Monday, April 20, 2009

Marvada Family - Harijan people, Bhujodi

These are photos from my embroidery family in Bhujodi, a small village south east of Bhuj. They are a Harijan family. Hari means god, and Jan means people. The name Harijan was given to the Meghwal people by Mahatma Gandhi. Ganga, the young girl in the photos (not in traditional dress), was primarily my teacher, though her mum Veeramai, and sister Uma also assisted. Ganga does not dress in the traditional Harijan dress, she is a "modern" girl, and like most teenagers wants to dress in their own way, and chooses salwar suits, and more modern wear. A really stunning, lovely family.

Favorite Photo - Jat man

This is my favorite photo, taken last week in a village in the Kutch region. The Jat people, live in a village about 25km from Bhuj. This man was sitting chatting with 2 old men, with his little boy playing with a mobile phone, by his feet. He is gorgeous.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Australian Home Sweet Home

Well made it all safe and sound - and even got to have a little snooze on the way home courtesy of Emirates and being upgraded in Singapore to J class - Business - it was heavenly - food, wine, bed, trimmings - what did a girl do to deserve that!!!

Will compose a little finalisation of my trip in the next few days as well as some photos - have some definite favorites - many from my tribal adventures in Kutch.

Thanks for reading, emails, etc - hope to catch up soon.

Missing beautiful India already - anyone up to a trip soon?

Stay tuned for more. xox P

Friday, April 17, 2009

Goodbye Dubai - Hello Singapore

What the - no one told me I was going via Changi - feel like I'm in an episode of the Sullivan's. Oh well hopefully I get more miles.
Dubai was great - did a whirlwind tour - get on, get off bus at your leisure - but sick of shopping centres - who cares if they have ice skating rinks, ski slopes, are mini theme parks. Architecturally Dubai is great - glad I have seen it, but more than a day - without my bathers, perhaps the novelty would wear off.
Have to get back on plane

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Namaste my Beautiful India

It's nearly over - a few more hours - and what a better place to spend them and leave from than crazy Ahmedabad (Amdavad). Leaving Bhuj was sad as I love it. Went to my favorite chai stand in India and Bhuj at 6.00am this morning - the bazaar was empty - just 2 people in the chai stand, and one of them I knew. Our conversation was brief, my Gujarati is non existent, and Jay's English limited - though when I met him he said he had a friend in Brunswick - and did I know where it was? He is a young jeweller - he, his parents and sister run a little silver (Chandi) shop - in fact they are all silversmiths - and a delightful family - again I have photos.

Train trip was uncomfortable - again sleeper class - 7 hours sitting on a rock almost, with about 15 sets of eyes glued on me - all creepy blokes. Was glad to get off - gave them some stick about pushing too.

My next few hours will be spent on trying to find an Ahmedabad Rockets t-shirt for Rob, though I doubt they exist. It is a funny, or should I say unfortunate choice of name for the state cricket team as Ahmedabad is not without many recent bombings etc.

Well a short post this will be - the chair is uncomfortable and very low - my back is aching from both this and lugging an almighty pack filled with half of India.

Dubai is calling, but my heart belongs to India.
But - "I'll be back" - will start saving Monday!

Kutch Rocks (excuse the pun)

Well life here is certainly so interesting and very different. Throughout the Kutch region at times you pinch yourself as you feel like you are on another planet or in some costume period piece - with all the funky tribal outfits and different lifestyles (and not alternative ones either). But what strikes you most is the overwhelming spirit, generosity, hospitality and openness of the people, even in spite of their sometimes dire economic situation. What I can say are they are rich in many ways we will never know or get.

Enough philosophising - and now a summary of the past few days - and no yoga to speak of except a brief demonstration for my embroidery teacher and her family.

Sunday I took a local bus to Mandvi - and same same everyone says hello, asks where you are from (if they speak English - and it's not that common here), looks, smiles, really it's exhausting, but give some insight into the lives of the rich and famous. Mandvi is on the coast - Arabian Sea/Bay of Kutch, and is primarily a ship building port - huge ships made of timber. Interesting but am glad I only made a day trip there - and being on my own I was hesitant to swim - stripping off even mildly is likely to cause more commotion.

