Monday, December 20, 2010

A few snaps (more to come)

Me, Sparsha & Santhosh at the last reception

Lokesh giving me a lift (sari sidesaddle) to the reception after an afternoon with his family

On my way to the last reception - black sari
Me, Santhosh & Sparsha on their wedding day
Meeting the bride & groom at the first reception

The bride's sister - and her amazing outfit

Anna & I in our saris
Silk sari

Wishing the bride and groom all the best


Sparsha & Santhosh during the wedding

Sparsha's mehendi

Me & Anna at the wedding

The silk/cotton sari I wore to first reception

Friday, December 17, 2010

Missing India

Not a surprise to many, but I am missing India.  I have been home just over a week now and while it has been nice to catch up with people, I miss India for lots of reasons.

For starters in India I do not have to go to work, though the reason I get to go so often is because I work!  Nevertheless I am now back at it and watching my leave balance accumulate.

Of course I am missing the food, particularly Sandhya's food, and have made an attempt to cook it here.  The salads worked out the same - which is good as my favourite thing was the carrot salad.  I have also made Prabhaka's carrot cake and it is nearly the same - maybe I will make it again tomorrow.  I also miss the chai, particularly the stuff near Mystore on the opposite side of the street where I used to go with Ismael.   Oh and I miss the people I met, most definitely those in the house - Carryn, Francisco, Ismael, Maida, Prabhaka, and the lovely women of the house.  And now no contact with anyone :-(.

I had drinks last night with some old friends who have also recently been to India - we laughed lots about the absurdities of the place, but reminisced about the wonder and awe it has to offer.  To me all that it has, even the bad and annoying makes it what I love about her, and how I am counting the days til I return.

PS. I am not missing the spitting and hacking up of lungs everywhere!  And I love having my yoga teacher back, and a nice clean studio!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Homeward bound

I want India back.  Arrived in KL last night after a great flight with Air Asia - three seats to myself, exit row, so had a good sleep, and boy I needed it.  Bed was late on Sunday night after the last of the wedding receptions.  I wore a black sari and lots of Indian jewellery, it was fun and I got to say my goodbyes to a whole bunch of lovely people, including Santhosh and Sparsha, the newly wedded couple.

Sunday was busy, last shopping, and then over to Lokesh and Sukas place for some sweet chapatis.  Suka then helped me dress in my sari and then Lokesh dropped me at the reception on his bike, me sitting side saddle in my sari, very Indian lady style!

I was up early yesterday for the last practice - Ajay didn't come as he was apparently sick, so I had one more session of bad adjustments, and actually had a very half hearted practice, it was cold in there and I was pretty tired after the wedding and packing half the night.

Here I am in KL.  I am scared to go home - three Christmas trees here in the hotel lobby, I am not ready for this - how India has protected me.  Next time I will stay post Christmas.  I want India back for lots of reasons, I already miss her, the colour, the saris, even the smells.  Oh and I just had breakfast - yes add food to the list of things I miss.

I did however have my first beer last night in over a month, and it was nice.  I suspect with the silly season in full swing at home, it will not be the last for a while.  Melbourne here I come!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

All good things must come to an end! WHY??

I am soaking up my last days in beautiful India.  I am trying to fit so much in I fear I will need a holiday when I return, actually there has not been much "rest" the past week, with wedding fever etc., thankfully today is Moonday and there is no practice.  Actually I have decided that is what the plane is for - rest, what else is there to do.

Last night I went with Ismael my Spanish friend to Mahesh Prasad Hotel (no booze hotel) for my last butter naan, then we went for our ritualistic and last ice cream sundae at Corner House.  This morning Sandhya and Jaya spoilt me with ragi rotis with chutney, followed by chapatis with banana, jaggery, cardamon, coconut and cinnamon.  Mmmmmm.  I also had to have one with just jaggery, my favorite.  Last night I bought a kilo of the jaggery I love to bring home, as if I don't have enough baggage.  Today I went in town and did my last bits and pieces (translation = shopping), and this afternoon I am off to a friends for some sweet chapatis and cake, followed by the wedding reception here in Mysore.  I have my new sari ready, with some nice OTT jewellery to match.

I have been reflecting on the many things I will miss about India - here's some:
  • the laid back chilled out life style
  • the colour and daily visual and sensory overloads
  • the lovely people, rich and poor, people are generally so beautiful - I always miss this
  • Sandhya's cooking, and Jaya and the girls
  • food glorious Indian food - I have had very little Western food at all this time - I love the food hence the waistline
  • sari shopping and wearing - maybe I will get into this at home
  • cheap transport - rickshaws, and hooning around on the back of my friend's scooter in thongs and no protective wear whatsoever!!
  • shopping, shopping, shopping
  • not having to work
  • proper chai - my little chai stand on the road
  • coconuts after practice
  • the carrot cake - though now I have the recipe
  • jaggery
  • being treated like a celebrity
  • that there is no mention of Christmas, no carols, no trying to make you buy crap you don't want, all the major things I hate about Christmas - so far Christmas free here!
  • Being called madam
  • too too much to mention.
What I wont miss:
  • Noise, stinky smells like you have never smelt before that burn your nose and stay in there for hours
  • fire crackers - too many festival = too many excuses to let off crackers that sound like the city is being blown up - oh and mainly just at the yoga student's bed time
  • walking into a store, looking at something - any randon reason for a shop keeper to say in a gruff tone - "what do you want?" - not "how may I help you"
  • Asking for something in a store and they get out everything but the thing you want
  • prices - just tell me the god damn real price - let's not make it a guessing game, or who ever cracks first - I am the master of the walk away!
  • Rickshaw drivers that like to try and rip you off
  • cockroaches the size of small birds, and rats on the way to practice
  • people hacking up their lungs whilst chatting to you or at any given opportunity, oh make that also farting, belching, better out than in!
  • Bad or unnecessary adjustments in yoga class.
I am however looking forward to a nice vino, but really I could give it up for Sandhya's cooking and a good supply of good jaggery.  I am really looking forward to seeing Rob, Pixie and Chief too - but it would be nice if they could just come here.

