Horses I saw yesterday morning!
Every Sunday Sharath does a conference. Everyone goes and sits together in the shala and it’s really the only time you see all of the yogis together at the same time. I think the current estimate is that there are 300 students. Word is that this is the largest number ever.
Other yogis have published synopses of Sharath’s talk, so I won’t — well, I’ll mention two things.
1) He reminisced about practicing yoga with his grandfather, Guruji, and it was so heartfelt that it made me tear up. He mentioned how much he misses Guruji’s help in backbends. For some reason, that really got to me. Then he talked about how Indian families are very, very close — and said he felt sorry for us Westerners, because as we reach adulthood, we have to “go out and find our lives.”
2) He asked that we stop feeding the street dogs. Apparently the dogs have been running up to children, probably looking for hand outs, and it is scaring people. Sharath mentioned People for Animals (a local animal shelter) and suggested we support them. He also said if we want to help the dogs, we could take them home with us. (I’m thinking that would get a swift thumbs down from Daisy.) I’m fine with not feeding the dogs — the last thing I’d want would be for them to start harassing locals or frightening the kids.
Today we saw a young woman walking a black dog on a leash — he had the characteristic shape of a street dog — so hopefully more and more people will start inviting these dogs into their homes as pets. Best we not screw that up by creating a situation where the locals grow irritated or angry with them.
Here’s a picture of Juanita, who lives at Anokhi Garden, where we’re staying. She is a pretty typical example of a street dog — she is the standard size and build, and the majority are this color, though there are a good number of black and white dogs. They’re lively and intelligent and independent. Yesterday morning, as I walked to practice at 5 AM, there were four or five of them playing a lively round of king of the mountain on a big hill of dirt next to the coconut stand. Very fun to watch.
Okay, so other photos:
Anna on the porch. We like our little ritual of drinks at 5 PM.
This is from yesterday afternoon. Following drinks, we went out to find Pascucci’s, an Italian cafe. Yes, you read that right.
I did a little research and read some hilarious reviews of the place. People seemed to like it pretty well, though they did note that Italian food is an “acquired taste.” I guess if you’ve eaten Indian food all of your life, Italian must seem very strange. Still, that review cracked me and Anna up, since we were raised on Italian food and it seems like the most agreeable and innocuous cuisine in the world.
Susan agreed to join us in our quest for Italian, even though she knows I have a reverse superpower that makes rickshaw drivers confused and unable to understand where I want to go. She’s seen it happen every time we’ve tried to go somewhere.
And no different last night. We had a lengthy conversation with three drivers about where we were trying to go, until finally one of them declared he knew where it was and that he would take us there. A short ride later, we were in front of a Chinese restaurant that the driver insisted was the right place.
Alrighty then. We paid him and set out on foot, with our map and good intentions. There were three of us, but, sadly, only one of us has any sense of direction (that would be Susan). We were a bit turned around, so we had a tour of the neighborhood, including the picture below.
Eventually we found Pascucci’s, which is trying to be an upscale place in a not-upscale neighborhood. There were a couple of Indian customers, but the rest of the customers were Western, including a table of Italians.
Anna ordered a strawberry soda, which arrived looking delicious, except for the ice cubes in it. Maybe I’m unnecessarily paranoid, but I’m highly suspicious of ice cubes. The likelihood that they were made with filtered water seems low to me. Poor Anna! She wanted her soda, but I wrecked it by telling her tales of (potential) illness requiring IV rehydration. She decided to just share my bottled water.
The pizza was good, though. A really nice change after a week of all Indian food, all the time. Oh, and the music at Pascucci’s was late 90s pop music: Jennifer Lopez, 98 Degrees, that sort of thing. “I’m reliving a seventh grade dance,” Anna said.
Our rickshaw ride home was a trip — I wish I had a video of it. Miraculously, the driver knew where to go, but it was like something from Extreme Rickshaw Games — mad driving, weaving, dodging, motor gunning. Bat out of hell stuff. Hilarious!
This morning I tried to figure out how to get to some different places around town and pretty much drove myself insane in my own head. Then I remembered a rickshaw driver we’d met by the coconut stand. Appu. Anna and I decided to go back to the Green Hotel (this time for lunch), so I called Appu, told her we were at Anokhi Garden, and asked him if he would drive us. He said he’d be there in 5 minutes, but showed up in 3.
As we got into the rickshaw, I asked him how much it would cost to go the Green Hotel, and he said “you choose,” meaning I could pay him what I thought reasonable. Okay. When we arrived, I handed I’m a hundred rupee note ($2) and said, “Thank you.”
“No, no,” he said, and gave me 50 back.
“When you want to go to the market, go shopping, go somewhere, you call me,” he said. And indeed, I will. I really struggle with direction and getting around in new places — and I’ve been kind of distressed by the hit or miss rickshaw rides. In western cities, I can do enough research to sort out undergrounds and cabs. But here in Mysore, addresses can be mysterious and drivers don’t always seem to know where things are. So I’m really relieved to know there’s a driver who can help us out and is willing to be on call.
So here are some pictures from the Green Hotel. We had a lovely, leisurely, quiet lunch. Anna had mutton and I had curried vegetables. And naan! Yum! I love Indian breads. I already know that’s the food I’m most going to miss when I leave.
I didn’t realize how stressed I’d been feeling from the busy-ness and noise until we sat there for a couple of hours and decompressed. Just what I needed.
Inside the menu of the Green Hotel, there’s this explanation:
The Green Hotel has been set up as a model of sustainable tourism:
– To preserve a historic building and grounds.
– To incorporate, as practicable, energy saving devices, such as solar heating, solar lighting and environmentally aware practices.
– To use Indian craft made items in furnishing, equipment and restoration.
– To be a good employer, offering equal and fair opportunities.
– To train and develop staff potential.
– To provide visitors with the opportunity to enjoy traditional hospitality rather than modern day uniformity.
All profits from The Green Hotel are distributed in charitable and environmental projects in India.
(Thanks to Anna for pointing this page out to me. It gives me ample justification for going back to The Green Hotel a bunch of times while we’re here.)
This evening, we had cocktails in the garden & Susan joined us. Lovely sitting out and chatting. We moved inside when the mosquitos started in on us.
What a peaceful moon day.
Now it’s leftover pizza and a little reading. Tomorrow starts a new week of practice. I’m so happy to be here.