Today was my last holiday Sunday in Mysore. How to spend it? Relaxing at home, chatting with friends, doing silly pictures with Suresh from Good Touch apartments and a visit to the most spectacular palace I’ve ever seen.
Looking around my room, I’m nervous about having to pack up. I have no idea how I’m going to fit everything into one backpack. I’ve possibly gone a little overboard with some of my shopping. That plus all my study manuals, novels which I didn’t need to bring etc. It looks like I may need to get ruthless with the things I leave behind.
I’m at the stage now where I’m getting pictures of all the people who have been a big part of my life since being here. The boys in reception for one. Suresh was working his usual day shift today. When I asked to take his picture, he was not only thrilled and clearly honoured, but he jumped straight into Vrksasana (tree)! Turns out he reads a yoga manual the apartment owners leave in reception then goes home and practices each asana. We then had some fun taking pictures of the two of us doing different asanas in the lobby. It made his, and mine, day. We really had a lot of fun.
Suresh is an interesting young man. There is a seriousness about him but also such a cheeky side. This is the man whose brother has Polio and is in a wheelchair as he cannot walk. (Turns out he does have a wheelchair after all). Suresh also worked out quite quickly that I’m no threat and he would play jokes on me, like pretending my room wasn’t cleaned and then waiting for the moment when I was surprised to see that it was. Just cute things like this. Suresh is also the one who broke his ankle at work and needed to complete his 12 hour shift before seeing a doctor. This is him. I’ve really liked having him around. He is so sweet, and his smile (like all the other boys) is infectious. I will really miss them.
My usual rickshaw driver, Somu, picked my up from Good Touch at 6.00pm tonight. He and a friend actually came as Somu’s rickshaw tyre was broken so he asked his friend to drive me to the palace. Somu sat in the back with me, directing his friend to take a detour around Mysore to show me around a little more. I didn’t ask for this - Somu just wanted to do this for me. He took me to a shop which sells sandalwood ornaments but I didn’t go in. For one, I didn’t want to make them wait as we had already pre-negotiated a fee to go just to the palace so I felt it would be unfair waiting, and secondly I can’t bring any wood products back home, so I would have been disappointed not to be able to buy any of the beautiful ornaments that were no doubt in there. It was also nearing time for the lights to go on at the palace so I wanted to get there.
Completely relaxed and absorbing all the sights and sounds of Mysore whilst driving through the chaotic streets, I couldn’t help but see how alive this place was. Everywhere you look is people, food stalls, shops, cars, scooters, cows, dogs.. And the colours are incredible - saris, flowers, fruits and vegetables. Even the houses are different colours. It’s just such a wonderful place to visit.
Arriving at the palace, there were huge crowds of people flooding into the palace side entrance gate, all with the same plan to see the lights. They are on for one hour only. 7.00pm to 8.00pm every Sunday evening.
I watched the sun set behind the palace, with beautiful pinks and oranges painting the sky. Already the vibe was magical. Quickly I became the centre of attention, with Indian men asking to have their photos taken with me. I think it’s so funny how they like to have a picture with a Westerner. I see no harm in it, so I tend to say yes - unless it’s too many people asking and that’s when I have to say no. Otherwise I would never get away.
Standing at the barricade which kept people about 100 metres away from the palace, I stood amongst the crowd waiting for the lights to come on. Then suddenly, in the blink of an eye, the entire palace lit up like nothing I’ve ever seen before. I could hear how powerful this moment was to everyone around me as all I heard was, “ahhhhhh!!!”. I almost cried when the lights first came on. The sight was overwhelmingly beautiful. Also, it wasn’t just the palace which was lit. The palace walls which surrounded us were also glowing. Just magical.
Seeing the lights was my treat to self for finishing my yoga training. I had deliberately saved this experience until my final Sunday in Mysore, and I’m so happy I did. It also turns out it’s Easter Sunday and although it’s not celebrated here, I will never forget that I spent my Easter at Mysore Palace.
Tomorrow morning is my final class in the Shala - and I’m teaching it! Well, I’m one of four who will teach. Although I’m somewhat nervous, what a great way to end my training. To teach with my teacher observing. This too will no doubt be a memorable experience.
Happy Easter everyone.