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India Story No. 10I graduate. For the last month I have endured two asana classes per day, Sanskrit lessons, philosophy and identification of chakras.  I have cried every day. At the beauty of the place, because my heart is broken, because I am 7 of 7- and mostly ostracized, am exhausted, but I do not want it to end. I want to leave this beach and explore. I want to see the rest of this vast, chaotic nation. But instead I will return to Mumbai with only a day and night to explore. A court date awaits me back in the US. I promise myself that I will return here once the hell of my personal life subsides.But for now, I stand proudly covered in marigold garlands and wooden malas. I am embraced by one of my teachers - the toughest one - in the sunset.Today, months later, and many continents and time zones away - I teach my first yoga class. I make exactly $0 and I don't care.
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I graduate. For the last month I have endured two asana classes per day, Sanskrit lessons, philosophy and identification of chakras.  I have cried every day. At the beauty of the place, because my heart is broken, because I am exhausted, but I do not want it to end. I want to leave this beach and explore. I want to see the rest of this vast, chaotic nation.

But instead I will return to Mumbai with only a day and night to explore. A court date awaits me back in the US. I promise myself that I will return here once the hell of my personal life subsides. But for now, I stand proudly covered in marigold garlands and wooden malas. I am embraced by one of my teachers – the toughest one – in the sunset.

Today, months later, and many continents and time zones away – I teach my first yoga class. I make exactly $0 and I don’t care.

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India Story No.8The Cows. They are everywhere. They slowly amble the streets, seemingly unaware of the traffic, the mobs of people. A bull walks into our speeding tuktuk one night, and just keeps walking. Unaware. The tuktuk driver mourns the sizeable dent to his beloved vehicle. The cows stand in burning garbage piles, gnawing through the bags of waste. They say many die from the ingested plastic in their stomachs. They are small, much smaller than our American cows. Is it because they are not raised to be huge to produce the most meat? They are gentle, and friendly. They allow you to stroke their heads. They are curious, often sticking their heads into the yoga shala. One hangs around the yoga retreat with a bloody hoof. It can not move very fast, and the herd has abandoned it perhaps. I give it love, but I have no way of knowing how to heal it's foot. I cry, and stroke it's head and say "I'm sorry ". Later we inquire about a vet, surely someone can care for this animal? The answer is no. A shelter is for cats and dogs, loved by the ex-pats. The cows belong to locals, they say. So nothing is done. This is India.
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The Cows. They are everywhere. They slowly amble the streets, seemingly unaware of the traffic, the mobs of people. A bull walks into our speeding tuktuk one night, and just keeps walking. Unaware. The tuktuk driver mourns the sizeable dent to his beloved vehicle.

The cows stand in burning garbage piles, gnawing through the bags of waste. They say many die from the ingested plastic in their stomachs. They are small, much smaller than our American cows. Is it because they are not raised to be huge to produce the most meat? They are gentle, and friendly. They allow you to stroke their heads.

They are curious, often sticking their heads into the yoga shala. One hangs around the yoga retreat with a bloody hoof. It can not move very fast, and the herd has abandoned it perhaps. I give it love, but I have no way of knowing how to heal it’s foot. I cry, and stroke it’s head and say “I’m sorry “. Later we inquire about a vet, surely someone can care for this animal? The answer is no. A shelter is for cats and dogs, loved by the ex-pats. The cows belong to locals, they say. So nothing is done. This is India.

Goa_Teacher_Training_351

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I never spoke to these boys. They spoke little English, and I speak no Hindi. They live at the Temple of Hanuman in Goa. I do not know what they study. Will they become priests, and live within the crumbling confines of temple grounds? I do not know.

Before meeting them, an elderly priest popped up and offered me a tour of the temple grounds. Most of the tour involved him suggesting I make a donation. (I did) He had lived there for 25 years. He had a wife and children at home. Somewhere. How lonely. For him, and for his wife. Will these boys lead the same life – split between temple and village life?

