One of the first things I noticed at the shala was the seriousness. Then I noticed that no one smiled. Everyone is very wrapped up in the their own practice and their own morning. A few tentative smiles on my part were returned by scowls. I didn’t realize how much I generally smiled in the course of a day or even a few hours, but I found myself stopping and not smiling for fear of that smile not being returned. Then one morning something wonderful happened. I went into the women’s changing room and was waiting for a spot to do my finishing poses. One woman finished her savasana and rolled up her mat and then she smiled at me! It lifted up my whole morning! I decided right then and there that people in the shala needed more smiling at and I was going to smile at them and perhaps even venture a “good morning” from time to time in the hopes that someone else who desperately needed that smile would get one too. I have to say that the first couple of times I ventured a smile, it still got returned with a frown, but as time has gone on, I am getting more and more smiles returned. Today, I even got a returned smile and a “hello” from one of my most persistant frowners. That makes me feel good! 🙂
I am not sure exactly what has happened in the last couple of days (oh yeah – I have actually started sleeping a decent amount!), but I feel like things are looking up a bit. I feel like we can mostly get through the day without any major mishaps and Alex and I don’t completely crash until about 6 p.m.! There was even a major episode at the shala with Sharat condensing all the led classes to two and I somehow managed to still find a spot and then once the next class started coming in guard it with my life til Alex got there with Walter. We are starting to settle into a bit of routine here and we even managed a date last night. We went to the Green Hotel and found out that they didn’t serve dinner until 7:30 pm. (we needed to be home by 8 p.m.) so I ordered a glass of wine and Alex a beer and some munchies and we just sat out on the lawn and attempted to relax and chat. We were both toasty on one drink! It felt oddly normal which is funny to say because I am still not entirely sure what normal is anymore. We have been here long enough that it will be a bit bizarre to go home to the land of comfy beds and no coconuts.
A lovely lady named Ratna has been taking care of Walter for a couple of hours every other day or so when Alex and I go to Sutra class or conference or just out for some errand running which helps take some of the edge off of 24 hour/7 day a week toddler care. Walter still has his meltdowns and temper tantrums, but he is also having a good time seeing all the cows in the road and he and Alex went to the zoo this morning while I got my massage at 3 sisters. His favorite animal was the marmots.
My practice is still very squeaky and I would like to just disown my knees (or probably the blame should be laid on my hips!), but I have been promised by Hirini (I think that is her name) at 3 sisters that I should be a bit more open this week so we will see what comes. I had an expectation that my practice would suddenly and miraculously get better. It hasn’t, but my body is definitely working harder than I do at home so something is happening! I am really enjoying chanting class. There is just something soothing about it. Walter is even willing to just sit still and play and with his trucks and when we paused between things we are chanting, he says “yeah!” which is Walter for “please do more!”
We are even figuring out how to feed ourselves and decided that we would go vegetarian for the month (not that hard to here). For some reason feeding ourselves is harder than it sounds. Breakfast is usually easy: we just end up going downstairs at Anokhi. They serve tasty things and Walter loves the eggs with cheese. For some reason lunch is the hard one. We have been napping with Walter mid-day and then when we get up it is hot and/or too late to find lunch. However, we discovered that Ratna will deliver food to us which has been a fantastic discovery and we seem to be skipping it more and more in favor of just eating an early dinner. It really is so hot here that eating too much just sounds like a really bad idea.
Alex has been feeling poetic lately so here is another gem of his. 🙂 He would also like me to add that despite my negativity lately, that we have had some good times too!
Withdraw the sense organs from
the sound of beeping rickshaw’s lawnmower engine: putt putt,
the sight of pink and lime green house’s sidewalk chalk mandala,
the smell of incense, flowers, and many species’ dung,
the taste of coconut water rushing down the throat,
the feeling of slipping on sandals after saying goodbye.
Rather, be still in asana,
in the tight scrum on the shala’s steps,
in passing the hot idle afternoon or the endless pre-dawn.
The mind is fit for concentration (on a toddler).