Monday I was met bright and early by my driver Bharat - he took Deb and I around last trip and is a fabulous man. We first visited a Rabari family in Bhujodi, a village near Bhuj, where unfortunately the mother/woman of the house had been called away to a meeting so we spent time with her husband Vanka and various daughters-in-law who came by - all dressed in very funky Rabari outfits (and not just for me - this is there garb). Much chai was consumed and Rupees spent on some lovely Rabari embroidery - I couldn't refuse - it's my favorite. It was unfortunate that I couldn't have any lessons there, but embroidery lessons were in the afternoon, and organised near-by. Suffice to say they were really nice and it was great hanging out in their home - again like being in a film or something. Before Vanka's wife left she dressed me up in traditional Rabari dress - I must say I looked rather weird, but as they wear all black it was kind of cool. The woman have these very funky tattoos - primarily on their arms, neck and face, not to mention jewellery. They were very impressed with mine too, particularly given the colour we have, something you never see here in tattoos.

Second stop was to a family of weavers - who were really nice and great to chat to. More rupees gone but top stuff, they even use Australian merino wool. Also scored an invite to lunch, which I attended today - a home cooked Gujarati Thali - these are the famous Indian Thalis, and the feast lived up to its hype. Again really nice family, new friendships formed.

The afternoon was filled with embroidery and mirror work, from a Harijan girl and her family. Ganga is 13 and was primarily my teacher, with her mum, 2 sisters, and sister-in-law. The women spend a vast majority of the day, week in week out doing mirror work and embroidery, and I can tell you practice makes perfect - they are good, and I suck big time. When they do it it looks so easy - when I try, it is so difficult, but after round 2 today I am getting the hang. They are a fantastic family, and I felt like a real weirdo after a while in my boring clothes (I have lots of pics - you'll see why). Nevertheless Ganga is a modern girl, preferring a salwar or some funkier indo-western style clothes to that of the rest of the family, the woman all decked out in cholis, skirts, shawls, and amazing jewellery, all which have probably not changed much for 100s of years. Anyway it was great and a fantastic way to hang out with women, and particularly tribal women. Highly recommended and I really loved it.

I capped of today with a visit to the Jat community, a Muslim community about 25km north of Bhuj. They are a very poor but vibrant community, and despite the overwhelming evidence of poverty and disadvantage, all the families were very welcoming and hospitable, and not one person asked for money. In fact they were offering chai, but I declined saying I had just had one, anyway how many can I down in a day. To them it meant they would give up some of their milk, sugar, etc. so I figured they could do with it more. I did buy a couple of small pieces of embroidery, though only one family emerged with any, but many women were busy with their crafts for a co-op that supports their craftsmanship. Gorgeous people.

On the ride back to town we picked up a couple of Rabari women and a child who were walking towards the bus - some 6 kms away. They looked at me, me at them - again I pinched myself.

Returning to Bhuj today and yesterday evenings I have spent time in the bazaars purchasing mirrors and embroidery thread, and a few other bits and pieces. Next time I return I will show them my skills! Also spent a bit of time with some nice people I met in the bazaar - again much chai and laughter later. The boys in the hotel I am staying in want me to come to their village next time and stay with their families. Buddha - one of the staff here has even been asking me my opinion on what he should call his newly born son (I think Sachin - but have yet to tell him).

All in all this is a magical place (except for this keyboard which is shit and accounts for any errors there may be). Everyone should put it on their map if visiting India, though the magic might be lost if too many people come. This is by far my favorite place in India, I will be sorry to leave, as I will be my beautiful India. I know this time I will shed a tear - I will miss the people and their spirit most.

Tomorrow Ahmedabad by train - another 7 hours - then a few in Ahmedabad, then off to Dubai. Home Saturday - how will I cope - except for seeing Rob, Pixie, Chief and a few other significant others - I could just stay here in my own costume drama.


