Saturday, April 24, 2010


I know it's been two weeks since I've returned, and blogging now after such a long time is like procrastinating on writing a thank you note. It's lost a little of its emotional punch. It's on the brink of growing a little mold, and has definitely lost some of it's nutritional value. But nobody's perfect.

Returning from India was LITERALLY a breath of fresh air. The air I breathe here on Vashon Island amongst the swaying fir trees and deep greenery is reviving me like Prince Charming would a Disney princess. Not that I was dead or sick, just...away. Away in my tower, away in my glass coffin, away in my head and my sweaty, carb-loaded body. Away on a pilgrimage that was successful. Yes. That is how I feel about it. My trip to India was a complete and utter success. I succeeded in stripping myself of possessions, whereabouts, and predispositions. I stripped myself of my privilege bubble, even if it was only for a few hours here and there on a pervert-filled train, or for a few hours or moments, even, when it just didn't matter. I succeeded in not needing the things I thought I needed. I succeeded in finding something akin to the religion I had always wished I could believe in. Little did I know when I was young, kissing the tiny cross next to my best friend's bed at night, wondering would I ever believe?, that I would be praying my guts out in India and believing in every minute of it.

I succeeded in finding what I didn't know I was looking for: faith and love. I now know that I've always had those things, I just couldn't see them in the way I can now. I had to go halfway around the world to find out that I love my life, I love my family and friends, and I am dearly loved by them, and what more do I need? I had to go halfway around the world to find the goddess that has always been inside of me. I had to bring my lover halfway around the world for the ultimate test of our compatibility, only to realize that my testing was doubting and my doubting is my not loving. If that makes any sense. I had to almost completely ruin my relationship with an incredibly important and amazing person in my life to realize that: life is not a test. It is an opportunity. An opportunity not to be taken for granted, and neither are its gifts...or its challenges.

I have spent the past two weeks taking in as much Western pop culture as I can stand...everything from Lady Gaga to outrageous shoe shopping to Martha Stewart magazines. I have been helping my parents as much as possible. I have been paying attention to the animals. I have been seeing all of my friends and life has been a blessing. Everything has shifted but underneath it all, no one has changed. It brings me comfort to see that though a person can change circumstances and shift and think and feel different things over time, they can still be the friend I knew them to be, and we can pick up our conversation where we left off as though a day hadn't passed. Poni comes home to Seattle (and me) in a couple of weeks. While our plans together aren't solidified, we are solid in each others' hearts, and that is all that matters.

Thank you India. Thank you Sri BNS. Thank you Deities. Thank you Universe.

Stay tuned for my next adventure...!!!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Final Days in India

It has become clear to me that leaving India will be like squeezing dramatically and painfully through a birth canal. In a hilarious India way. The past couple of days have been, well... "Hellish" is the word that comes to mind and clouds all other possible words. I am finding it hard to believe that the majority of our travelling has been so easy in comparison.

We tried to leave Kalpetta. Seemed easy enough. Just go to the bus stand, ask someone how to get to our next destination, and be on our way! No. The thing about Indian people is that they will give you a made up answer if they don't actually have a clue. So we ended up trying to catch a bus in a nearby town, Mapeddy. We had been led to believe that many buses left this town every day to get to our next destination. But instead there was only one, at four PM. And nobody out of the ten or so people we asked had bothered to mention that it stops at a completely different bus stand in town! After sitting in the bus station eating all of our snacks and watching the town buses pass through the station again and again, the bus boys becoming more and more amused by our presence, a gaggle of males finally plodded up to us and laughingly informed us we had missed our bus and would have to catch the one at six thirty the next day. Frustrated, sweaty, bogged down with luggage, and a bit disheartened, Poni and I tried failingly to find a taxi driver to give us a fair price. But to no avail. This tiny little ghost town had become saturated with the knowledge of our touristy presence. Being unhelpful and watching us flounder about not knowing what to do with ourselves was more interesting than helping us leave. Having waited all day for a bus at that point, we decided to give it a try the following day, and commenced to find another hotel room. But lo! It's suddenly the Indian holiday season and every hotel in every tiny po-dunk town in these mountains is full. We finally end up back at the hotel we were at before, our tail between our legs, regretting all of the incessant and failed arguing we had done with them over the additional "taxes" they had snaked onto our bill when we had checked out earlier that day. We got the last room in town. Infested with ants, but the toilet and sink both worked...bonus!

