29 today! Happy birthday to me!!

Today I turned 29! I cannot believe another year has passed since my last birthday. Life seems to be disappearing at a rate of knots. It’s incredible.

To be honest, today was a more lonely day than most. Every day can be lonely, but today was especially so. Never before have I spent a birthday alone. It’s certainly a reminder of how special it is to share these moments with loved ones. Never again will I take this for granted as I no doubt have in the past.

After this mornings practice, I decided I was going to treat myself by heading out of Gokulam to the Mall of Mysore. As I needed to be back before 3.00pm to make my afternoon yoga class, I was quick to eat breakfast and hail a rickshaw after finishing the morning class a little after 10.00am.

Driving in a rickshaw is always a fun / near death experience. I quite enjoy these rides. Considering Gokulam has become home now, and I haven’t had time to venture out for a while, it was a little overwhelming to be venturing back out into the ‘thick of it’ so to speak. My world in Gokulam really is very sheltered compared to life on the outside. The poverty seemed to worsen the further away we got and the closer we came to Mall of Mysore. People sleeping on the sides of roads, makeshift houses made of a tattered piece of plastic, cows living in piled up rubbish tips. Oh, and the fumes. My shawl was used more as a gas mask today than anything else, and still it doesn’t stop the smell of diesel from permeating everything. Long term, I couldn’t handle being amongst such pollution. The damage it would be causing to mine, and everyone elses bodies, would be horrendous.

After about 15 - 20 minutes of holding on for dear life, whilst also being entertained by the assault on every sense, I arrived at a palace like mall. Mall of Mysore. It certainly wasn’t the usual Westfield Shopping Centres I’m use to back home, as the shopping was very limited, but it had some lovely shops within which were nice to browse through. There was one particular store, Shoppers Shop, which sold lovely mens, womens and childrens clothing, as well as cosmetics and handbags etc. It reminded me of a mini Myres on the ground floor. It may sound silly, but I liked being in this part of the mall as I felt a little closer to home - just seeing a few familiar things. I probably spent most of my time in Shoppers Shop as the rest of the stores were more traditional Indian clothing stores or shops for men. Infact, stores for men were significantly more. This is no doubt strongly linked with the culture here.

I bought some lovely black pants which reminded me of the ones Jasmine wears in Aladdin - but upon looking at a picture of her, I realise they look nothing alike??? Mine are leggings underneath with a lovely thin, see through material draping over them. My description is terrible, I know. Just know I feel like a genie in them. They were my treat to self. I’m quite particular about the clothes I buy. I could purchase four pairs of cheap pants for the equivalent price, from a stall on the street, or actually buy a quality pair which I can keep for sometime. I’ve been patient with my buying, so I chose the latter.

I also found a jewelry store on the third floor. I’ve wanted to buy myself some earrings and was thrilled to find this little store. With doors open, but no lights on, I walked into a dark store with about five staff members all sitting talking. As I entered, they all jumped to their feet, as though they haven’t seen a human being for years, and I was actually startled by their reaction. Lights suddenly came on and the team were there to meet my needs, insisting I sit and relax in the black chairs at the display cabinet. The team there were very lovely, helping me to try on many pairs of earrings. I ended up with medium sized silver hoops and cubic zirconia mini earrings to put in the piercing I have in the top right ear. It was a little splurge on me but I thought - it’s my birthday so why not!

After yet another exhilarating, life threatening rickshaw ride home, I was dropped to my favourite restaurant - Depth N’ Green. I went here because I was planning to buy myself a piece of vegan dark chocolate cake which I knew they sold, and which people raved about. I’ve never had this treat before, so today was the day. With yoga class about to start in an hour, I realised it probably wasn’t the best time to be inhaling my vegan thali lunch plus cake - but I thought, “what the hell! It’ll be worth the cramps, or balloon belly which my teacher will no doubt keep trying to push back in, but with little luck”.

