So this morning I got up a little late, went off to led primary at 430 shala time and after came home and fell asleep for 4 hours. This is Mysore, for ashtangis it can be a bit of a candy store, all the things to do and places to see, and other ashtangis to chat with and catch up with, there does come a day when you need to stay home and be still for a while. Especially being we come here to do yoga. 🙂
Hannah is currently stationed in my second bedroom, she’s to move into a place she found today, assuming all works out and her landlord has indeed established the internet connection there. Jennifer is installed up the hill over the chocolate stand (yes, they have that in Gokulum) and very very happy to be back in Mysore. It’s been fun to help people get settled here, much the way it was once done for me my first time in Mysore. I think Jennifer is enjoying that too.
It is interesting to note how tastes can vary too, in seeing how people adjust to being here. While I may again write poetry about how much I love it here, I’d like to write a blog that is a little more practical for those who might intend to visit this place one day.
So what is it that makes a person love Mysore?
I think you need to be happy to some extent in chaos. 🙂
You need to be down with having a lot of people in your personal space. This is mitigated in Gokulum, a suburb on the outskirts of downtown Mysore, but to exist in this city is to enjoy sharing your space.
You need to know when to get pushy too. The other day I went to get something xeroxed, I walked to the counter to wait my turn. In short order two people stepped up to the counter and were helped before me. :-0!
Later that day I went to the ATM for money, and there were two machines inside the door. A lady was using one and informed me the other was not working. I went outside, and a fellow walked up fully intending to go past me and jump the line. I told him the second wasn’t working and body block him from going inside. Now I remember how it works. There aren’t really lines unless there are police watching.
You need to know that often people won’t be able to tell you no. Sometimes they do, but more often if they don’t know it or don’t have it they won’t say it or say nothing. If you do the math you can usually figure it out. If they didn’t get to your order you just have to keep calling and be persistent and it will eventually get done. Satu said it took about 6 visits from the wireless guys to get her wireless working, but eventually it now IS working.
And usually, it is good, to learn to roll with it. People will do their best to make money from us, but I find that if you are good humored and remember to give them a little bit of a hard time, it goes so much better than getting outright mad. Otherwise you are getting mad at a rock for being a rock. Everyone is just trying to survive, and probably if we were the one making the money we wouldn’t be as bothered by that, right? To boot, if you negotiate a little, I think people respect you more for it. The best test of their best price, at least according to our Khalid, who is I think the best teacher about these things that I have ever encountered, BTW, is to walk out. If they are losing money they won’t come after you.
A good thing to help too, is to know that 10 rupees, buying power wise, is about $1.00. I’m not saying the exchange rate, that is something different, but I’m saying, if you pay 300 rupees for a scarf, you have just paid about $30 by Indian standards for a scarf. And the 30,000 rupees that some landlords are charging now in Gokulum, while for us this may only be $576, by India standards that’s like paying $3,000 a month for your place. That is a very very expensive apartment, to say the least. And yes there has been inflation, produce and supplies are a bit out of control, especially with the monsoon rains being very late, but this helps to keep perspective on what things ought to cost.
Other tests for whether you will like Mysore:
You have to be down with some dirt. Yes, cleaning ladies might clean, and they might come to your place every day to clean, but there is no end to the dirt here in Mysore. Those who really enjoy seeing things really clean will never get their hearts desire. If you buy proper cleaning supplies, soaps and such, you will likely persuade the girls who will clean to use them, but if you want things to be really clean you have to clean them yourself.
Personally I like to do my own laundry and usually bring soap from home, because the laundry soaps here are pretty severe and tend to wear out your clothes in a few months. Also doing laundry is immensely satisfying in that you see an enormous amount of dirt come out of a small amount of clothing. It keeps you feeling productive. 🙂
And as far as the yoga, there are markers for those who will love it here too.
If you come to the yoga to just see and learn what it is like here you are more likely to have a good experience. If you are new and can’t do poses you will get adjustments. If you are able to come up from backbends and bind in Marichasana D and Supta Kurmasana AND HAVE A GOOD ATTITUDE they will start you on second series after a few weeks. If you are in the middle, capable of primary but not able to come up from a backbend, you are more likely to be frustrated, because they will not start you on second and they will not help you out much other than with your backbends. That’s how Guruji taught later in his life and how Sharath runs the shala. He helps you if you are new and need help. If you can do the poses, you are left alone. It can make you stronger if you let it, but this method is not for everyone. And it will at some point test your ego.
I find if you go in without attitude, you will enjoy your time here. There’s a lot to learn, even if they don’t teach alignment much here. You can let go of a lot of limitations, and move past many of what you think you could never do by just showing up, and letting it all unfold.
The breath in the shala is loud. I can usually tell someone has spent some time in Mysore when they come around, because their breathing is correct and deep. If you are here you will breathe.
This morning I was in the back row, and with the cool of the morning and the season there were times when the wind was blowing and bringing a draft. It was quite something to feel the contrast of the heat of so many people practicing, in contrast with the cooler wind. It is quite a powerful thing to be practicing here in Mysore.
For everyone Mysore will be a little different. For some people it is place they come to gain information, for some people it is a place to gain understanding. For me these are two different things, and I bet you can guess where my own bias would be. In the end, no one can tell you truly other than your own heart, and being here in Mysore itself.