alan little’s mysore diary – december 2001

Thursday 29th November to Sunday 2nd December

Coorg – a weekend in paradise.

Fours days staying at Honey Valley, a mountain farm run by Suresh and Susheela Chengappa. Idyllic. Suresh and Susheela have lived here for twenty years – they come from quite well-off families, but decided to have a relatively simple life and raise their children in the hills instead of pursuing careers in Mysore or Bangalore, and have built up the farm from an original five acres owned by Suresh’s father. They were India’s biggest honey producers until a virus wiped out their bees in 1994; now they make their living growing coffee and taking in paying guests.

They grow almost all their own food – an amazing variety of fruit and vegetables, all organic, plus eggs and (despite occasional problems with tigers eating the cows) milk. They get pure drinking water and hydro-electricity from a mountain stream, and methane for cooking from cow dung (despite occasional problems with tigers eating the cows). Susheela says the only food they have to buy in is flour, sugar and red chillis.

Suresh and Shusheela are superb hosts. Susheela cooks delicious home-grown food (and coffee) in vast quantities at frequent intervals. Suresh – naturally – knows a vast amount about organic farming and Indian eco-activism and is fascinating to talk to. He’s also happy to spend time ferrying guests up and down the jeep-track to the main road, and show us possibilities for walks in the forest – although we actually spend most of our time on the verandah talking, reading and, er, eating. We are so comfortable we don’t even bother going down the mountain to the village on Saturday night for the harvest festival – Suresh says years ago it used to be a really big thing lasting several days, but nowadays it’s pretty tame.

I travelled with a group of five in a jeep, but a couple of other people came out by bus and said the journey was fine – only takes three or four hours and apparently it is less terrifying to be inside an Indian long distance bus, than outside one on the same bit of road. A bargain at 50 rupees.

(Lovely place to spend time, but not a particularly great photographic venue. The valley is steep and faces north, so no great dawn or sunset mountain vistas. Am too sleepy, and too afraid of tigers, to walk up the mountain before dawn to get landscape shots in the east-facing valley the other side of the hill. Burn a few rolls of film anyway, will see what we get.)

Tuesday 4th December

Another Guruji-on-form conference. Long lecture on how the vinyasa breathing system, if pursued correctly, leads on naturally over time to advanced pranayama. Hints & tips on how to avoid being ripped off when buying sandalwood oil.

And in between, the adventures of Pattabhi The Masked Avenger, hunting down yoga fraud the world over. Story of how he was in Bangalore once and heard that somebody had opened a new yoga shala, so he went to visit. Asks the guy who his guru is, and the guy replies “Pattabhi Jois”. “That’s interesting”, says Pattabhi, “I’m Pattabhi Jois. Pleased to meet you”. We are left to imagine the look on the guy’s face. No names named.

He also talks about similar goings-on in the west: people who think they are qualified as “ashtanga yoga teachers” after doing courses of only a few weeks; people who say they are students of Pattabhi Jois and teaching “ashtanga yoga”, but “no yoga is there – only exercise doing”. Again, no names named and he seems more amused than angry about the whole thing.

He has said nothing more about a day off for puja on Monday, which he mentioned a few weeks ago. We decide not to ask, in case he decides it’s a good idea and does it (in addition to moving the next new moon day from Saturday to Friday – the ability to move the moon being one of those siddhis possessed only by a handful of advanced yoga masters).

I had some email discussion last week with a guy called Will, who asked some quite blunt and honest questions on yahoo about whether it’s still worth coming to Mysore to study with Guruji these days. (An unqualified yes in my opinion). Here’s what I said to him:

I just saw your message on the yahoo ashtanga board today – I admire your courage asking serious & honest questions in that zoo, I used to read & post there regularly but have almost entirely given up on it.

I’m in Mysore at the moment, having practiced for a few years before I got round to coming here. I am definitely finding it worthwhile.

A lot of being here is “darshan”. Pattabhi Jois is one of the greatest living yoga masters, we are fortunate to still have the chance just to spend time around the guy and we probably won’t be able to do so for much longer. You might regard that as a cultish view, I don’t. I don’t view yoga as a western-style commercial transaction where I think about what I’m “getting” for my money. If you don’t believe in the concept of darshan then you might have a different opinion. But if you’re serious about studying Indian philosophy you might want to give it some thought.

