the holiday season for me as for many of you has come to the bottom of the sledding hill. the thrill of cookies, carols, gift returns, and auld lang syne (or as i've always preferred "Old Enzymes") was great, but now comes the trudge back up the hill from whence we came, some of us to work, some of us to the scowls of Saraswati, but for at least to a bit more normalcy. my hike back up the hill included the aforementioned barreling down the side of the mountain.
when traveling any amount of good distance in india, it is usually involves either a bus or a train. both are fairly extraordinary, but so is the crazy aunt with the lime flavored jell-o moulds with mini-marshmallows and carrot shavings (i make fun, but i'm the crazy nephew that complains then proceeds to get an extra spoonful). in the past 3 weeks for me, it has meant 16 hours on trains and 44 on busses.
all I will say about trains is that i now know what carry-on luggage feels like in those overhead compartments. it is a real great way to meet people, but not-so-good if you have any sort of "comfort zone" that doesn't include pressing up against others.
but really, it's the overnight busses that one should get some sort of participation medal
. don't get me wrong, i wouldn't actually do this stuff, if i didn't love it on some remote level (remote and deep...and locked...and guarded by sharks). Let me help you travel with me. first, it's dark, which eliminates reading and getting the lay of the land and countryside. second, although the seats recline, the bus is full, and being the guest in a country, one feels obliged to yield the shared arm rest, so one is a bit cramped. i thanked my flexible yoga abilities more than once. third, it's only 7pm, so you're not tired, and apparently neither is my seatmate who is great to talk with, but eventually turns sitting uncomfortably, wide-awake in the dark into sitting uncomfortably, wide-awake in the dark while on an awkward first date. He has asked me so many questions that by 9pm he knew all about my family, my goals in life, he knew that I gave kim hermanson stitches playing tag in 2nd grade, the name of my unborn children, my suspicions that rod stewart and mick jagger are robots, how old I was when I lost my virginity, who I look up to, what I regret, my favorite color, animal, and rock ballad (blue, lemming, and The Ballad of Jane by LA Guns, with November Rain in a close second), that I forgot to return a movie to Hollywood Video in 1996 and thusly have never returned, and that I still have one wisdom tooth that I refuse to give up, plus follow-ups to each of those. I felt like we were either officially going "steady" or else that I will find a bill in the mail when I get home for the 2-hour session.
But, right when you think that your leg is asleep, and that your butt has actually become a part of the blue and green striped upholstery, and that maybe this kid next to you works covertly for the Feds, and that the potholes in this road are actually going to jar loose that last wisdom tooth that you hold so dear, you doze off, not even to be disturbed by the man in seat 9 who snores like a cartoon bear waking up from hibernation
. You doze off and dream of flying down that sledding hill these past 3 weeks in the colonial Portuguese Christmas-crazy town of Cochin, and of the laid back beach town of Varkala, where I didn't lose my virginity, but I did lose a patch of skin on my knee body surfing (don't worry, it only replaces an old scar from where I had a wart removed, but now I have a much, MUCH, cooler story behind it, which will eventually include saving that mermaid from the net). Right when you're about ready to watch the sun set into the ocean again, after having visited the simple yet costly underwater merworld, and are listening to the waves crash, and feeling the warm sand between your toes (and in other areas you'll unexpectedly discover later), the bus swerves and your head pops up like that of a drunken prairie dog, you adjust your leg because your foot has decided to stay asleep, and you thank God that you were able to sleep at all and more so that the bus is still on the road and not at the bottom of some ravine, until you hit the Indiglo on your watch and realize that it's only 10:30. And the search for sheep to count begins again. But alas, we transcend and have greater stories because of that green jell-o.
And here I am at the top of the sledding hill once again, a bit travel weary, but as I look back down that big hill and lace up my boots for the excitement of my last 2 weeks of yoga classes here in Mysore, I already begin to forget the pain (could be due to a concussion from that rogue wave), leaving only the stories behind .
Well, that's my 20 rupees worth. Stay tuned next week to see if after 3 weeks apart the spark between Tedji and Saraswati remains.
This week's yoga pose of content (a positive spin): Garbha Pindasana.
I love you and miss you all and will see you soon.
Have you ever been on an 11 hour overnight bus ride and against all odds, dozed off, to suddenly drift back into consciousness only to realize that the driver of your bus must be asleep also or else is choking on one of those 10 rupee Chocobars and is presently swerving you speedily to your ultimate and untimely death in the midnight darkened mountains of southern india, only to re-realize that actually this is the same way he drove this route the last time you were on it? i have...a few times. and each time all my yoga poses flash before my eyes, and i see some headline to the extent of "Death by Chocobar, american yogi finally able to do supta kurmasana with ease," and realize that i should have peed at the last stop, because it would really suck to be in the middle of an unknown woods in the dark with no use of my legs and then have to pee. but, really on those long bus rides, who doesn't THINK they have to pee, even if the last thing that you drank was that Sprite on christmas day.