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Living Easter egg free in Bhuj

Made it to Bhuj yesterday, loved it last time, love it even more this time. It is a very special place, I think one of the friendliest places in the world, most definitely in India.

After an epic over night train journey from Udaipur to Ahmedabad, with a 3 hour chai drinking, paper reading session/wait at Ahmedabad Junction train station, big rat n hole near feet, I finally boarded my train to Bhuj, albeit a little late. Travelling sleeper class I was devoid of most creature comforts, other than a bench, and also any other English speaking fellow passengers. I had a seat in with a big extended family, who for about the first 3 odd hours just stared at me, offering me the occasional biscuit or sweet. They seemed really nice, just watching their interactions with one another. Eventually we started hanging out - the kids jumping all over me for the remaining 3 + hours, and the adults and I making conversation with our limited cross communication vocab. We had fun though, and they force fed me, buying some pakoras and drinks for me, refusing any money, because I was "their guest in their India". We were all travelling to Bhuj - that much I got, among other bits and pieces. Arriving in Bhuj we all said goodbye, and I dragged my ever increasing bag up and down stairs before catching an auto to my hotel. On my journey I felt very sad that these are my last few days in this awesome country. There is something magical about this place, as crazy, chaotic and sometimes infuriating as it is, it brings out something in me, it makes me really happy, I always have an internal and external smile here, for so many reasons. Indian people are fantastic on many levels, but on the train, I really saw their spirit, out the windows their resourcefulness and determination in the face of adversity and hardship. And being in Bhuj, people here are truly unbelievable, the past 24 hours have been great. Bhuj was hit by a devastating earthquake in 2001, but lives here have been rebuilt in the Indian spirit - they just get on with it. Over 50,000 were killed and much of the city, and surrounding villages destroyed.

To tee up my embroidery lessons and village visits, I phoned Mr Promod Jethi, the curator of a museum here, upon my arrival. He invited me over to his house as he was having a day off (2nd & 4th Saturdays - that's all). I went over, more chai was had, and we worked out my few days here - Monday and Tuesday. Fortunately I will be travelling with the same auto driver as last time - Bharat - he was so cool in an older Indian's way. Anyhow upon leaving Mr Jethi suggested I go and check out this festival down the road at the local mosque (you could hear the drumming from his place). What the festival was for I have no idea, but it was really cool, as the people were decedents of African slaves and settlers who came to India 300+ years ago. So there was all this dancing and drumming in the mosque grounds and it was like a fair ground outside. I was mobbed by locals - kids and adults, and even interviewed for TV here. In fact they were more interested in me, and I got numerous invites into peoples houses for water, to say hi to the baby, whatever. I was even ushered around the back for a good view by a man, something that I would have been made to pay rupees for anywhere else. But here people are just very hospitable, and being not too touristy, they are not "over" foreigners, or into getting what they can. I tell you the place is special, though I should keep it to myself! Am so glad I made the trek back here, particularly after touristy but gorgeous Udaipur. Today I went to Mandvi - on the coast - about an hour away. Went to see the palace that was used in the film Laagan, and walked around town, the beach and ship building area. Returning to Bhuj I went to Aina Mahal - another palace, this one severely damaged in the earthquake. It was under reconstruction last time I was here, and it is amazing to see the completion of the project. Am very tired now though.

Forgot to mention on my last day in Mysore I did in fact go to the dentist. Wish I'd gone on my first as I probably would have gone every day, well at least would have had my silver fillings out and replace. Anyway she was really busy but squeezed me in - ground the rough edges off my tooth, checked all the others and sent me on my way - all the the sum of nothing!!! That's right - no appearance fee here - not $120 to open the door. Will be back there - have made a few dental enquiries with her!

Yoga - have done nothing more than a few stretches - no room, either in my hotels or on the train. So no boring asana news - bet you're happy!!

