My mom has only subtly asked me when I'll write something, and I have tried.
I have a dozen blog posts partially written because every time I start to write about one thing I suddenly want to write something else. So I open a new document, record a new thought, and as soon as I search for more words, I'm lost.
It's the same way I felt walking around Mysore when I first arrived.
One block is filled with beautiful homes and lush, old trees, and the next is slums with torn plastic tarps for shade. Then the following corner has a traditional restaurant that serves food on banana leafs, and across the street a cow is eating garbage. Another block over is a Domino's Pizza next to a Samsung store.
Beggars stand near the bus stops on this main road, and children in school uniforms wait on benches, exchanging stories and laughs. A Mercedes drives by, and a small rickshaw filled with six people lurches over a speed bump and struggles to accelerate. Farther down is the neighborhood sweets shop, which also happens to be right next to the best food cart for churumuri, a favorite local snack of chopped fruits with spices and rice puffs. The smell of earthy spices and frying oil from other stands mixes in the air with exhaust from the nearby traffic.
The modern grocery store on that same block is a one-stop shop for everything for flatware to underwear. Outside vendors with fruits and vegetables compete by offering lower prices. They measure the weight in balances, placing the produce on one side and a metal kilogram on the other to determine the correct amount.
I have been to places like this before, where the extremes of life are so close together. But each one is unique. And each one wakes you up to all of (for lack of a better word) your shit: what you take for granted, what you avoid, what you attach to.
My first week here I barely took any photos. As if my blonde hair and generally confused facial expression weren't enough to make me stand out, pulling out my camera made me feel even more foreign. And my eyes had enough to take in without adding a second lens.
Just crossing the street felt like a task. I awkwardly waited, attempting to find the best moment to make it through oncoming rickshaws, scooters, cows, cars, and buses. I often watched dogs successfully cross the street with more grace and ease than I did.
Three weeks later I now know that there is never a best moment, but the oddly magical thing is that you always make it across. Yes, drivers honk their horns, and buses don't mind coming within inches of your toes, but there is no perfect timing, so you just go. And everyone is in it together. Which might be the dorkiest thing I could say, but there's something about a little madness that forces you to see other people. Instead of staring at a red light and waiting for it to change, you stare at oncoming traffic and with the right number of beeps and a strange dance of speeding up and slowing down and compromising you figure out a way for everyone make it through.
The dogs still look more agile than I do, but my eyes have adjusted. This week on my walk home from the shala someone pulled over and asked me for directions, so my face must look less unsure than it did when I first arrived. To my own surprise I even guided him in the right direction.
Mysore has been a lovely little pocket of India to get my feet wet. I've fallen in love with the people, the food, and, of course, the YOGA. Admitting that I struggled with crossing the street here might elicit a laugh from a Mysorian because this is the quiet, calm part of India.
Many people call this city a soft landing. At the advice of others students who studied yoga here, I arrived with a hotel booked for 3 nights and planned to spend my first full day wandering around looking for homestays and apartments. I started that morning wary of whether this plan would work, and by evening I had more accommodation options than I knew what to do with.
Eventually I'll finish the half-written words about practicing yoga here, taking a Sanskrit class that's held in the women's locker room, the new floors at the shala, riding on a scooter with my 30-pound backpack, visiting a cotton factory, the rickshaw driver who renewed my faith in humanity, and finding a cockroach on my yoga mat.
It would be foolish to think that 3 weeks or even 6 months is enough time to really figure anywhere out. I've lived in LA for 6 years, and I still don't have it figured out.
As I roamed around Mysore the other day, my mind still taking everything in, I thought about a quote from Winnie the Pooh. Sophisticated, I know.
"Life is miserable," moaned Eeyore.
But Pooh just laughed.
"Oh, Eeyore! It's your mind that's miserable. Life is just life."
I could say that India is beautiful, challenging, chaotic, vibrant, noisy, delicate, mysterious, overwhelming, generous...
But India is just India. And my mind is trying to catch up.
1/5/2016 11:23:52 am
Such a generous, challenging, authentic first take on India. Thanks!
1/5/2016 01:30:22 pm
I love hearing all about your adventures. These pictures remind me so much of home.. and of course crossing the street in such chaos.. such is life.. love it and missing you lots.
3/11/2016 09:13:09 am
Mary! It's so good to hear from you! Somehow this comment ended up in spam, and I'm just seeing it now. Miss you, and can't wait to see you when I'm back. Sending you lots of love!
1/5/2016 02:13:32 pm
Amanda, I'm so happy to hear what you're experiencing. Keep writing :)
1/5/2016 03:52:45 pm
Thank you...love you...beautifully written as always...
1/6/2016 10:36:07 am
Amanda, your mom is not the only one who keeps an eye on your posts. Every so often I check to see if you have written something. Happy to know you are experiencing India with an open heart (it is actually the only way you can). Keep writing. Many blessings
2/1/2016 04:07:18 am
Read this before and after attending a yoga class the other night. Used your words as I remembered to breathe. On your way back through the States, please stop out East for some Mysore-style yoga in my living room? Love and Miss You!
3/11/2016 09:17:21 am
Just saw this!! Yes please!! Although I'll add that I also want to make this happen in MY living room. Next girls trip (Sara/Stef/E/Q/Grams) in LA?!
2/22/2016 02:06:12 am
You have another follower and fan!
3/11/2016 09:13:58 am
Thanks Terry! Truly everything I hoped for and more. Hope you're doing well!
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