Sunday, February 5, 2023

Day Off,  February 5, 2023  Rishikesh, India

Sunday is our only day off but the school provides us with the opportunity for excursions.  Today’s left at 5 AM so we could watch the sunrise at the Kunjapuri Temple.  I like sunrises but I think it’s really hard to beat the ones I have at the lake-

Anyway, I went along and it was a bad decision.

The Kunjapuri Temple is dedicated to the goddess Kunjapuri Devi.  It’s one of 52 temples in the region.  As Sati, wife of Lord Shiva was being taken to her final resting place, 52 parts of her body, fell off and wherever the parts landed, a temple was built-

Inside the temple-

The sunrise over the Himalayas-

I have to keep reminding myself that this is India. We got on the bus and we were packed in like sardines-

Indian people are quite small and so for them it would be fine but our group is mainly North Americans and Europeans so we were very squished. After about 45 minutes, we arrived in the dark and everybody got out except me.  I didn’t see much point in standing around the temple while it was still dark so I stayed in the nice warm bus. Once the sun started to rise I went up the many steps and took my pictures. We were sitting around doing nothing in the wind and cold so I came back to the bus where I promptly fell asleep. I guess I missed the priest arriving and putting tikka on everyone’s third eye spot. Fine with me.
Everybody came back to the bus and away we went but we stopped halfway down the mountain for ginger water, milk tea as well as maggi which is ichiban noodles with a very strong MSG flavoured sauce. Just for me to smell it makes me want to puke. I wasn’t feeling well and the curving winding road wasn’t helping nor was the fact that I was very tired.  After breakfast we continued back down the mountain and I threw up although there was nothing in my stomach to throw up besides about a teaspoon of milk tea. I also thought I had an “accident”  but I didn’t thank goodness.

I headed up the hill from the bus back to the school and stopped in a local restaurant to try to get something to eat. I felt like I was really really hungry, weak from hunger as I haven’t been eating much because I find the food quite poor. Rice and pasta have few nutrients and everything has masala spice on it that just turns my stomach. The owner of the school was in the restaurant, which he also owns, and I told him I was not feeling well at all. I suggested maybe I could have eggs for my protein and he said no we don’t cook eggs at the school but you can come here to eat. Sure I can but I have to pay and they are North American prices which I will definitely pay if it keeps me healthy. I just found it interesting because on our first day he said if you’re having issues with anything please bring those problems to us and we will try to fix them.

I got some yogurt and fruit and went back to my room and slept all afternoon. I felt really good when I woke up and wandered to another café for a sweet lassi and some toast. The lassi tasted sour, I think something was off but the toast was good so I have another place where I can get something to eat.

Tonight I am just going to sleep some more and hopefully feel even better in the morning. I hate being sick!

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Yoga School, Day 3, February 4, 2023

I’m not sure what to say. The morning went OK but I think my tailbone is bruised and there’s burning on the top of my thighs. I sat on a chair for a couple of classes and did what I could in yoga. I am very much out of practice and my muscles are weak. I am sure that in a couple weeks I will be doing better.

My stomach is kind of upset so I’m trying to figure out what I ate although you never can be sure.  Might be the ginger water because I’m not eating lentils or peas or beans anymore.

I was hoping to be able to sleep in tomorrow but our excursion is to some temple and it’s a sunrise trip. I know what they’re like and I’m sure it will be disappointing but I am going along. The only problem is we leave at five so there is no sleeping in all fricking week.

We should be back in time to go and see if I can find some meat in a restaurant. The meals are quite boring with mainly potatoes, broccoli and beets for vegetables or if we get a salad it’s chopped up cabbage, cucumber and one tomato for 60 people, with no dressing at all.  Sometimes we get carrots and carrots are red here not orange. There’s always chapati and rice but I don’t eat rice so I’m not eating very much which isn’t good and I’m not getting any protein. It’s a bit frustrating but I sort of knew what it was going to be like before I came.

Anyway I’m hoping for a good sleep and that next week will be better.  I was thinking today that maybe I should start setting an intention so I will do that on Monday.

Friday, February 3, 2023

Yoga School, Day 2, February 3, 2023

The verdict is still out and I know it’s early. I am not jumping to conclusions or making first impression decisions. Today was hard. Probably the hardest thing about it was having to sit on the floor – all day. I never sit on the floor. I hate sitting on the floor and even though I could sit on a bolster it was still very uncomfortable. It’s not like I have an injury either it’s just uncomfortable and always has been for me.  