Don’t forget that, although Pattabhi Jois has a remarkable level of energy and works amazingly hard for a man of 86, he is an old man. He doesn’t have the energy or the strength he had 20-30 years ago when he was teaching the likes of David Swenson or Richard Freeman – sadly for us, our generation has missed the chance those guys had. It’s true that he doesn’t adjust male students much, I think mainly because he doesn’t feel he has the strength to – so he leaves that part of the work to his grandson Sharath who is a *superb* yoga teacher. (Although actually, KPJ adjusted me a lot when I was at his workshop in NY last year). Sharath’s adjustments are the best I have ever had. I have made more progress in a month here with him than I would expect to make in a year at home. I didn’t expect that – I used to think “how can some 30 year old possibly know more than some of the senior western teachers, just because he’s Pattabhi’s grandson?”, but now actually I think he might.

Yes, you will get talked at more and learn more so-called “technique” from senior western teachers, some of whome are very good. What you can learn here is that “technique” and “alignment” and all that western iyengar-influenced bullshit aren’t all that important, what matters is the effort involved and the energy changes that come from putting yourself into the fire on a daily basis.

Morning classes are indeed all westerners, Guruji & Sharath teach their Indian students separately.

Yes, you might have a long wait to practice. A lot of students want to practice here, the shala is small (ten students at a time), and KPJ operates a pretty fair “first come first served” queue system for everybody except long term students who he knows – some of them get somewhat earlier practice slots than newcomers, which I have no problem with (except when they come and sit right in front of me!) What else where you planning to do at 6 to 8 o’clock in the morning?

There are other good yoga teachers in Mysore. BNS Iyengar teaches basically the same system as Pattabhi Jois and is also a direct student of Krishnamacharya; a student of his called Sheshadri also has a few western students; and there is a younger guy here called Venkatesh who teaches his own approach and is supposed to be good. Mr Iyengar and Venkatesh (or his wife) teach pranyama, theory and chanting classes as well as asana.

Feel free to think that I’ve come to Mysore and become a cult victim. I don’t think so though. I’m going to be here until about March – maybe we’ll have a chance to talk about some of this stuff over a chai some time if you do decide to come.

For a completely different view, see Christophe Mouze’s reply. I don’t think I met Christophe – I gather he has just left Mysore after a spell studying with Mr. Sheshadri. Christophe’s updated Mysore information page is extremely useful.

Wednesday 5th December

Some days lately it seems like 90 percent of the work in yoga is just getting out of bed before 5 o’clock in the morning. All the rest – brushing teeth, doing a little warm-up, walking to the shala, sitting on the stairs, actually doing practice – is a formality. It all comes automatically if I just manage that crucial first move of not just switching the alarm off and going back to sleep. Perhaps I should be going to bed earlier (than nine o’clock).

Sports News: Oh dearie me. Auntie, who previously claimed to believe cricket is “a big waste of time”, is overcome with patriotic fervour now that India look like thrashing England in the first test match. Fortunately while I am having lunch Tendulkar’s wicket falls, which shuts her up briefly.

Thursday 6th December

Coming soon by request – Stair Wars, a frank & chilling exposé of the sheer banality of what yoga students worry about.

But first, let’s examine some Yoga Student Dietary Beliefs. Don’t forget that the average western yoga student at home subsists on brown rice, steamed organic vegetables and a bit of tofu. Or so they would like you to believe. In India, different rules apply:

Furthermore (and weirdest of all): * This is mostly believed by Americans, which makes sense if you think about American cheese. I must admit though that I too was relieved yesterday, when the great Nilgiris Cheddar Famine came to an end after three terrible days.

** It is polite to pretend to believe one’s roommate when they claim that a monkey broke into the kitchen and ate the sweets. (This is a true story, but not from my household***. Kate and Katia are remarkably slim considering the amount of sweets “eaten by monkeys” in their kitchen)

*** It would not be polite to expect one’s roommate to believe a story about monkeys breaking into the kitchen when one lives on the top-but-one floor of a tall building.

Friday 7th December

Christina My roommate Christina points out that, although she was a Manhattan lawyer by trade until recently as mentioned here and here, she is really a sweet, charming Southern Belle from Oklahoma, the city that produces more beauty queens per head of population than anywhere else in the USA, and is absolutely not a mean or hard person in any way. I thought I should mention this so that she won’t sue my motherf**kin ass. Whatever that means.