Oh India, I want to love you. I have heard so many wonderful things about you and I desperately want to experience all the wonders that you have to offer, but I am just not there at the moment. You are making things very hard for me lately. I can’t establish a routine (which is key for me) and no part of my day feels at all easy. Last night I struggled to sleep, my body just isn’t adjusting well to the time change, and I woke up feeling like someone had taken a baseball bat to most of my body. I was convinced I was getting sick and just felt like crap. I couldn’t find a comfortable place to lay down and it reminded me of being 9 months pregnant with Walter when I just slept sitting up in our arm chair because my hips just hurt to lay on. I dragged myself to practice, actually grateful that the alarm finally went off and I could stop forcing myself to sleep. My practice was crap and I barely made it to the end. Today I was incredibly grateful that I was only allowed to go to Marichyasana D and grateful that the finishing poses occurred in the women’s changing room where I could flub them and quickly make my way to shavasana. Sharat left me alone today and I was grateful for that. I made my way outside to see Alex and Walter waiting for me at the coconut stand. I was so happy to see them that I felt tears well up in my eyes. After downing two coconuts, I felt a bit better to take Walter in his backpack and start to make my way back home.
Walter and made our way back home as he pointed out the second coconut stand and touched each of the buses on our way. We got home and the power promptly went out so there we sat watching Curious George in the dark in my soaking yoga clothes. After about an hour of fits and starts the power went back on so that I could flip the switch to heat the water to take a shower. The shower felt so good to wash all the sweat and grime off me. I got dressed as Alex got home from practice. I still felt like crap and he suggested I lay down for a bit of a nap while he took Walter out for some groceries. That nap made all the difference. He came home and we ate some breakfast and then went to sleep again. We made our way to Sandia’s for lunch. It was wonderful food, but Walter ate two bites and then started running around. Appu, our rickshaw driver, entertained him for a bit, but neither Alex nor I got to enjoy the wonderful food she prepared and it just made me sad. Then Walter took off for a ladder to the roof, where another little girl had climbed. The ladder was tall and had very slender rungs with lots of room in between for a toddler to fall through. However, Walter insisted on climbing it so up I went to trying to protect him from falling. He made it up and down without incident and I am sure that I have several more gray hairs after that. The day continued on in this fashion. We were able to run a couple of errands and do a couple of things, but everything is just hard and exhausting. However, it doesn’t seem exhausting enough for me to sleep through the night. So tonight I wish and pray to whatever gods are listening that I can sleep through til 4:30 a.m. when my alarm goes off. Then please, perhaps, just have one part of the day be just a bit easier.
In our fit of listing everything that was going wrong today, Alex wrote a short poem that I thought I would share.
Don’t drink the water.
Don’t eat dinner.
Don’t raise arms to the side in surya namaskar.
Don’t brush teeth with tap water.
Don’t put your stuff up until your mat is rolled out.
Don’t wear shoes inside.
Don’t come down from utplutihih.
Don’t pay until you leave the coconut stand.
Don’t move your hands in the last vinyasa of parsarita a/d.
Don’t show up late to conference.
Don’t toss your pacifier out the window.
Do try to let it all go and do make sure to drink a coconut every time you pass the stand.
I was a nervous wreck! I pride myself on not being one of those people…you know the ones that are constantly trying to talk to famous people or be very showy and always saying “look at me” They are in all walks of life and that is just not my style. I really like to be able slip in unnoticed and find a place in the back and study the scene until I have some sense of what it is all about. Only then I will start to insert myself into things. So I was nervous about practicing with Sharat. I had heard so many things about what practice would be like and I just didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t sleep so well last night because we are still working on our jet lag and I woke up at 4:09 a.m. with a ton of nervous energy. I knew that the alarm would be going off at 4:30 am. anyway so that I could make my 5:30 a.m. start shala time (the shala, unlike everything else in India, runs about 20 minutes ahead so it was more like 5:10 a.m. start time). Alex and Walter awoke shortly thereafter so we got dressed and headed out for the shala. I got more and more nervous on the walk there with all my thoughts swirling around in my head.
