Tomorrow, I finally board the long-awaited train for Lucknow. I decided I will give myself PLENTY of time to get to Hardiwar where the trains departs. Like a truly ludicrous amount of time, because there is no way come hell or high water that I am not getting there on time to board. It will take about an hour bus ride after a short tuk-tuk from where I am in Rishikesh to get to Haridwar. Vikas assured me that busses for Haridwar leave all the time and I don’t need to purchase that ticket in advance. Yoga class starts at 4pm every day so I will leave at 3:30pm so I can say good-bye to Vikas and make my donation to the ashram for my time here. My train doesn’t leave until 10:30pm at night. I could get all the way to Delhi by then!
That means this afternoon was my last yoga class being taught by Vikas. I will lead us tomorrow morning one more time. I bet my body will continue to wake up at 5:45am like it’s gotten accustomed to this last week. It doesn’t take long for it to fall into a biological rhythm. Vikas asked me to teach yesterday’s class for the second time because he had another obligation. At first I was surprised he asked me since I don’t speak Hindi and wondered how the heck I could teach. Until he told me that even HE teaches his students in English, although they are all Indian. I noticed when he needs to correct their posses, he will instruct them in Hindi, for the sake of clarity no doubt. What’s interesting is that he has a way of speaking English while teaching class that is different from his normal speaking voice and which makes it fairly challenging for me to understand him for some reason. I wonder if that’s the same for the other students or not.
I enjoyed teaching the students at the ashram and was glad to be asked to teach. The language barrier did seem like a bit of a challenge, but since I was demonstrating the entire time while teaching they were able to follow along. I also weaved in a bit of yogic philosophy that it doesn’t seems like they get regularly (or maybe ever) from Vikas. Things that felt of more significance like the concept of sthira sukham (ease within effort/practicing with strength as well as relaxed) and the importance of the balance of opposites like yin/yang, feminine/masculine or Shiva/Shakti within the body.
Just saying Shiva/Shakti to them felt completely different and way more meaningful than if I were teaching in the States. In India, the words and mythologies that many of the poses are named after are fully woven into the fabric of their culture. For example, a full split (Hanumanasa) is named after the monkey God, Hanuman. Indian children probably heard stories about his heroic acts ever since they were babies. In fact, one of the first things I saw in Delhi on that very first cab ride that really caught my eye was a huge, probably 4-story tall statue of Hanuman along the street somewhere. I immediately thought to myself, “Yes, indeed. I have officially arrived in India!” You certainly do not see building sized monkeys dressed as humans being worshipped in downtown San Francisco.
It is big things like that Hanuman (no pun intended) and small occurrences like what happened this very afternoon while shopping that make me love and appreciation the drastic difference in cultures. I went to the little market around the corner from the ashram to see if they had a needle and thread to fix the tiny hole I already somehow got in my Indian pants. Guess that explains why they were just 250 rupees ($3.80). A young woman asked if I needed help so I asked if they had a needle and thread. She immediately replied no. And then quickly got up, opened up a drawer in the back, pulled something out, handed it to me and said, “Do you mean this?” I looked down and she was handing me a teeny spool of thread with a needle going through it that just happened to be a perfect teal color to match my pants that needed mending. I replied, “Yes exactly!” with a big smile on my face. She said, “Take it!” And laughed. “It’s free!” Um…. okay! Perhaps that’s an odd request at a little market. Except they also sell underwear, bras and socks and of course bindhis which are EVERYWHERE, amongst many other random things. Beware though! Many of the socks have a little place for the big toe so they can be worn with flip-flops. But they aren’t always labeled the “thumb socks” that they are. I’d already made that mistake once. And my feet definitely don’t like the feel of taby-style socks as tribal folks often call that style shoe. I happily found the right kind of socks on the same shopping trip as the thread and needle. Now I just need the Internet cafe to have power long enough to get my next train from Lucknow to Varanasi. Feeling good about it, since my Luck Now (ha, ha!) definitely feels like it’s improving!