Sunday, October 16, 2011

First day of school

Claudia and I on our first morning back in Mysore.

Mysore and its like first day at school: we’re students for one thing, excited little things running around preparing for our school year, except our school supplies entail finding apartments then cleaning and refurnishing said apartments, getting local mobile numbers, and renting scooters.

At every turn, we meet friends who we haven’t seen since last season, as if we’ve been reunited after a long summer vacation, catching up on what we did in that interim time called our “real” lives—the ones we live in between visits to Mysore (I get carried away here, I know as this is only my second trip, but honestly this is what it feels like for me).

And there’s this electricity in the air. This sense of anticipation that is apparent at the start of a school year. Students are eager and excited. The mood is festive, the suburb of Gokulam coming to life as each day brings new carloads of students because today is when Sharath starts teaching again for the season.

And although my companions and I didn’t managed to arrive in Mysore early enough to register for class today (the first led class with Sharath was early this morning and we arrived Friday night forgetting that the shala wasn’t open on Saturdays), it’s incredibly special to feel the energy of today. There’s a beautiful feeling that we are part of the start of something very special.

Today, at the first conference of the season, Sharath announces that he isn't going to say too much (the conference is barely half an hour), intimating that there would be time to go over things in future conferences, that rather this was a time to “adjust.”

“Life is about adjustment,” he says. (“Alleluya, ain’t that the truth!” I could have shouted all gospel-church choir like).

Sharath explains briefly about how life doesn’t always work the way we want it to and how we have to adjust to it accordingly. More so in India, he says, where things are specially different.

He reminds students how to act appropriately in a place as traditional as Mysore, that the beach dress code of Goa doesn’t fly so well locally, how blocking 8th cross as students drink their fill of morning coconut doesn't ingratiate us to our Indian neighbors, that accepting a random invitation to a stranger’s wedding may not be to our better interest, or that converging as groups at the coconut stand might attract unwanted attention—the last one seems to have fallen on deaf ears as many did indulge in a post-conference coco as is customary on Sundays.

He recommends students walk or take auto-rickshaws because ordinary traffic rules do not apply in India and not be so bold as to try to drive motorbikes or scooters in a country where everything is different, especially in a place like Mysore, where when a mind says go right, it goes right, without looking or taking any precautions. (This just after booking a scooter for myself not a half hour earlier. As with every learning experience, some must be through personal experience.)

It is our orientation for our first day of school. These are the don’ts. There has to be some. He has to start us off right. But there are also some inspiring moments. He starts by looking around the room and smiling, commenting on how he sees “a lot of new faces,” and how that is “good…it means ashtanga is spreading.”

He also talks briefly about how yoga came to Mysore. He talks about Krinshnamacharya coming to Hasan, where his grandfather Pattabhi Jois was able to study with him for some years. How eventually Krishnamacharya would go, then Pattabhi Jois would end up in Msyore to attend Sanskrit college and how Krishnamacharya would also end up in Mysore, where Pattabhi Jois would then study with his teacher for the next 20-25 years.

At some point during this historical recap, I see Sharath’s hand hold the arm of the chair beside him. Its Guruji’s chair, or “throne” as some people call is. Sharath gently holds the arm as if it were a hand. I think of how he must miss Guriji, his grandfather and his teacher, and how he must be trying to presence him now as he starts this new season of teaching, like us, he is also a student calling to his teacher at the start of the new year.


  1. Thank you for posting this Mysore update. My thoughts are drifting to India quite often, and I am sure if there is a possibility for going there this winter, I will not hesitate :) But now dharma is here. And I am very happy having Alex around for another 6 weeks. Lots of love XOXO

  2. great to see you ladies are back in Mysore!!! I really look forward to reading your posts as I will be sitting this season out while I wait for the arrival of my son :) I am 6 months pregnant now, due in early Jan. please say hello to any and all you see from our last trip together... Be sure to give Tom extra hugs for me, he arrives next month. be safe and enjoy. xo


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