So, I am finally in Mysore, after the surreal experience of spending eleven hours in a weird artificial limbo in the sky then being plonked down unceremoniously somewhere utterly different from when I was last on solid ground. To me, flying long-haul really is a strange form of travel, almost like some kind of dark magic, which requires extreme discomfort, sleep deprivation and random eating patterns to work.
I’m jet-lagged but very happy to be here. I’ve had curry for breakfast, there are cows in the road, I’ve already drunk two fresh coconuts and nearly been mowed down by numerous mopeds, had curry and rice for 20p at a busy street stall, thrumming with workers taking their lunch-break. India is just as brilliantly crazy as last time I was here (in 2001 – so long ago!) but also different. Most people have mobiles now, just as many women wear jeans as they do saris, and we were greeted by the familiar scent of a Subway outlet as we arrived at the uber-modern Bangalore airport. Not quite the mystical scent of incense and spice that I was imagining…
We’ve spent our first couple of nights battling jet-lag in a swanky-ish hotel in the sleepy residential Chamarajapura district of this large city, which is where Vijay Kumar’s yoga studio is located. But this morning we were lucky enough to find long-term digs at a lovely little ‘yoga bungalow’ set within a peaceful garden on a quiet side street with five en-suite rooms (for en-suite read ‘partitioned off area with loo and tap in the wall over a bucket’), a yoga hall and an attached vegetarian cafe selling gorgeous sattvic food – I tried the lemon, ginger and turmeric tea on arrival, which was freshly ground up as we waited and tasted sublime. The room is very basic (some may say austere) and very cheap, but the place has lots of charm, and it will be a good place to meet like-minded folk I think, plus I’ve never minded roughing it. The owners run pranayama, yoga philosophy and meditation sessions there in the evenings as well as yoga classes each morning, although I will be at Vijay Kumar’s studio each morning, which is around a 10 minute walk away.
It was the first place we looked at, and as we deliberated over our turmeric tea, more people arrived to look at it, so we made the call and paid up for a month. Apparently the ‘season’ is just beginning (who knew yoga had a season?!), and foreigners are pouring in, so decent rooms at a reasonable rate are like gold-dust. The season begins once the monsoon passes through, leaving balmy temperatures and clear blue skies in its wake. Apparently it is late this year, and the rain only stopped last week – jammy or what?!
We start yoga with Vijay on Monday morning, 6:30am and I can’t WAIT to get on the mat. Due to the frenetic chaos of packing up our lives before we came out here, combined with a strangely perverse feeling of almost rebellion against my practice, I have barely done any yoga in the last three weeks. I am not entirely sure why, but perhaps it was my body enforcing a break in a ‘calm before the storm’ kind of way, or perhaps it was from an underlying fear of committing to the time out here, and of somehow not feeling worthy of being in Mysore. Old demons, that are receding now I’m here, leaving an eager anticipation of the work to be done, the sweat to be dripped and the breath to be breathed… 🙂
Here are a couple of photos below: firstly a typically sleepy residential street in this district, with obligatory cow – these charming back-streets are just metres from the main, crazily busy roads but are like little bubbles of serenity, superbly and inexplicably sound-proofed; secondly the brilliant peacock mural at the yoga cafe of our new digs – in fact that is our room’s window behind Chris, which might prove interesting in terms of ambient noise. I’m appeasing myself with the thought that a yoga cafe is unlikely to support a rowdy late-night crowd, particularly as some classes begin at 4:30am, ouch…)