The next morning we cheerily hopped on another bus to another town we'd been to before, but knew it promised us travel options. It was lovely barrelling down the mountain, roaring past tea plantations and monkey families sunbathing and fraternizing with Indian tourists. We had seats this time, which was a plus, but the girl in front of me couldn't hold onto her breakfast so she politely asked the isles behind her to close their windows so she could calmly vomit out the window. No big deal, apparently. Happens all the time when you're spinning wildly around hairpin turn after hairpin turn.

The man at the train station information desk was actually helpful! He gave us times and places that were actually accurate. We were to take two trains to get to Bangalore from there (Calicut). Perfect. We battled our way onto the train, knocking through the vicious crowd with our bags. I got into a particularly close race with a tiny old man. No fair that he had a cane to whack his way through! Only two hours on that train. Lunch at the train station was lovely! We cheerily enjoyed our one-millionth thali meal and agreed that THIS day was much better than the previous. The Gods were smiling on us. Train number two began peacefully. Fairly empty train. Seemed to be emptying enough for us to lay ourselves down over some seats eventually. Just as we were getting into nap position, the Gods decided to have a laugh, and began filling the train with Indian men. They crushed us into the corners of our seats and began flopping on us and the other boys around them kitten-pile-style. Thinking it was strange that they had the gall to be physical with us, we wondered if this was some new Kerala train etiquette, perhaps. Six hours in, our butts sore beyond sore, and the breath of the boys all around us becoming more and more noticeable, we inquired as to when we might be reaching Bangalore. We could use a shower. Oh. Eight hours from then! We would be there all night! Poni and I looked at each other with crestfallen faces, then burst into laughter. Of course India wouldn't let us get off that easy. At first we were sitting opposite each other, each of us with a huge oaf grumbling and rolling around next to us. Then the guy next to me decided to try to massage my boobs with his elbow. I elbowed him out of my bubble. Being relentless is a thing in this country, so of course he kept trying and trying to use his elbow as a grope-tool. Then he started...ugh. Men. Why must they be SO FILLED WITH TESTOSTERONE to the point of being completely and utterly repulsive?! I had to have Poni switch places with him. All through the night feet snaked their way into my bubble. I would finally start to nod off, and then there was yet another toe poking my shirt, my ankles, my everything. By the time we heaved ourselves out of that train, I was disturbed to the core. Shaken, tired, sleepless, VIOLATED.

I must admit, I am tired of the man-snakes here. I am tired of their eyes undressing me, their smiles that are more of a sneer than a kind expression, their handshakes and other unnecessary physical gestures that make me feel queasy. The fact that they are EVERYWHERE. I miss my male friends at home. I miss my home where the "ladies" and "gents" and whatevers can actually BE friends. I have a much greater appreciation for the advancement of gender equality in my own country after having been here long enough.

On a nicer note, Kalpeta was lovely just prior to our attempts to leave. We neutralized any relationship woes we had been stewing in, patching ourselves back together as the magical, special people we are to each other. We are more of a team now than we have ever been. We visited some amazing caves with ancient Sanskrit written on the walls, waded through a river to get to a lovely and peaceful island, visited a quaint little lake with paddle boats and young Muslim newlywed couples. We discovered the best restaurant ("hotels"...why do they call them that?! Why do they call the barber shops "saloons"?!) in India, perhaps. Hotel Delux, it's called. With the tiniest little man in flowery lunghis offering the most amazing sambar, banana-coconut cakes, parota, and service this country has offered us yet.

We are now in Bangalore. Nice hotel. Hot shower, comfy bed. HBO. Anxieties melting into trustfully clean sheets. The joys...oh, the Joys!...of toilet paper. My impending departure from this country is looming ominously in the very distant future. I am feeling a mixture of ecstatic happiness and anticipation, sheer nervousness, and utter, utter sadness.

