Monday, November 30, 2009

Men and Women

This morning, as I was walking to practice, I noticed a man peeing on the side of the road, pants all the way down around his ankles, his bare ass glowing in the florescent street lighting. This is a usual sight from any corner of town. I continued walking, unphased, until I noticed out of the corner of my eye that he had turned towards me and he wasn't just peeing... I walked a bit more briskly around the next corner towards the busier streets when I realized this man had begun to trot along behind me, wanker in hand, pointed at me, his long legs gaining on me. There was a minute where I panicked. The minute I realized this man was just like the man I had seen at the age of seven, sending me and my friends screaming to hide in a parent's bedroom. The minute I realized I might be in for a fight, struggling to remember some key self-defense moves I had been taught years back at the Women's Center. The minute I began to run. I ran and he ran whimpering behind me, until I flew down a busier street, thankfully filling with people to deter his advances.

The interesting thing about the above situation is that after I was out of sight of this man, I immediately forgot about him and went on working out song lyrics in my head for most of the remainder of my walk. I had subconsciously shrugged the situation off my shoulders like I brush the ants off the food in my little pantry. It wasn't until I mentioned the happening to a friend after practice that I understood how frazzled or reactive I would have been in the States had something of this sort had happened to me. This man, though disturbing as his behavior may have been, was nothing but a mosquito. Since arriving in Mysore, I have been groped several times by children and adults alike, been lied to in more ways than I even knew a human could be lied to, had garbage thrown at my head, and I'm sure these things are just the tip of the iceberg, seeing as how this part of India is considered very "easy".

Hindi class is going well. I'm finally starting to learn some conversation after a couple weeks of memorizing words and a new alphabet. In Hindi, there are four different "t"s and four different "d"s and two "p"s all with different positions of the tongue and very subtle changes in the pressure of each letter pronounced. Nearly every letter in the English language has a new meaning in Hindi. I struggle to read the lips of my teacher, who, when I don't understand, simple shouts the words a little harder at me and making me jump a little. Sometimes her little daughter joins in and shouts at me too. Today I learned how to say "You are a very beautiful woman," which I think will come in quite handy indeed! Lately there have been several other ladies in the classroom with me doing bead work and pottery. While it is hard to get used to the shouting, I very much enjoy the hen atmosphere and all of the art-making. I am still considering taking up some art classes, but I will be waiting until my yoga schedule lightens again. Yesterday I learned a mudra that will prevent accidental death. (Excellent. He knows what a klutz I can be.) While explaining the position I should be in, the Guruji told me to "put my heel between my anus and my testicles" which I thought was very funny but he was quite serious. I find it quite refreshing that he treats me like all of his male students. I asked him a while back if a certain pranayama practice was harmful for women, and he said "No. You do. You are strong like a man and can do." Coming from an old patriarch in the most misogynistic country I have ever been to, this comment meant a lot to me.

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