Well best I get on my merry way, I have engagements to attend.

Goodbye from India - as always it's been lovely, I hate to think about leaving, but it must be done I guess.  Til next time, and there will be, thanks for coming on the journey!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Oh I am in love.......

with wearing saris, looking at saris, buying saris, the list goes on.  Who would have known, particularly as I have always thought only Indian women look good in saris.  That's not too say I think I look good, but I don't think I look horrid, I will review the photos and decide. It just feels like dressing up and very special occasion, and I guess it was, my friends wedding.   I will post some shots next week along with my favourites from this trip.  But seriously it is sari fever here in my heart and wallet, I just purchased my third to wear to the reception on Sunday, after wearing one a last nights reception and today's divine wedding of my friend Santhosh and his gorgeous bride Sparsha.  Man it was sooooo beautiful and long too, but really the rituals looked lovely, despite the photographer bossing and yelling at them throughout.  There will be many photos of mine to come, all so colourful, the women in particular looking so beautiful - I had total sari envy, I now look at them in a totally different way. 

I am also in love with Indian weddings.  What a beautiful couple of days I have had, first Santhosh's grooms day, then the reception yesterday evening in Sparsha's home town, followed by the wedding today.  And not a measly 15 minute or hour ceremony, it went for the best part of today.  We stayed last night at the divine golf club in the little town following the reception, and then the most of the day at the ceremony.  It was just wonderful, I will now take every opportunity to attend Indian weddings, so please if you are having one - invite me!  I now have a growing sari collection, and waistline following the wonderful food at the wedding and reception, and also too many of the sweets that were at the wedding from Santhosh's sweet store, Khova in Mysore. 

Anyway I wish Santhosh and Sparsha all the happiness and a lovely future together.  I am so blessed to have been invited to their wedding, and sharing this lovely occasion with my friend and his bride, and around a 1000 others. 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

It's all happening now - well all except yoga practice!

The days are flying by with so much to do so little time.  Many of my new Mysore friends are leaving or have just left.  I took Carryn to the station the other morning for her first ever Indian railway journey, and also bought my ticket out of town for next Monday.  Others in the house have left leaving just Ismael from Spain and I, as well as Sandhya and Jaya of course.  Ismael and I have been zooming around on his scooter, and have recently rediscovered the ice-cream parlour, where we are currently trying to eat our way through the sundaes menu.  Spanglish continues to be the lingo of the day!

Yesterday was the first of the wedding functions, where they do pooja in the home and get the groom ready.  It was really lovely, though Santhosh told me just to come casually, so I dressed nice yoga casual (that's all I have), only to arrive to find all the ladies in their sari and jewellery finery.  So the purchase of another sari was in order and occurred yesterday afternoon so I don't do the "just casual" routine again.  It is black and white with some red and a gold border - it is a bit Sass and Bide do saris I think, anyway it will make a few nice outfits later and did not cost a fortune.  The one I really loved I could see would end in disaster as it was silk chiffon with a fantastic gold border with a bit of green, with a grand price to match.  Problem is you love all these wild colours here, and get back home to the land of dull and black and discover you were a bit out of your mind.  Anyway I hope I can pull them off - it's all very exciting.  Also have a raft of bangles and bling to go with the outfits.

Today we leave for the town where the wedding is - tonight there is a reception, and tomorrow morning at 9am the marriage occurs.  I have a fancy sari for that occasion.  On Sunday evening there is the wedding reception in Mysore.  Sunday is also Moonday so no practice, and today I skipped vinyasa class as I feel all stuffed up - it is a little cold here at the moment, and I have to swan around in saris over the next few days.  And you know I am a bit over the over-adjustment, adjust you in ever damn pose for the sake of it class - and if anyone plays piano fingers on my back or shoulder again I will scream!!  Looking forward to practice back at home with Karyn.  Anyway I only have Monday morning now - so will get my ass out of bed for the last time at 4.30am then. 

Well it's time to head off to the wedding festivities.  Full report tomorrow night!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thrice as much fun..............

Well today someone actually threw "thrice", my favourite Indian-English word, into conversation.  I had a massage and was covered in oil - particularly my hair, anyway Lekhan the massage guy said to wash my hair twice or thrice!!  The word was also recently widely used in the promotional tag line of a Bollywood blockbuster trilogy, Goomaal, (or some such name), "Thrice as much fun this Diwali". anyway small things amuse small minds I guess.  Oh and I had my first western hot shower today after the massage - I think it made me all dopey and tired, so am back to the bucket again now thank the gods!