I don't care what you do to me, India. I love you anyway.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Houseboat, Allepy, Calicut, And Now Kalpeta

We floated from Kollam to Allepy after Varkala on a David-the-Gnome style houseboat. Three particularly interesting Indian men steered the rig, brought us food, then made friends with us and took us to visit their teensy village. Our chef introduced us to his friends (one of whom is an impeccable Michael Jackson-impersonating dancer) and family. The town and home we visited were not extremely humble compared to some I've seen in India so far, but they were definitely extreme compared to Western standards. Two small rooms house a family of...well, it's hard to tell how many people lived there amongst all the mothers and grannys and bouncing toddlers and children, but they were a bustling, healthy family. Glittering with contentment. Nothing but each other and who needs much else? The landscape of rice fields, fruit trees, and the calm Keralan backwaters shroud their village in peace and quiet.

Allepy is an awesome little town. We were quickly fitted with a small beach-front hut with hammocks out front, two bikes, and a bunch of friends. People like to talk to us a lot where ever we go, but these peeps buzzed around us like flies and even peered in our window at night (and then later stealing our treats by sticking their hand through the window bars) making it quite hard to relax. But despite the mildly annoying clinging behavior of the locals, that town was a breeze to enjoy. Good food, friendly, funny folks, an abundance of Indian culture, etc. We made a couple of traveling buddies as well.

From there we took the advice of a friend and headed for the mountains, though we had to train to Calicut first, a smallish town further north up the coast. There we found ourselves unable to stay anywhere for less than 1700 rupees/night (we are used to under 500/night). We saw the entire town from our rickshaw as we searched and searched for a cheap place to stay to no avail. Apparently there have been some new legal restrictions placed on business for dealing with foreigners, some extra paperwork and the like, due to terrorist activities that have happened recently in India. No one wanted to do the paperwork, apparently. But the place we did end up staying was like going to heaven. A hot shower, comfortable bed, legitimately-sized pillows. Cable television. Amazing. Poni and I promptly turned into slugs and spent much more time there than we intended, drunk with amenities and luxury. We did almost nothing in Calicut, actually, except see part of a movie in the local theater, and go to a bar by the beach. It was the first bar I've been to in weeks, and we stuck out like cute little sore thumbs in a sea of beer-guzzling Indian men.

Well, we did actually do a lot in Calicut if you count emotional and circumstantial processing. Our relationship status has changed from "couple" to "friendship", which is a bit on the heavy side for ye olde hearts to weather, but has lightened the mood considerably in many ways. Something about India makes coupling difficult for many a pair, or so I have heard. I think both of us have faith in the universe no matter our relationship label. If anything, India provides one with the ability to have faith in abundance, despite the colorfully grimy and predictable intensity permeating our experiences.

We peeled ourselves out of our king-sized fancy land of a hotel room and stuffed ourselves onto a bus to Kalpeta. Standing the whole way, surrounded with our baggage and screaming children and sweating bodies while a bus flew at maddening speeds up a mountain, whirring around deathly sharp corners and nearly flying off cliffs at every turn. I paused to feel a little frightened from time to time, but mostly gasped at the fabulous landscapes filled with greenery, misty mountains and tea plantations.

I sat on the balcony of our budget hotel room this morning, started my fourth journal of this trip, and noted the crisply cool weather nipping at my toes. I thought of it as an omen, considering the weather I expect to return to in little over a week. I cannot believe how the time has flown, and am again noting the subtle and completely obvious ways India has rearranged me.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Kanyakumari and Varkala

A few sardine-tin packed trains took Poni and I to Kanyakumari, the very southern-most point in India. We watched the sunset. That's what we went there to do. Afterwards we headed for some darshan in a thousand-year-old Shiva temple. It was just a little pin-prick of a town. Eeerily free of mosquitoes, allowing me to lounge outside at twilight on the balcony of our hotel room, watching the Indian men smoke, drink tiny chais, tie their lungis up and down. If I must be reborn after this life, I wish to be born as an Indian man. (follow that link down to the entry posted Sunday, Feb 7th...I was there btw!) I could go on and on about their impeccable taste in fashion. They have perfected the art of "chilling out". They always look like complete BAD-ASSES.

Yet another train with people stuffed and hanging out the doorways took us to Varkala. We found a hotel room big enough to be our mini yoga shala. Cheap and run by very pleasantly and adorably stoned lads. Everywhere there are adorably stoned Indian men, many who claim, strangely enough, to be from Jamaica. White people are all over this place, trotting around with their thighs and shoulders and cleavage glowing in the blazing tropical sun. It seems a bit rude to me that Western people should dress in such a way in sacred India, but the tourist market seems to have expanded significantly, and all the shops along "the Cliff" overlooking the beach sell all kinds of tiny clothing for the pale and wealthy. I can't wait to make clothes.