I was very tired and sound asleep when my alarm rang at five. I managed to sneak in coffee before I had to report upstairs for the first hour and a half of actual yoga. I understand about 75% of what these men say and at least today I didn’t completely tune them out. My first yoga instructor annoyingly says just about at the end of every sentence “is it clear? Do you understand?”  He told us a couple examples of situations he has run into and what was really a two or three minute story turned into 15 minute ones. We hardly did any yoga at all because he was too busy talking and not talking about what he should’ve been, in my opinion. As a teacher it is very difficult to be in a classroom with a poor one. And to top it all off the room was absolutely freezing. People brought blankets and wore their winter coats and had their hoods up. It was very uncomfortable.  After that it was meditation and chanting and we didn’t do too much of it but the chanting we do is in Sanskrit and we have to repeat after the teacher and I don’t understand half of what he is saying so I just mumble or I don’t say anything at all. I did not like that class.  The next class was pretty much as bad and everyone was still freezing and by this time we were starving to death. Breakfast was good and then we had the same guy “ is it clear? do you understand?”  for teaching methodology. It took him an hour to tell us that we need to ask two questions at the start of every class -  1.  Do you have any injuries?  and 2.  May I adjust you? which means can I touch you. We did a lot of breathing and talked about what yoga is. Based on the instructors that I have had in yoga, to me it is really nothing more than exercise as in stretching and strengthening but that is only a very small part of it.  It’s a spiritual, emotional, social, physical and mental activity. I think I have to concentrate so much on what I am doing and how I am doing it that I’m barely able to breathe properly let alone think about the other stuff however it was during a restorative yoga class that this whole trip came together for me and so there was a bit of something else going on at that time. It’s not that I’m not open to that but I think I get the spirituality, emotional work, mental calmness and socialization from doing other things.

Next was “self study” and I had nothing to study so I sat on my balcony and warmed up but the dogs were going insane so I came back in. Lunch was too close to breakfast so I wasn’t really hungry and then we had my favourite class which was anatomy which was really just grade 9 science. The philosophy professor came in and he is a professor with multiple masters degrees and two PhDs and I was very much looking forward to what he had to say until he said a few things that I completely disagree with and that aren’t true and what I found the most disturbing is he’s talking to a group of very young and impressionable kids and warping their minds. I will not argue with him but I am not going to enjoy that hour.

The last part of the day was an hour and a half of yoga but because this is teacher training we have to learn the proper way to do the poses and we spent a lot of time on downward dog as it is a relaxing pose just like child’s pose.  I have never felt that way about it  because I guess I have not been doing it correctly.

I wasn’t really hungry at supper but there was a dish that you could almost think was meat sausages in a tomato sauce but it turns out it was soybean sausages. I am already tired of the food although at lunch we had a grated carrot dish that was sweet and really really good. The hot ginger water is good too but you have to get it at the start of the meal otherwise they just keep adding water and it gets tasting like nothing.

I’m enjoying visiting with people - Lis from Germany is the next oldest person here and she is probably in her late 50s. There is another Canadian from Toronto – a young thing.  It’s interesting what these people do for a living. One woman is a lawyer, another an occupational therapist, another is building a hotel in Peru with a Wellness center, John from the UK is a civil servant and a few are involved with computers but not as many as I’d have thought.

I don’t want to sound like I am complaining but it probably sounds like it.  I’m just stating how I saw today.  I’m going to have an early night because I am exhausted and I know that 5 o’clock will come early. Tomorrow is the last day of the week and then we have Sunday off. They have not told us yet what Sunday’s activity will be but I hope it is fun.

I hope I enjoy tomorrow more than today and that the room is warm. 

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Yoga School - Day 1  February 2, 2023

This may be too weird even for me!  At least that was my first impression which I am not letting influence me… just yet.