Today was rest day and rest I did, beginning with an hour and a half massage, which after I just went home and to bed.  I got up again at about 2.30pm and the ladies downstairs gave me some of their lunch cook up - tomato rice, raita, followed by yummy scrummy gulab jamon.  Carryn and I then walked into town to look at books and eat ice-cream.  I bought a book about Indian Gods and Goddesses, and a few other bits and pieces and organised another pair of reading glasses to be made.  And had pineapple and mango ice-cream

My final week of practice begins tomorrow with back bending class, but looks like I will miss a class later this week due to the wedding.  Anna and I are quite excited about the wedding, though the details of how we get there, where we stay etc. are a mystery, though I am sure all will work out.  Monday evening we have our sari fitting at Badsha, and then we will have to get some bangles and bling, can't wait.  Oh and I picked up the dress my wonderful tailor Lokesh was copying for me - it looks totally amazing, he's done such a great job and it only cost Rs 450, as opposed to the original price of the dress - AUD $460 (though I didn't pay that).   I will wear it to the reception next Sunday.  Also had some wonderful daal last night and the best butter naan ever - with sesame seeds!  So one week to do and eat all the things I need to, before coming back to earth, well Australia.  At least someone has said thrice!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

How to choose a sari?

Today was sari shopping day.  After practice and breakfast I took a quick stroll to the government silk factory to check out the Mysore silk saris, however short of mortgaging the house, and given nothing really knocked me out for the price, it was a rickshaw straight to Badsha's on Deveraja Urs road via Coffee Day to fuel the sari shopping frenzy and to meet up with Anna.

The usual friendly greeting from all staff occurred at Badsha's, and so it should given I have spent part of every trip in that store buying beautiful fabric, kurtas and dragging half of the new arrivals to town with me. My man, Illias was eventually on hand - I think he knows my taste better than me, and is certainly not backward in telling me if he thinks something doesn't suit me.  Anna was a little more decisive and soon had shortlisted a few.  I on the other hand had the biggest mound of rejects, and also a large pile of potentials, each one of the shortlisted potentials so beautiful I could have bought them all.  Despite this I am still convinced I will look hideous, but when in Rome, one must wear a sari to a wedding!  I showed Illias a picture of the only white woman I have ever seen look good in a sari (Ashley Judd - google it she looks beautiful), anyway he thought it was me - so he gets double points, smooth selling guy - he's a darl.  Nevertheless many photos were taken, chai was downed, and then I had to buckle down to a decision.  I finally made my choice, and then promptly changed my mind, going for a very traditional "Indian" look apparently, actually it was my first like, then I changed colour directions, same sari style different colours and design, but then went back to the gold and pinky red with a gold and purple border, from a shot blue and pink one.  I think the selling point was the mango/paisley design - it is a really pretty sari - I hope I can do it justice.  The tailor came and measured us for the under garments, I asked if I could have the blouse to my waist, receiving much poo hooing from the boys in the shop, but they don't understand we don't show our bellies, and particularly post 40, their women not showing shoulders and legs at any age.  Oh well white flab will be on show for sure now, unless of course I down a glass and a half of local water in the next day or so almost ensuring illness and subsequent weight loss!

Practice today was vinyasa class - not my favorite - it is hard, but necessary for lazy old me.  I much prefer back bending class, but tomorrow is Mysore style practice, Saturday rest day (yay), and Sunday back breaking, I mean bending class.  Then one practice week to go, though will probably miss a class on the Friday for the wedding - it will probably take half the day to get wrapped up in my sari.  Bring it on! 

And so begin the goodbyes

One of the things with being here in Mysore in the yoga community is that you meet so many people.  Most are merely just acquaintances, hellos at breakfast, chats at lunch, smiles here and there, but a few you know you will keep in contact with, some you know or  hope you will meet again.

Today I had my first goodbye, one of my housemates, and although he had only been there for a just less than 2 weeks, we became quite good friends.  And he is an amazing person, the likes of whom I don't think I have met before.  He is living yoga, a fantastic and interesting soul.  Anyway that makes saying goodbye sad, though I am sure we will meet again.  But with time drawing to a close for me and a few others, it just means more goodbyes.  A yoga exercise or lesson in impermanence I guess. 

On a brighter note my back has not yet been broken, I was fearing yesterday with the marichiasana C adjustment that it was only moments away, till I remembered my voice - enough!  So that has brought on some back strengthening exercises, and a bit of a lecture too.  No other major news practice wise, still enjoying it, though not tomorrows vinyasa class me thinks!  YUK.  I might have to reward myself with a massage in the next day or two.

Days are still full of shopping, chai, more chai and shopping, eating lunch at Sandhya's, visiting the tailors, more self indulgent activities, and tomorrow sari shopping.  And I know the choice will be overwhelming to say the least.  The wedding is next week, I have the invite, still not sure how I am getting there yet, maybe with Santhosh's Iranian friend who I know.  Oh and Anna is coming too so I will have a friend - the two of us gussied up in saris, most likely melting, hair a frizz!  What fun, I am just looking forward to finding a sari and hoping I don't look too ridiculous.