Speaking of clothes, I am obsessed with Lady Gaga. I think about her for hours on end. Then I think maybe it will be good for me to have a job soon.

We got massages. Amazing massages. I have had fish. Amazing fish. And we have been to the beach, and played in the waves. Poni and I have splashed in our own waves. Waves of nausea, waves of sleeplessness, waves of social interaction, waves of awkward miscommunication, waves of emotion spurred by the awkwardness. We seem to know how to ride waves really well, actually. Or we are getting better.

Tomorrow we rise early to go to Kollam for our houseboat tour of the backwaters of Kerala. This is our "splurge" for the trip, though we tend to do a lot of splurging. Just us, our cook, our driver, and the jungle floating by...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


O.M.G. Salad greens! Kombucha! Tuna salad sandwich on wheat bread! Glorious foods I have consumed here in Auroville, the first stop for Poni and I on our brief tour of southern India after months in Mysore. Auroville is a self-described "Divine anarchy" where people from all over the world have worked to create a sustainable community that is not based on religion, but rather a unifying consciousness of the divine. Based on the ideas of two people, Sri Aurobindo and someone known as "the Mother", and founded in 1968, this community seems to be a visionary success, if not a bit angsty and cultish. Indian people make up about forty percent of the population, the rest mostly white or Western. People wear miniskirts here and get all touchy-feely in public. They eat at a giant solar kitchen and meditate in a bulbous temple dubbed the Matri Mandir, a structure straight out of the heart of what I imagine the late sixties to have been like.

Not only have Poni and I had amazing raw, vegan, organic, and completely non-Indian Western hippie foods in abundance, but we have also seen the BEACH, and a beautiful ashram in the city of Pondicherry, a quaint and very French-influenced town about ten miles outside of Auroville. Our guide, and Poni's longtime friend, Ethan, has been showing us around when he has time outside of his busy schedule at the Youth Camp he teaches environmental science at. The "youths" are spirited American college students with idealism glittering in their eyes. They and their camp (and subsequently Poni and I as well for the past few days) are kept clean and extremely well fed by the Tamil Indian folks working here. Much of the grunt work in Auroville, it seems, is done by Indian hands, which is no doubt a subject of constant moral debate for the rest of the community. I am feeling quite at home here, gobbling herbal energy ladus and fruit keifer drinks, Poni and I debating the debatability of the term "anarchy" as it has been applied here, and being constantly reminded of my glorious days at Fairhaven College in Bellingham, where I too once had idyllic glittering eyes and a fierce passion for unity, knowledge, progressive thinking, and what have you. Not that I don't still feel that way now, I just feel a whole bunch of other things as well.

It has been a lovely stay for the most part, but the time has inevitably flown, and we are preparing to leave tomorrow, much to the chagrin of Poni, who has fallen digestively ill again, and will be missing his friend Ethan, who has been a refreshing figure in our travel adventures.

As the moon wanes yet again, I find myself dreaming of family and of babies I might have one day, and missing my friends harder than ever. I have dreams congealing in my heart for the chapter of my life which will directly follow India. All plans of the past have been weeded thoroughly and all new ones have begun to flourish in their place. I have been sleeping and sleeping and sleeping, and meditating and meditating and meditating. I taught some more yoga to a few folks the other day as well, which may have been my first experience teaching anything at all to a group of folks. It was really fun and taught me a lot about...teaching.

Next we head to the state of Kerala and the very tip of India (which is still in Tamil Nadu) to see some amazing sunsets/rises. We plan to spend most of our time on the beach, and possibly on houseboats in the backwaters, and most certainly eating more amazing food, though perhaps not quite as hippie fresh as the foods of the past few days.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Dear Mysore...

Thank you.

