Getting settled

Trip Start Sep 28, 2005
Trip End Feb 21, 2006

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Flag of India  ,
Saturday, October 1, 2005

My first morning, I was woken up by a hotel employee singing in the hallway about 4:30 or 5am. It sounded beautiful, although I could have slept for several more hours. Last night, however, I called Nagarathna, a local woman whose family deals with yoga students. When the shala was located in Mysore proper, she cooked for all the students. I emailed them before I left and asked about accommodation that they might locate. When we talked last night, we agreed I would come for breakfast and talk about everything.
Her husband Raghu picked me up at the hotel on his motorcycle. He drove very conservatively, for my benefit I'm sure. I had the most AMAZING fruit salad for breakfast. Seriously. It had dried fruit, banana, pomegranate seeds, papaya, pineapple, apple, some other pieces I couldn't identify, cashew. Maybe some addictive drug that makes me crave it as well.

Anyways, she brought me to their house for rent near the new shala in Gokalam, a small town just a few kilometers outside of Mysore. Ashtanga basically originated out of Mysore, and classes are often taught "Mysore style." The new building for Guruji's school, Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute, is no longer in the city of Mysore.
The house is palatial and way nicer than anything I expected to find here. It has plenty of windows, so during the day there's no need for electric lights. I'm renting one bedroom, and if I find another roommate, then we'll share the rest of the downstairs: sitting room, kitchen, both types of toilets, a land line, even a refrigerador and washing machine. But don't think super huge and shiny American appliances -- the washing machine and refrigerador may be older than I, and incredibly small by American standards. Still way more than I needed to have under one roof, but definitely makes life convenient. Most importantly it's safe, and Nagarathna and Raghu are great resources to have around here. It's also nice not to be crammed in a small dark room. Apparently a lot of Indian houses are very dark. Another great perk is that the houses on both sides are empty -- no noisy neighbors or dogs. Across the street is a vacant lot where boys frequently play soccer.

I'm very close to the shala and some good restaurants. In the main part of the village are shops and markets. Mostly I'm feeling very relieved to find honest people. Nagarathna and Raghu only rent the house to yoga students. The sitting room also has enough space for a yoga mat, so I practiced after I registered at the shala.

On that subject, yoga students are perceived very differently from other travellers. The locals know that studying yoga is expensive (by Indian standards). What I'm paying for classes could finance at least a couple months of travelling here. So people constantly ask if you're here to study yoga. Upon the affirmative answer, everyone has an apartment to rent or things to sell you (mats, etc).

My dad told me that the night before I started first grade, I told him I was nervous. I felt similar to that when I registered at the shala. I didn't know if I would meet Guruji or not, or if I'd be questioned about my yoga skills or something like that. Everything turned out very simple. I went into an office to see him, and he gave me a short registration form. He asked only the basic questions, where I'm from, etc. He used an electronic bill counter to count the small stack of cash I gave him. Even though I'd counted the money twice, some bills still stuck together and I'd given too much. After he'd told me what time to come to class, I tried to explain that I'd overpaid. I only confused him -- his English is not that great, and he is 90 years old. Finally he understood without being offended (I hope). I didn't want to seem like a cheapskate, but Rs 500 will feed me for a while around here.
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