My first full day in India fell on a new moon.
One of my favorite things about following a lunar cycle is the tiny bit of joy I get turning my iphone’s little green “alarm” switch from it’s perpetual “on” to it’s quiet white off. There is a visceral unraveling of inverted anticipation. Prone to waking up a few moments before my alarm, this very rarely happens on a moonday. My body just *knows* what the deal is.
My loving partner Michael is generally pretty glad that we ashtangi’s take no practice on this day. Before he’s jealous he can’t stay in bed with me, he’s firstly tickled to not have to hear the synthed out buzzer. I cuddled with a travelpillow and cardigan and imagine it was him for as long as I could, before waking and skyping.
I lost most of my New Moon to rest and lag. I also practiced a bit of compassion. Lost is not an appropriate word there, but we’ll use it. Thanks goodness for landing on a proper Sunday.
Hitting the ground running in India provided me a zero-day registration followed by a conference for which staying totally present was a direct challenge. I tend to think Sharath is a pretty funny guy, which makes me relate to him well. My default mode when interacting is either humor or humility– generally a cross section of the two.
Sharath: 48,00 Rupees.
*I hand him the rupes*
*he hands a 1,000 note back*
Me: Sorry, I only ever really count to five.
Maybe he gets me. I think he does. I want him to, anyway. Don’t we all want our teacher to understand us a little? A very dedicated student of Sharath’s, on my very first trip to India, told me to avoid trying to figure out why the Boss does things– that’s its fruitless and frustrating. Just let it be what it is. I’ve done a bit shit job of regurgitating his exact words, but thats the heart of it (or at least what I took home).
Usha is still manning the front desk, and I have a little friend-crush on her. I like the way she’s able to shush all the chattering from the Ashtangi’s in the hallway, her no-nonsense attitude… but also, the fact that there is a bit of wry humor to her as well. In the relating game, since the Boss is off limits, I’ve taken to trying with her. She can’t be older than 30, pretty, and wee. She reminds me a bit of my girlfriend Puja in height, though Puj doesn’t rock a nose ring as well as Usha.
This is the second year of me practicing without my nosering. The Indians were quite taken by mine the first go ’round. They wanted very much to know what it meant for me to have one. When my dear friend Lauren was apprenticing as a piercer she needed a real life dummy, and of course I came to mind. She asked, I agreed, and so it went. New nose ring. When asked, I would tell them it was a symbol of friendship between me and my friend.
They took it out for surgery last year, and the hole closed back up before I could get around to putting it back in. Having long since cut the bohemian locks down to surfer status, and from there moving to the guise of boy-next-door, the nose ring’s healing felt a bit like a goodbye to my outword signs of being something of an experimental vanguard. If not an eschewing, than perhaps at least a releasing, of a need to be identified readily as being modus vivendi.
Pranayama’s easier, too.
Before I left this trip, I came across the passport photos for the two trips prior. I looked so happy last year. I looked so strong the year before that. This is what I see when I see these pictures– year one, a young man who desperately needed to identify, to be sure that the oil he was selling wasn’t snake, but serpant. Year two, a boy who needed to go home and heal. The kind of smile I see (half the time) on my nephew’s face when it’s time to go home.
In line for registration, I was glad to share hugs. Dubai, Ireland, Michigan. Folks I was glad to see. One of the hugees has been making this trek for a very long time– long enough that Sharath and Lakshimish poke a bit of fun at her aging and not being married. This is done in good spirits, lest it sound terrible. Like indian skin (hard, she called it), so should one’s sensitivity be when it comes to weight, marriage, and lines of the face. Thick skin, thick skin. Same same. She and Sharath share the exact same birthday.
“You look different!” she exclaimed to me, post embrace. “I’ve gotten older,” I said to her.
On that very first trip, Megan Riley saw me on a mysore walkabout getting ready for registration. She knew the lay of the land, a veteran of this quasi-piligramage. Apt to get things done in a hurry, arrive for registration more than punctually, and get the bast damn start time for us we could, I was scooped up and swept away. Up into Appu’s rickshaw we went.
I was glad to seek out Appu to help me run my errands this time. At 200 rupees round trip with next to no waiting, I knew that I was being fleeced. He told me the cost of gas had gone up. So had the cost of coconuts, I noted internally. I was very glad for his help.
I was glad for a micro-sense of autonomy that disappears when you scale back and look at as many sides as you can fit into your still-too-narrow lens. Megan, Lauren, and Puja at the periphery of the macro. Me at the micro.
Anyway. There’s something to that lunar cycle. New moon, indeed.
You should see Appu’s new rickshaw. It’s a real beaut. The meter still doesn’t work.