Thank you for the yoga, my Guruji Iyengar, travel buddies and Ukulele time. Thank you for all of the Gods in the air, in the cows, in the smiles, under my nails. Thank you for the songs you've inspired, the tears, the blood, the sweating in excess. Thank you for the pranayama, the mudras, the philosophy that has changed my life. Thank you for Lungis, and Idlis, and scooting around. Thank you for the romance, and the enforced time alone/ coupled. Thank you for all the lessons I have to learn every day, for the street boys I battle, for the crazy full and new moons. Thank you for all the weird yogis from all over the world I have met, and for the oddly boring parties that have served as awesome performance opportunities. Thank you for the pool, for all my sunburns that have almost evenly tanned my hide, for the romance and the magic. Thank you for the digestive problems that have thoroughly cleaned out my emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual systems. Thank you for breaking both of my Ipods for no apparent reason, and forcing me to play more music. Thank you for the beautiful garbage and the coconut men and the constant holiday celebrations. Thank you for the market, and Indra Cafe, and Joe and Dave and Nok and Ness and Nigel and Annie and Mark and...Thank you for Poni and power outages and dancing and sleeping and walking and laughing and crying. Thank you for making things clear to me. Clear-er at least. Thank you for the yoga teaching certificate and for the meditating. Thank you for all of the droning days that go so quickly and slowly. Thank you for making me feel at home here, finally. Thank you for giving me a break. Thank you for being awesome and horrible and amazing and boring and accomidating and supportive and for kicking my ass.

See you next year, maybe.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


There is an older lady who lives at the household who so kindly let me park my scooter in their driveway. She is so sweet and toddling and smiles so warmly at me when Poni and I retrieve the scooter every morning. The other day she was at the pool and fell and fractured her leg so badly she couldn't even sit in a seat to be flown to another hospital outside of Mysore for an operation. When I heard this news from her family I said I would be praying for her. So that's what I did.

I sat on the front stoop of our apt. complex folded my hands in a prayer position at my forhead and prayed for her healing. It felt so good I kept praying for things. I went to bed praying, and awoke praying. I prayed through my practice and at breakfast before I ate my food. Poni and I took a trip to the local Ganesh temple a day or two before and I think that's where I got my inspiration. I've thus far appreciated the immensity of the payer vibes in the temples here, but now I've started to participate. It feels amazing to actually believe something. To feel a connection. To relax and enjoy. To find a piece of God...yes, my heart.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Two Weeks Left in Mysore City

Ness Sherry, a lady I have become good pals with here in "Ashtronga" Ashtanga City, is a brilliant photographer from London. She has some amazing photos on her blog, including ones of me and other Mysore yoga junkies doing some yogic maneuvering. I am in the top few photos, save for the second one down, in my little sitting room in my the apt I share with Poni, who has started an India blog as well, very worth checking out.

Poni and I have been very busy the past few days. We have started preparing to leave Mysore (gasp!), buying presents and such, wondering what to do with the insane amount of stuff I have collected over the past four months, and recovering with flying colors from the getting-to-know you disease our bowels suffered together by going into a mad feeding frenzy. Cooking classes have helped support the feed. We now know how to make idlis, both traditional and rava(instant), three kinds of chutney, sambar (curry), keseri bath, carrot halva (these last two are soft pudding-like sweet dishes) five kinds of dosas, and proper masala chai. The woman we have been taking classes from is amazing and animated, as are the two crotchety but gorgeous ladies she has helping her out, and the food is phenomenal. Though Poni and I might end up rolling home on our enormous dosa bellies despite all the yoga.

The new moon came around again as it always does. There has been some menstruating (yesssss!!!) and some "emotional complexity". There was some dancing at Planet X to celebrate having met Ness, who is leaving tomorrow. There was some lounging all day at a crazy hotel that looks like a palace where we and the rest of "Team Iyengar" played in the empty pool all day while monkeys and weird birds frolicked nearby. There have been more coconuts and sunburns and trips all over Mysore on the scoot. There has been Valentining and gifting and romance. There has been yoga, of course, and the emergence of superpowers (ask Poni about seeing auras!). There has been heat. Showers are becoming less about hygiene and more about sweet relief.

I am ready to leave Mysore, ready to go to the beach. Kerala is our first destination at this point. Travel plans are all up in the air. All I know is I miss the ocean, being the water bird that I am, and I am dying for a fish Thali. On the other hand, I will My-sorely miss my friends here, my apt., this city I have grown to know so well, beloved Guruji. I will come back to him. I know I will. Never have I felt so thoroughly understood and benefited by a teacher. I will carry on doing my practice in the best way that I can, always with him in mind, and always with the intention to come back and learn more from him. Not only will I miss his classes, but also his humor, his smile, his presence, and his fashion sense (stay tuned for a line of "Guruji Fashion" items)!!!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

"Well...I hope I don't s**t my pants!"

