Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas in Mysore

The pie I made with my family's pie crust recipe was delicious. It tasted like love. I knew it would be because I could feel my mother's knowledge in my hands, I could smell my Grandmother's kitchen as I stirred, kneaded, rolled, sprinkled, tasted, checked, etc. For an Indian twist, I added pineapple to the apple filling and made it with Jaggery (pressed sugar cane juice, a staple sweetener in these parts) instead of white sugar. It was quite fun hunting for things to make pie with, also. The Mysore Devaraj Market quite an adventure. Everywhere flowers and oils and pots and pans and people huddled on tabletops wrapping, sorting, shouting, tossing, catching, and selling, selling, selling. No one had heard of pie. So pie pans were out of the question. I made do with cake pans drudged up from the dusty corner of some seller's stall.

The parties were lovely. The drinks were a little too plenty. The music was a blast. The food was a delight. Not only was there amazing apple pie, but also barbecued paneer and veggies, amazing fruit salads, pizza, hummus, sweets, all kinds of things the many yogis who congregated had made themselves for the festivities. I have started to realize how much drama can begin to accumulate in even the most zen communities, however. It made me chuckle to realize how many of the men were hunting for women, and how the women definitely gossip about each other. I have managed to stay out of the drama, though I tend to stay updated during the evening hang-out sessions in Joe's room.

Christmas morning was quite a lot like home, sans family. Chocolate eating first thing followed by gifts (Team Iyengar gift exchange) and then breakfast. Joe gave me a Lungi, a traditional kind of sarong worn by men, which I wear proudly around my apartment and front porch. Instead of cinnamon rolls for breakfast in fleece pajamas, I had chow chow bath and idlis in the warm mid-morning sunshine.

While Christmas definitely isn't the same without my friends and family back home, it was indeed quite pleasant, which is kind of how I feel about the entirety of my time here in Mysore so far. I love it here, but I won't be missing Christmas with my family next year.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

If it's not this or that it's the other thing

Joe said I had Yoga Fever. Apparently lots of people come here and do too much yoga and then get a fever for a day or two. I don’t know if it was the yoga or the food or missing my family so much during the holidays that did it, but I was up for a couple of nights either moaning in pain and thinking I had Malaria, or trying desperately to breathe through my nose and stop my mouth from salivating so much. The day I felt better was the day the tears came. My friend Annie sat with me on a random curb that morning, supplying me with tissues while everything poured from me…everything I have been trying to be so strong about. But being strong sometimes means crying instead of not crying. The tear phase hasn’t really ended. “Have you gotten your period, Wren?” Joe asked me as I told him about my day.

The air in India is especially disgusting to the sickly. Everyone reading this at home should take a deep breath of the air around them and be thankful for it. Coughing has taken on a new meaning to me, here.

I am feeling better now, though. I got to talk to my Mommy, whom I miss more than I thought I would. Nothing like a fever and the holidays to make little ol’ me miss my mother like crazy. Halloween was fine, Thanksgiving was fine, but the impending Christmas without my family is feeling very hard. Although my Christmas will be quite fun, I believe. A lot of cooking and a little gift exchanging with Team Iyengar. We have a house with an oven to spend Christmas day at, so I am planning to make pies with my mother’s pie crust recipe. If I can’t have my Mom, I can at least have her pie.

I have narrowed down my list of things that are important to me and my life to five generalizations: my family, my community, yoga, fashion/fiber arts, and music. Simple enough, I think.

At the Shala, I am known as “the Girl.” I am still not sure if Guruji even knows my name, and I am also the only female and have been for ages, now. Women come and don’t come back, possibly because they have been frightened off by the harsh scolding the Guru gives everyone when they first start with him. The other day, when I finished my Mudras course, he showed me the certificate I have earned which he will be giving me when I leave. It certifies that I have completed teacher training.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

See Wren Learn to Chill the F**k Out

The longer I am here in Mysore, the more I revert back into my predictable habits...This morning I sat having painted my toenails, listening to metal (Dragonforce), sketching clothing designs and dreaming up song lyrics, having finished my yoga practice early this morning as usual. Things do not feel very different from home at this point, especially considering how at home I am feeling in my apartment. Of course a lot of things are different from my life in out West. I drink a lot more tea, eat a lot more chow chow bath, i get up and go to sleep three hours earlier than usual, I meditate everyday, I wear bindis and bangles and drawstring pants! (I can hear Carlee chortling from here...) I do not have my birds or my friends or my family nearby, my computer, or cell phone, or television set. A lot is happening inside me that is different. There was a point somewhere when some great channel in my body started to open up and now I can tap into it whenever I want. Like I cleaned out one of my inner closets and turned it into a temple that I find myself hanging out in more and more. I am more aware of my body as a sacred space. It amazes me and makes me happy.

It is eery...this sense of comfort. The fact that Mysore has become so easy, so livable, so wonderful, is tempting me to feel very wary, like there is something I should be worrying about. But I am starting to realize how little I actually have to even consider worrying about, and how much I have been trained to worry almost constantly for most of my life. I am starting to have worry consciousness. Next on my list is boredom consciousness. I challenge myself to not become bored easily. Doing nothing should be luxurious, not a headache.

Speaking of headaches, I found that I was dreading Hindi to the point of headache, and it was draining the energy I have for playing music, so I decided to give it a rest and perhaps pick the subject back up when I come here next. Hopefully then I will have a study buddy. Also, perhaps next time I will go for a more practical crash course, seeing as how I have learned to slowly read and write in Hindi, and pronounce everything, but I had to learn phrases like "How are you?" from my Dutch friend (maybe I will get HER to teach me Hindi!)

