I mean no disrespect, quite the opposite really.
I know the title makes him sound like a quick drawing, gun-slinging character from the wild west. Billy the Kid. Buffalo Bill. Doc Holliday. So Sharp Sharath.
At any given time, the shala easily holds over 100 mats, likely more than that. The shala itself is like a revolving door, one student out, one more in. “One more!”
There are at least 200 hundred students at the shala at this point. Probably more. And every morning, Sharath’s eagle eyes preside over the room, keeping a watch on his students’ progress, attentive to when he is needed. (And, yes, I have broken drishti to make these observations, but such things can’t be helped at times). He appears the master multi-tasker. He assists a student and simultaneously takes a second to scan
In his way, he is all knowing. Sharath may not know everyone’s names, but he knows faces. And he knows the times in which these faces are supposed to show up.
I imagine that his brain goes all Bionic Man. Each person is measured, faces are recognized, stats come up like on his internal eyeball computer screen—in Sanskrit no less.
I know he doesn’t know my name, but he knows that my face is linked to Claudia’s. He’s asked me where she was before, “Where is your friend?” She is also nameless. Claudia observed last Thursday that he scanned the room after he saw her, and then settled back on her face unsatisfied.
Did he come up short in his mental roll call? Had he figured out that I was missing that led class?
The following Monday, I was in ardha baddha padmotanasana. From behind me, I could see him purposefully coming my way. By the time I was right side-up, he was before me. I felt like a kid in trouble.
He coolly asked, “Where were you Thursday led?” (Friday was off for Diwali)
If this were a country western film, this is the scene where fingers twitch, itching to unleash pearl-handed antique gun, dust is flying around the shala, tumbleweed rolling across the background…
“Ladies’ Holiday, first day,” I answered concisely, surprised by the question. But I too was armed with a legitimate excuse.
His face lightened. He didn’t exactly smile, but tension seemed to evaporate. He nodded and walked on.
I continued with my practice with the knowledge that I wasn’t forgotten, that somehow I counted among the countless number of students. It made me happy, of course. The second emotion was wonder at how very sharp and perceptive he is. It’s amazing that he noticed my absence at all in a room packed with people. The third (lesser) emotion was inevitably worry, what else had not managed to escape his bionic supervision? My miscounting? My tired vinyasa?
Word to the wise: don’t mess with So Sharp Sharath, the Sherriff of the Shala, the fastest pair of eyes in the land.