Saturday, June 21, 2008
Farewell to Mysore
We are winding down here in southern Karnataka. Mysore has been good to us; the yoga has been even better. After another adventure at the Railway Booking office, where Evan showed a burgeoning talent in the distinctly Indian style of "queing" - that is, leaning, elbowing, and otherwise maneuvering oneself to the front of the line, we are set to ride the rails to Bangalore on Monday afternoon and then on to Hampi Monday overnight. We had intended to stay longer at the shala, but several things have come together - including the news that Sharath will be at a conference in Hong Kong for the next two weeks - that have made this a fine time to move on.
It is comfortable and easy here, as the path of the Western yoga pilgrim is well-worn. At the same time, there is a sense of informality and anonymity, as the shala and Gokulum as a whole see so many come and go. Soon enough we will be gone in a puff of incense, and others will come to replace us, slugging down chai, devouring coconuts, and wondering what exactly it means when someone wobbles their head. There is a sense of being swallowed, as it does not matter how big or small a fish you are, it's just such a mighty big pond.
We'll have early practice Sunday (4:45 am) and will once more have that joy of being carried, still crusty eyed and half-asleep, by the sound of a hundred people chanting (does that make one hundred Oms or just one?) just before the sun. Doubt you can hear it from the states, but surely you can feel it.
We've continued to explore the city, sometimes out of necessity sometimes for fun. We're even starting to get a sense of where things are - that is, whether or not the rickshaw price quoted to us is a rip off or not. When in doubt, assume it's a rip-off and pretend you're going to walk away. He'll come down. Oh yes, he will. That's what the head wobble means, I think. Doesn't it?
We've had a few Guruji sightings these past few weeks. Guruji is, of course, Pattabhi Jois, the big cheese of Ashtanga Yoga. He was in Florida when we arrived in May and has been hard to find for most of our time here. It is known that he has not been well. Plus he's 95 years young, though we're still sure he begins his day with a third or fourth series practice, just to get the blood going. Anyway, he's been making some appearances, sometimes watching the practice from the small office just off the shala's main space. Last week he joined everyone for the conference, which is a weekly Q & A session between shala students and teachers. Pin-drop silence and goosebumps as he shuffled across to the stage. Can't help but wonder where this practice and shala are headed...
Be sure to check out some new photos, etc. on the Photobucket account, including a rare glimpse of Evan demonstrating the classic South Indian head wobble.