Part of what I am realizing about myself at the is point in my journey is that I need to practice not exhausting myself. I find the need to know and learn too many things at once can get to be as compulsive as a shopping or food addiction. Yoga is a mountain (or rather a vast, never-ending stairway to heaven) and Hindi is another kind of mountain. Perhaps it's best to climb one mountain at a time. At least for now.

On a completely different not, I went to a party yesterday and played a few songs as an opening act for an amazing Indian sitar/tabla duo. The tabla player played along with me and the sitar player called for my encore and after the concert, we all had a dance party. Every Indian I have met so far is a good dancer!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Bangalore again, music, and other things...

A couple days ago Team Iyengar (the posse I practice and take many a meal with) and I took a two and half hour taxi ride to Bangalore to see the Guruji at some event he was being "awarded something" at. The ride was fun and well equipped with delectable and moderately healthy snacks from Bombay Tiffany's, our current sweet shop of choice, and the view was peaceful and packed with eye candy. We stopped at a temple or two (one that was filled with tombs of Indian royalty!), and guzzled coconuts in the warm sun. Bangalore was as messy as I remember it, but the event seemed quite sterile and reminded me a bit of a PTA meeting; florescent lighting, dusty auditorium and muted microphone buzzing. After sitting down, however, it became clear that our beloved teacher was in fact the star of the show as speakers lined up to sing his praises. Students and colleagues of his spoke in animated Kannada before draping him with flowers and shiny robes til he looked like a Christmas tree. His importance is great in India, and he is well recognized as a lifetime master and teacher to yogis far and wide. After a while, he meandered up to the podium to speak for himself, and chattered and gesticulated more wildly than I have ever seen him. After the event, we met him in the greenroom for chapatis, and when he realized we had come all the way out there to see him at his event, his face filled with a happiness and surprise, filling us all with pride, and filling my heart with joy. What had seemed like an impossibly boring event had actually turned out to be quite easy to understand, despite the lack of English, and well worth the journey...much like the very musical Kannada movies in the cinemas 'round these parts.

Last night I went to a musical concert near the university. Ruhi Rang. Look them up!!! The ensemble consisted of a two singer/harmonium players, two drummers, one man playing a bell-stick thing, and another playing an unknown harp-type thing. Amazing. Never have I heard such amazing vocal stylings, especially from the lead singer, whose arms and hair flew about him like an orangutan while he belted golden notes and songs to the heart-wrenchingly perfect drum beats. The music permeating Mysore, from temples, car radios, houses, and voices are endlessly repetitive to a Western-trained ear but always awesome. I don't know if it's possible to get sick of Indian tunes.

I have found some yarn and some knitting needles, which has made my apartment and life here begin to feel a lot like home. I have only a swatch and an idea, but already feel like some sort of light bulb has been switched on in my heart. I am realizing more and more that some things, like knitting and fashion, can travel well, and I don't have to sacrifice many of the things that I love just because I am not in my usual environment.

Traded in the bike for a scooter a few days back, as the bicycle basically fell apart on me one day. The scooter, however, is far preferable. I am enjoying learning how to "drive like an Indian," while also having the safety of speed to help thwart the pesky street boys and jerk-off jerks in my neighborhood.

I am currently learning to master poses which require my legs to be behind my head, and today I was given pincha mayurasana (forearm balance) which is a pose I have always dreamt of mastering someday. Something tells me that, here...I will! My practices in the morning and afternoon have been long and luxurious, and I am really starting to feel some mysterious new things in my head, heart, and...everything else. The wisdom of my Guruji has led me to feel that my practice has an aim or a goal now, whereas before I was just kind of floating around mostly only enjoying the benefits of an asana practice.

To continue the thread I have begun on the subject of bugs and the like, I cleaned my apartment from top to bottom the other day and discovered a few new friends that have joined the family of cockroaches in the walls. Lizards...and one of the enormous "bee" things I saw flapping madly outside my hotel room window in Bangalore that first morning in India. It's proportions are massive and it's buzzing a deep roar that bellows through the house when it flies. It is quite a peaceful being I believe, so I don't really mind it as long as it keeps to the fan and upper window areas.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Little Updates.

I have started a new journal after quickly filling the most recent one in under six weeks. Here is an excerpt from my first entry, dated today:

"Where does control end and compulsion begin? Or visa versa? Where does rest end and laziness begin? How does one live in the moment in bliss and not so much in contemplation? How does one survive without lists?"

Today the Guruji gave me a Mudra that will cure constipation and any "diseases of the anus", which is actually just sitting in lotus position and clenching and unclenching my ass for a while. Yesterday he told me that someday, when I find someone who will show me how to drink water with my nose, I should buy a drum to stand in, fill it with water, and drink water from within it every morning thereafter. But only if I find someone who will demonstrate drinking the water with his/her nose before teaching me, because if I get water down the wrong pipe, I will get cancer.

The street boys circled me with their bikes at about nine PM the other night while I was walking only a couple blocks to my house. They started to hiss pervy things at me before snatching at my breasts. So I slammed into one of them really hard, knocking him and his bike down before standing over him with my pointed finger in his face and fire in my eyes. They panicked and ran away.

I met a lady with the same problem of hyper-hydrosis (really, really sweaty hands and feet) the other day. She is from Montreal and I think we will be good friends.

There are bugs all over this computer, so I'm leaving this blog entry as is and going home to my house where my only roommates so far are sizable cockroaches