Dodgy Belief Of The Day – which the wife of a well-known yoga website proprietor from Sidney actually stopped believing a couple of days ago:

Tuesday 11th December

Feeling ok again, which is a huge relief – from about last Wednesday through to yesterday, was laid low with some kind of weird non-specific debilitation thing – slight cold, slight stomach upset, no appetite, weak & tired. Quite a few people have said they were feeling the same way, and I’ve heard lots missed practice on Sunday. Including me.

Days off practice due to illness so far: 3. Days off taken by Guruji (in addition to normal Saturdays and Moon Days): also 3. (Days Guruji hasn’t taught, when I have been super-conscientious and practiced anyway: 0. Excuse for previous: days off taken by Guruji coinciding with days when I was sick or injured anyway: 2). All this over a six week period so far. So realistically, I’m definitely closer to (at most) a 5 days a week average practice than 6. Seems to be working though. Straight into Marichy D today without 5 minutes of struggling & wriggling first. But still no garbha pindasana because of the ankle, so finishing primary series by Christmas is looking like it won’t happen. Which doesn’t matter although it would have been quite nice.

Continuing the “studying with Guruji in Mysore: is it worth it?” discussion which I wrote about last week, Carl Nelson has posted some responses to Christophe Mouze’s letter on ezboard (can’t link to individual messages on ezboard – just scroll down to Carl’s third comment on this page).

Found out today that another current Pattabhi Jois student, Aliette Frank, is also posting live-from-Mysore reports on her home shala’s website.

(Am actually genuinely peeved about Stair Politics today, so will choose a different day to write about it)

Wednesday 12th & Thursday 13th December

Oh dear. Wasn’t ok again at all. Sudden chills Wednesday afternoon for a couple of hours, followed by an almost 40 degree fever. Which goes away again in the night, to be followed by 24 hours of very comprehensive diarrhoea. All most unpleasant and depressing. Hope it doesn’t happen again.

Interesting that the onset of the chills on Wednesday almost exactly coincides with Christina coming back from a trip to Coorg – i.e. as soon as I’m not alone in the apartment. I think the unconscious and the immune system know when this sort of thing is coming and can, for a while and with enormous expenditure of resources, hold it off until a relatively safe moment. I walked several miles down a mountain once with somebody who had cut his hand badly and lost a fair amount of blood. He was talking coherently and didn’t miss a step the whole way. Almost passed out as soon as we got to the hut. Don’t get sick when you’re alone. Don’t be vulnerable when you’re away from the protection of the tribe. Then, when help is at hand, heave a sigh of relief, let go and bang! All fall down.

This would tie in with stuff I’ve read about when people die. Apparently old people dying of natural causes tend not to do it right in front of their grieving relatives and loved ones. They wait until nobody is looking. Within limits, the body and the unconscious can choose their times to try to hold on, their times to let go.

Alan’s Theory of Life, Death and the Universe, Part One.

The relevance of which to studying yoga is … what?

Well, one thing, obviously, is that both show that the thin stream of semi-random noise that we call the consciousness and commonly regard as “ourself”, is a pretty small part of what’s actually going on. One of the things yoga practice does is make us more sensitive and bring some of the normally unconscious stuff within the reach of conscious awareness.

Another observation, given a few moments thought, starts to look like rather a Big Question. Namely, how do I reconcile the following beliefs? Based on evolutionary biology, I believe that the human body-mind originated as a highly adapted machine for surviving in groups on a savannah teeming with dangerous predators. Based on practicing yoga, I believe that there is Something More there than a machine for physical survival. I think I need more time to think about that one. At least a decade or two.

Friday 14th December

Slow return to normal functioning.

Lunch at Auntie’s (England winning this time, much better). Afternoon spent checking email, then hanging out in my friend Bettina’s hotel room eating biscuits (Britannia cream crackers – “Eat Healthy, Think Better”) and drinking soda water. Evening concert at the Mandala – violin, drums & vocal. Very good.

Saturday 15th December

Must really be back to something like normal – got up early on a non-practice day to go and photograph the morning light on some temples on the road to Chaumundi Hill. Only to be chased away by a security guard, who said they were something to do with the Maharajah’s family and photography was banned. This has never happened to me before, but it’s not a day to be arguing with Indian security guards in view of the big attack on parliament, so I spent my quality photo time back in the apartment stripping and cleaning my tripod. As Bayles & Orland say in Art and Fear, even cleaning your brushes is sometimes a way of keeping yourself connected to the creative process.

