Friday, June 11, 2004

The typical Indian house is made of concrete, and the electrical wiring seems to be based on mid-century schematics. As a result, the only sockets are located high up on the wall, near the ceiling lights. This means it is very difficult to plug in reading lamps. So people read by candlelight? Do they only read during the day?

There are cows, pigs, dogs, horses, and occasionally monkeys running everywhere. But where are the cats? I've only seen one.

The other day, someone was saying, "I was in a scooter accident, then I came down with a fever, then I was hospitalized for a stomach infection, and now I have a cyst growing on my face. As soon as one thing gets better, something else happens. I've gotten over the idea that I'll ever be 100-percent."

A common Mysore yoga belief: deep backbends cause fevers. I've never heard of anything like this happening to yoga students in the States, at least where I practice---too many of us go to work afterwards; who can get sick?---so I'm wondering if the statement shouldn't be amended to read "the Indian environment causes fevers." Because my god, living here is war on your immune system.

I'm going to put myself out on a limb here and say that I don't particularly care for thali meals. But I do love idli.

You Will Never See This in the US
From a sign on a shop near the shala: "100% More Butterfat! The Milk With The Most Fat!"

The above sign has become a landmark: "I live around the corner from 100% More Butterfat," or "You know 100% More Butterfat? Go down that street and make a left ... "

Gas is phenomenally expensive here, even by Western standards. Yesterday I paid around $6 US to fill up a scooter tank, which is only six liters. As a result, there is strange silence at all intersections, as people shut off their engines to conserve fuel while they wait for the light to change. You will see people run and jump on their scooters and motorcycles and then start them as they roll away. It's to spare the fuel needed to take the engine from a standstill. Sometimes, as you go downhill, a scooter will appear from nowhere and coast by, the driver having shut off his engine.

It is startling when beggars grab and latch onto your arm. A ragged child, holding her equally ragged two-year-old sister in her arms, will interrupt a conversation to ask for money. You tell them no, and they do not leave---the girl stands there at your elbow, making the universal gesture for hunger. You continue your conversation over her. She hovers, a ghost in the corner of your vision. What will it mean when I no longer notice her?

The average age seems to be late 20s/early 30s; I expected much younger people. After all, who else has the luxury of time? Instead, the people here tend to be either in transitional stages of life---after school, between jobs---or have constructed lives where they can make three-month pilgrimages to Mysore.

I drank half a screwdriver at dinner last night, but had to back off part way through the meal because I was getting smashed---I stood up to use the restroom and swayed like a drunken comic-strip cliche. Half a screwdriver?

On Friday morning, everyone practices first series, and Guruji leads the class. Prior to class, Sharath played Indian music over the loudspeakers, forcing conversation volume up a few notches. Sharath's voice came over the loudspeaker: "Please maintain silence!" We all looked back to the office to see him laughing. In many ways he has the lightness of a child.

Today's agenda is to go the movies to see a dreadful American blockbuster. It occurs to me I haven't seen TV in a month! Yet I still live. How can this be?