Thursday, December 23, 2010

Counting Down, the Last Three Weeks

You can tell straight away when someone’s days are numbered at Mysore. For one, they know what the exact date is. They know this because they are counting down. I am trying not to, but at three weeks to my departure date, I too am starting to count the days. Each day is precious. Each practice is important. So is each coconut drink, tasty Indian meal, and yoga student gathering.

Thing is, we’re constantly reminded of leaving. There is always someone packing up, someone you like that you hate to say goodbye to. Even those you don’t form solid connections with, it’s difficult to see them off because they are somehow a part of the collective experience. They are part of the room, you’re familiar with their favorite spots, and they are contributors in that amazing morning energy.

Plus, you know at some point that’s going to be you. Everyone’s days are numbered at the shala. Everyone eventually has to leave. It is simply how it is. (Ok, excepting the special few that have managed to make a home out of Mysore, the lucky ducks! Still, such a fate is not for everyone).

That’s a part of the logic built into this place. It makes sense. You can come and practice, but you have to return home sometime. Part of the real challenge isn’t here in Mysore anyways. It’s back home and applying the lessons there. Though sometimes you simply wish that the rules could bend, that non-renewable visas were extendable, that jobs back home could wait, that family members and friends understand rather than worry that you’re in India or that you’ve joined a cult, that bank accounts could magically top up themselves, or that six months could stretch on indefinitely.

The farewells make it hard, particularly. In the beginning, especially for a first-timer like myself, it’s all “hello.” Every interaction is an introduction. A beginning. But once you’ve made it past the month mark, it’s more “goodbye” than anything. Every couple of days, some one is off (Though it’s not all doom and gloom, folks are happy to head home or to move on to another adventure too. But it’s sad to go regardless). There are leaving breakfasts, lunches and dinners. We’re lucky when there’s a gap of 5 days between such moments. It’s hard but I try to remember: non-attachment, non-attachment!

We were talking at one such leaving dinner this week at the Green Hotel, all of us with staggered departure dates: from tomorrow evening, next Friday, early Jan, mid Jan to March, all of us staring into the inevitable, the end of the Mysore experience.
Mr. Next Friday was adamant that he didn’t want to talk about it. Fair enough. I think if my time were up by the end of the week, I’d also rather not think about it.
In a conversation with my Sanskrit teacher’s teacher, a wise scholar in the Sanskrit college here in Mysore, he stressed how yoga is an experience, thus its personal. How I experience it is different from you or anybody else. I think that’s true for any experience. What seems sad for another person can be happy for another. Half-empty, half-full.

At the moment, with exactly three weeks to go, I still have room to be cheery about the imminent end of this Mysore trip. I say “this” because I know there will be more. I am committed to returning. And that makes me feel better, knowing that this is only the first leg of a great Mysore adventure, one that will span many trips, many years, and many future aches and pains —all of which I will sadistically love!

I remember attending my first real ashtanga immersion. Some of the students had been to Mysore before. Some of them, who hadn’t been to Mysore, had been around block, attending different workshops with different well-known teachers. And though none of them had met prior to this course, they had so many mutual friends and acquaintances. The common denominator: Mysore. I think that’s what began my fascination for this place.

Now, I’m here. Though soon enough, I too will be leaving, I feel like I also now have that Mysore connection. And that isn’t as transitory. I’ll take that home with me, that depth of practice, the lessons learned from Sharath, the energy at the shala, and the friendships and connections made here.

I suppose that by writing this I’m declaring how I want to see the end, how each goodbye is laced with the potential for a future hello. Many of those that I met plan to return too, and with much luck, the same time of year that we all seem to love. And when we meet again, we can skip the awkward introductions and slip into the Mysore ashtanga-heaven-stream-of-consciousness, friends reunited by our common interest.
So, to all those that I have had a pleasure to meet on this trip and who have gone back home or have since moved on, I can’t wait till we meet again!


  1. this is the nice part of travelling : going somewhere and coming back!!!
    keep in you that you will alaways come back to mysore
    merry x-mas

  2. you have an amazing gift for writing, Kaz. as i read this post i can feel viscerally how i experienced all these things on my first trip to mysore last year.
    i will be arriving for my second trip exactly one week before you leave. perhaps we will meet :)

  3. Have a beautiful, peaceful, and joyous week, and week after that... and after that. Maybe meet you on the ground!