Poni and I have been getting to know each other really, REALLY well. After five days of "loose movement" we finally took a trip to the doctor's office for meds to save us from the seemingly worsening case of the runs we had both contracted via Mahesh Prasad or Shiva Prasad or some other prasad where the seedy men in the kitchen don't ever wash their hands, I'd bet. this is the fourth? fifth? time I've contracted some super annoying illness from this godforsaken land of filth where everything is literally covered in poo. We ran out of t.p. after a couple of days, and while I have gotten quite used to, and fond of, the faucet-and-hand cleanse method, Poni started having dreams of toilet paper, so we made a point to stock up. we have been laughing as much as we can about it, though. Poni is a perfect roommate and partner specimen. We take turns doing the dishes or the laundry, reminding each other to take our tablets, making tea for each other, driving the scooter.

We have spent several days at the pool since his arrival, and every time I spend any time in the sun, it laughingly points out whatever minuscule piece of skin I've left un-screened. The bikini Poni gave me features a little skull and crossbones charm that dangles over my belly...and now i have a tiny skull and crossbones patterned seared in to my skin. I have never been so freakin' tan in my life.

India has made me a bubble person. I haven't let anyone close to me in four months, and not necessarily because i don't want anyone to touch's just not what people do here. It has taken a bit time for me to get used to having any human contact whatsoever, let alone a full-time mate. But I am happily getting acclimated, and Poni is sensitive to my bubble moods, allowing me plenty of space when I seem to need it.

Nearly two weeks have flow by since his arrival, and we are already thinking seriously about buying train tickets and mapping out our travel route. I am excited to get out of Mysore. Though I really love it here, I am itching to see more of India. Especially the beach.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Happiness Is My Middle Name

So Poni has arrived and it is like two animals from the Enchanted Forest of Rainbows have been reunited. My house is filled with wilted flowers, organic chocolate candy wrappers, and celebrity gossip magazines he brought me from the States. I have been carting him around on my scooter, his cute head bobbling around behind me in the giant helmet I had waiting for him, singing songs to me and telling me stories. He doesn't back seat drive despite the throbbing traffic, which I much appreciate. He can keep up with my coconut habit as well, which I also appreciate. Nearly every time we're sucking one down, we remind each other that the milk is very much like human blood and the meat much like breast milk. This makes both of us feel very healthy.

His clean clothes got on the plane he missed between Chicago and London, so he was forced to wear all the presents I had waiting for him. Luckily enough, he likes the lungis and the kurtas a bunch and they of course look quite smashing on him, so we went out together and bought a bunch more. We are both appreciating how menswear in India so often includes pink and hearts and metrosexual themes.

While signing Poni up for Asanas today, Kanchen told me that the Guruji mentioned me to her "...that one short girl...yes, yes..." She told me he basically said I was a very good student. This is making me glow almost as much as having Poni here does. At the ripened age of eighty four, I have noticed he doesn't put much effort into remembering his students too clearly, so the fact that he has praise specifically for me makes me feel like I have been blessed by Angels, or Santa, or Oprah. Only way better.

I have introduced Poni to Indra Cafe, my favorite coconut men, Daisy the cow who comes to eat our food scraps every day, and "medieval princess showers" (my term for the bucket bath by candle-light). He has brought smiles and magic and thank-God-they-allow-this hand holding, top shelf tequila and bourbon, and an entire duffel bag full of Madison Market treats. I have also introduced him to Joe, Ness, Dave, and Nok, amongst a handful of the rest of the Western Yogi population, and he makes them laugh and smile as well. "I have never seen Wren's face this happy," Joe said.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Last Days of Solitude

I am no longer "the Girl" at the shala. There are many other females in my class now, and the other day there were ONLY girls. Guruji waited around, adjusting the flowers around his altar for a bit, then turned to us all, lined up evenly at the top of our mats. "Shall I start?" he grinned at us, like he always does, only this time instead of a mass of nodding, there was a wave of giggling that filled the room and our hearts and his face like a sudden snowfall. The love was thick and penetrable as we danced through our practices, faithfully following the tiny, amazing man we call our Guru.