Wednesday 19th December

Sharath moved me on to baddha konasana after I’d done garbha pindasana exactly *twice*. But I’m sure he knows what he’s doing. My progress on garbha pindasana was held up for a couple of weeks because of the ankle, but then when it came it was suddenly easy. Still won’t be finishing primary series by Christmas because that’s next week (eek! how did that happen?)

Overheard on the stairs: “I’ve never had any injuries, but I’ve had some catastrophic openings”

Friday 21st December

Going away party for Andrew and Jessica from Adelaide. People come and go so quickly here. Andrew & Jess’s departure means there is only one other person still here from the group of seven I went to Coorg with only three weeks ago.

Saturday 22nd December

Alan and Christina’s Christmas Party was a huge success and I would like to thank all those who made it possible: my mum for the traditional English Christmas pudding recipe, Christina’s mum for the traditional American pumpkin pie recipe, Liz for the banana cake recipe, some anonymous website owner for the cheese scone recipe, our neighbour Tina for the loan of the oven that allowed us to bake continuously for two days (and then have no electricity for two days because we used the oven so much we tripped the main circuit breaker for the apartment, and didn’t get it reset immediately because we thought we had been cut off for being a couple of days late paying our electricity bill).

(Pause here for a paean of praise for Tina – excellent cook and cookery teacher; loaner of ovens and sundry lesser items of kitchen equipment to needy yoga students; impromptu hair, make-up and sari consultant for yoga student portrait shoots; all round cool lady and Best Imaginable Neighbour).

Sunday 23rd December

There was a tabla concert at Sandia’s House, which I expect would have been interesting but I was too tired.

Monday 24th December

A Day Of Two Parties – lunch at Green Hotel with Kate & Jem, and Christmas Eve party at Magali & Ortario’s. Was out until (gasp!) 9:30 in the evening.

Tuesday 25th December

Merry Christmas everybody.

Hard getting up at 4:30 this morning, but practice itself was surprisingly ok. Lots of people didn’t make it though – I finished about seven and there was nobody on the stairs waiting to practice. (A month ago I was finishing around 8 or 8:30, and the queue was up both flights of stairs almost to the roof). Sharath was busy rearranging the Christmas party notices and didn’t seem at all surprised by the general lack of students – "well it’s Christmas" was his only comment.

Big yoga students’ Christmas party at the Southern Star (thank you Joseph), which was great fun and would have been fine from a yoga point of view except that I made the mistake (?) of hanging out with the Irish contingent after everybody else had gone home.

Wednesday 26th December

Getting up today really not fun – thankfully the party season seems to be over for the time being. (At least I did get up and practice – despite staying late at the Christmas party then going off with some folks to play cards afterwards. Unlike Christina, who didn’t make it despite leaving the party at a sensible time and going to bed early. Typical American lightweight) Mornings lately have been plagued not only by night-before parties, but also by a mosquito that lurks in my room until I emerge from under my net at 4:30, then buzzes in my ear and bites me. It is clearly here to teach me a lesson about my continuing inadequacy as a yogi in the ahimsa department, because I hate the little bastard and would gladly kill it if only I could see it at that time in the morning.

Christina points out that the last week or so has been a reasonable simulation of what it is like back home, trying to practice yoga whilst also conducting some kind of Real Life. We are in the middle of the second consecutive six day practice week, plus for most of the past week we have actually had things we needed to do during the day. OK, generally it has been either preparing for (shopping & cooking) or going to parties; nevertheless it’s work of a sort – the shopping & cooking bit, anyway – and it means that for a little while at least, doing yoga practice in the morning hasn’t been the sole & exclusive focus of our lives. Which is probably no bad thing, for a while, and it certainly was a great Christmas.

No more parties for the time being, so once again I actually have time for things like diary writing. I’ve been here nearly two months now and am almost halfway through my planned time in India (maybe – am currently pondering whether I can afford to stay for March, but probably not). Time for a spot of reflecting on things.

Things like – why (apart from this week) is my practice progressing so rapidly here? Things that seemed really hard at home (marichy d, garbha pindasana) just seem to happen in days, when I thought they would take weeks or months. I reckon I’ve made as much progress in the two months I’ve been here as I would normally hope to make in a year at home. It’s not the Indian climate – since the rains in mid-November it’s been cooler and less humid here than it normally is in Munich in summer. It isn’t the *amount* of practice per se either – with Guruji’s days off, and days I’ve been ill, I think I miss about as many practice days here as I do at home although the ones at home tend to be for other reasons, like working late or travelling at weekends to visit friends & relatives.