Well the next few days brings more goodbyes from my house, Carryn from Sth Africa is moving on to some yoga in Goa, Medha, Prabaka and their baby are going back to China.  A new guy moved in today taking Francisco's room, that leaves him, Ismail from Spain and I, til the next yoga students hit town and the cycle begins again. Bye for now.

Monday, November 22, 2010


Today is full moon, and yesterday was rest day so it was nice to have two days off practice, particularly for an old Ashtangi like me!  Friday I again went to the bone setter which was great but again a little painful - that guy is strong.  I certainly hope my back is back in -  he cracked it and many other bones in my body, well not literally, but only practice tomorrow will tell if  it's better, but being just a little out it has made my hamstring sore and a few of the twists, particularly with the fondness for adjustments here have meant a bit of pain.  Anyway all in all my body is feeling ok so hopefully the next two weeks will be cruisy too.

The weekend off has given us time to just hang out, I've watched a few movies with my housemates, done some sightseeing, and today went on a trip out of town to a waterfall and a temple, both which were great.  The road there on the other hand was not and I am still feeling a bit of motion sickness.  I am debating in my mind weather I should go and have some daal, or stay hungry, though I hate waking for practice starving!  And although I am soooo tired, I better fill in some time before bed.  That sounds sorted - daal it is.

Two weeks to go - how quickly it has gone.  I am really enjoying the vibe in Lakshmipuram and Krishnamurtypuram, my current neighbourhoods.  Life is more layed back here than Gokulam, though I have been over there a bit, especially since Anna, one of the fellow Melbourne girls arrived! I think tomorrow I will chill on this side after practice though.  I need to watch Sandhya cook too so that I can master this.  I did the cake class on Friday with Prabaka, so now have the famous Mysore carrot cake to add to my repertoire.  Why is all this food so yummy, so much for coming home thin and gorgeous!

Well talking of food, my daal awaits, so best I go and enjoy what's left of full moon day.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

It's so exhausting doing nothing

The past two days after practice, I have replenished my body and then napped til lunch.  I feel so lazy and at the same time I wonder how I go to practice, go to work, go home cook etc. every day without a nap.  But I guess besides the practice itself, which don't get me wrong, has been hard in a number of ways, there are all the other extra-curricular activities such as shopping, socialising, reading, eating, and a number of others which require quite a bit of energy and output!  So I suppose that's why I am exhausted.

My lower back has also been a bit sore, a few strong adjustments in a few of the twists have twinged a previous lower back niggle.  Hopefully the bone setter can sort that out this Friday when I make a return appearance to slide around on the floor covered in oil as I am pulverised by the wrestling big boy - sounds positively wrong when I put it like that, trust me it's all above board - I'll try and take photos between pursing my lips and swearing on the inside, just to prove it.  Anyway back to practice - Ajay has me doing more drop back preparations against the wall, and a few other torture exercises under the guise of preparation and asana!  But besides the back I am feeling good, regardless of what I may say about being exhausted.  Many people are doing 2 classes a day which makes me tired at the though - but most of them are under 25 - so they have plenty of energy to burn!  My skin feels amazing too, all the sweating and heat, and all the great food I am eating.

As for other activities I was hanging out yesterday afternoon after lunch in Badsha's new silk shop, admiring the saris with a family shopping for some wedding attire - oh it was fun.  I definitely have some ideas for a sari for the wedding I am going to attend, and am shocked at the potential cost of my favourite ones..  I've also been watching Bollywood films with my house mates Karen and Francisco.  They are two great people, so much fun, both very different, and it's been nice hanging with them.  It rained a lot around lunch time today, and then Francisco and I walk around the city and back, shopping, chatting and getting very muddy, so see this is why I am exhausted. 

Best I go home now and rest for I'm up at 4.30am for practice, then the day is mine to do nothing and be exhausted!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Back Bending Class

Ok today was my first back bending class, and it was murder.  I did my practice at 7am, and then went back to the shala for the 1pm class.  To begin with it was like a sauna in there, with so many people, and due to the hot day as well.
The class was mental - a few times I though I was going to die. Ajay goes so quickly there is not time to catch your breathe or day dream!  It will be interesting to see if this helps out my back bending and path to drop backs, or just plain kills me.  Anyway I am going to write down the regime and try and keep it up one or twice a week when I get home, well that's the plan.
On the food front I am glad tomorrow is Monday as I get to eat Sandhya's lunch again - can't wait.  Quiet day today, well with all the practice it was hard to fit anything else in with having to eat and rest.
Anyway one week down - three to go, and I am still OK. Looking forward to more now - well all except vinyasa class, give me back bending any day!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Yoga, food, the bone setter, and cockroaches!

