Monday, 14 November 2011

End of Yoga Camp, Beginning of Travels

I'm on the top bunk of a berth on a train en route to Delhi to meet Vadim at the airport. I graduated yoga camp last night and am relieved to be finished. I'll miss practicing four hours of yoga a day, but am ready to move forward. I thought I'd feel more sentimental than this. Maybe if I was heading directly home, but I still have so much ahead of me!

I haven't had much motivation to write because, again, my routine was so unvaried over the past weeks. I also became totally bored by the prospect of snapping pictures. Oh yeah, no internet, either. I taught a yoga class and it went well. (Here's the part where I unabashedly congratulate myself.) I think I'm good at it and am confident that in time I'll be great. I feel accomplished. Also, my body can do some crazy stuff. In a class of 40, I'm the default model for any contortionist poses. The teacher had me do poses just for the sake of showing that they exist. I am an elastic pretzel. What a useless skill!

I just realized that these postings have been lacking in explicit discussions of poo. Lemme remedy that. Last Saturday I had the privilege and pleasure of participating in a digestive system cleanse. This consisted of chugging a total of 15 glasses of warm salt water in batches of three glasses each, with each round of drinking punctuated by gentle, but intestine stimulating asanas. Most of the students were evacuating by their 6th or 9th glass, returning to the yoga hall beaming and empty and eager for more of the stool-softening tonic. I choked down the 15th frigging glass before finally excusing myself to the toilet. My stomach was distended and I now know that pregnancy will not flatter me, not that that was ever a concern. The discomfort was well worth it, though, for the intense relief and poophoria I experienced once the proverbial gates finally opened.

Relatedly, I still haven't suffered the misfortune of contracting Delhi belly, in spite of my sometimes lackluster attitude towards food safety. I only drink bottled or filtered water and am careful about raw fruits and vegetables, but have rarely passed up an opportunity to try an interesting looking street food and am generally open to dietary experiments of all variety. I also brush my teeth with tap water. Reckless. I plan to eat fish (I know!) once I'm nearer the ocean, so the tides may turn for my gastrointestinal health in the coming months. Also, relatedly is not a word!? But I love adverbs, especially imaginary ones.

This morning I took a bus from Rishikesh to the train station in Haridwar, about an hour away. It was my first bus ride and was remarkably comfortable for the $0.46 it cost. It's now my preferred form of travel between shorter (non-overnight) distances as it's ridiculously cheap and also feels relatively stable and safe when compared to rickshaws and tuk tuks. The bus station is a huge lot with dozens of buses and seemingly no central organization. Everything is written in Hindi, so you just have to ask around to find the correct ride. Many Indians are uncomfortable saying no, and evade answering your question directly, instead offering an inscrutable head bobble. It's funny. Eventually the rickshaw driver who'd been hassling me for the last half hour pointed my bus out to me. My immediate reaction was distrust, since I assumed he was tiffed at me for not accepting his ride. But of course, he had sent me to the right bus. So many of my assumptions are faulty and I keep finding myself in situations where I feel guilty for ascribing bad intentions to people who just want to help me.

I have a tentative agenda. Vadim and I head back to Rishikesh this week. I'm not sure how long we'll stay, as I feel ready to move on. While we're there, though, we'll do some light trekking, raft the Ganga again, maybe take a cooking class, and take cheap drop-in classes with world famous yogis. I've sadly resigned myself to not heading a lot deeper into the Himalayas. It's almost impossible this time of year. I still quite like the idea of working on a farm for a couple of weeks. There are also some hot springs in this general area of India that I'd like to soak in. I have minimal interest in anything cultural or historical or spiritual. I just want to do physical stuff and outdoorsy stuff. I'm a philistine.

Now for the bitching. I hope I never have to listen to another yuppie white guy earnestly wearing a turban talk about how his heart melted and his soul wept the moment he met his guru. Dude, you can afford a ticket to India and a $2000 “ashram” experience, you can certainly afford shoes. There's so much dogma here, and people are competitively spiritual, aggressively ascetic, eager to explain the ways in which their chosen path or teacher or philosophy is superior to all others. It's obnoxious and tiresome. The other Westerners I meet are burn-out, neo-hippies. I'm usually such a tolerant Pollyanna, but I'm super ready for some cynical, secular company, at least for a bit. I don't think India attracts that crowd.

I kicked the sugar habit. I've replaced it with milky instant coffee. Gross, right? I looove it.


  1. Great post, above all the bitching part. Vadim will sure battle those neo-chakras along with you. Enjoy your travels!

  2. I'm laughing in my sugarfree jello. I've missed your refreshing honesty and I miss you. I know you need to see and do everything you want to while you are so far away, but we still miss you. You keep things real. What a talent! Can't wait to see you in a pretzel pose. Love, Nana