Thursday, February 14, 2008

02/13/08 Propane and Other Impurities

Well, Im up late tonight, getting gassed by my new propane tank, which somehow isn’t on right, judging by the air quality in here. No worries, the alarm still goes off at 3, so I won’t die in the night.
There is no possibility of bodily purity here, always some chemical or other is there. It is interesting here how “nature,” ie. Roaming animals, poop, and rampant parasites, mingles with human-derived impurities like plastic, dyes, and diesel. I notice the travelers get sick a lot. So many of us are not at 100%. I have these weird yellow dots on the whites of my eyes. We discuss the quality of our digestion often. The sinus, the throat, the eyes get irritated by dust, burning garbage, fumes from the rickshaw’s two stroke engines. (This just in: my friend saw a woman Rick Shaw driver this week. Never before have I seen or heard of it. She had the trademark brown smock on, flowers in her hair. I wonder if she is the youngest of a slew of ugly, dowry-less sisters and she figured, screw it- I’m getting me a rickshaw).
I imagine that all these kriyas, the cleansing techniques of yoga, such as asana, puking salt water (vamana dhauti), flossing the nose (sutra neti), churning the stomach muscles (nauli) were fashioned because they are needed to keep the body well. Yoga is so practical! Here we go thinking its some extremist in a loincloth, when it could be the necessity of keeping clean in a crowded, dusty environment. I practice pretty much the same kriyas here as I do at home. Because I am teaching every day, it is just as important to be clean, for myself and for the students, but in India, it’s a health trip.
Talk about smog. When I ride my bicycle to town, out of the village of Gokulum and into Lakshmipuram (not a huge city by any means, but crowded of course) I wrap my face and head in a scarf. I’m sucking cotton when I pump the gear-less wonder up the hill. Do you know there are more bikes manufactured in India than anywhere else? Probably because A: there’s a ton of people, and B: the cycle is a viable mode of transportation. Imagine if everyone who wanted a car in this country had one?? I saw a Ford Explorer inching up the shala road the other week. Everything had to stop to let the monster pass because the roads just aren’t built for cars. I thought to myself: Ego Passing, Everybody out of the Way!
I like my bike. She’s red, Hercules brand, and as the chain guard tells us, “lite and sporty” like the rider! I started two races with Indian guys last week coming back from town. Toasted them. They thought it was hilarious. So did I. As long as I win. I had to buy a new one as the last got stolen from inside the gate of the building I live on top of. There is more and more trouble in Gokulum the bigger this Ashtanga scene gets. Teen-age boys following western ladies in the evening, theft. I do not go out walking after dark alone. However, while the chance of being harassed here is pretty good, chances of violence are scarce. You make a lot of noise, whack him, and he runs away. Noise is the key. Imagine you want to wake up his mother and have her see the disgrace that has become of her son.

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