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Settling Down

Thursday, 6 November

The jet lag is easing up. I now get up at 4:00 am instead of 1:00 am. T, I could not heed your advice on the jet lag cure. I did not have time to view the clip before leaving thinking that I would have easy access to internet when I arrive here. (There is that ASSuming word again!) It spells trouble, every time! The jet lag is not just rough on my body but also on my mind. I wake up feeling hazy and my mind is not as lucid. The effect of new environment also takes some adjusting. Perhaps it’s also my lack of a better diet. I have not eaten much of a meal since I arrived. I brought little supply of readily available food for consumption (without cooking) to sustain me; peanut butter, crackers, dried blueberries, dates, nuts and raisins. My first Indian meal was thali from yesterday. The thali had sambar, rasam, yogurt, chapatti, poori, basmati rice and a very spicy pickle. Something I don’t plan to eat on a daily basis.

The mosquitoes are hungry. The beet juice is not an option until I can get one of those plug ins today. Even with that, I wake up with welts and bites. The itch is deliriously maddening. They annoy me!

Today, I am moving into my own place. The rent is four times more than my flat from my previous stay but still manageable on the budget. It also includes meals if I want. I will probably take him up on that occasionally for some authentic curry and masala. I have not seen the place as Dr. Murthy arranged for it. He said it includes unlimited bottled drinking water, a kitchen and living room area (but no internet). So the higher rent reflects these amenities. (My place before provided minimal space and a T spot.) Yesterday I went to the market and bought some groceries, but learning that I will have a kitchen in my gruha. I will go back to the market today so I can buy some oatmeal for breakfast, dahl to make kichari, Indian spices and more fruits, always a sattvic meal. I can also keep this place when I start traveling so I don’t haul my luggage around and I have a place to come home to. I am also getting my local phone, today. There is much to enjoy with these basic little comforts.

Ooops, I better sign off for now. It is 6:00 am. It’s meditation time.

I am back (11:00 am). Revisiting that moment of déjà vu, as primitive India may seem, it offers abundance of enchantment. Majority of world renowned spiritual leaders were born and or bred here. India may not be the world’s top leader in sophisticated technological advances (though it is coming up in the ranks) but this impoverished nation no doubt it is one of the much safer places for social system. Why is it that despite all these nuances I keep coming back? Why do yogis and other spiritual seekers regard India as the motherland, the place to find solace? The Yogi lives with the principles of aparigraha, brachmacharya, santosha and sattya. Sage of Patanjali’s invocation says Samsara halahala mohasantiyae. It really means “rebirth” but I also interpret it as moving away from conditioned existence (whether from comfort or discomfort), to break habits, to learn new things, to be challenged (tapas), moving out of that endless repetition of addictions and compulsions, to avoid catastrophic consequences and melt into the void. We all have the tendency to succumb into these habits and also the capability to rise above a toxic cycle of daily doldrums into a new level of understanding. We have an equal chance of selecting choices, creating evolutionary beginnings in our lives. The difference is the choices and priorities that we make. This is my choice, my journey, my aspiration. The words are easy to come by but if reality is that easy, everyone will be in samadhi. There is a constant internal battle going on between nature and our will, between desires, instincts, senses and the mind. Again, that is why I am here. My motto; “Comfort the disturbed, Disturb the comfortable.” Comfort zone is a dead zone.

Besides my morning yogasana, meditation and my bath, I have done nothing today but sit, read and write. I have not even eaten a thing and I don’t feel hungry. Yeah, I am soooo lazy today. As a matter of fact, I am patiently waiting for my place to be ready. Dr. M’s employees are getting it ready. He even told me to just zip my luggage and they will be beamed up to their destiny without my muscular calves or any of my digits lifted. I won’t be surprised if a housekeeper will be provided too. He already told me, someone will do my laundry and I have a driver to take me everywhere. That is victory for me over rickshaw driver encounters. I am not used to this pampering but I better start enjoying myself. I just have to be lazy and everything will come. I am entitled to that right? Back in the old days, I wouldn’t know how to do that (be lazy). I would be grinding ceaselessly, nervous and rattled continuously, galloping madly, embarrassed and guilty to sit around and do nothing. I would regard idle as indolence, sloth, incompetence, non-productivity and that some incomprehensible acts of punishment will come my way if I was not making a contribution (don’t know what kind of contribution) or my body will go into dumb spasm. I will have peering suspicions that my stillness is an act so unacceptable and fundamentally irregardless. That I should always be composed, organized, busy and moving so I can shield or combat unwelcome surprises. Well, I am a sucker no more. In fact, I can sit still and merge into infinite aakash. I can be spontaneous, carefree, smile at the universe and be grateful. I can sit through this non lethal physical indulgence, at least for now. What is it that I have to do today that cannot wait until tomorrow or what is it that I will be able to do tomorrow that I cannot do today? Absolutely nothing, None, N-O-N-E. Yes, I am grateful to know that there are beautiful people around me who care and they will spoil me. I better get use to it.