Ok I have found food heaven.  Well I must admit I haven't starved at all since arriving in India and have had some very memorable meals - the seafood in Goa was to die for, and of course my favourite - daal, rice and garlic naan in various locations, dosas here in Mysore, and the fruit - yummy!  I was a little sad that Tina was no longer doing breakfast, well she's taking a break, as her breakfasts are worth coming to India for alone. However I seem to have found a replacement in the event I need a reason to come - lunch at Sandhyas - the house I am living in.  Today I finally had an opportunity to have lunch there after running around for most days this week.  And help me - this food is too good, too fresh, too tasty and too wholesome.  Thank god she has put out a cook book, which I will be purchasing with the hope of replicating some of the dishes upon my return home.  And speaking of cooking and recipes, I may also do a class with the man who makes the best cake in the world, another good reason to come to Mysore.  Seriously, look back at my previous postings from last year and  you will see I similarly gushed about this divine carrot cake.  I was disappointed that I was not at the Shala in Gokulam, as he sells it outside every morning, and not here in Laxshmipuram.  However he lives here in Laxshmipuram and I today I went to his house, and tonight returned there to buy some freshly cooked cakes.  Between his house and the internet place I had to seriously control myself, so I only ate half a cake, with another 1.5 cakes in the bag for later!  And a class has been organised with him for a Friday afternoon over the next few weeks.  Yesterday Ajay was saying in vinyasa class that the butt was the heaviest part of the body (I thought it was the head), and with me that is true, and now it looks like getting even heavier!

Today I visited the bone setter - a manipulator/massage guy and it was brutal but good.  He covered me in about a litre of rather stinky ayurvedic oil and massaged the crap out of me after giving me a good bone cracking. One minute I wanted to scream in pain - my muscles being pulverised between his huge strong hands, and on the other hand I let out a few big laughs when he kind of slapped me at the end of some  massage stokes.  It was hilarious. Here I was lying on the floor of a little cubicle (his office) with this huge Muslim wrestler wringing my body out.  I was completely covered in this browny red oil, hair and all, and as I walked through the city I got some pretty weird look, oh well.  The good thing is my body feels wonderful, and I will go back next week for another session.  And a whole hour is only Rs800 - that's less than $20 - and most osteos in Melbourne will charge around AUD $70  for half an hour if you are lucky.

Let's hope tonight I have no night time visitors - the past 2 nights I have been visited by a rather large cockroach on each of the evenings.  Needless to say I have done in my karma as I crushed two of the hideous little creatures.  The worst was two nights ago when it was IN my mosquito net, though last nights charged at me - vile thing.  I know in my mind they will not hurt me but they are dirty, creepy creatures. 

The mornings are lovely walking to the shala at around 5.05am.  It is so quiet - about the only time India is!  Oh and on the way to yoga this morning I saw a rat the size of a cat - lovely!

Well off to bed soon, hopefully without visitors.  I am so looking forward to a sleep in, and a real coffee tomorrow!


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

OK - the yoga.........

Today was my third class with Ajay and so far so good though my body is a little weary most likely caused by an inconsistent practice regime over the past few weeks whilst I have been on the road. Anyway nothing a good massage will not overcome not to mention a week of getting used to it.

I must admit I am covered in a multitude of bruises, from what I have no idea. I am struggling a little with the very thin mat I brought with me, I swear (actually I feel like swearing) Garba Pindasana I feel every vertebrae crunch beneath me, and there are a few other uncomfortable poses, but hell it will toughen me up a bit.

There are a few different poses - 3 or so, and a different variation here and there but all in all I have worked it all out. I do fear that after Sunday's backbending classes, drop backs will begin to be the order of the day, and from what I have seen he has a few good techniques to teach students to confidently nail dropbacks - so stay tuned, hopefully I come home with all my teeth etc.

Adjustments are a little more brutal than I am used to but I also have no hesitation in saying enough! Despite him saying he would not touch me for a few days, that has not occurred, but so far so good. There is also no hiding in this room with only 12 - 14 students, so he is on to you though I have not had any issues, but I have yet to have a "lazy" practice. I'd love to try the one sun salutation - that is enough routine, though I wouldn't!

Tomorrow is vinyasa class - whatever that is, then back to Mysore style Friday and Sunday mornings, with backbending class Sunday arvo, which I am a little scared of, but I will go with the flow. This morning I had to do extra backbends with blocks against the wall - chin and chest against the wall - no wonder my shoulders and chest are sore.

This afternoon, the guy who runs the cafe, Deepak, invited us to a puja for his wife and soon to be born first baby. The food was divine and it was a lovely occasion.

I am really loving Laksmipuram and the people in my class and those who I have met over breakfast etc. seem really nice. So far so good, though looking forward to Saturday for a sleep in!

So much to tell, so little time

Hard to believe but I am time pressed, oh the life of a travelling yoga princess, recently renamed, Paulette la France! Yes my very amusing travel companion Fernando (not his real name...try Christopher) gave me my alias as we travelled about dodging torential downpours in Goa, amazingly close lightening strikes, and muddy accidents (that me). We navigated Panaji and Old Goa, as well as visiting a spice farm and several bars to experience the local bar scene - akin to being in a gay bar in Melbourne - men and loud dance music, all very hilarious. I laughed so much in Goa, ate so much in Goa, and downed my fair share of Kingfisher's and G&Ts, the latter to ward off any chance of malaria of course.

Moving on from Goa was interesting to say the least. I came to my senses in the middle of the night in Panaji, originally I was going to take 2 local buses, too tight to fork out the Rs 2500 they were asking for a taxi for the 110km journey, until I realise that I would spend that easily on a night out in Melbourne, and that being only the cab fare across the Yarra in Melbourne town! On arriving in Londa, and seeing the 2km walk I would have had with my shopping laden bags, it was worth it's price just for that. Then I had to sit at the station in the no horse god forsaken hole for my train - 2 hours complete with people taking photos of me and hugging me, someone trying to sell me a hot phone, and also being told there was no train to Mysore.

