Perhaps it’s the palm and coconut trees. Or the noisy Americans partying late into the night. Or the Spanish girls running around in tiny little boy shorts and bandeaux. But my trip to Mysore, so far, is reminiscent of my long-ago Club Med Mexican vacation. The key difference being at Club Med activities include snorkeling, golf, flying trapeze. Here the activities are mostly shala-centric--Ashtanga yoga, chanting, Yoga Sutra studies, Sanskrit language classes.
Like Club Med, there are social strata. At the top are those yogis who practice at 4:30 a.m. (4:15, shala time; more about that later) with Sharath. Those earliest risers are the cool kids. The advanced yogis. Or people who have come here before, often many times; their coveted 4:15 start time is a reward.
On the bottom are those yogis who practice late morning--9:30 a.m. (9:15, shala time) with Saraswathi. I practice at 9:30. Or 9:15, shala time.
Which is also very Club Med. Club Med creates its own time zone to maximize daylight hours. The Ashtanga Institute of Mysore, likewise, marks time according to its own rules. Apparently, Guruji’s pet peeve was lateness. The Ashtanga Yoga Institute of Mysore is, perhaps, the only place in India that is ahead of its time.
During my Club Med trip in 1996, using the telephone was particularly challenging. My first day in Mysore I purchased an Indian SIM card, to insert in my unlocked Blackberry, along with 49 minutes of calling time. That was 6 days ago. As of today, I’m still unable to make or receive calls. My daily trips to the Phone Guy stand have morphed from pleasant to frustrating to borderline violent to comical. Every day, Phone Guy tinkers with my Blackberry and makes a few calls from his own phone. Then he uses my phone to call his phone.
“See,” he says, wobbling his head side to side, “you can call me.”
Phone Guy tinkers some more, hands me back my phone and, day after day, declares: “Madam, your phone will be calling the U.S. in 10 minutes.”
If you travel alone to a Club Med you are assigned a roommate. Here I live in a 4-bedroom house about a half a block from the shala. A yogi I know from Ashtanga Yoga San Francisco, Deborah Crooks, arranged everything and I just fell into this truly fortunate situation. Besides practicing yoga 6 days a week, I have Yoga Sutra class 3 times a week and chanting class twice a week. I’m also in a writers group, courtesy of Deborah, who started the group, that meets twice a week.
Hopefully, this means I will actually do some writing. Stay tuned.