Monday, 1 January 2007

Happy new year from Mysore

Jasailmer's sand dunes
Happy new year to all! We got to Mysore around 1am last night. Our baggage got stuck in Mumbai and we had to wait for it to arrive.

We came all the way from Rajastan's dessert,  Jasailmer the golden city. The trip took almost one day -  six hours by car from Jasailmer to Jodphur (overnight) and flew the next day via Jet air down south. The flight was two hour to Mumbai, another hour and half flight to Bangalore and then four hours by car to Mysore.

Bangalore is such a modern city and I must say more cosmopolitan than Delhi. I haven't been to Mumbai so I can't compare. Since our driver was hungry, we stopped at a starbucks-like coffee shop called "Coffee Day" along the road.

Before coming to India, I was warned to dress appropriately. This is, not to expose elbows and knees and preferably to cover the ankles too. So, I was surprised to see the Bangalore-locals clad in tight fitting tees and low, low waist jeans and most of them spoke english to everyone to the baristas, waiters and locals. Our driver said that Bangalore is the 5th biggest city in India. I guess the call centers have made the locals more liberal and daring.

We are currently billeted at the Green Hotel. It is located 15-mins away by rickshaw or tuk tuk to Sri Patabbi Jois' shala or the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute (AYRI). It is quite modest compared to the hotels in Rajastan. The room is Rs1300 per night with breakfast.

The AYRI opened today after two weeks holiday. According to Linda, a Singaporean girl we met during breakfast at the hotel, there was a 'led' class at 6am this morning with approximate a 100 students in class. Some were spilling over the bathroom and foyer area since there was no space. A conference is scheduled this afternoon at 430 pm. We intend to register at this time. The rate has gone up to Rs26,900 for registration plus the first month. After, we plan to look for Shiva (AYRI's manager) or Mutti to help us find a place to stay. Shiva got the last studio for Linda yesterday at Rs5000 which includes the cost of a helper (which she claims to be quite exorbitant). Note that the rupee is now Rs42=US$1 versus two weeks ago when we arrived, when it was only Rs44!

Linda said Mysore-style classes will begin tomorrow at 6:30 am and Led is every Friday at 5am for primary and 6:30 for secondary series. I guess we'll find out more later after the conference.  Honestly, I'm very excited to join the class and also panic-stricken since I haven't practiced at all. I guess this will be the start of an ascetic lifestyle getting up as early as 4-5:00 am and to go to bed early.

The two-weeks Rajastan tour took us from Delhi-Agra-Jaipur-Udaipur-Jodphur-Jasailmer. It was a good road trip although I
The Hawa Mahal
don't recommend doing more than an hour on camel-back in Jasailmer. It's like riding a bicycle with square wheels and the sand dunes will be dotted with tourists. If you do intend to venture to Rajastan, stay longer in Udaipur and schedule shopping at Jodphur/Jasailmer. It gets cheaper the farther west you go.

Must-read before touring Rajastan is Gayatri Devi's autobiography for understanding the Rajputs and maharaja's history and lifestyle. I am currently reading mostly Indian-authors. Just finished Kiran Desai's 'Inheritance of Loss' which won her a Booker's Prize and now reading Rushdie's 'Shalimar the Clown'. I am a fan of Rushdie and love his Midnight's Children. The printed materials are so cheap here in India. The books are priced at Rs300 (US$7) or half the price than Manila. Also the newspaper is just Rs2.50 which costs almost 10x more in Manila. India is a reading nation and the people are very literate. Almost everyone speaks English here.

a snake charmer in Jaipur
My favorite newspaper so far is the Hindustan Times (published in Mumbai). I came across an article on Angelie Jolie quoting the Philippine Daily Inquirer "The actress, speaking to the Philippine Daily Inquirer said she has had 'two beautiful marriages' but that she doesn't currently feel the need to trot down the aisle." Jolie and American heart-throb Brad Pitt are now here in India filming 'A Mighty Heart', a movie about Daniel Pearl. "

By the way, as I write, my hair is now color orange. We experimented with henna at Bobbie's henna parlour inside the fort at Jasailmer two days ago. The henna was mixed with yogurt, eggs, wine, henna and some herbs and I think I kept it a bit longer than the prescribed time, So now my hair has turned orange. Can you believe it cost Rs550! It was well worth it because Bobbie, the 28-year old unmarried Bhramin caste woman (video below), is the only female establishment in Jasailmer who helps battered women who marry without dowries.


Here's wishing you the best for 2007 and may all your wishes come true... namaste!

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