The weather is at its peak of comfort at the moment. The mornings are crisp and clear and warm and the air feels cleaner for some reason. The colors are brighter. It feels like spring, though honestly I don't know what season it is at the moment. After practice, a bunch of us scoot to our favorite papaya man. We fill our bellies with pink fruit doused in masala spices and salt while gaping at the beautiful day. Then its off to Indra Bavan, our coveted breakfast joint where they know exactly what we all want: chow chow bath. Savory and sweet. Two round piles side by side of samadhi for the tongue. Ghee and semolina flour. Wheat sweetened with pineapple. Fresh coconut chutney in droves. I am the a-hole who makes them bring me thrice the usual amount of chutney normally served with this dish. I also make them brew my tea separately black, because I can't easily digest the milk in the standard chai. But the men who work there are very kind and patient, and we tip them well of course. Sometimes when I am there I wish I could be a buss boy for a minute, piling noisy metal plates and cups into buckets while barefoot, smiling at the regulars, wiping up after their chutney and curry messes.

Received yet another generous parcel from my love, this time a book of poetry (Loose Women by Sandra Cisneros...possibly my new favorite author). Though I have never been a poetry kind of girl, I spent the morning digesting this on my rooftop, the weather never ceasing to impress, and the poetry like heavy pieces of dark chocolate.

Then I taught myself "Free Fallin'" on the Uke.

Life is good.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

As The World Turns

As the sky was filling with darkness during the solar eclipse a couple of days ago, I was marching from the net cafe to a friend's house, storming a bit inside because the computers were painfully, dreadfully, achingly slow and every bit of emailing I needed to do felt important. I had given up after a half hour of periodically sighing and checking my watch, feeling close to tears for some reason (forgetting completely about it being a New Moon day with a solar eclipse). On my way I passed a young boy in his school uniform, who started hollering at me the moment he saw me. Nasty things come out of the mouths of the street boys here. Where are their mothers? What kind a culture is this? I snapped around at him and put my fist in his face and gave him a nice thick piece of my mind that sent him trotting away from me like a calf from a cattle prod.

Yesterday I had a much easier time with the computers, but low and behold, the boy next to me who had been quite polite to me earlier told me to look at his computer screen. Like an idiot I peeked, let the pornography hit me in the face for a second, and then I poured my entire bottle of water on his lap and left.

I think I might actually get some sort of a cattle prod to carry around.

I think the dramatic aligning of the moon, earth and sun have had dramatic effects on myself and those around me. For myself, I feel a sense of rising power. A turning outward, a revival of something that got buried within me in the past few years. The acupuncture treatments, while unsuccessful at solving any menstrual problems of mine, brought all kinds of things in my heart bubbling to the surface. The knots in my solar plexus were painful to touch for days but now feel quite open and my nervous stomache aches are all but gone. I think there is always something to heal within us all. There is always work to be done while we are alive and cognitive. There is always a deeper level and then a deeper level, and then a deeper level... Sometimes, though, I feel the levels come to a pleateau in meditation, and I can settle there, floating on whatever essence began me and will eventually finish me. It is there that I can forget about the dark bubbling in my solar plexus, the street boys, the missing of people back home, the bustling Indian metropolis carrying on around me. It is there that I feel more whole and complete and real than I ever have. I am also feeling immensely complete in externally important areas of my life. And by this I mean I am appreciating my family and friends immensely, now that I have taken a trip to the other side of the world to think about it a little. My heart fills with emotion and light and gratitude ever time I see a photo, read an email, linger in a memory.

In lighter news, I have nearly perfected Scorpion Pose, my new favorite posture and long-lusted after feat of accomplishment. I have a brilliant new friend named Ness who is the doppleganger of Sarah Jones, a cousin of mine whom I adore and look up to; she is graceful, pure-hearted, artistic and fantastically intelligent. The other day there was yet another festival celebrating...actually not even the locals seem to know what that day was about. But there was an awful lot of sugar cane lying around in piles all over the city and all of the cows were painted yellow with tumeric and their necks and heads decorated with florescent plastic rope, flowers, and bells.