Namaste from Bhuj - will try and update after the villages tomorrow. Happy Easter!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Real India

My last day in Mysore was busy, but slow! Slow as I was feeling a little depleted - Monday's delicious lunch passed through me like a Bombay train after causing an eruption in my belly - in the wee hours of the morning. When the alarm went off for practice at 4.45am I again contemplated skipping practice, but given it was my last one I threw some water over myself, dressed and headed off down the road. The shala was again on the empty side - it is really a case of pick your spot - where ever you want. It was hard - practice that is - I was pretty light on. However what a difference little eating does - the marichi binds were easy peasy, Saraswati even nearly getting my bind in supta kurmasana. Garba pindasana - arms through easy - and nearly up for kukkatasana - hands on the floor - but right one is still spazzo. The rest - same - same - did full finishing today (no hiding in the change room) with nothing in me I wasn't really worried. Then it was all over - my month up (actually have one day but train booked for Tuesday). The clock said 7.40am (shala time) really 7.25am - had a breakfast date with Elizabeth at 8.00am - at Tina's. No coconut - no cake - thought of it made me want to spew. Couldn't even bring myself to get one for the train trip. Got home - more water throwing, clothes washing - and off to breakfast - well liquid again - Spirulina, lime and mint X 2. Did a few other bits and pieces, then decided to head off to the city to pick up some bangles from Santosh's dad. But given my lack of energy, we decided to go for coffee first, Elizabeth suggesting we take a rickshaw given my condition - a realn weakling! After downing 2 coffees, and some dry toast, bidding my fond farewells to the staff and to Santosh, we headed to town - feeling a million bucks. After getting my bangles, it was time to get serious and finish packing, pick up my stuff from the tailor (Lokesh - also sick like me), visit the shala, the children's home and get to the station by 6.00pm - all accomplished, though I must say, now several kilos lighter.

Train trip to Ahmedabad was OK - though had a moment where I felt very claustrophobic in my little bunk, combo of air con too cold, people farting, starvation, and waking from a dream. Had to do a little self talk and some deep breathing, then back up top to the bunk, til morning. Had issues with my seat so sat with a young guy who was an engineer and worked for the railways - they are the biggest employer in India - I think he said 10 - or maybe 100 lakh (look that one up) workers, with the army the nation's 2nd biggest employer. Also hung out with 3 kids who spoke very little English but were fun (and their parents), everyone trying to feed me, even the staff commenting on my lack of food intake. Arrived in Ahmedabad, quick rickshaw transition to the bus ticket place, then the bus and off to Udaipur, lucky to get a seat next to a young college student from Udaipur, returning to the city after 1st year of study in Pune. He was good value - pretty groovy, progressive, middle class intelligent guy, with impeccable English. Arrived Udaipur around 2pm Thursday - went to my beautiful hotel - Mewar Haveli - then had my first real non Indian shower in 5 weeks - heaven. Off for food, then shopping, then dinner - now off to the roof terrace to have a beer - then bed. Can't wait to lay my head down again - in a real bed - not a bunk or a seat. And no practice today - moon day - oh and happy Easter everyone - it's Hannuman's birthday today - good to have none of those boring capitalistic christian holidays here. Think I might cme back before Christmas - given my love of that occasion. Anyway Namaste - enjoy your eggs!

Monday, April 6, 2009

That's nearly all folks!

What a weekend and Monday it's been. Tuesday evening I'm out of here, so lots going on, well as much as you can do with a crook guts. I think I may have got a bit dehydrated, and then the slightest thing can set off your belly, particularly here. After a food frenzy on Saturday, I started off Sunday with fruit only - and there began my downfall. Post breakfast I began to feel very bloated - I think it all started to ferment inside. Then all day Sunday I could barely get off the bed. Dragged my sorry ass (yes it was) up before "conference" - which was just chanting - it somewhat resembled the mumbling of the rosary as no one had the words and we just had to repeat/follow after Saraswati. Thankfully it was over soon as I could barely hold myself up. But I then decided to go to the orphanage for an hour to see the kids. It as always was fun and actually made me feel a little better. Then back to bed at about 8.00pm, so I didn't see much of the day.