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India Story No.6:The thing I love the most are the temples. Throughout SE Asia I sought them out. In Thailand, I am drawn into the golden confectionary boxes with their curlicues stretching into the polluted skies. In Cambodia, I scrambled through stone ruins until I found quiet corners. I would sit in the dim light, gazing at the lovely apsaras (goddess carvings). In the distance I hear voices of tour groups.Here, I sit in the temple to Hanuman the monkey god. My tuktuk driver (see previous story) has brought me here. He points out the gods, and tells me their stories. A priest arrives and blesses us. Water and dried flowers are poured into our hands....
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The thing I love the most are the temples. Throughout SE Asia I sought them out. In Thailand, I am drawn into the golden confectionary boxes with their curlicues stretching into the polluted skies.

In Cambodia, I scrambled through stone ruins until I found quiet corners. I would sit in the dim light, gazing at the lovely apsaras (goddess carvings). In the distance I hear voices of tour groups.

Here, I sit in the temple to Hanuman the monkey god. My tuktuk driver (see previous story) has brought me here. He points out the gods, and tells me their stories. A priest arrives and blesses us. Water and dried flowers are poured into our hands….

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India Story No.5:Over the course of my teaching, I have exactly two days off. On one, I choose this sweet tuk tuk driver to take me to the local temples. We ride along bumpy lush green roads to the temple to Shiva. Inside, I am lucky enough to witness a puja (act of worship) within the temple. I cover my head (and camera) and sit on the floor with a dozen locals. A priest chants, takes a request from the gathered, then presses a single flower to a silver pillar. Later, I am told this holy, one-petaled flower grows only in the the temple confines. I am given an offering of milk by one of the grouchy priests. I notice the vaguely-Catholic details of the building. Goa was once a Portuguese colony, and many details remain in the architecture, the inclusion of churches, and the food.
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Over the course of my teaching, I have exactly two days off. On one, I choose this sweet tuk tuk driver to take me to the local temples. We ride along bumpy lush green roads to the temple to Shiva.

Inside, I am lucky enough to witness a puja (act of worship) within the temple. I cover my head (and camera) and sit on the floor with a dozen locals. A priest chants, takes a request from the gathered, then presses a single flower to a silver pillar. Later, I am told this holy, one-petaled flower grows only in the the temple confines. I am given an offering of milk by one of the grouchy priests.

I notice the vaguely-Catholic details of the building. Goa was once a Portuguese colony, and many details remain in the architecture, the inclusion of churches, and the food.

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India Story No.4:Every day yoga. By the end of the first week I feel like a professional athlete. Muscles form and ache. Strength appears from repetition. Two classes a day. It's a slow marathon, not a sprint. In the afternoon, we discuss lovely, ethereal subjects like chakras and the words of the sage Pantanjali.I am one of 7. An officious number. Namaste.
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Every day yoga. By the end of the first week I feel like a professional athlete. Muscles form and ache. Strength appears from repetition. Two classes a day. It’s a slow marathon, not a sprint. In the afternoon, we discuss lovely, ethereal subjects like chakras and the words of the sage Pantanjali. I am one of 7. An officious number. Namaste.

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India Story No.2:Each morning at dawn the local ladies take their walks. And again in the afternoons. I was overjoyed that the women all wore the traditional sari. COLOR. My eyes were starved for it. It did not seem to matter the material wealth of the wearer. I saw women cooking over dung fires with jewel-toned fabrics wrapping their bodies. Gold and stone jewelry from nose to ear to throat.
Posted by Instagrate to WordPress

Each morning at dawn the local ladies take their walks. And again in the afternoons. I was overjoyed that the women all wore the traditional sari. COLOR. My eyes were starved for it. It did not seem to matter the material wealth of the wearer. I saw women cooking over dung fires with jewel-toned fabrics wrapping their bodies. Gold and stone jewelry from nose to ear to throat.