It is hotter, now. I have a full-body sunburn from sitting at the pool too long in my bikini yesterday, amongst a whole mess of yoginis in bikinis (rippling muscles, sascrit and hindi tattoos galore, all of them looking ten years younger then they actually are, as is often the case with ashtangis, it seems). Luckily, aloe vera is easy to come by. The bikini I wore was sent to me as a surprise by my beloved Poni, who, in a mere ten days, will be here in India with me, sharing my space and adventures. While I am so happy to have had these months to focus purely on myself and my practice, I am overwhelmed with excitement to have someone deeply special to me to share this crazy country with.

Saturday, January 9, 2010


I have been battling some amenorrhea for some time now, going months and months without any dramatic fluctuations in mood, unnecessary swelling or bloating, nagging worry erupting in fits of tears. I wonder if it is the travel, the changes in life circumstances, the yoga, the fertility-abraisive environment. Whatever it is, my cycle likes to take long holidays now. The bleeding that releases, that reminds me of my female abilities, that clarifies and wrings out my emotions, does not come. And has not come since I have gotten to India.

I am not too worried about it. It is nice to feel such...stability. I have forgotten about my cycle, and therefor all of my emotions are valid for exactly what they are and not attributed lazily to the burden of womanhood. If things continue as they are now, I know I have powerful options to consider when I eventually return to the West. For now, however, my buddy Dave, trained Acupucturist and healer, is attempting to treat my "condition".

Tattoos, body art, scary movies and pleasant pediatric experiences have dulled any fear of needles, so that part was fine. Dave talked excitedly about the philosophy of what he was doing as he poked, turned, adjusted and checked. I, a little nervous for my first experience with Chinese medicine, talked excitedly as well. Suddenly all the gibberish he'd been spouting at breakfast was all I wanted to hear at the moment. When the needles were removed, we talked some more, he asked me how I felt. Fine. As we dug a little deeper into the philosophy of his approach to my situation, I asked him if there were any acupressure points for worry, since I seem to have a chronic worry and list-making problem. He showed me, and I rubbed a little, and immediately burst into the wild frenzy of tears that often precedes my "lady days". I laid back down and sobbed and blubbered for a couple of hours while Dave rubbed funny little sore spots on my body, particularly the spot directly over my solar plexus (a major chakra point that governs will and relation to others), which has been cold to the touch for months now. He and I related and discussed, and over the next day or two I filled my journal with the mental and emotional epiphanies filling my head and heart to overflowing.

We shall see how it goes with the bleeding, and I still have a few treatments to go before Dave runs out of needles, but for now, I feel lighter, less knotted, and more empowered.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year

After awakening with violent food poisoning for nearly the third time in three weeks, I finally had a friend haul me to the hospital a couple of mornings ago. It was the most efficient medical experience of my life. I slumped into the emergency room weepy eyed and heaving with nausea. There was a cluster of doctors and technicians standing idly next to the tiny reception counter. They took me behind the curtain just next to the desk, where I laid and let a pretty nurse pet my head while a doctor with kind eyes looked briefly at a few things on my body, announced me poisoned, and told me he was going to give me a shot which would stop the vomiting (I nodded, offering my arm), and some tablets to take for the next few days. The hospital was filled with lovely nurses in beautiful nursing saris. While it did feel quite clean, it wasn’t as culturally sterile as Western medicine can feel. The ceilings of the building glittered and the rooms felt cozy and smelled sweet. I was in and out of the hospital, feeling surprisingly much better almost immediately, within a mere twenty minutes, having spent around seven dollars in all.

This New Year’s Eve was my first to spend completely sober in a long while. I went to a party at Shoeb’s Crib. Shoeb is a beautiful Mysore native whose taste for art and fine fabrics fascinates and inspires me. His home is old and Indian and filled with paintings and candles. I played some tunes, met some nice people, watched some beautiful women dance with fire, and then I ducked out at eleven forty five to get home in time to ring in the new year completely solo before tucking in for an early practice this morning. There were only a few of us at practice, and since I take a while longer than most, I found myself alone in meditation at sunrise, under the glowing holiday lights and rickety “Happy New Year” banner dangling from the ceiling. Before leaving me to my finishing asanas, the Guruji gave me my teacher’s training certificate, both of us exchanging our thank yous and yes of courses, and then he accidentally locked my shoes in the hallway on his way out. I took myself out to breakfast shoeless, because you can do that here.