First the staff.  They are excellent from what I can see.  They are so welcoming and informative, gentle, patient and continually telling us that we are now “family”.  The meals have been very good - not spicy at all but flavourful even though they are sattvic which includes foods that are light and healthy. In Ayurvedic practice, sattvic foods are thought to increase energy, happiness, calmness, and mental clarity. In practice, that means eating things that are vegetarian, nutritious, fresh, and tasty.

and no onion or garlic.  So meals are all vegetarian which so far is okay, I guess, although there are too many beans for me - there is always a bean dish and always rice.  I don’t really like either so I eat the fresh vegetables and the cooked vegetable medley.  There’s also delicious hot ginger water and chapati, always chapati.

After breakfast, we were to meet upstairs on the fifth floor - thank goodness my room is on the first floor and I will only have to climb steps Iike that for class.  Of course we didn't start until at least 15 minutes late and this whole time we were sitting on the floor on yoga mats and already I was starting to squirm.  Legs crossed, legs straight, hands in lap, hands behind back and on and on.  Meanwhile there was a man preparing a firebox at the front of the room.  

Eventually we started with an introduction of what and why we were having the fire celebration.  By burning 30+ herbs and ghee - clarified butter, we are first purifying the air and then as we breathe it in, we are purifying ourselves.  So, he built a fire-

the whole time chanting something in Sanskrit.  He did the welcoming ceremony with the two owners and then walked around and put tikka and rice on our foreheads.  We also got melted ghee put on the spot where our hair meets our forehead and a new marigold garland.  We said three very long ohmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmms, then he chanted some more while we clapped.  As the ceremony progressed, we went up, 9 at a time to sit around the fire and throw herbs into it-

We had to pick the herbs out of a dish using our middle and ring fingers and our thumb and throw them into the fire on a certain word.  Once everyone was done, we formed a large circle with our right hand on the shoulder of the person in front of us and shuffled forward.  Eventually it seemed to be winding down and then he started beating the shit out of a drum and people, not everyone and not me, started dancing or more like hopping around.  Thank goodness I wasn't the only one standing on the sidelines. I already stick out like a granny in a kindergarten.  The fire ceremony was over and we were cleansed.  I guess.   

Next we were given a rule sheet - drugs, smoking and alcohol are grounds for expulsion.  Okay.  We also introduced ourselves.  There are close to 60 students taking either one week, 200 hour, 300 hour or 500 hour courses.  I am the only Canadian and by far, I mean really really far, the oldest here which I find very disappointing.  There is a German woman who looks old and a Spanish couple, probably in their late 40s, then a whole bunch of kids trying to ‘find’ themselves -  you’re in Rishikesh honey!

This took the whole morning and as we were leaving, we were given a cloth bag containing a water bottle, a heavy yoga pose book, a Nettie pot with a cord to put up your nose and pull out your mouth - not likely, a notebook, the cheapest pen I have ever seen, a workbook and a yoga mat.  This is serious business because we have a practical and physical exam at the end.  I hope we don’t have to memorize all the bones and muscles in the body - I failed physiology twice in university and I’m sure my memorization skills have not improved in 43 years.

After lunch it was a free afternoon so I went for a walk in the beautiful sunshine.  I made a big loop and because we are next to a river there is no way to get across close by.  Once home, I sat on my deck but it was too hot.

We 200 hour people are going to be put into two groups and we will soon be getting information via WhatsApp.  I hope my WhatsApp works. It seems to have a mind of its own.  I also hope I’m with the German woman.  I don’t have much in common with these 20 year olds.

I'm hoping for another good sleep and very curious about tomorrow.  

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Rishikesh Yoga Teacher Training Centre, February 1, 2023

I woke up to-

It’s lovely so I left my door open. I could see the trees really moving just off my baIcony so I thought there must be a wind but then the movement stopped and I realized they were monkeys out there. I quickly shut my door because they would be in my room in a second and I don’t know how I would get rid of them!

My 200 hour teacher training course includes-

The schedule is from Monday to Saturday.  Sunday is a day off.  I think we get daily supper but it’s not on the list.  Maybe we are too tired to eat!