Dr. M just arrived and informed me that Vinay has now been officially designated as my personal chaperone. And here comes Vinay with my new SIM card. Finally! my phone. I only gave him the rupees yesterday. If I was to get it myself, with unpredicted luck, it would have taken me one week or longer. I am spoiled here. Just make friends with the locals and you have it made. That is also another reason I like studying here, separate from the western sishyas, to be fully emerged with the locals. All I have to do is go through my wish list. If it sparks any interest to you, my number is 9742620042. You have to dial 011 for international operator, 91 for the country code and depending on your phone, add 0 or I then my number. Of course charges apply if you don’t have international calling option. Perhaps those internet phones will work at no cost. But, just in case you care to know. We have 12 hours difference and I am ahead (US friends).

7:00 pm
All my bags are unpacked. Clothes are neatly folded in the antique aparador and supplies are spread out nicely on a narrow counter. My humble gruha has no impressive aesthetics to offer and it shows all signs of evident ancient exhaustion. Walls exude concrete and solid permanence with paints slightly oozing into oblivion. Ironbars barricaded the windows and iron doors assure hindrance to intruders. Light switches, door hinges and carpet trimmings protruded in obvious display. Five, not one, sliding locks at every door. Naked light bulb in the bathroom, fluorescent lights blaring in my room and ceiling fans hummed like a chopper ready for takeoff. Lucky for me, my only roommates are the pestering mosquitoes. They must have swept the roaches off yesterday as I have not seen one. My gruha is situated on the second floor of a building off 42nd Cross. The building is only two stories high and has a flat roof (well, all buildings here have a flat roof). After unpacking, I climbed up the skinny stairs and scanned the horizon that led to what we call a patio or veranda. Oh it reminded me of that flat in Rajastan where I stayed, read my book, practiced yoga and even contemplated if Aladdin really existed. The heavens above would be the perfect place for him to surf his magic carpet and sweep me off my feet so we can fly with the city below us in the forest of cirrus clouds. Silly me. LOL!

After I unpacked, Vinay took me to the market. The shopping bill was 1,200 rupees ($35). Moving into a new place in the US would cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars buying matching decors and other gadgets convincing us that these ornaments would serve to affirm our affluence or establish our ranking and affiliation in the neighborhood. I went to Nilgris supermarket where they have everything (again, Indian standards). They have limited fruits and vegetables. I wanted some fruits and mung sprout and headed to the real market. I saw a vendor selling mala. If I know my Spanish correctly, mala means bad (or something like that). In sanskrit, mala is a garland, the 108 connecting beads. Wouldn’t it be nice to have the penetrating sweet aroma of jasmine mala in my new gruha? I slowly reached for the mala, stooped down to smell it and before I can get my nose close to it, I was startled by a jolt on my arm and a shrieking shoo from the vendor who pulled my hand away. He was watching me and knew that I was about to execute a stupid ignorant foreigner gesture. He said for me not to smell. That is not the custom. I can look and touch but not smell. Another blunder! When will I ever learn?

I must stop for now. Tomorrow is serious studies. Sunday, Challini, (Dr. M’s wife) will take me shopping for clothes that I will wear to the International Yoga Festival in Pondicherry. Dr. M is one of the Board of Directors, one of the judges and a former champion for many years at the IYF. He does not compete there now as that would be conflict of interest. But he demonstrates yoga in the opening ceremonies.

I see we have a new elected President. Namaste to all of you.

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