Practice Sunday, was not too bad - it was thankfully pre feeling vile, though did have a pre loose BM (us ashtangis love talking about our toileting). I got to do full primary which was so nice and I was amazed I could still do it and even did a bit of a faux kukatasana (spelling?)given this has been hard for me - could bring both hands down but not lift my ass off the mat. Did all the rest - felt like I was gonna die at the end though. Monday Mysore - did all of primary although I felt like stopping at Supta Kurmasana - no energy due to Sunday shits and lack of food intake. Actually contemplated skipping practice all together but then I thought if I can practice with a big hole in my hand - post dog bite 2007, then I can do this. I did however pass up on drop backs as backbends put a bit of a strain on my guts and didn't want to embarrass myself in more than one way. Might give it a go - last practice tomorrow. Did finishing in the change rooms - again was not sure what belly and butt might do so took it easy in there. Went home and died!

Dragged my ass off the bed again and went and caught up with some people from breakfast at Santosha - had some toast and espresso, nothing else, then off to Tina's for some Spirulina and a chat. Dragged myself back up the hill - lots of dragging going on I can assure you - then fell into bed again. Phone rang - my friend Santosh organising lunch at his parents place - his mum wanted to make dal for me. So lunch was on for 2pm - though I really felt like starving myself for the day. It is really hot here and not feeling to good - I have been sweating up a storm, and eating makes me feel worse at the moment. But as I am leaving tomorrow I was hesitant to pass up the offer, and I am glad I didn't. We met at Cubs, he was just back at 4am from Bangkok, so was pretty tired himself. So we drove over to the other side of town - nice to be in an AC car, with someone who knows how to drive both ways (well he has a NSW drivers licence). It was very amusing - I didn't realise they have a whole steering wheel with horn sensitivity (if you've been in India you know how important the horn is). His mum had a really nice red sari on - she is a very attractive lady, and she made me feel welcome right away. And her food - it was to die for - and she made my favorite dessert - Kheer - without even knowing - we have the same birthday so it's our connection. She also made a tomato curry with Ragi dosas, a Hyderabadi rice dish - she's from Hyderabad - and a palak Dal (Spinach Dal), and a bean dish - it was delicious, though I was scarred about my belly. However it was the least of my worries as I noticed a bit of tooth had chipped off (when I have no idea - probably fell off from all the Limca I have been drinking cos of this belly). Anyway hopefully Santosh can fix me up with an appointment with his dentist, as I don't want to get home with a rotten tooth - not to mention it is heaps cheaper - might even see if I can get the amalgam fillings replaced (all tomorrow - we'll see). The dentist apparently is from Delhi - might get him to quote me on implants too - otherwise there is this woman someone else recommended near by. Anyway felt fantastic after lunch, best I have felt in days, and his mum invited me back again, and also gave me a Ganesha - bless!!

Tomorrow prior to the choo choo I have to go and bid my fond farewells to the kids and staff at Bapaji. Bought them ice-creams today - 50 all up - have photos of us all eating them, and lots of others. It is going to be very sad to say goodbye but I hope to definitely come back and do some full time volunteer work there at some stage. Don't know if I will do the main shala again, we'll see what happens, but Bapaji - definitely.

Well a big day of goodbyes tomorrow - it will be really sad. Travels and adventures await, but I am also looking forward to coming home - so I can save up and do it all again!!!!! Well nearly all - Babaji definitely!

(Next post - maybe not for a few days til up north - or tomorrow if I have time)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Full Practice tomorrow

Well looks like I will finally get to go past kurmasana - led on Sunday - 4.30am. I asked Saraswati if it was ok and she said "You try!" - well try I will though as I haven't done Garba Pindasana etc. for a month, it might be a tall ask. We'll see what happens - will let you know.

