Monday, February 18, 2013

shala time

As I sip my warm milk, I nervously look at clock on the corner of my laptop. I mentally add the now-20 minutes that make up shala time--a concept so normal to us KPJAYI students. It's a bit of comedy trying to explain it: how the shala clock is set 15 minutes in advance--though, since last year, has somehow sped up to 20 minutes; how really we're expected to come 15 minutes prior to our set practice time; and how some will come 15 minutes earlier than that, which means they come 30 minutes earlier, which is in reality 50 minutes earlier, if you consider the time anywhere else outside the shala!

Miss your time, you're likely to be told off and asked to return at a later hour. Sometimes, the latest hour. Come too early, Sharath will also take notice. He'll tell people to come back closer to their time. Teacher, yoga exponent, Sharath is also the consummate time-keeper. He might not know your name to begin with, if you're brand spanking new to the shala, he may not know your practice, but you can bet he knows your time.

It's strange to see it all play out. How some people want to move up to an earlier slot and how they skillfully time their entrance to the lobby. (I'm an early bird myself and was happy to move from 8am to 4:30am over the first month. I come in early but moderately so.) Others like to linger at a particular time zone, being careful never to come early enough to be bumped up. And who can blame them for wanting some sense of normal, like evenings and dinners and such. Some cannot escape Sharath's watchful eye and are told to make the obscene leaps in practice schedule. I went from 6:30am to 4:30am at the end of my first month. I know someone who was moved from 8:30am to 4:30am--a 4-hour adjustment.

Led classes, likewise, require some diligent time-keeping--that is, if you are particular at all about where you like to place your mat, or whether you want to practice in the shala proper--late-comers often have to unroll their mats in the locker rooms or the lobby. This Friday's led primary will be condensed into 2 classes only, since I've been here, there have been 3 classes--a sure recipe for chaos, as we all try to squeeze into the shala in two full batches. It's no surprise that for led primary, people start waiting at the gate extra early.

Luckily, Conference doesn't start earlier than 4:30pm shala-time. But those that want to sit close to teacher come early for that too.

Chanting time is another breed of its own, as its Monday and Wednesday start time adjusts to the ever-shifting season. As the numbers at the shala swell, chanting gets later and later. As the numbers decrease, the start time also becomes earlier. And though the changes in time are mostly no more than 5 -minute increments each, the adjustments can be difficult to keep track of.

So far, my biggest blunder this season in time was being late for chanting one morning. Not too late, mind you, as I could hear "Vakratunda..." the opening chant to Ganesha just starting from outside the shala. However, my tardiness, did not escape Sharath, who as he was pulling out of the driveway scowled at me and my friend disapprovingly and yelled out from a moving vehicle, "Why are you late?"A rhetorical question, no doubt, as he drove off. It was somewhat shocking and it made me laugh, feeling a little like a kid caught doing something naughty at school. But I also couldn't help but take it seriously as my teacher unceremoniously reprimanded me for being late to class, recognizing that it is my responsibility to be on time. Bad lady.

Shala time is definitely quirky. Maybe a little insane. But it does keep everyone, more or less, on time--in fact, earlier than on time. It keeps us on our toes. It challenges us. It disciplines us. It keeps us, very conscious and, ironically, very present.

1 comment:

  1. aaa, so nice with these small reports from Mysore. Miss you, lady...