Today I thought I’d describe our new digs and our new home town. We’re staying in one of the five rooms at Yoga Mandira (I learnt that mandira means temple). It’s a lovely old-style building with a yoga hall at its centre, a shared kitchen, a communal seating area and an outdoors café to the side. It’s set within a large, flower-full garden, which is carefully tended each day, and is on a quiet street just off one of the main roads through the area of Lakshimapuram. It’s tranquil here; you can hear the birds, children play on the street outside, the staff play cricket in the garden and Danny the dog languishes in the shade.
Our rather dingy but nonetheless cosy room – if you haven’t already spotted the ridiculous photo-bomb, look again… 😉
Yet less than a minute’s walk away and you’re amidst the noisy mayhem of Mysore traffic, where the only rule of the road seems to be to honk your horn as much as possible. Somehow the system works though, and it makes me chuckle that the only thing that has the power to stop the flow of traffic is a cow. You see them lumbering casually across a busy intersection or grazing along the central reservation of a dual carriageway, oblivious to the chaos they are causing as people swerve to avoid the karmic catastrophe of a bovine collision.
We’ve taken to going for evening walks around the block, which I love for the insight into everyday family life. The side-streets come alive at dusk – children play together in the middle of the road, their parents looking on unconcerned as mopeds flash past, often without headlights, weaving around their various games. Women sit together on steps, chatting and giggling. The mood is happy, light-hearted and playful. Laughter flows, smiles shine through the creeping darkness and the gorgeous scent of cardamom wafts out of brightly-lit open doorways. I can’t help but compare this social hubbub to the average night-time UK street of quiet emptiness. There is such a sense of community here; clearly the street residents are firm friends. It’s a joy to walk through this scene, and to briefly feel touched by its warmth and infectious happiness. As the light fades, large bats swoop low around the tamarind trees that line all of the streets here, gleaning insects from the leaves.
Often when we return, Vijay, one of the staff, has lit a candle and incense beneath a terracotta pot in the garden, with a single marigold flower placed on top as an offering. The simplest of shrines, and all the more beautiful for it. It feels like a cosy beacon, welcoming us home.
More street scenes:
The technique for making these road drawings is incredible – they use powder chalk and somehow trickle it onto the road through their fingers into two or more parallel lines, like you can see here.
Spying on our neighbours…