Well the train came, and I arrived in Mysore the very next morning (Sunday). My friend, soon to be the groom at the wedding I am attending, Santhosh picked me up from the train station and whisked me to Coffee Day for a quick and early latte - bless. He also had organised me a hotel and had another guy drive me around all day registering for yoga and other such stuff. So all in all a lot was accomplished on Sunday - Diwali in Mysore, another for me, as it was in Goa on Friday evening!

Anyway I have now done my second day of yoga with Ajay Kumar, which has been fantastic, I can already see I may learn a lot, and be scared too! I am living in a wonderful house with an amazing lady - Sandyhas house close yoga in Lakshmipuram. The house is 90 years old and she is a famous cook to the many yoga students who pass through Mysore. I really love the house including the woodheated water for the Indian shower, it is all really wonderful.

Today I have caught up with old friends here in Gokulam, including the children and workers at Babuji the children's home where I volunteered last year. They are no longer taking volunteers but they may let me volunteer as I have been there before and there were no "issues". I will find out over the next few days - fingers crossed, but needless to say it was delightful seeing old friends!

I will write more about my yoga and experiences over the next few days - there is so much to tell, so much is going on, and India is as wonderful and infuriating as ever. Namaste!

(ps - I have run out of time to proof read so please excuse any spelling errors etc. - how slack of me. xx)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Who would have known..............

After a few hectic, shop til ya drop days in Mumbai, and a hellish 15 hour train journey, I arrived in Panaji Goa last evening, very tired, congested with a cold, but none the less looking forward to a new place and new adventures. I always like visiting somewhere new each trip to the sub continent, and so this was the choice, and if first impressions are true, a good choice it was!

My taxi driver, Antonio (good omen already - my dad was Anthony)took me to my hotel, and when I offered him a tip he questioned, "Why madam, you already paid?" Was I still in India where so often a tip or donation is scoffed at, always too little? Other than a very rude westerner when I arrived at the Panjim Inn, nothing has disappointed. My room, just a standard, is DIVINE, the food is amazing - I had calamari in a spicy sauce - I was thinking I have died and gone to heaven! Oh and two Kingfishers to wash it down, a necessity - I have a cold, and therefore for medicinal purposes only! The little hotel is an historic old Portuguese home, and it is truely lovely. In fact I think I want to stay, so if I am still on the train wait list to Mysore, another night may be in order.

This morning I was chatting to the chef, John, after praising his culinary skills, so he took me on a tour of the kitchen. It was soooooo clean and he and it will be starring in a few photos, not to mention his recipes being recreated on my return.

So another day of adventures, I'm off to old Goa to visit some churches, and maybe tomorrow to a spice farm with another traveller! And most of all I am looking forward to dinner tonight, John is cooking me a fish dinner, freshly caught this morning. Who would have known I was going to like Goa this much!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Daal, Pakora, Kingfisher - yum!

Well I am not leaving Udaipur starving. As always I have had the best food, and the best time in Udaipur. My hotel, Mewar Haveli has some fine food, and always cold Kingfisher, both at fabulous rates, and with the most wonderful views of the city and the lake. I have eaten daal, naan, and my favorite snack - papad masala washed down with an ice cold Kingfisher. I also went to dinner with my friend Manish to Hotel Natural View, where we had papad and pakora, then bringal (eggplant) and tomato, yummy egg curry, and of course Kingfisher again! Delicious food and great company. I met Manish on my first trip to India and we have remained friends. His cousins have the hotel where I now stay, and I am always welcomed and looked after, and feel safe, secure and happy travelling alone. Manish also showed me some back ways around the city to avoid touts and street boys hassling and asking stupid questions.

Yesterday I picked up my rings which were made here at Silver Art Gallery by Bharat and Pramod Soni using my mum's, nana's and great aunt's diamonds, and what a beautiful job they did. I also was naughty and bought some beautiful gold earrings which I have covetted for the past 2 trips. They are divine, based on a traditional Rajashtani tribal design and given it was an auspicious day on the Hindu calendar for such purchases, how could I refuse. These guys make the most beautiful jewellery and given I handed over the family jewellery stock, they are also very trustworthy, lovely people. They are now my jewellers of choice anywhere in the world. And their family make the best chai too!

The afternoon was spent on the lake, visiting Jag Mandir, an island on the lake. The first time I have been there as this year was a good monsoon and the lake is full, unlike my first trip in 2004 when I walked across the lake, and when boat travel was difficult to say the least. On my return, walking through the city palace complex, I came upon the flag ceremony, with much goose stepping, stompping, pomp and ceremony. It was totally bizarre and a little funny, complete with bag pipes, and handsome Mewari men in uniform.

So today I am off to Bombay - always a little sad to say goodbye to beautiful Udaipur - my past life home, but always exciting to go to Bombay! Namaste.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

So much to laugh at, so many reasons to cry

Yesterday while driving from monument to monument it occurred to me that there are many amusing aspects of life in India. I was waiting at the lights (yes amazing they stop) and there was this guy going from car to car with an assortment of goods one might find in a $2 shop. What made me laugh out loud was that he had one of those synthetic feather duster type things and I wondered who would be driving along and think "oh just what I (or my wife) needs". And many other things - I have had a number of laughs at life - something that often happens to me in India.

