Ah, coffee. It's the soma of the modern age, isn't it? Every dingy, open front cafe or "tea stall" is selling buckets of coffee and chai all day every day. You'll always be able to spot some poor cook in the back, sweating over three big pots: strong coffee, strong tea, hot milk. Ask for either coffee or chai and you'll get what I have here - a couple fingers of either tea or coffee, and then the rest milk. It's always boiling hot and sweet. With some practice, the accomplished yoga bum can make it last a good half hour. Pair it with an Indian sweet from one of the sweet shops and you've got yourself a productive afternoon.
We're really settling in here in Gokulum. It's very folksy - as you're walking around the neighborhood you recognize the tailor, the kid from the cafe, the jackfruit guy, etc. It's hopping all morning, then slows down during the hot afternoon and really gets rolling again after sunset. We tend to savor our errands, spacing them throughout the day so we can have an excuse to make the five-minute walk three or four times a day and see what's what. We're slightly up on a hill, so we have a nice view of the main street as we turn the corner from our flat.
The yoga just gets better and better. We're acclimating well and have been surprised at how quickly the body responds to this daily practice. When you do the same sequence every day, you really get a feel for its rhythm and start to polish it up - smoother, stronger, less hurried - wringing out every last bit of that yoga nectar we all know and love.
We see people come and go, new arrivals all the time. It never seems to be overcrowded, at least not yet. We've heard that June is set to be a busy month, but we'll have to see. It's a distinctly shakti crowd; that is, about 75% female. I'd estimate the average age in the early 30's, though there are some older people as well. They are often the ones working on the more advanced stuff, as it takes years of practice to get to that level. Or, at least, to be officially sanctioned by Sharath to work at that level.
There are other shalas around, so we see some yogis (they're easy to spot) that don't come to the shala that we're at, and some that do. They hang out at "Coconut Corner" - the most popular coconut stand - or Anu's, the Internet cafe of choice for the visiting yogi.
If you've looked through the photos, you've seen that we visited Devraja market, which has apparently been around for centuries. It is dizzying in its size and variety. It simply goes on and on and on. We picked up a few vegetables, but otherwise just walked and looked. We're getting better at deflecting the endless calls to look at this or buy that. It can be difficult to window shop in India.
There's always a nice little scene outside of the shala after practice, beginning around 6:30 am, or so. The coconut guy does very well. You can see his little truck on the left, and that big gray building on the right is the shala. It's almost mandatory after practice to have a coconut. First, the guy uses a machete to lop off the top and gives you a straw to drink the water/juice. Then he hacks it in half a fashions a scoop from a piece of the husk so you can eat the coconut "meat." It's the perfect after practice snack. You can also buy fresh baked goods or garlands of jasmine or roses.
We've got a few more weeks here in Mysore, and then we'll have to make a move. We had planned to stay here for six weeks, but it may be that you can only do one month blocks at the shala, in which case we'll have a decision to make. At other times, in other places, this would have been a great opportunity to worry and weigh pros and cons. Here, however, it's easy enough to let it ride.
Wouldn't want anything to spoil this lovely cup of coffee...