I’m still in India!
And it’s still awesome. And I’m done philosophizing, at least for the next twelve hours or so. So here is a list of things that are bringing me serious amounts of joy:
I love yoga. You know this. Yoga is awesome. Yogis are awesome. Yoga pants are comfortable. My daily yoga high is legal and unbeatable. Ashtanga is beautiful and difficult and fascinating. Nobody is surprised.
Mysore’s biggest hot spot is not a dance club, but the people there are still sweaty. The place to be at any point in the day, but especially after practice, is the coconut stand. For the equivalent of about 30 cents, you can get a fresh coconut hacked open for you, drink the water, and then get it hacked open again – this time in half – and scoop out the delicious flesh. The difference in flavor between these refreshments served out of nature’s prettiest water glass and the stuff you can get at whole foods is like the difference between, say, a salad at McDonalds and some freshly picked organic kale. And the coconut meat? I die. It’s delicious.
Roti. Chapathi. Paratha. And, yes, naan. I can’t get enough of the stuff. It’s fluffy and warm and often doughy and so incredibly satisfying. I take it over rice 90% of the time and I never regret it.
The Way of the Heart by Henri J. Nouwen
My Dad got me this book for Christmas, and since it was small and seemed interesting, I brought it along for my trip. I got through it in about 36 hours, marking up the margins with my scribbles and underlining and recording quotes in my journal. The author discusses the importance of silence, solitude and prayer in our search to be closer to God, citing the “desert fathers” of thousands of years ago who retreated into the desert in the search for divinity. I found his ideas beautiful, fascinating, touching, and simple: that by retreating from the busy and crazy world around us, we can recede into the silence of our hearts and finally listen to – and be with – God. And while it argues the importance of silence and solitude, it does not suggest that we all adopt a life of hermitage; rather, that we use these tools to share their benefits with others. It is written with a Christian view of God, by a Christian, but I think that it would be of interest and of use to anyone, regardless of their faith background. I even wrote “THIS IS JUST LIKE YOGA” a few times in heavy black ink along the margins. It’s the perfect gift for the Catholic yogi with a short attention span on your Christmas list.
Our little balcony
The house where Mariel and I are staying has a beautiful little balcony on the second floor. I can sit here in the mornings after yoga, or on a lazy Sunday, or in the evening to capture my last thoughts in my journal before bed. It’s so quiet and peaceful, and I can enjoy being outside without applying — and then subsequently sweating off — half a bottle of sunscreen (yes, Mom, I’m still wearing it). We were so lucky to end up with such a lovely “host family”, such a lovely house, and such a lovely little place to sit and relax. It even comes equipped with a wind chime painted with oms, which I absentmindedly hit with my head roughly three times a day.
Apples may be nature’s toothbrush, but fennel seeds are nature’s Tums. You’ll find them on your table after almost every meal in India – a digestif, if you will – and they will calm your stomach after even the spiciest of curries. While I generally hate anything licorice-flavored, I can’t get enough of these. And, after all the delicious Indian food I’ve been eating, neither can my stomach.
Gokulam is the neighborhood where we live, a little part of Myore that is residential, quieter than the big city, and full of beautiful homes and roaming cows. The motorbikes are still loud, and the pollution is still plentiful, but our little corner of India is basically paradise. I love walking home after yoga each morning and looking at the beautiful architecture, the sunrises, and the culture that’s constantly zooming — or grazing — by.