It is also normal to go through a whole gamit of emotions in a day, even an hour. Life is also cheap and hard, some sights just make you sad, the poverty, homelessness, helplessness of many. I have often wondered in the last two days as I leave my hotel early, with people sleeping on the streets, totally destitute, their stories, who knows. But yesterday I actually wondered whether someone was dead or alive. I really don't know.

And today I visited the Gandhi Smitri, Birla house, the location of his assasination. It was really powerful and made me reflect on what a truely amazing, unique soul he was. Many stories bought a tear to my eye.

Tonight I move on from Delhi, I've really enjoyed my time. I've mastered the metro, navigated the city by foot, rickshaw, bus and train, been infuriated by the touts, and humbled by the kindness of people. So Udaipur here I come, the place of my past life ancestral home I feel.

The only things missing thus far are the urchins with their chapati hands, and someone throwing thrice into a sentence. But now I leave on a train, so anything is possible!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Delhi I am warming to you.............

I did have a KL post but my mac wouldn't work with the hotel's wifi. Anyway here I am in Delhi. After another fab flight with Air Asia, I arrived in Delhi. The airport looks amazing, very swish and glam. My pick up however never eventuated (as I suspected would occur), nevertheless I grabbed a prepaid taxi voucher and headed out to be greeted by a range of dodgy looking vehicles with even dodgier drivers. Mine smelt of the drink and drove like it too. I swore many times and had sore eyelids from clamping them shut many more as we sped into town with little regard for anyone or anything else. Of course he had no idea where we were going but suggested he take me to another hotel which was met with much protest from moi. I did notice between potential smashes that the whole place looked remarkably clean. Anyway we finally found it and I was soon in my room sipping a vodca (vodka + Limca - my fav non alco Indian drink). Oh and I also picked up the latest Indian Vogue and Elle so had a lovely night, despite being quite exhausted flicking through the Indian fashion mags!

Sleep was minimal - woke up at all hours and many times so got up early and headed to New Delhi Railway Station to try and book a confirmed train to Mysore or Bangalore to no avail, but got a few tips on navigating the train system from the guy.

I then headed to Connaught Place and Scindia House to book my city sights tour for tomorrow, then had coffee and chatted to some guys from Srinagar, before heading on a self guided shopping tour of Janpath, the Tibetan markets and up market designer boutiques in Khan Market. I then navigated the metro all on my own (well with the help of a few people - it's good) taking the ladies carriage and making it back to my hotel thought Main Bazaar without drama.

So I am warming to Delhi, and tomorrow will do some old sites, and Wednesday, before leaving for Udaipur. Oh and I will pick up my reading glasses I'm having made for $10.50 tomorrow - bargain - my Chanel frames, but $10 - it's crazy! An am loving the shopping, might try and find designer Manish Arora's store tomorrow arvo though he is a little out of my price range. Though I helped a girl pick a Divali frock today and she suggested I buy one - we were in another favorite designers store - all my Indian mags coming to life, but I didn't have anyone to buy me one, and I think her mum was not keen on forking out for me (her dress was about $500 - $600 AUDs).

Anyway it was a great day and tomorrow I will take the metro again - let's hope it is another fun packed Delhi day!

Friday, October 22, 2010

One day to go............

After making it through the coldest Melbourne winter for some time, and today enjoying some long awaited Melbourne warmth, I'm off to the Sub Continent tomorrow. Well actually a night in KL first, then India here I come, for a good dose of travel, shopping, yoga and a wedding to cap it off - Delhi, Udaipur, Mumbai, Panaji (Goa) and Mysore. Six and a half weeks of adventure, fun and no work!!

Practice this week was challenging, after an awesome workshop last week with Peter Sanson from NZ. The workshop felt like a bit of a turning point for me, it's been a hard slog rehabbing my knee, but like all things patience pays off. And lots of practice, support and encouragement. So I'm feeling really positive about the months ahead, and in particular practice in India, though with few expectations except maybe shedding a few kilos which never seems hard in India, even totally enjoying food.

So goodbye Melbourne for the next 6.5 weeks. Enjoy Spring - see you in summer!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Winter Ashtanga practice

It's the first of the month, and the first day of Melbourne winter. Tuesday is an extra early morning practice for me - at the studio at 5.30am with Astrid in tow, ready for practice with Njala. The studio was actually quite toasty this morning, given he had practiced prior. I really much prefer the warmth of summer, although Melbourne summer was warm and balmy way into late April this year. However the cold is really here, with months of endurance to go.

I am so loving practice again, despite still having limitations with my knee post arthroscope 2009. It is I must say now much stronger than even the first few months of 2010, though still a big loss of flexibility - so plenty more to work with. Padmasana is back in my grasp, but forget garba pindasana arms through - well for a while at least.

I am only now starting to grasp what I have learnt (besides look after your knees) on the road to recovery. I am definitely less rigid about the practice and the "rules". I was discussing it this morning - perhaps if you never have a major thing wrong with you, you can just follow the practice or it's evolution, but it is only after you have an issue that you seek out things beyond, the old ways or develop new ways. It is about enquiry - I have really learnt in the past 5 months to look and enquire - and to have fun.

