Clean and Elegant

Clean and Elegant

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Mysore Update: The Lady with the Stick

I have moved out of Pushpa’s house, and into a slightly more modern apartment. The apartment is upstairs to the home of a middle to upper class family. I have a little more space than I did at Pushpa’s, though the laundry situation is approximately the same. So far, I have done laundry on the rooftop two times. I have borrowed some official laundry soap from my vegan British roommate. It is liquid and organic. Sometimes I am skeptical of the efficacy of pure organic things and so I continue to use my bar Ivory soap in the hopes that it will improve the overall odour outcome. So far, some of my clothing smells quite nice, while the mildew lingers on in a couple of items. I am doing my best to make friends before the mildew becomes overpowering.
Laundry at my new place
It took me some time to figure out the closest and safest way to get to the shala.  I scored a 4:30 start time for led class, which we have until Tuesday. For my few readers who aren't Ashtanga geeks, 4:30 shala time, means 4:15 for the rest of the world. My alarm goes off around 3 a.m. Once in Halifax, I woke up at 3 a.m. in order to practice before subbing for a yoga teacher. It was one of the greatest accomplishments of my life, and I spoke of little else for several weeks afterwards. Perhaps my whole life has been preparation for 3 a.m.
The obligatory selfie with registration card
Our first led class came the morning after an enormous thunderstorm. The stray dogs close to my apartment were pretty riled up and barked quite emphatically as I walked by.  The ten or fifteen minute route seemed excruciatingly long, and I felt nervous. Three dogs ran towards me as I walked passed a field, where people milk cows every morning. For quite a few blocks, they circled me, and one of them took my flowy pink hippie skirt and purple shawl into his mouth. He didn’t seem malicious at all and reminded me of when my Big Black Dog used to run after me in the house. Still, I remember that once the Big Black Dog accidentally bit me in the butt while he was fooling around. Not knowing what these dogs have been through, the last thing I wanted was a dog bite. Finally, as I got closer to the shala, another yoga student appeared out of his apartment and the dogs found him to be more exciting than my pink skirt.

Although I arrived at the shala well before four a.m. already there was big crowd in front of the gate. A major part of the practice here is trying not to get pissed off at the bizarre line up dynamic. So far I haven’t seen anyone be horribly obnoxious, but it is definitely a rush to get in. Being Canadian, I refuse to push and try to be polite about letting people go ahead of me. For the first couple of days, by the time I got in, the room was pretty full. Lucky for me though, for three mornings I squeezed into an excellent spot next to the door. There, it is slightly less hot which is good for Canadians. Also, I got to practice behind Miami Life Centre’s Daylene Christenson. She is one of the cool kids, and she has a beautiful and majestic practice. Of course my drishti was perfect and I didn’t watch her at all, but I think just having her in front of me inspired my latissimus dorsi, among other things.
Some people blog extensively about their practice and all of their body parts. Others feel this is somehow taboo. I will just say that I have recently diagnosed myself with an eighty year old hip. I arrived in Mysore with much trepidation, wondering if maybe I should only be doing Surya Namaskar A. The first day, some Sharath slash Mysore magic kicked in and my pain seemed minimal and manageable.  That said, by the end of the week, the hideous and sketchy clicking returned during practice and especially during the day. This is not just bubbles of synovial fluid popping. Something is off. Rubbing oil on my joints is soothing, but not a cure. And so, the ego will have to bleed to death as I bid farewell to a buffet of postures. Honestly though, with the 3 a.m. wake up, and the dogs and the crowd, postures have been the very least of my worries.

I came home from my first practice distraught and overcome by the fear that the next morning, the dogs would bite me and I’d get rabies. I Facetimed Robbie in tears.

“Yah, if they’re right on your skirt, that’s a bit sketchy,” he said.

My landlady could hear me crying and came upstairs to see what was wrong.

“Oh, I will give you a stick,” she said when she heard. “And if they keep bothering you, I’ll have them poisoned.” To many of the people here, the stray dogs are like rats. It’s sad. They don’t give me any problems during the day. At night they are just protecting their territory. They aren’t trained or loved. What can you expect?

All day I obsessively asked everyone I ran into what I should do. I posted on the Facebook page about a walking buddy, but no dice. I can understand people have enough to deal with at 3:30 in the morning. Many people suggested I get a scooter; however, I feel this an even greater hazard as I am a terrible driver. Robbie thought maybe a rickshaw driver could pick me up, but it would be hard to find someone reliable and it could also be expensive. Anyways, after hours of consulting and redrawing maps, I finally figured out a route that cut down my walking time, almost by half. And it didn’t pass any fields or garbage. I decided I would carry the stick and try the new route the next day.

So far I haven’t had any problems. The dogs I pass on my new route are usually sleeping. The ones I do see veer off whenever they see the stick. Sadly, they are used to being hit and they’re afraid.

On Friday morning before practice, Sharath announced that we should be careful about going into the city this weekend. Because of the festival, it is a crazy weekend in Mysore and foreigners tend to “get snatched.” Sharath also said we should walk in groups because there have been some incidents of people being attacked in the past.

“And I saw a lady with a stick,” Sharath said, looking at me. So now I have a claim to fame. The lady with the stick. After practice, some vegan dude warned me of the angry vegans who would judge me for hitting dogs.

“Pretend it’s for the men in the dark corners,” he insisted. Well, let’s hope I don’t end up having to hit anyone.

Today, Sunday, is our rest day, changed from Satuday, as all the yoga blogs have so thoroughly discussed. I slept in until 7:30. Sleeping here has been a bit rough. For a few days, I attempted to follow the trend of not eating dinner or at least eating light in the evenings. Perhaps it was worth a try, but ultimately this has simply resulted in angsty, hungry insomnia. Food theories are  an inevitable part of the yoga world. I tire of it rapidly, and it remains a constant battle to ignore what’s not helpful and honour my needs. Oh well, I will get the hang of it. (More on this and becoming a peanut butter sandwich person in the upcoming vipassana diaries. These have been put on hold as I struggle with a post that may offend three and a half people, should they choose to read it…)

Speaking of food, I think it is around the time to go off in search of lunch. If you have made it this far, thank you so much for reading.  Drop me a line if you’re in Mysore, and you don’t find me too dorky to hang out with. I would love to meet you.

Much love, The “Exuberant Bodhisattva.”

The End.


The Cow wanted in.

Exuberant Bodhisattva on Facebook
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More on Going to India:

Our lives will never be the same
Vipassana Diaries


  1. white vinegar---i add a few capfuls to a small sinkful of hot water , to soak my clothes each day, and i soak them about 1 hr...should cut the mildew might want to start with more for the first time. you can also add in some lavender castille make them smell better too! (maybe it will also repel dogs?)

  2. I always used the Jasmine and Rose soap powder so beloved by Indian ladies. Fill a bucket with warm water with a spoonful of this and leave to soak whilst having breakfast. Rinse and rinse and rinse again.

    I scared dogs by barking back at them or running at them shouting and raising my yoga mat like a stick. I would be friends with you if I was there too. Also, hip pain sympathies. And love X

  3. Thank you, ladies. Perhaps I am being too impatient with the soaking time. Yoga mat stick. This is a no-brainer! Louise, I am sure if I were here, I would follow you around like a stray dog.

  4. Haha your writing style is hilarious, I like it :)

    When you told him that you have the stick for the dogs, I laughed out loud because I carried a stick for the same reason! Well... more like an old piece of tire rubber... but hey, it works. I was just a few mats down from you that day :b But yea I am coming from Doctor's Corner alone and those dogs get pretty scary!