November 29, 2012 § 11 Comments
“Dirgha = long, Kala = time”
Thank you all for your well wishes from the last post – I am feeling much better after almost of week of 9-hour sleeps. Coughing during practice is happening less and less, so that bodes well. I’ve moved out of my previous place and am now in a significantly quieter part of town. Note that ‘significantly quieter’ really means an absence of the honking and sounds of the street. There are still dogs, screeching squirrels and firecrackers, which you will get everywhere in India.
I haven’t been in the mood to write much because I am all too aware that my current experience is far removed from your average, trip-hop happy Mysore blog report. It’s something I struggle with: between feeling the need to be honest and the need to meet expectations about what a particular experience is supposed to be like. Mysore is such a mecca for Ashtangis, that coming here almost feels as if you’re setting off for the “Promised Land”. It’s spoken about with such reverence, that a line is drawn in the sand between those who’ve gone and those who haven’t. As if making the journey itself bestows some elusive blessing on the traveller – which, it doesn’t, by the way. Any fruits of this trip are the product of your own labors.
After almost three weeks here, I can tell you that – for me, at least – there is no romance about being here at all. Maybe it’s because I grew up in Asia that what would appear exotic and new to the Western eye is par for the course for me, but the truth is, being here is hard. Not in the sense of being deprived of basic amenities, no, but in terms of being constantly confronted by moments that ask you to step out of your comfort zone, and stay there.
The heat is relentless, even for a season that’s supposed to be cooler than other times of year. The food is exciting at first, but having spices in every meal starts to take its toll after a while. Plus, there’s also the issue of getting enough nutrition for an omnivore – plant-based proteins here mean dahl, dahl and more dahl. You go sightseeing to places like Chamundi Hill in Mysore, the temples of Belur and Hallebeedu, the Golden Temple in Bylakuppe, etc, only to realize that you should have read about these places before visiting because there are no signs in English explaining the history and significance of these sites. And then there’s the part about missing the husband – who’s stuck with his job and life back home while I get to explore a new place.
So yes. It’s hard. And yet, I think I will come back again, simply because this is the one place where I can really delve deep and take a long hard look at things I’ve been avoiding. Confronting my inner demons. Fear. Ego. Impatience. Self-Esteem. Negativity. Past hurts. Take them all out and sit with them, one by one, sometimes all at once at a particularly fruitful practice. Somedays there is bliss, depth of focus, ease, smiles. Other days there are smelly practice neighbors, bumping of heads and doing chaturanga an inch from someone else’s feet, all of which conspire to knock your driste around. The only constant in all this is the practice. Abhyasa. Do it over and over again, with love, for a really long time, and someday, I might actually succeed at not letting the stresses of my environment get the better of me. Someday.