What they’re going to teach me and hopefully what I’m going to learn-

Seems like a lot!  I checked out from the hostel at the last minute – 11 AM and walked to the school. It wasn’t hard to find but of course I missed the signs and walked further than I needed to - the story of my life. I stopped in Mamma Mia Café, which is part of the school and had a really good breakfast – poached eggs in a mushroom, tomato, pesto sauce with dark, dark brown bread.  It might’ve been the best breakfast I’ve had in India. Meanwhile, the owner of the restaurant, who is also the owner of the school, came in and introduced himself. He took me to the lobby of the school and I got registered as well as welcomed with a garland of marigolds-

and a ritual-

where you get water from the Ganges put into your palm and you rub your hands together to cleanse them. Then you get more water put in your palm and you drink it and then rub your hands over your head to cleanse yourself.  Next you get some tikka mixed with flower petals and rice put on your third eye spot.  Welcome to yoga school in Rishikesh!  

I am trying not to make hasty first judgements but I really have to ask myself if I am as weird as some of these people seem. One young guy was sitting in the lobby with his hair in dreadlocks, with full headphones on petting the dog and going on and on about how this dog could sense they were kindred spirits. Everyone is a lot younger than me except I did see a woman who might be close to my age.  I hope to meet up with her soon.

I paid and was shown to my room –

The room is nothing special but I have a balcony facing south so I can sit in the sun.  The view isn’t that great-

but as I sit here, I keep wondering if it’s possible to gather all the garbage up and if someone would come and take it away. I will ask the owners and if so that might become my project.

I found a liquor store on google maps that was 3.4 km away and as it was a beautiful day I started walking. For a while I walked along the shore of the Ganges -

Rafting is popular-

A home along the road where the owner is sleeping.  You can just see his feet-

Eventually I made it to the liquor store and bought a couple small bottles of vodka and a beer. I sat on a short wall to enjoy the beer while it was cold, right in front of a couple police officers. Because I am white, I can just about get away with murder.  In no time an Indian was visiting – his wife and children are in Israel where he also lived until his marriage broke down. Now he works for a local rafting company and talks to his kids every Saturday. He was drinking some kind of local hootch and we were having a good visit but then the police came along and told us that we couldn’t drink there.  I felt like a homeless hobo sitting there drinking my beer and of course there wasn’t another woman in sight. All these men come on scooters, buy bottles and leave.  It’s a very busy gold mine!

I came home on a tuktuk,  bought a bottle of Coke – there is no Coke Zero, and found a bag because I’m not sure if I’m allowed alcohol in my room.  I’m 61 years old and so if I want to drink alcohol I am going to regardless of the rules. Eating vegetarian for a month will be bad enough!  I sat out on the balcony in the sunshine and watched the new students arrive. This is a huge school which has four different studios that will have close to 20 students in each. I am lucky because I am in the building where we eat and speaking of eating, lunch was OK. It wasn’t too spicy and there were fresh vegetables so I am hopeful.

All information regarding school will come on a WhatsApp link. Tomorrow is our purity ceremony to start the program. I do not have white clothes but they have a white T-shirt I can use. I am looking forward to meeting the other students in my class!  

Udaipur to Dehradun/Rishikesh, India, January 31, 2023

Once again no hot water this morning. That’s very disappointing when you pay for a private room but TII!  


My cab arrived on time at 7:30 and by 8:15 I was at the airport. What a modern place!  By simply walking through a door I left the chaos of India and stepped into my normal. Unfortunately because of fog/smog in Delhi, my flight was delayed and I think that Indigo uses the same planes for all the short flights so that meant that all flights were delayed all day. I didn’t mind though because my iPad was charged and I had  downloaded The Lincoln Lawyer so I watched it all day.

I had an interesting visit with a security guard toting an AK 47 at the airport in Udaipur. He length of his day depends on the arriving and departing flights so usually he starts at five in the morning and is finished by nine or ten at night. He goes home to a wife and a three-year-old. She does not work because as he said who would cook my supper? When he asked me what I was up to, he looked at me really puzzled and said so you have the next while of your life planned out. I nodded and he said we don’t do that. We think about today and that is all and if tomorrow comes we think about that day and that is all. Hmm.  I know that being in the moment is the way we are “supposed” to live our lives and I agree but at the same time I need to have a plan; a plan that I work towards.  For the man I spoke with today, his life is about survival. He works for 11 months - 7 days a week and takes the 12th month off. Maybe if a person doesn’t have enough money to be able to do anything other than survive, then you better live in the moment but if you dream about the future, as long as you are not forgetting to enjoy the moment, I think that’s how you can get ahead. I’m not sure but at my yoga school we do spend a lot of time in meditation and maybe by the end of the course I will have some answers!  Another thing, he was shocked when I told him I was 61 as he thought I was about 45. Are all Indians blind? He said that a 61-year-old woman in India would be in a wheelchair, and I did see a few.