So many people are or have left - looks like everyone will be starting Mysore classes at 4.30am this week - I only have Monday and Tuesday to go before I board my train for the epic trip to Ahmedabad on Tuesday. I am actually looking forward to going (as previously mentioned), all except for saying good-bye to the kids and staff at Bapaji. Have organised 50 ice-creams for Monday afternoon - it has really heated up here so that I hope will be a nice treat. 3 little girls (babies) have been adopted this week, but still had my little fella to play with - he is so cute and I will really miss him. Hopefully they will let me take some pictures - we'll see what happens there.

Had a quietish day today - had another coconut head massage, and as my lower back was a bit sore I had a back massage. Both really nice and very cheap. My feet look like crap again - so dirty today even post pedicure. I am also covered in mozzie bites - about 30 on my feet and lots on the back of my neck - very uncomfortable, particularly in this heat. Even slept with the fan on last night - but I hear it is very hot in Gujarat so better get used to it.

My mate Gigi left unfortunately - she was a riot, and walked the same pace as me! She also likes coffee and chocolate cake, and we spent lots of time in the short while we knew each other in Cubs - amusing the patrons with our antic (particularly hers) and scoffing one of the best cakes ever. My friend Santosh from Cubs is also away - so really only Elizabeth left to hang out with. But will be on my own as of Tuesday evening - new adventures, maybe new friends.

So much I could say but am tired, and really how much of this can you be bothered reading. Over and out from Mysore.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Only a few to go

Well as previously mentioned the shala is well and truly clearing out. It is now easy to get everything - no lining up for a coconut post practice, and with fewer students no waiting for assistance or an adjustment - well wrong on the last one, and this morning was no exception. Travelled along fine in my practice, though left foot/ankle is bothering me - it was before I left, but I decided a few minutes a day in Marichiasana B & D would not render me disabled. But coupled with wearing thongs all day every day, and the uneven walking surfaces, and the fact I walk almost everywhere (haven't walked into town - Mysore city yet - might give it a go this weekend)it means the foot gets little rest. Anyway there is always something physically to contend with particularly as this yoga body gets older. Knee is also sore - same reason I suspect. None of this is stopping me doing anything I might add, and I look like I will never get past kurmasana this trip - but soon I hope, though with no help here I am sure. It goes like this - I did Kurmasana - waiting for adjustment (as told to do by Saraswati), nothing, so jump back, look do it again - no Saraswati. So as not to get told off I sat on my mat to wait - out of the corner of my eye I see her at the desk in the office, obviously busy - or so I think. I am waiting, others waiting for the same and drop backs. Then flick, I see the page of the newspaper flick past, she is deep in the paper, glasses on. Anyway I think to hell with it - decide that's I'm not doing it, not waiting - am getting cold (well cooling anyway and am bathed in sweat), so I start doing backbends etc. - head to the back for finishing - I hear "you do kurmasana" - I say - "yes several times - not catching - waited and waited, so did backbends". So she makes me do it again (better than the other day when I did it before headstand - that's why I wait), no touch today - obviously no bind. Yesterday touch - so as they say to touch is to bind, but no next pose - can't be bothered asking!
Am looking forward to practicing on the road to see if I can still do full primary.

Orphanage news - the little princess - for reasons of anonymity we'll call her Cha Cha, well she was being picked up for adoption today. I saw her new parents last night - they looked very happy - and why wouldn't they be with the little doll they are about to share. She is a little princess, though albeit a demanding one. And my favorite little girl is going tomorrow so I will go and say goodbye this afternoon. Both are around 3 - 4 months old. The little boy - he is so funny - well he will still be there which is great - well for me at least, not for him, and 3 other baby girls. They are great kids and I know I keep saying it but it is a great place. I have been hanging out a bit with the older kids - 4 and 5, they are a riot. I told them (the stff) I am leaving next week, and they asked me when I was coming back - I have a great time there with the ladies (the carers) - they are probably about my age, they even have tattoos on their fore arms too, though they are particularly impressed with color, and they love the lotus. Anyway we have a great time - they chat to me in Kannada and I back in English, we laugh, they give me jobs and directives, I understand somehow. I think I will miss this place more than the practice at the shala - sad but true. Two shifts to go but might spend part of Saturday there if I am allowed and hang out with the kids. I love that place so much. Hope to do a fundraiser when I get home - start putting aside your coins!

