lifetimes months ago I posted about how much I loved mornings. I still remember the comfort of my early morning rituals in Charlotte, that special time of the day before any work commitments entered my head, and I could take time for myself to savor the dark, peaceful quiet.
Now, halfway around the world and feeling like a different person, I still cherish that time. Although my mornings in Mysore started earlier, I never had to worry about rushing through my practice to get to work. Never had to worry about traffic (aside from dodging rickshaws and scooters and cows). It was quite nice.
Cue the 3:45 AM wake up call. It used to be 4:15 until Saraswati started giving me second series poses, my practice got longer, and one fateful day she walked up to me in practice and said: Tomorrow you come 4:30? To which I responded, “In the morning?” Yes. And she’s the boss. So 3:45 it is.
Walk through the dark of Gokulam. Look at the stars, enjoy the absence of honking motorbikes and burning garbage.
Pass by the chocolate man. Make note to self to pick up some chocolate later.
Arrive at Saraswati’s shala. Up the stairs. Shoes off. Enter a room full of sweaty people breathing loudly, arms raising and gaze points fixed, twisting and turning and yoga-ing in all their glory. Drop my mat at the best spot I can find. Avoid places where the carpets touch (too uneven) or the door is too close (too cold). Battle my mind for two hours and walk out feeling happy and loose and definitely kind of high.
The signature sound of a morning in Mysore is a sort of soft scraping. Women appear in front of each home, splashing water over the concrete in front of their iron gates and brushing away any debris with brooms made from what look like really long, sturdy pine needles. Often they’ll draw a design in chalk on the concrete after this process is done. The home is a sacred space in Indian culture, and gets treated accordingly. You’ll find women washing and brushing and chalking in front of the mansions in mysore and the tiny sun-bleached homes in the city’s alleys alike. It’s a beautiful ritual, and it provides the perfect soundtrack to an endorphin-induced stroll back home.
The men do their part, too. They water the grass, some wearing wifebeaters, some wearing crewneck wool sweaters. Rocking the suburbs, man.
Fill up water bottle at the coconut stand. The coconut water in the states tastes like straight doo doo compared to this stuff. It’s sweet and full of electrolytes and refreshing and the best breakfast #1 ever. If I felt frisky, I’d even grab a sip of chai before heading home.
Meet friends for a long, languorous (I keep wanting to use that word when describing life here; it never gets old) breakfast. Ragi pancakes at Santosha cafe with banana and cinnamon and a side of peanut butter and date syrup. Bottomless chai. Same old (blissful, delicious, satisfying) order; new acquaintances. Communal tables and hours-long conversations about anything and everything.
Finish up reluctantly at breakfast. Do sanskrit homework and head to chanting class. Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu, baby.
When your days start and end so early, the morning is sort of…it. By the time early afternoon rolls around, I’m generally already thinking about practice the next morning. (Okay that’s a lie; I’m thinking about what I want for dinner.) I’d often nap, or read, or write or doodle around the house. Something to pass the time until I start getting ready for bed at what used to be my dinnertime. I’ll miss so much about Mysore; namely yoga, of course, and the people; but mornings will be one of the little rituals I’ll look back on with nostalgia. They’re always so perfect, so peaceful. Always so distinctly mine.
Tomorrow morning, for the first time since we moved in, I won’t wake up in my little twin bed and stumble into the bathroom that Mariel and I have shared [you never forget your first bucket shower!] Instead I’ll be waking up on a train barreling south, on to our next destination, arriving just in time for breakfast. Maybe, if we’re lucky, ladies will still be scraping storefronts and homes when we walk into the city of Cochin. Perhaps I’ll be able to hang on to a small bit of familiarity I’ve acquired in this beautiful country.
On to the next one!