A Not So Brief … Brief.

by Joanna D.

It’s been nearly three weeks since I arrived in Kovalam and since I haven’t yet written about it here is quick run down of what’s been happenin’…

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David’s new friend and shala cat. I’ve named her Frazzle.

One plane, direct flight… brilliant. Caught a ride from the airport with my friend Aji and met his lovely wife Jessica and one of their beautiful daughters, Freya. After a nice drink of cool water, my new friend Papan took me to Lighthouse beach to meet up with Lauren G., one of my east coast homies and yoga besties. Her place, which she was generous enough to share with me for a week, sits just around the corner from our Kovalam Yoga Shala, the Ashtanga Yoga Mandalam. A smooth five minute commute. There’s been only a moderate amount of beach time, but no shortage of sunshine. All the same beach crew is there; the mean fruit-salad lady (seriously… she’s pretty mean), and our beach dudes who hook us up with beach beds and umbrellas and keep an eye on things for us. Found the best Puttu and Thoran, the yummiest Lassy, made a couple trips into Trivandrum for Thali meals, amazing Dosa and random shopping. Been to the tailor for shirt and dress making, fell in love with many pieces of jewelry and felt up many, many pashminas. Spent time visiting with old friends, made some new ones and continue to learn lessons about personal interactions with the rest of the world. There’s been normal power outages and abnormal power outages. Festivals, festivals and more festivals. Many rickshaw rides, several new phone numbers and an unlimited amount of comments and curiosities regarding my tattoos. On top of all that some serious yoga with some seriously dedicated individuals.

Suzanne's Ganesha sits at our front door.

Suzanne’s Ganesha sits at our front door.

After one week of living at Lighthouse beach with the crew, my friend Suzanne Faulkner and I moved (off campus) into a sweet house in my old hood (India style) above Samudra beach. A not as smooth 35 minute commute. But totally worth it. It’s a big beautifully chartreuse house with a couple apartments housing many Indians, and us. We occupy the top left. The two white chicks who continually burn incense and go to bed at 8pm. It’s a brand new apartment, full kitchen, two bedrooms, our own bathrooms and we are completely surrounded by the thick of Indian living. Directly across the street is a straight-up rickshaw workshop. Some major rickshaw repairs going on over there, painting, decals, banging frames back into shape, the drivers hangin’ out, washing their rickshaws, changing the oil, polishing the pleather. Some serious stuff. There is no shortage of rickshaw drivers here. Not at all. “Hello, Madam. Rickshaw?”  I love this place.

Last night there was a rad rain storm. The kind that wake you up in the middle of the night with crazy wind slamming the doors around and leaving one in a rather delirious state. The power is out. Suzanne and I drag ourselves out into the rain, walk up to Kovalam junction and hop in the first rickshaw we can. Normally we would walk, but due to the amazing downpour we thought it would be alright, just this once. Both exhausted due to the 2am wake-up call/wrath of mother nature and three days/2.5 weeks of third series we managed to get ourselves to the shala and onto our mats. An interesting start to the day.

This morning I definitely came to realize the importance of staying present in whatever posture I might be in at any given time. Not thinking ahead to the next one, or how the previous one might have felt, or about having breakfast or not having breakfast or anything except for exactly that posture, with that exact breath, at that exact moment. The importance of being present. This realization, born of the intense questioning of third series, born of the dread I felt for it during my first sun salutation, during trikonasana, during kapotasana, is a majorly important one if I am going to continue to work on third for any significant amount of time. In the words of Suzanne, “This level of dread cannot be maintained. You either have to quit doing third, or quit dreading third. I’ve done both.” I see her powering through third like a rock star at age 51 and have to think, it’s definitely too soon to quit doing third so… I will work on the latter. Here we go.

Now it is once again evening time. The power has once again gone out. The sound of rickshaws sputter to start and speed away, our neighbors dog, Bozo, barks his tiny little head off, men adjust their lungis as they walk by on their way to evening chai, and the crows serenade us as our thoughts turn towards getting ready for bed, thankful for Friday and the Primary series.

Here are some more pictures for your enjoyment!

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