Twelve Weeks in Mysore

Sorry I missed giving you an eleven week update. Saturday was a big day and then I quickly became unable to do much of anything. But more on that soon. But oh man, trying to remember two weeks back will be tough… ha.

Don’t think I did anything too crazy two weekends ago, but looking back through pictures, but the week brought a lot of fun. I’ve been spending a good bit of time with the friends I’ve made at Anokhi’s cafe while serving. On Monday, I walked around Kukkarahalli Lake with the two full time work exchange peeps and the manager. It’s an amusing place to walk. The lake itself is large and L shaped, surrounded by lots of green, and filled with wetland birds (species vary by season), but herons and storks and cranes and pelicans and parrots and much more. Surprising to see in the middle of a big city. But the best part is the surprisingly flat path that surrounds the lake. It is used by fairly large quantities of locals for walking and jogging and assortment of other movements which I have to assume is exercise. I guess. It is wildly entertaining. Plus, they do whatever they’re doing in their normal clothes – i.e. jogging in flip flops (thongs, slippers… whatever you want to call them) and much more. On the walk back, we stopped for Indian breakfast – some rice bath and dosa. Yum! One of the crew got paper dosa, a VERY thin variation that is spread out to have a much larger area than other dosas.

Tuesday morning, five of us hopped over to Chamundi hill on wheels and then hiked up and down. It was a normal day, so this was after my practice, but the Ashtanga primary series is not challenging on leg muscle strength, so a thousand steps is kind of a nice addition. Although, coming back down them is  never enjoyable… leaves them all shaky and stuff. After, the up and down, we adjourned to the ever magnificent Secret Breakfast shack (after some minor rickshaw confusion, I guess maps don’t make sense…) for dosa, idly, and more Indian deliciousness. Some of the attendees had never made it before and reveled in just how fantastic it was. It reigns as the best. Then we strapped on our sandals for a longer (rather hot) walk home to Gokulam. Secret Breakfast is in a part of Lakshmipuram (a large area/neighborhood) that is about 6km away from the part of Gokulam we live in. Not too bad a walk, but after the Chamundi climb, a big breakfast, and in the midday heat, it’s a lot more work. Haha. But it was helpful for learning the route a little more clearly.

Slowly, we returned to Anokhi’s to rest, recover, and spend the afternoon. The manager’s birthday was on that Thursday and we wanted to surprise her with a decadent dessert because, I mean, that’s what you do. Plus, she is French, and (for anyone western) if you’ve had Indian variations on western deserts like cakes, you’re familiar with just how disappointing they are – dry, too sweet cake, frosting that is overly sweet and indescribably awkwardly textured. Its sad (I did have a “honey cake”, which had been half soaked in honey, and that was rather tasty, but only because honey is bomb). So, as an individual who surely appreciates the finer points of patisserie, we knew we had to step it up for her. I went for the MOST decadent brownie recipe I have ever encountered thanks a college friend equally obsessed with fabulous baked goods. I am afraid that I am unable to divulge the recipe her due to promises made. But suffice it to know that they are absurdly dense, fudgy, and butterific. If you’re lucky, they’ll be made for you one day. We enjoyed them with ice cream Thursday night. Everyone approved.

I think I took it pretty easy on Wednesday, besides the continued Sanskrit 3 classes which I have been taking this month. Level three is a HUGE turn up from level two. Thrown immediately into the deep end trying to translate full stories with an insufficient English-Sanskrit reference dictionary (and only in one direction), plus the internet which appears to primarily offer inaccurate translations. Hahaha. Over the three weeks of the course, we translated both ways from English, from English-Sanskrit, and from Sanskrit-Sanskrit. We even wrote and translated our own story. It was a wild ride. And, as teachers tend to do, Lakshmish got more friendly and goofy with the third level than he had been in the second or first.

Thursday included Mysore Monkey acro play time in the evening (and the delectable brownie). Acro last week was an absolute blast. Two great flyers and the return of another base who is large and strong, so I got to try to do a bunch of flying – including working on the four-step, which is definitely hard. But it was a blast. Got to do some multi-flyer basing, which is always entertaining, and also flew on my favorite flyer in a bird sandwich (base, bird, person standing on the bird), great fun!

Friday was another big day at Anokhi’s for me. Worked in the morning serving and then in the afternoon made Triple Chocolate Vegan Banana Bread for sale on Saturday. It went well. Really well. Super yummy.

Then came Saturday, the big day that ended up knocking me flat on my ass for a few days. Started off normal and great – work at Anokhi’s, conference, chocolate banana bread sales… Then, after work, I ran into some folks at the coconut stand who had an afternoon at the river planned. Kindly, they invited me to join and I obliged. I went and changed clothes, got a bunch of water, and then headed out with them on scooters and bikes. It was definitely the longest scooter ride I’ve been on, and with only one noticeably poorly chosen turn, we managed to find the spot (more or less) that we had been looking for. From the popular spot by a temple, we worked our way upstream, past lots of local women cleaning clothes and wares, children playing, and piles of feces, to a quieter spot where we could climb in and cool off. (I’m guessing somewhere in here is where I made my mistake.) Very chill afternoon in the water and in the shade. While sitting by the river and chatting we interacted with some kids who were around and then were joined by a very VERY intoxicated man (not an uncommon occurrence for some of them to hit the bars as soon as they’re open and then struggle to make it home) who really really really wanted to talk to us, but unfortunately none of us know Kannada, so that made it very difficult. We managed to lose him after finding a tamarind candy stand, I remember he fell down over there… I’d gotten a good bit of sun, so on the ride back in shorts and a t-shirt I felt a bit chilly on the back of the scooter. By the time I got home, I was down right cold. Like, I had to put on a hoodie and sweatpants, I had to make some hot tea, and when I went to sleep I added my blanket. First sign something was bad. I assumed it was because a light sun burn drew my blood to the surface and then all of the wind cooled it off, so as it flowed back to the center of my body it cooled everything down. Then, throughout the night, came the… lets go with “evacuations”. I hope you don’t want me to be more specific. Because I won’t be. Aaaaaaannnyway, hardly left my room until Monday morning. Not being in bed wasn’t even fun. Drank water when I could, some pedialyte to keep electrolytes going. Managed to eat some idly on Monday and Tuesday morning and some daal I made on Tuesday. Almost eating like a normal person by Wednesday AND I managed to spend the day productively working on my computer planning a road trip and the Yoga Teacher Training I will be helping with in July! And I was finally able to practice (at home) on, just to be safe, Thursday, back in the shala on Friday. Quite the week. It had to happen sometime, surprised it took so long. The most interesting part was slowly rebuilding trust for myself further away from toilets. Very grateful to be on this side of the experience now.

On Friday, besides practice and work at Anokhi’s, I spent the afternoon with the Anokhi’s crew. We made popcorn, covered it in ghee, turmeric, and cumin, and enjoyed it with a movie. A movie in the shade and under a fan is a great way to spend these boiling afternoons. Today was equally chill.

I’m looking forward to my last four days (*gasp* FOUR DAYS) of practice here in Mysore with Saraswathi. Two led primary series and two mysore practices. I think I even get to add pasasana on Monday and Tuesday. Then on Thursday its off to the airport and very early on Friday I’m in a plane to the land of Oz. I’ll write you from Australia next! Have a good week.

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