Friday, August 13, 2004

Bug Story
The bug was as long and as thick as my thumb. Its hairy black body perched on Deb's throat, just under her right ear, its thin black legs in sharp relief against her pale white skin. The Two Debs and I were on top of Chamundi Hill just after sunset, walking back from the main temple. Canadian Deb was telling a story, gesticulating and waving her arms in her inimitable style. I noticed Deb's insect passenger and snatched at her neck. The bug, her throat: It was more of a muscle spasm than a conscious gesture. The bug had surprising density and heft, my stomach flip-flopped, a shudder passed through me.

"What was that?" Deb asked. "A bug?"

"Yeah, it was nothing."

She looked at my face. "Was it big?"

"No, just a mosquito," I lied.

Who knew the bastards could move so quickly? A 3:30 AM duel in the shower starts the day properly.

Yoga Crush
One-hundred-plus people and counting in the shala. Assembly-line yoga? Two other people and I finished in the entrance hall the other day.

Your teacher monitors your progress and gives you asanas based on several criteria. At the very least, this requires a relationship between teacher and student. Is such a relationship still possible with Guruji and Sharath at the main shala?

Jain Temple, Part I
At Sravanabelagola last weekend we climbed 604 stairs carved into a stone hill. An 18-meter-high statue of Jain saint Gomatshevara awaited us at the top; it had been built in the tenth century. The view from the temple of the surrounding countryside was absolutely devastating.

Jain Temple, Part II
I huddled in front of the main temple, munching biscuits. The woman's four-year-old son had to pee. She shouted at him and gestured. He walked to the edge of the entranceway, pulled down his red shorts, and pissed onto the temple ground.

Culture Shock
The ubiquitous and unending staring. The question "Where from?" The disregard for life on the roadways.

Vladimir Nabokov versus Tom Clancy
One a palate cleanser for the other.

Day One: drink 50 millileters of ghee. Day Two: drink 75 millileters of ghee. Day Three: drink 100 millileters of ghee. Two questions: One, detoxification or religious zealotry? Two, when the process is finished, do you feel better because you're detoxified or because the ghee is no longer making you sick?

Homeward Bound
Straight to San Francisco on September 8.