I also visited with two young boys who were dressed very smartly in their school uniforms. They were going back to their boarding school, the best boarding school in the world according to them, in Dehadrun. They were 13 and 14 years old and had been home for a semester break. They love the school because it’s like sleeping over with friends all the time and they do not miss being at home with their families. Rich kids!

The young woman I sat beside on a plane was going back to medical school. She looked about 12.

Because we were late departing, the first flight gave us a little gift bag that included a juice box, some spicy trail mix and a cookie. Normally on these flights you get a glass of water.  They must have run out because the second flight we got nothing.

An interesting observation is that by the time we have deplaned and are at the luggage carousel, our luggage is there. Always. That’s pretty amazing!  In fact, in Delhi where you have to walk about 20 minutes to get to the carousels, my bag had already been taken off and was in a neat row on the side waiting for me to grab it.

At the Dehradun airport, there is no negotiating for cabs. You pay at a booth and they assign you a driver. I like that except it involves a middleman so it’s more expensive. It’s like the cab I took this morning. At the hostel it would cost me Rs.850 but at a travel agency down the street it only cost me Rs.700. 200 for the travel agency, 500 for the driver. The problem is it’s hard to find your own taxi driver because cars are unmarked.  Costs are okay, everyone has to make a living and it’s not like most people are rolling in it.  

Tonight, the drive was on a very windy up and down road that follows the Ganges.  I’d love to see it in the daylight.  No one dims their lights and some don’t have any, but my cabbie did a great job. He didn’t speak much English so only answered the questions he understood. Fine.  After about 30 minutes, he was ready to kick me out at a pedestrian street. Google maps was showing my hostel was still a long way away so I made him follow the route. When I got out I had to walk up probably 60 big steps to get to Shalom Backpackers.  That was hard wearing a 15kg pack.  I always think that’s what everyday would be like if I were obese. Why do people do that to themselves?  It’s so debilitating.  Anyway… I have a lovely room and I can hear the Ganges so I think I must have a view from my balcony. I will know better in the morning.

I thought a beer would be a nice way to end the day but the server at the restaurant gave me a look as if I’d asked for his head to be delivered on a platter. He said the nearest beer was probably 4 to 5 km away! WTF?   I went for a walk and discovered that my cabbie was right. If I had gotten out where he suggested I would’ve had an easy, short, downhill walk. That’s another example of what has happened to me in India. I don’t trust anybody and this time it cost me a struggle!

As per usual, I’m hoping for a great sleep and I’m very excited about tomorrow. I’m looking forward to some structure and being able to stay in one spot for a while. I hope I am not disappointed.

Monday, January 30, 2023

Udaipur, India, January 30, 2023

I had a very lazy morning because I binge watched Firefly Lane. I had downloaded it on Netflix and noticed that it was expiring on the 31st so there were nine episodes to see.  I watched some last night and finished this morning. I really liked it. Then I tried to have a shower and let the water run for one hour but it was still cold so I complained and they said they’d move me to a different room and get the electrician in. (When I got back from my exploration, the electrician had fixed it so I didn’t have to move.)

Anyway, I walked about a kilometre to a local fabric market looking for-

I saw it in a very short blouse and was told yesterday to go to this certain market.  Once there,  a man said they probably had it at their big shop which was a five minute ride away so I hopped on the back of his motorcycle and away we went.  I didn’t find what I was looking for but I did get to see more of the 7 artificial lakes around the city-

I then wandered on the other side of the lake-

There are lots of murals and 2 bridges.

Natani Ka Chabutara which is apparently an historical place is on an island-

City Palace-

Because it was Ghandi Day - he was shot on this day in 1948, the beer store was closed so I had bananas instead.  I have booked a cab for 7:30 tomorrow morning to take me to the airport for my 10:40 flight. I’m going to Rishikesh to begin my yoga and I’m very excited. I definitely need a break from this tourist business because I am tired of sightseeing. I hope after a month in one spot I will have the energy to play tourist again in March.

Day Off,  February 5, 2023  Rishikesh, India Sunday is our only day off but the school provides us with the opportunity for excursions.  Tod...