I love this practice more than ever - it only gets harder, but that's alright by me. Winter makes it more of a challenge but at least we don't have snow! And every day brings me closer to my trip to India, the warmth, and another joyful day and practice.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


Hey made it home - end of the holiday, hello reality. Back to work tomorrow, and the good thing is regular practice - hard to do in small rooms and on the road. This year I hope to get my knee back in to order hence my practice too. Practice Practice..........Happy New Year!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Moi Tiet* post

New Years day was spent with the extended family at the ruins. We went to a few temples/ruins in the morning - one used in Tomb Raider with Angelina Jolie, both visited had fantastic carvings, and were great examples of the ruins among the jungle terrain, with big trees growing through and over many of the ancient relics.

As usual there was plenty of fun to be had with the extended family, our last day together on this trip - like a Khmer version of the Griswalds ala Cambodian Vacation. We spent the afternoon in town having lunch, a little bit of shopping, and returning to the hotel for some respite from the afternoon heat, a swim and a beer assisting with the mission!

The family picked us ap at 4.30pm for sunset at the ruins. Suggested by our numskull guide Dom, we went to a not too secret spot, us and hundreds of others climbed a big hill and then to the top of the ruins at the summit, for a view of Angkor Wat. It was however only mildly visable through the trees, made even more difficult with the hoards of other touristas there. As usual granny was up and down the hill and temple stairs with her steadiness, not displaying any of her 70+ years - she is a dynamo, always laughing and smiling, chatting away in Khmer despite my lack of ability to respond. I did however try and tell the gate keepers I was Khmer, in Khmer of course, all for a laugh both from them and the family. Anyway sunset did not really live up to expectations, the most fun bit was decending the hill in the dark on a bush track, again granny being the champion.
We were dropped in pub street in Siem Riep, bidding our fond farewells to the family. Drinks were needed, and we ordered beer and a pitcher of Long Island Iced Tea at the Temple, gaining a free t-shirt for our efforts. Another picher later we had two ts, and were all feeling a little merry. Rob returned to the hotel and Marie and I went for a massage, me opting for reflexology, neck and shoulders for $7. It was great, even had a quick nap, and soon my hour was up. Marie had a Thai/Khmer massage, and after we did a little more shopping, wandering around the precinct and the night market area buying a whole bunch of stuff we probably didn't need. A tuk-tuk home and I was soon in bed, our last night in Cambodia and final night of the trip. I am the only one so far feeling ok - Marie has a terrible cold, Rob woke with tummy pains and has been frequently visiting the WC.

Returning from the morning coffee run, we ran into the family again, they saw Marie and I walking along and stopped to say hi - I asked if they missed us already and needed to see us again. As usual lots of laughs and a couple group pics cos we don’t already have enough - various angles of course! More hugs and goodbyes and they were on their way travelling around Cambodia, while we are off to the airport soon.

A great trip has been had by all - so much crammed into two weeks, at times it feels like we have been away for months. Til the next trip - hopefully to India, but happily anywhere in the big wide wonderful world!

*Moi Tiet = one more in Khmer

Friday, January 1, 2010

On the Road to Angkor Wat

After an early morning practice at our lovely hotel, we left the big smoke of Phnom Pehn yesterday for Siem Riep, joining the big Cambodian convoy - our friends from Melbourne and their local family members. All in all we were one mini bus and one car and we darted along the highway on the long journey to Siem Riep. Ra our driver was quite skilled - I was sitting behind him and nearly had a few heart attacks, the driving being similar to India but at higher speeds. We only made 2 stops along the way - one to see freaky food, the other for food that resembled something I might eat. Ra our driver also was one of the Amazing Race drivers when they were in Cambodia (one of my favorite TV shows). I was talking about freaky food and how it was suggested to me that I should eat something weird on my travels (BTW it was never going to happen). Anyway we stopped for fruit and a pee break and low and behold there were these people selling fried spiders (big mothers I tell you), crickets, and an assortment of other big bugs. Suffice to say many photos followed, none more so as when Ra ate a big old spider - USD $1. I was screaming - it was vile, but I guess maybe when food was tight in the Khmer Rouge and post regime period, people started eating what they could. Hey maybe it's tasty, who knows.

Anyway that plus dodging quite a few wayward cows along the way were the major highlights, arriving in Siem Riep at about 3.30pm - our hotel beconning with a pool and some beers.

An early morning planned for 31 December (today) so an early night followed a Khmer dinner with the new extended family. We woke at 4am and headed out to Angkor Wat for dawn. No food in our bellys but excitment to see the ruins - and they didn't disappoint. We spent 6 hours climbing and ascending some amazing old temples - all picture postcard stuff, except for the other 1000+ people in the immediate vicinity. It was very hot and humid in the jungle - thank heavens it's winter! The knee was tested and held up just fine - sometimes I forget I can't jump down a long way - ouch!

A free arvo was spent by the pool and napping, having some much needed R&R given I will be back at my desk come Monday (boo hoo). Dinner and shopping in town - some last minute gifts and goodies, and another early night - I will not see the New Year in but will rise early and practice, so as to see it in the New Year like a good little travelling yoga girl. Om shanti - see you in 2010 - Happy New Year from Cambodia.