beat the jet-lag. So I strapped on my Vibrams, took out my camera, and went to go explore Mysore.
The first thing that really caught my attention was the stray dogs. They are everywhere, and you can tell they are nocturnal because they were active in the morning then slept in the afternoon. So they litter the streets, searching through trash and tend to be individuals, at least from what I saw, there wasn’t much pack behavior during the day.
This brought me into the streets. Litter is everywhere, though there isn’t too much fecal matter on the sides of the streets, because it’s mostly in the gutters and in random grassy patches.
So I spent the day meeting people and taking their pictures and just generally trying to be friendly and nice. People here are extremely nice and just want to share a smile, I think a few of them think that me taking their picture is a big deal. Most just make jokes with me about it when I try to take their picture though.
So I headed over the palace after a while, I wanted to see where the Ashtanga Yoga Shala was because I have to register today. I got lost.
There’s nothing quite like being lost in a foreign country with no knowledge of the local language or customs. It’s like a whirlwind of trying not to get hit by cars or scooters as you walk, avoiding stepping into a big pile of cow dung, trying to find a bottle of water, telling rickshaw drivers to leave you alone because you just want to walk. Seeing weird crow-like birds, stray dogs, cattle pulling carts, markets with random stuff I have never seen before makes me feel free in a way that nothing else can. There is a lot of pain and suffering here, but there is so much happiness. I’m writing another post about the people, so you will see some faces in my next post.
So I made my way to the palace after finding a map and it was 200 rupee to enter. 3 bucks, pretty expensive for India. Inside, some kids saw me and wanted to take pictures with me and as soon as one saw that I was responsive, the whole group started taking photos together with me. It was fun for a few minutes while we were messing around and I was trying to get them to take serious and funny pictures, but a line started to form and people started to encircle me. I was not down with that so I said thanks and took one more, then left to keep walking around. Here are my good pictures from the palace:
The architecture here is amazing. There is a juxtaposition of rich and poor, so close in proximity that you see such nice things surrounded by absolute poverty.
After my trip to the palace, I headed back to the hotel assisted by a rickshaw driver that definitely took advantage. Instead of about 10 or 12 cents, it cost me half a dollar. Suffice to say I am putting my game face on and that is not happening anymore (I am on a strict budget). I don’t like people trying to take advantage of me because they feel they deserve my money, because they don’t unless they provide enough value in their service to earn it. I don’t like charity or donations, because economically it is unsustainable and I usually find there is a lack of responsibility behind how the money is used, making it wasteful. How can I know if that driver used my money for his own booze, or for food for his children? I can’t and it’s not my responsibility to know.
I’m always kind of surprised at how impervious I am to people selling me things and trying to convince me of things. Must be all of the propaganda I am regularly exposed to. What can I say, it is the American in me to be skeptical of everything.
I bought a plane ticket this morning. Lufthansa Airlines, 21h30m of fly time, taking me through Frankfurt, GE and into Bangalore, the silicon valley of India. I’ll spend the day there, hopefully after sleeping on the plane, then heading to Mysore on a 5pm express train to stay at a hotel. $15 a night, 4 stars, I guess we’ll see how that goes.
I was waiting to buy tickets for a month and a half, because I was waiting for acceptance from the Ashtanga Institute where Patthabi Jois taught the Ashtanga method and Sharath, his grandson, and Saraswathi, his daughter, continue in his footsteps. I applied for Sharath’s class and got rejected in October for January first (there is a 3 month advance registration required to practice at the institute). I didn’t get the rejection letter until October 28th, so I am not willing to wait that long again. I figure I will take Saraswathi’s class at first and then maybe my second trip I can practice with Sharath. I am open to whatever needs to happen, but obviously would prefer to practice under Sharath because of his experience with the advanced series of Ashtanga. I am also open to practicing at a different studio, but I think that the Institute is the place to be.
I bought my ticket today, one way. I don’t know how I’m getting back, don’t care right now. I can figure that out when I’m ready to leave. So I will probably be gone for a while. I applied for my visa appointment today, but no worries, the appointment is six weeks before my flight. Plenty of time for 5-10 business day delivery, or whatever visa delivery speed is. Worst case, I can always pay a little extra to get it expedited.
Bangalore sounds awesome, I can’t wait to explore over there. The first couple of days will be very intense, then I will probably start to learn the language after the first week or so. I will need to find lodging for the three months, but I think it is supposed to cost around $150 a month. No problemo. Food should be around another $100 or $200 a month, hopefully the former, though how can I complain. So 3 months in Mysore, until the end of April. Then maybe Cambodia and Thailand. We’ll have to see what I can swing by then with my language/negotiation skills.
So by the end of April, I should be finishing up with Saraswathi, Sharath is apparently traveling in April. I’m so excited to practice over there, just to feel myself in the ancient space. Its going to be so fucking epic.
I’ll probably check out some other Ashrams as I leave too, to see if there is anywhere I want to spend some time. I also want to spend a week in the Himilayas and see how I like it, but maybe that will happen in the end of April instead. Then I will head over to Germany in May to see my sisters so I spend the end of May and beginning of June in Berlin, hopefully Warsaw, Prague, Budapest, Munich, and maybe Zurich with my family. We don’t have the trip fully mapped out yet, but that is going to be a nice tour through history that I’ve never seen.
I think I’ll spend a week or two or three in Paris after that. My second family lives in Nandy, which is near Sauvigny le Temple, if you know the Parisien metropolitan area at all. 45 minutes via RER (public train) from Paris, no biggie at all. I first went over there when I was sixteen, it will be a blast from the past because I have a second family over there. Plus, I haven’t been back since I was 21 and in a very different place in life.
I want to say that I will also spend some time in London, but for some reason, it just sounds dreadfully expensive. But I have so many friends there and have never been! Ugh, maybe, I don’t know. I will probably be very broke by then.
So maybe I will be back by June? No idea if I will come back to Auburn either.
Anyways, I am really hoping I don’t get sick or anything over there, that would be awful. But hopefully I can soak up the Ayurveda, Yoga, chanting, philosophy, and everything that India can offer. Wish me luck!
I feel India calling me. A lot of people try to dissuade me from going, using excuses like: the food is horrific, its dirty, there’s shit everywhere, its unsafe, you’ll get sick, etc. I think that these are great reasons for other people to avoid it.
I feel that in order to truly understand anything, we must give ourselves to it. To the origin of it, the vibration of its beginning. This is why I will go to India. This is why I will study under Sharath. Its only a matter of time.
I’m not trying to be cliche, or superficial by saying this. I just want more depth, more passion, more grounding in my practice each and every day. And in order to have that, I need to surround myself with people who have the passion, who have the drive to build their lives around yoga. Maybe I’ll find them in Mysore.