The chocolate cake truly was divine. The icing was so soft, it was almost like cream. And the dense cake itself was the yummiest, dark chocolate I have had in some time. If you know me, you know I handle sweets well. But this was almost too rich to finish - however, of course I finished it. It’s me we are talking about here ;-)

When I made it back to my apartment I was greeted with a basket of amazing flowers of all different sorts, a basket of oranges and a birthday card from home. Owen had arranged the flowers and mum had sent the birthday card. I felt so very special. And the lovely boy at reception was so excited to be handing me my gifts, eager to take pictures of the event which was really sweet. He speaks little English, so he tends to be quite shy, so his enthusiasm was so nice to see.

I thought Owen and mum must have planned the arrival of the flowers and mums card together, but this wasn’t the case. Somehow, by complete luck (and it really is luck as the postie here does not look so reliable…) my card from home actually arrive. And not only did it arrive, but it arrived on my actual birthday! It was just perfect, and although I felt a little lonely today, I have never felt so loved.

I emailed mum to tell her how special her card was (which included pictures of myself, Owen and the pooch). It’s incredible how seeing the handwriting of someone from home, mum in particular, makes you feel that little bit safer in the world. For me anyway. It really brought a huge smile to my face. That and all the wonderful emails and messages people sent me via Facebook. Thank you to everyone who sent birthday love. It means more than you will ever know. xxx

My yoga class, a back bending class, was surprisingly quite good - cake included! Hot and sweaty, and per usual, but I didn’t feel completely disgusting as I had anticipated. Ragu was again quite forceful with his realignments, some of which can be good, some of which can be bad. There were a couple of asanas where I was moved into a position where I could only hold it with Ragu’s support behind me. It’s interesting that he teaches this way as Bharath is quite the opposite. With a gradual movement, he (Bharath) will realign you but make sure I am left able to support myself as soon as he moves. Both Ragu and the morning teacher tend to teach in a way which could leave a student feeling dependent upon them in order to achieve a particular asana. Although I appreciate the support, it’s not something I will do, as I want people to progress through “feeling, not forcing”. My students need to be able to complete self-practice without me and know the difference between what is correct alignment and what is not. Creating dependency is certainly not my goal.

On a final note, after a relaxing evening at home; chatting with Owen, reorganising my small desk and side table to fit flowers and cards, I feel very happy about the birthday I have had. Although aging is always a worry, I am certainly entering my 29th year wiser, calmer, focused, grateful and excited about what lies ahead. Hello 29!

Namaste xx

Yes, I might be a little crazy…

As I have mentioned before, it’s the little things you miss when you’re away from home. For some it could be their own bed, for others it could be not having to use bottled water to wash everything! Although these too are important to me, today I was missing to the two loves of my life - my Owen and my little, slightly round, pug pooch. The simple dream is to be held by one (I’m talking Owen here… just in case) and to pat the other.

Letting you in on a little secret of mine - each night when I walk home from class, I walk with my head leaning on my backpack looking up at the stars. Owen loves space, and by staring up at the moon and the few stars you can see here (smog is an issue), I feel a little closer to him. For pooch (Tyrone is his name) - I often find myself talking to the stray dogs in the voice I talk to him in. It’s a silly, playful voice, and the dogs here couldn’t care less about the attention I am giving them, from a distance of course, but it makes me feel a little better. A little closer to him also. No doubt there are Indian men on the side of the road thinking I am some crazy white girl talking to myself - but that’s ok.

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Not quite the same as my pooch - but near enough

Although these are the little things in life (to be held only for a moment, or to feel the fur of my pooch), really - this is life. So not being able to have either of these special moments, I am trying to hold onto them in through star gazing or looking like a crazy person. It keeps me going.

Tonight I need to finalise my study in preparation for tomorrow’s exam. I’m terribly nervous - as well all are. There is a lot which I still haven’t learned, and I don’t think I will have time to learn. Yoga philosophy is complex!!! I will just do my best with what I have done so far, and hopefully that is enough.

