03 February 2016

Bangalore: A Place to Rejuvenate

So if you’ve been to Bangalore, you might be thinking, “What the hell was Cherie on that she finds Bangalore a place to rejuvenate?” Well, if you had good friends there, you might see it in that very way.
I met Barbara and Henrik in Mexico when I was supposed to run Caballo Blanco last March; we bonded over being vegetarians and cooked most of our meals together. They came to New York in April, and everything was crazy and last-minute that we ended up meeting for breakfast on a weekday at Egg in Williamsburg.
So when I first thought about doing yoga training in India, I began messaging Barbara (who had done ashtanga yoga teacher training two years prior). Though they’re Danish, they’re expats living in India. They’ve lived the expat life for 12 years now, living in Japan, Bangaldesh, Brazil, India another time, and maybe someplace else that I’m missing. Because Barbara can’t work on her visa, she gets to do awesome stuff like travel, study yoga, practice yoga all the time. She has a yoga room. I am so envious. And Henrik gets great heat training in India for his races; he’s thinking of doing Badwater next year.
So even though Bangalore didn’t sound like the most exciting place in India, I decided I’d visit to hang out with them. As my trip went on, the moving around from place to place, staying at dubiously clean hostels/guesthouses with limited hot water and not enough toilet paper really got to me. The people in India can be really wonderful, but then sometimes, people are rude, shoving, traffic is crazy, taxi drivers won’t stop ripping you off, the tourist sights can be disappointing or long lines or you pay 500 rupees with Indians pay 10 rupees….it’s tough. So I asked Barbara and Henrik if I could visit for a few days; they said sure, but Barbara told me that Bangalore wasn’t that touristy and four days might be a bit much and she was really busy. I basically said I was needing a place to chill for a few days and I could amuse myself. So she said, great, come on over.
I flew in and then proceeded to get stuck in an hour and half of traffic on the way to their house. That’s Bangalore’s signature characteristic: tons and tons of traffic. I peered out the window at the traffic. Ugh. I went back to reading my book on my Kindle instead.
When I arrived, Henrik was getting ready for yet another business trip and Barbara had just gotten home from yoga. They quickly set me up with wifi and we relaxed with tea for a little while. Nice. Then Henrik left and Barbara and I walked around. We had lunch, looked at some spots I could do yoga (She does it in an asthanga place where most of the classes require a 30 day commitment.), walked around a neat park and talked and had chai, went to this amazing bookshop, Blossoms, by her house, where I went in to buy one yoga book for my training program and came out with four yoga books. But I really will use them all, and they were SO cheap. Um, but, um, now my bag is way overstuffed. I had to email Wayne to bring another bag.
The next few days were lovely. I woke up and did yoga in Barbara’s yoga room; I used Henrik’s running stuff for PT exercises; I went to yoga at a studio by their house; I wrote while Barbara studied Sanskrit or caught up; we went to Yogistaan, a wonderful cafe with an amazing vibe and lots of different kinds of chai; we cooked together; their driver, Suresh, took me to the toursist spots (two art museums, neither of which are necessarily worth writing home about, and the botanical gardens).
As I rejoined the world of regular normal hot showers and clean quiet spaces (Their neighborhood has a lot of expats and everyone in their building is British but them.), it felt very Western. And wonderful. Sure, we’d eat dosas at night, but I had toilet paper too! And fast internet! I slowly recovered from travel overload.
I was supposed to leave on Sunday; Barbara suggested I stay until Monday as Suresh was driving her to Mysore that day and I’d get a comfortable ride in. I wanted to spend more time in Mysore than jsut two days, so I said no.
On Saturday, Barbara emailed a yoga guru and asked her if we could attend a chanting session on Sunday. She informed Barbara that we’d need to meet with her for a one-on-one first; Barbara asked if I wanted to go, and I said, “I guess. I don’t know. What am I doing? Yes.”
Basically, that’s my attitude a lot of the times here. I don’t know what I’m eating or what I’m doing, but yes, please. As long as it’s veg and no onions, I’ll be into it.
So I went to Samita’s house. We had yoga therapy. She had me lie down in savassana, and did a regulated breathing (4 to inhale while chanting om, 3 to exhale while chanting om), and then she took my pulse.
We talked about a lot. Some of it is too personal to put here, but basically, she picked up on how I take on too much. We talked about my inability to make and respect my decisions, and how I need to stop questioning what I’ve done and simply accept it and see it as an opportunity.
We talked so much. And then two hours had passed. She told me to come see her in the morning. I meekly responded, “Yes.”
I texted Barbara, “Just wow. On my way back.”
We went out for dosas.
“So what happened?”
“I’m not really sure.”
“But your’e going back?”
“What are you going to do?”
“I don’t know.”
And I didn’t. But I needed to find out answers.
I realized I was needing to figure out a lot of stuff in my life. Things felt really messed up and I was definitely too far to figure everything out right away. I needed prioritize, I needed to deal with some issues, and I needed to heal myself. Oh, and professional help wouldn’t hurt.
The next morning, I went back to Samita. Instead of talking, we did a practice that she “prescribed” to me, a routine that I am to do. It will help calm me, relax me. And I think it’s just what I needed.
Immediately after, I hopped in the car and met Barbara, Henrik, and their awesome friend Jen from SF at Leela Palace. We were having brunch at a five star hotel. Yes, I’m a backpacker.
The meal was phenomenal. It was one of the best brunches I’ve had in my life. We filled out plates with salad, enjoyed as our wine was topped up without us having to ask, shared food. During the dessert portion, I filled a big plate with tons of desserts and we shared. Henrik also went up and got a follow-up plate to mine, selecting desserts I had missed. It was truly wonderful.
And we were drunk. Um, no bus to Mysore. I’d go in the morning.
Instead, we rested, then Jen and I took a walk and chatted around the neighborhood. Then we hung out some more, I wrote a bit, and we all went to bed.
In the morning, more ashtanga yoga with Barbara (I’m starting to like ashtanga, actually….) and then, Suresh, their driver, drove us to Mysore and I got dropped off directly in front of my hostel. Wonderful!

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