yoga travels

Mysore Palace, India

Mysore, India

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 indian_cow_eating_trashfog. 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 stray dog in mysorethey 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.

Mysore city Streets

Mysore Streets

Mysore Streets

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:

Mysore Palace Statues


Mysore Palace Wall Statues

Mysore Palance Entrance
Mysore Palance Entrance

Mysore Palace Towers Mysore Palance Trees Flowers in Mysore 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.

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Getting my India Visa in SF

Why I love San Francisco

I got my visa for India this morning, and took a megabus into the city yesterday afternoon. I have to say that part of me is sad because Urban Flow is closed right now and I really loved that studio. There’s something primitively satisfying about chanting with a couple hundred other humans at the same pace. Top reason why I love SF: yoga. Mostly Rusty Wells at that.

I forgot forms, as usual. I needed a copy of my drivers license and some alternate things form that I have nothing to fill out on. I have a pretty clean record, to be honest. But I printed my visa form there, had to refill that out again because I didn’t include my middle name like I did on my passport. Oh well, the people working there were really nice.

I usually come for a weekend, or a couple of nights so I can head down to the studio and practice and see a couple of college friends, but I am becoming more and more aware of how yoga is continuing to gain popularity. Our society and culture are molding it into something amazing, something that is really American too. I’m always incredulous at the vast diversity of Americans, it is truly awe inspiring.

San Francisco has no shortage of diversity and people are friendly, if you give them the chance to be. Its a rough life in a city, I’m really glad that I haven’t been living in one for the last year, it feels great to take breaks. But the massive stimulation does seem to have a very productive effect on me, being one who was diagnosed with ADD, it helps me to focus. But it is also exhausting.

The consulate was a piece of cake, I used CKGS, it cost $100 for a 6 month tourist Visa with multiple entry. I hope that means I can make it to Nepal, Burma, Laos, and Cambodia. I am also seriously considering Thailand for two weeks in April, maybe a Mango farm? But I am also really excited for 3 weeks in Germany with my sisters and mom. Berlin is going to be beyond epic, I’ve heard so many amazing things about that city. I hope I can see some live EDM, apparently da germans are really into it.

For the past 3 or 4 months I have been making music, really mostly in the last 3. I was so inspired by Lightning in a Bottle that I wanted to learn it for myself. I think I love entertaining people in general, I think yoga might be just one outlet for that. But it is definitely my favorite one, and the most steady of all my passions. A great joy is rising in my heart as I turn to the east again, ready to see more of life on this planet, the world outside of the states. This will be my first time in a 3rd world country, I’ll see poverty there unlike anything I saw in China last May. Though, I can’t say that the people there had much, at least they had some opportunity to farm and work the land. I wonder how India will be.

So I am going to spend at least one day in Bangalore before heading to Mysore, I want to see the trade capital of India, 8 million people in the metropolitan area, and there are a little of ancient temples there. Then its off to Mysore to register with the Ashtanga Institute and practice with Saraswathi. I finally got a confirmation letter after two rejections! But only after calling Saraswathi and asking if I could attend. She said, “come, come, practice here.” Well, don’t mind if I do!

I think what makes me most excited about India is the silence, the time alone, the time in thought and in meditation. It is my favorite thing, which still surprises me every time I take some time to sit down and breath, stop my thoughts and maybe stretch. Lately it has been much more about meditation than the asana practice. Which is probably perfect, because I have a feeling I will get my fair dosage of asana in India.

There is supposed to be a huge storm coming in tonight, its pretty exciting to hear the wind gusting outside. I love waking up in the fog and seeing the sun during the winter, its pretty great to spend the cold month where the weather is good. Geese and ducks have it right. Can’t wait to migrate myself, I think that kind of lifestyle would be really interesting.

What do you love about SF? Besides the yoga, of course 😉

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