I shall therefore leave you with that and I look forward to blogging about how I go tomorrow. Thank goodness it will be over soon (until part II of my training starts. Eek!).

Namaste xx


My boys

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Welcome to India! Not for the faint hearted...

Well, after 30+ hours of travel, i finally made it to my accommodation, Good Touch Apartments, in Mysore India - arriving at midnight. What a full on experience this entire journey has already been and I haven’t even scratched the surface of what’s to come.

Last night, at around 7.30pm Bangalore time, I was walking out of a surprisingly modern and polished airport into a chaotic sea of people and cars and buses and tuk tuks - everyone yelling for your attention. “Let the assault on all senses begin” I thought.

I was. however, impressed by how ‘under control’ all the Indian’s were though. I was warned of, and expected to, have swarms of people trying to grab my luggage and pull me from one direction to another in order to collect a fee for their services, however this wasn’t the case at all. All the men where piled against one another pushing against a barracade like wild animals trying to break free from their cages. Because of this, I was able to walk along the row of people, only half a metre away from them all, to read the names on the A4 pieces of paper people were holding. Wedged amongst the hundreds of men was my driver, Pasha. I was thrilled to see my name in bold blue ink on the scrunched up piece of paper he was holding.

Pasha was a lovely, chatty man, in about his mid 40’s. He was so very polite - helping me to find my seat belt which was jammed between the seats (he told me it is extremely important to wear seatbelts in India - crazy driving), playing Hindu music for me, offering cups of tea (I had to pass on this. The look of the stall hidden in a ditch on the side of the road was not so appealing. I at least want to make it a day without getting gastro). Pasha also insisted on the air conditioner being on for the duration of the trip as the pollution from outside is too intense. At one point Pasha did put his window down and it was as though I instantly couldn’t breathe. The combination of dust, smoke and diesel was overwhelming. I ended up breathing through my shawl for the next hour or so whilst the smells faded away.

The drive took almost 4 hours from Bangalore to Mysore. I managed to sleep in a very awkward position on my pack for about an hour or so - broken sleep of course. The constant stopping and starting whilst moving through the most unimaginable chaotic traffic was not condusive to having a relaxing sleep. That and the 129+ speed humps you must drive over during the 141km journey. Whiplash anyone?

Although the trip was in complete darkness, I was intrigued by the gigantic billboards that line the streets. Everywhere are monstrous sized, colouful billboards - advertising everything from a show of some sort to hot potato chips. What the? All this energy is placed into these advertisements yet the rest of the city is falling to pieces - literally. Never before have I seen such poverty. Disheveled, falling apart buildings which appear to have been rotting forever, huge holes in the ground everywhere where it looks like once upon a time someone had a great idea to excavate an area, got part way through and then decided “bugger this” and stopped. And then of course, there are the animals which wander the streets, looking as neglected as the rest of the city. It’s phenomenal and certainly makes you appreciate the wonderful luxuries we have back home - like side walks, roads and street lights - for example.

I spent an hour or so on Skype to Owen last night, mostly crying - not from fear but from wondering how I am going to get through this next 3 months. My room, although clean compared to what I had just witnessed, is certainly not the sort of clean I would prefer…. With mosquitoes swarming around the lights and filthy wash buckets in my shower area, it was enough to upset me to a point of crying. I think, however, this was mostly due to how overtired I was. With near no sleep in 48 hours, I was exhausted.

This morning is another day, and after a cold shower (not by choice) with my mouth firmly closed so as not to drink any of the water, I am ready to step outside into the chaos which I had the pleasure of waking up to.

As I said to Owen last night - this is all part of the yogic journey. It is through putting myself into these sorts of situations that I can truly come to appreciate life and all the wonder it has to offer. These experiences are enlightening and I know it would be nowhere near as powerful had I done my training in Australia. So I have no choice but to get my shit together and embrace this.

Bring it on India!