We got there and Alex and Walter walked in with for moral support. I noticed right away that the energy in that foyer was electric and extremely intimidating all at the same time. I knew that we all waited until Sharat called out “one more,” but I also knew that as a parent whose spouse was also practicing I got to go to the front of the line somehow. But as Sharat called out “one more” a couple of times, people squeezed in towards that door and seemed almost menacing. My put myself outtheredness was pretty low at the moment so I didn’t feel like pushing through that circle even though I thought I could. I finally broke down and asked someone what usually happened with parents. It turned out they were newbies too and didn’t really know. Finally, after my hemming and hawing for a bit, Kino MacGregor finally said to me, “Just go.” With all the hoopla around her lately it seemed rather funny that it was her that said it. So I did. I went to the changing room left my stuff and came back out, but I had no idea what to do next. I didn’t see any open spots so I just stood there. In a few minutes, Sharat said to me, “you wait.” So I went back the foyer and stood there like an idiot until I finally got “one more.” I was shaking at this point and almost to the point of crying, but I kept telling myself just to start my practice and all would be fine. So I raised my arms up and dived into the first sun salutation. The physicality of the practice and sweat running down my body was a welcome relief to the emotionalness of the whole morning. It took me most of my practice to calm myself down. On the flip side, the warmness of the room really does make your practice so much more fluid and bendy. It felt really good. By the time, I reached Marichyasana D, I was begining to think that I might actually make it get through to badakonasa before I got stopped. However, my teacher Anne was right. As I started to reach around to attempt a bind looking thing, I looked to the front of the room where Sharat was and he said, “you stop here and do backbends.” I nodded and he replied, “I will come help with other side.” So he did and I actually bound in Marichyasana D on the second side for the first time ever! So goods and bads.
I thought that my big problems with going to my first practice was going to be worrying about whether I was thin enough or whether or not I was going far enough in my practice, but it turned out that the single things of trying to get in to practice completely unwound me. It got to me with a viciousness that I wasn’t prepared for. The upside was a really good practice because I had so much nervous energy to burn and it was so nice and warm in the shala. Backbends were happy things and my binds were easier. That coconut afterwards was absolutely delicious though!
I drive stick. It makes me feel all badass I am woman hear me roar. Yes, it makes me feel this way even in my jetta sportwagen which is actually just a station wagon. There is just something about being able to control the gear that you are in when you are driving. Granted, most of the time I just coast and don’t think about it much, but sometimes when you need that extra boost of power to get me going I love to be able to shift down into third gear. I just love third gear. It is most definitely my favorite gear. It is fantastic for acceleration onto the highway, city streets or just random driving around. In the days when I was driving our BMW convertible (oh the pre-baby days of yore!), one of my favorite parts of driving was to put the car in third and drive around the clover leaf onto the freeway as fast as possible hugging that curve all the way. Or to head down south to Route 1 and put it in third and drive fast along the curves of Route 1 while the Pacific Ocean winked in and out of sight on my right. Then get stuck behind a slow car, wait for the straight away, downshift and pass.
Oddly enough I was never one of those people that was really into cars. I didn’t even drive stick until after I graduated from law school. I kinda fell into it one evening when was out with friends and I was the only one sober enough to drive us home. My friend’s car was stick, so I got to learn to drive stick from a car ful of drunk people. That was an interesting night. However, after that my friend became my roommate and was kind enough to let me drive her car, cause I was carless, from time to time. Then Alex and I started dating and he had our first BMW convertible which was also stick. Then I had to drive a long way to the courthouse in Maryland which cause me to get even better at driving stick. Somewhere along the way, I fell in love with driving stick and now I really enjoy it. Alex and I had to sell the convertible when Walter was born and trade it in for the more family friendly sportwagen. However, we keep telling ourselves that when the last kid leaves for college we are hopping on a plane to Germany to by a brand BMW convertible (they do something called “European Delivery” where you pick the car up in Germany and you get to avoid US import taxes as long as you drive it around Europe a bit. Oh twist my arm!) and bring it home with us. I have visions of us being back to fun driving again!