Even after two months, the “oh my god that’s Pattabhi Jois looking at me” motivational factor definitely still applies. The atmosphere in the practice room is special – knowing that this is the place where this kind of yoga has been nurtured for decades, where so many people have worked so hard at their yoga; practicing in a whole roomful of dedicated and talented students; not just Pattabhi Jois and Sharath watching but a whole lot of other people with a lot of yoga knowledge and talent also looking on from the stairs. Of course the fact that I’ve decided to give up several months of paid employment and come halfway round the world to study means that I’m probably more focused and motivated than I am at home; plus the fact that (except in the Christmas party season) I don’t have any other activities or responsibilities to worry about, my morning practice is my reason for being here and everything else in my daily life is planned around it.

Then there’s working every day with a teacher as good as Sharath. My teacher at home is good, but I don’t work with her every day, only two or three times a week, and she doesn’t have the experience or the feel for adjustments that Sharath has. (I suspect possibly nobody does, but I have never worked with any other senior certified teachers on a daily basis for more than a couple of weeks at a time so I reserve judgement on that one). Sharath’s adjustments are amazing – he seems to have the ability to see what I can do, before I realise or believe that I can do it, and then just put me there in such an effortless, matter-of-fact way that I suddenly think “oh yeah, I can do it after all”. (I wonder if this will continue as far as backbending, when I get to the end of the series – hopefully in a couple of weeks – and suddenly have to start doing drop-backs having not even attempted a back bend of any kind for three months. We shall see). Of course, some days I think “oh, give me a break Sharath” and try to sneak past things while he’s out of the room or not looking – but most of the time, whenever I get to a point where I *need* help, whether or not I happen to *want* help that day, I look up and there is Sharath’s happy, smiling face in front of me.

Thursday 27th December

Here by request (hi Joanne) is what I remember from today’s conference – Pattabhi on the subject of ayurvedic diet (Yoga Master Dietary Beliefs).

Vegetables: not a good idea on their own in large quantities, fine if cooked with dal (so lots of sambar, folks). Lots of milk (wonder how all the vegans in the yoga population will deal with this one). Curd (yoghurt) not good to eat on its own, fine watered down in the form of lassi. Fruit – eat lots of it, generally ok except not too many bananas, and if you do eat bananas it’s a good idea to have honey with them.

Some more specific recommendations: take a handful of moong beans, soak overnight and in the morning, after practice, blend with jaggery (raw cane sugar) and drink. Healthier than tea or coffee. Good for strengthening the body and preventing colds. I forget the name of this one. Something called bramhi (sp?) oil, rubbed on the scalp, is supposed to be good for the eyes, but exactly in what way he didn’t specify. And drinking neem oil is apparently very unpleasant but very good for strength and flexibility. Hmm. Guruji says when he tried this, he started with a teaspoon a day and found it horrible, but fairly quickly built up to being able to drink a pint of the stuff. One of the students also tried it a few years ago, says it tastes like engine oil.

Somebody asked Guruji how he knows all this – did he get it from his father, or did Krishnamacharya teach it? No – he says he spent three years working in an Ayurvedic hospital. This was around 1972 or ’73, when he was already about 60 – yet more evidence of this man’s astonishing energy and breadth of learning. It’s quite obvious, though, that he’s far more comfortable explaining things in Kannada or Sanskrit than in English; some of the longer term students are able to make some stab at understanding the sanskrit quotations he comes out with. Quite a few people here are doing sanskrit lessons, but I’m not one of them even though I intended to be when I arrived. Maybe next time.

Friday 28th December

I have been reading City of Djinns, William Dalrymple’s marvellous love song to the city of Delhi. Highly recommended. Dalrymple interweaves his experience of a year living in modern Delhi with a fascinating account of the traces that still exist of three thousand years of the city’s history – from the grandiosity of the twilight of the British Empire in Lutyens’s New Delhi, which he likens to fascist architecture in contemporary Italy and Germany, through the decadent beauty of the Mughal court, the rough forts of the first Muslim conquerors, back to the traces of Arjuna’s city from the Mahabharata, the Indian Troy. It’s a great read, and an astonishingly mature work considering Dalrymple was only in his mid twenties when he wrote it.

