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!