Well off for a pedicure now, had a big sleep post practice this morning, and then to the orphanage, before I eat cake at a birthday party at 5pm.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Beauty and the Indian Beast

Yesterday afternoon I spent an hour getting a fabulous beauty treatment - Coconut Head Massage. For Rs150 (around 4-5 bucks) you get a wonderful head massage where they drizzle warm coconut oil along part lines in your hair, before massaging your entire head, face and neck included - and make that shoulders too. It was sublime - an hour of this - hard to take really. Gigi, a crazy German chick, who lives and teaches in Athens accompanied me - she had never had it before. Anyway we were so mesmerised and relaxed, we booked in for another before we leave. I have also booked a pedicure - again about $7 (Rs300). I can get a full spa pedicure - unlike the hefty price tag at home. This is however not for pampering - my feet are the worst I have ever seen them - I will take a before and after pic to prove. Anyway thought I would do it when I get home but I may have no heels left in tact by then - not to mention a feel like an ugly, filthy trog. That's what you get from walking around through shit and dirt and dust all day every day in a pair of almost breaking thongs. Oh well what must be done, must be done.

Yesterday was also just filled with eating - not much else. Morning mango, tea and carrot cake on roof post practice, followed by omelet and spirulina at Tina's, then as Vivian was heading back to Taiwan (an old friend who now has a cafe here), I had fruit salad at her establishment, followed by coffee and cake, and nibbles of Gigi's salad at Cubs, then a quick powernap, then off to the beauty salon, then dinner at the Green Hotel - Malai Kofta - yum - vege patties in a rich creamy sauce, with Palak Dal (Spinach Dal - I know how to make this), rice, and naan - what else could a girl want - well other than a Kingfisher, and Gigi had a glass (make it thimble) of wine (Grover white - thank ganesh for aussie wine). The glass of wine was so small that Gigi said to them - "the sample was good - now bring me the real glass" (joke) - and she got (they don't get sarcasm) "oh no madam, that was the glass". Anyway we had a riot of a time - walked there and home - a 5 km round trip - and peed ourselves laughing the whole time.

Today we took the bus into town - Gigi managed to entertain the whole bus for the entire journey - I should have taken a photo. She is leaving Friday so she needed to pick up some bits and pieces. I also wanted to get a couple of woven bags from a friends father in the market. We had chai in the market, entertained a few more, before having a coffee uptown and going our separate ways, she to lunch - me home - I have orphanage in less that an hour. We will reconveen for dinner - and cake!

So life here is good but slowly coming to an end. The shala has really cleared out - I am still practicing at 6am for Mysore prac, and am happy with that - though feel I will be bumped to 4.30am any day. Led is 4.30am still and Saraswati said we will be doing some chanting this week - that might be cool. No news with practice - same same really - though might ask her if I can do full primary practice for the remainder of the week and my time here - others have asked - so I'll see what happens. If not I am happy - feel my practice has strengthened so for that I am happy.

Am looking forward to moving on in a week - though have lots to do before then. Cooking class yesterday was cancelled, but am doing it Friday. Catching up with old and new friends before leaving, but also need to finish a book so I don't have to drag it with me.

Will miss Mysore, though glad to be moving on. Will miss the shala, but not lots of the wanky BS that people rant and rave about, each and everyone an "expert", but will miss the couple of wonderful people I have met. Will miss the kids at the orphanage of course - no need to embellish here. Will miss the lush green of Mysore, heading for the dry western deserts of Gujarat, and the over abundance of water here - washing the concrete and street entrance in the morning (you never see that at home). Will miss lots of things - food of course. But more new things await - lots of train travel before I leave my beloved India in 15 days - how I need to savour it - until of course the next time!!