Saturday 29th December

Bangalore – a day out in the Big City. Busy, noisy, dirty and generally frightening for a simple small town boy from Mysore. Accomplished my mission, though, of dropping off 15 rolls of film for processing and picking up 15 new rolls. Bangalore has a couple of very good professional photo labs, who stock decent film and can be trusted to do a good job with non-standard stuff (slides, b&w, medium format – Mysore has ok minilab places that are fine for 35mm colour prints, but I wouldn’t trust them with anything specialised); and it’s nice to hang out and talk photography for a while with enthusiasts who are pleased that a foreigner is taking a serious interest in photographing their country.

Prabhu, who I take stuff to for processing, is on Brigade Road in the heart of the modern, westernised MG Road shopping area. But R.K. Photo, where I buy my film, is in a much more bazaar-like part of the old town. Interesting that a serious merchant of modern high-tech photo gear thrives in such a traditional Asian setting – like something out of Blade Runner or a William Gibson novel.

The guy at RK also has a friend who, he says, does a good and cheap scanning service. So who knows, this diary might even become illustrated while it’s still happening rather than after the event when I get home, if only I can find the time and the energy to face another day or two in Bangalore. There & back in a day from Mysore is stressful and tiring, but probably preferable to paying Bangalore prices for a night in a grotty hotel room. And, having been there and back three times now, I’m becoming expert on potential photo-ops along the Bangalore-Mysore road; maybe I should get round to doing something about them one day.

Talking to the taxi driver on the way back about various things. (I was going to go on the train, but a friend had hired a taxi to the airport, so I tagged along with her instead). It seems I have a talent for missing all the big photogenic festivals. I arrived in Mysore just after Dussehra (big elephant parade); and in the middle of January comes one that is called Pongal in Tamil (something else in Kannada but I don’t remember) involving cows being painted bright colours and jumping over fires. But I will probably be in Kerala, where my driver thinks they don’t celebrate this one (and where I will probably also manage to avoid the great Kochin elephant march by a day or two).

Driver was noncommital about the likelihood of war with Pakistan, but in general has a pretty dim view of Indian Muslims. Most of the otherwise perfectly pleasant and reasonable Hindus I talk to are shockingly prejudiced against Muslims. Personally I have found the Muslim people I have had dealings with in Mysore perfectly polite and friendly, with no obvious anti-western feeling despite the war in Afghanistan. It’s different in the north, I think – a friend of mine was warned (by a Sikh policeman) that it really wasn’t safe for her to go into the predominantly Muslim Old Town in Delhi in October. The south is generally more peaceful in that respect than the north, but even here there were religious riots in Coorg a couple of weeks ago.

Sunday 30th December

Full Moon, and a rest day at last – much needed after two consecutive six-day practice weeks, and the Christmas party season, and Bangalore yesterday. Very quiet in Mysore at the moment, only about 30 or 40 students at the shala, and I expect it will stay that way until (a) Guruji starts teaching again on the 20th and (b) India decides not to invade Pakistan.

Most of the people I have been hanging out with for the past two months have gone – Christina left yesterday for Thailand, much earlier than planned because she found out that if she didn’t go yesterday, she couldn’t get another flight from Bangalore to Bangkok for several weeks. So for the time being I have the apartment all to myself. By the time new people start arriving at the end of January, I will most likely be practicing at 4:30 (aargh!) and they will think I am some kind of reclusive Grand Old Man of Mysore and probably practicing some heinously advanced series (ha! wrong).

Monday 31st December

Practice today was a catastrophe of stiffness and pain – so much for the benefits of a rest day. What’s more, I now have Guruji as well as Sharath on my case regarding my unsatisfactory progress in badha konasana. Not only has Sharath been telling me for the last two weeks to relax my hips and put my head on the floor – in the increasingly exasperated tone of a man who can’t imagine how anybody couldn’t be able to put their head on the floor from this position – but today I had the honour of being shouted at across the room by Guruji – “wopen your feet!”. And if I don’t “wopen” them myself pretty damn soon, he’ll probably come over and stand on me.

Fortunately, I bought three books as well as fifteen rolls of film in Bangalore at the weekend, so if necessary I can sit in badha konasana every afternoon for a week and read them.

I wish everybody reading this a Happy New Year.


all text and images © 2002 Alan Little

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