02.22.2013 - 03.24.2013
Alice's sister was studying yoga in Mysore, so she hooked us up with a place to stay, which was a lovely home cum hostel/ lodge. apparently, lodges were very difficult to find because "It is yoga season". the thought makes me laugh.
we arrived via bus then took a rickshaw quite far away from the city center to a house in a peaceful (relatively) residential area, where Alice's sister was staying for several months with her daughter while studying yoga. dreadlocks, piercings, tattoos, flowy pants and skirts, scarves used as headbands, armpit hair, and lots of stringed instruments, pot, and (strangely) beer everywhere. a fascinating sociological study. people coming and going, sleeping in this corner or that. though the hippy culture was a bit much for me, I could see myself spending time in the city for an extended period of time to study yoga. the city quieted down after 10pm or so, there were sidewalks, and there was a general sense if calm in the city which was great.
that day, we relaxed and enjoyed the rooftop and quiet. in the evening, we went back to 'the house' for what was dubbed a party. in reality, it was kirtan, or call and response of mantras- there was a tablas player, a guitarist, a violinist, and a singer. many of the songs they sang were songs i play in my yoga classes. i enjoyed it, but from an outsider's perspective, i imagine it looked like a cult worship session- people in the room singing in another language, swaying from side to side with their eyes closed, while people in the kitchen danced or hula-hooped or hugged each other. but then we were treated to a local sitar player who was inCREDible, many said the best in Mysore. the tablas players had fingers that moved so fast my eyes couldn't even keep up with them. sold.
the next day, we explored the beautiful Mysore palace and the market where I got sandalwood oil, good for purifying skin. what a colorful market! merchants surrounded by bowls overflowing with beautiful and vibrant powders, used for painting and for Holi festival, when people wear white and throw water and this colored powder at each other. it was just like I imagined India to be- colorful in every sense of the word.
later in the evening, a guy in 'the house' taught us a horribly instructed class, during which he pushed on my head to get me to fold forward farther even after I told him not to. I didn't have enough time to find an ashtanga class that accepted students on a drop-in basis, but I thought the class were sufficient for getting my yoga on in Mysore.
the next day we took it easy with yoga in the morning taught by yours truly on the rooftop. we all had not great things to say about the class the previous night, so naturally I was nervous about teaching, but it went really well! I had the chance to slow down and explain things, though I later found out that their body part vocabulary wasn't as polished as I'd thought, so when I talked to them about heels, arms started to reach upwards... but they loved it and felt good which made me feel good.
for our last night together, we played a fun card game on the rooftop. Julie brought candles, the moon was almost full, there was a warm breeze. good company and conversation perfected the night.
the following day we went to the market to get some food to bring up to Chamundi Hill, atop which sits yet another temple. but we were interested in catching the night view of Mysore Palace, which lights up in Sunday nights. the French and i had many discussions about how to best describe what happens to the palace- do we say 'light up' or 'is illuminated' or...? way too many vocabulary questions that made me question my own mastery of the language. anyway, we picked up some fruit and balls made of coconut, oil, and sugar (somehow, i feel like because these things do not come out of Dunkin Donuts, they must be healthier than their american cousins), then we tried to find something more substantial near the bus station. at last! someone pointed to a vegetarian place down this side street over here to the right. this must be for locals, we quickly realized as we stepped over dogs feeding on a dead rat. we settled on a place that had an enormous cow standing in front of it, flicking its tail from side to side. of course, it was an open restaurant without doors or windows, and the cow was facing the street, which meant that when its tail flicked from side to side, it really flicked whatever excrement was on its tail into the restaurant. a man swatted at its tail with a cooking spoon to get it to move along. i'm pretty sure the spoon was not washed before being put to use in the kitchen. but no worries, we ordered parothas from the other side- flat breads like pancakes served with lentils on the side.
we took the bus up the hill and wandered around a bit before finding an open place to wait and see the Palace light up (be illuminated). what a beautiful night- a warm breeze, a view of the city, good food, good company. we enjoyed it for a few minutes then squished onto a bus that was already oozing with people. we headed straight to the palace for a close-up view. it was just like any other tourist place, with people selling tacky, miniature plastic versions of what you were looking at, differing only in how many sparkles were on them. it was fun to watch people buy them.
we headed back via rickshaw to pack up and say goodbye. i think we were all excited to see more of india (people were headed to Gokarna and Goa and staying in Mysore), but we were all pretty sad to part ways as we got along so well. alas, all things must pass, and Yann and i planned on meeting up in Goa anyway...
so i boarded the night bus to Hospet and hoped i'd be able to sleep...
- *i am changing the post time to reflect the end of my time in mysore, though i am so behind in posts!