Gabi : 28 days later
This week is my 1 month anniversary with India. I’m sure that, those reading my Debby Downer blog posts, will have realized, this shit is hard. So much more tiring than I thought possible. Added to practice, I have been writing my thesis (stupid thesis). So I’m pretty well physically, mentally, emotionally spent right now. And then, to add insult to injury, the girls leave. I’m getting a bit teary writing this. Such a sook. Biannka and Mel have been such a wonderful support. Its not as if we spent every waking minute together, in fact there were days where I didn’t see either or them. Or Chris or Dani. But I knew that they were here, and we would have lunch or coffee and laugh and gossip about what so and so did today or how we were feeling in our life, in our bodies, in our practice. But now they have gone, and soon Dani will leave too and I will be the only Queenslander left (Even if I am a Victorian). So this past weekend I did three things that are a first for me in India. 1. I went to an Indian music concert, 2. I did a tourist tour, 3. I went shopping.
Indian music. Blaaaaarghh. I went to a kirtan (devotional call and response music) and hated it. The woman was screechy, the tunes were monotonous, the people weren’t actually feeling the music. This has been my only experience of Indian music. And then there was the tabla and the sittar. My god. I loved it. I went along on a whim and and ended up recording the whole of the concert on my phone. I am listening to it right now actually. It was so beautiful. I walked out of the concert with a smile on my face and a tune in my heart (pun!! Sorry, had to).
On being a tourist. I hate being a tourist. I’ve always preferred just to wander, to see and experience the place I’m in. But I had nothing to do and my crazy ex-land lady was threatening to take me out somewhere. I signed up. Do yourself a favour. If you ever come to Mysore, take the time to visit these places. Somnathpur, Talakad, Shivanasamudra and the Big Banyan Tree. Somnathpur is a Hoysala dynasty temple devoted to Vishnu. It was desecrated by invading Moghul forces, so is no longer an active temple. In Hinduism, once a temple or idol is broken it is no longer worshipped at. The break can be something as simple as a broken off toe from an idol. The temple itself is still amazingly beautiful. The carving is so detailed and wonderful. Talakad is another series of temples. This time one devoted to Vishnu and another to Shiva, and they are active temples. The catch is, they haven’t been for the past 800+ years. The Shiva temple is actually closer to 2000 years old. The story goes that the wife of the Raja near Talakad put a curse on the area and said “Let Talakad be covered in sand”. It was. The area is still be excavated and the archaeologists are constantly finding idols and bits of carvings. The history in these buildings is incredible. I got a kick out of the fact that 2000 years ago there were cows and elephants. At least they featured in the carvings. Intellectually I know they existed, but it was still cool. Shivanasamudra is not a temple as such. Its actually a water fall. It’s a part of the Kavery River, and is considered scared, but there aren’t any priests or people worshipping. It is gorgeous. Think Alligator creek or Crystal creek, but massive. The falls weren’t in flood, but there was still moving water and the water is clean enough for there to be heaps of bugs and fish. Finally, on the way back we stopped at the Big Banyan Tree, just outside Mysore. The tree is 500+ years old. There are idols placed around the tree and it is thought that it was the sight of some pagan god that Hinduism has absorbed. There is a man there whose family has been caretaker of the tree for 5 generations. Seeing such a beautiful tree, being taken care of so close to an Indian metropolis was lovely. So that was my first touristy activity in Mysore.
After my big day, I was wrecked. I skipped practice. I was tired and sore and homesick. I was 10 seconds away from calling Mum and changing my flights home. Then Al’s email arrived, telling me that her Ganesha had broken and could I please keep an eye out for a new one. Huzzah! Seriously, Al your email saved my trip. I had purpose. I needed to replace Al’s Ganesha. I found my friendly rickshaw driver and said “Ravi, I need to buy a Ganesha”. Honestly. I said that. So off we toddled, in Ravi’s slightly unreliable rickshaw. He took my to a store near to the Devaraja markets in town. It was hectic as per usual. The store was crammed floor to ceiling with all sorts of statues of every good you can imagin. For example, Vishnu has had 9 avatars, or forms. Each of these forms therefore has its own statue. This form can then be represented in multiple positions and settings and in different materials and sizes. And that’s just Visnhu. There is also Ganesha, Krishna, Shiva, Brahma, Parvati, Lakshmi and Saraswati. And these are only the big name gods. Crammed. I was there for maybe 45 minutes looking at different statues of Ganesha in different materials, brass, bronze and wood. Finally I settled on one. Not the most expensive one, but what I thought was the most beautiful. Then the fun part. I haggled!!! I have never haggled before. I have always just agree to the price. But this time I did. And it worked. I paid a price I thought wasn’t too bad, and the store owner got what he considered a fair price. And, some Mysurians complemented me on the idol. They thought he was very pretty. Ganesha is currently sitting in the corner of my room watching over me until he begins watching over Al.
Overall, despite being hard and tiring, my first month has actually been pretty good. I am learning more about myself and my spiritual practice, mostly what I don’t want. My asana practice is going well, I’m getting stronger and have more stamina. Now I just need to find new people, bind in marychiasan c and finish my thesis. Practice practice and all is coming.