Until Next Time, Coimbature

Coimbature IMG_1044Day 12 – This morning my mind was like a restless, whiny child working every angle to get out of doing chores. My chore? Meditation and yoga. It went a little something like this: I have a headache. I don’t think yoga is good for my knee. The floor is too cold. We should be warm when we do yoga. Shouldn’t we really be doing yoga first so we can sit longer in meditation? There’s somewhere else I have to be. I have to go to the bathroom. I don’t feel well.

Good Lord, the amount of energy that goes into trying to get out of something is astounding. When I do finally let go, and I always do, I feel great.

We are informed that the school program that had been cancelled at the beginning of our stay in Coimbature has been rescheduled. It is up to us if we’d like to go. Half go, the other half take the morning off for massage, rest or shopping. Karin and I are in the second half. We are taking a long flight to New Delhi this afternoon and it just feels good to be able to reorganize and take our time. But I really just want to wander the streets of this town I’ve come to love once more.

The street scenes here are so vibrant and full of life. Cows wander aimlessly, dogs trotting alongside them. Every now and then a horse or two without a rider or a cart behind it saunters past. Temples and shrines are tucked in, tacked up and abundant. On every corner a herd of rickshaws await fares, some are joined by fruit carts, the owners of each chatting with one another. We pass a man on a blanket repairing shoes with neat rows of matched pairs before him ready to fix. And close to our hotel, the return of the bling man.

A few nights ago the purveyor of all things sparkly was in this same spot surrounded by a swarm of sari clad women. We could barely see what the fuss was about but it looked like fun. In the evenings this part of the street just outside our hotel is a beehive of activity. There is a grocery store – which is new for us, in most towns there are carts and stands but seldom an identifiable grocery store. Next to the store is a sweet shop. In the store women stand in line with arms full of fresh brightly colored produce competing with their saris. In front of them are hand held baskets with dry goods. The sidewalk and street in front is thick with people recounting their day and catching up with one another. I take in all the activity. Noting first the familiar; grocery shopping after work, standing in line to pay, picking up a sweet snack, chatting with friends. Then I notice the differences; no grocery carts – no room for them, no one is arguing or huffing and puffing, it seems to be an almost social affair and the store is wide open to the street as if a door has just been rolled up and in fact one has. The store is deep with fresh foods, bins of spices and bags of rice. This one also has a refrigerated section – deluxe. It conjures a different era for me, maybe America in the 50’s. Small shops that specialize in meat, baked goods or produce. Or maybe it’s more akin to the small bodegas of New York City today. People take just what they can carry.

Today, during the middle of the afternoon, there is not much activity on the street, but our bling man has just set up with no one in our way. It’s the usual fare you’d find at a store in the mall like Claire’s or Icing but this is India so somehow it’s more fun. We spend about 500 rupees each (about $8) on things we absolutely need; sparkly butterfly hairclips, girly beaded bracelets, colorful barrettes and a hair tie or two. Things that can easily slip into our overstuffed suitcases.

Back at the room t’s time to tighten up our packing. We know we’ll be charged for going over the weight limit it has happened already and we just keep buying more – including an extra suitcase – which is now full. And by we I am not simply speaking of Karin and I, but the collective WE. There are maybe 2 people in the group that are within the regular weight limits. I’m not sure what’s wrong with them.

We board the bus and head to the airport. The entire back seat is full of suitcases forcing everyone into the seats along the sides. A few people are sitting on luggage. It’s a little ridiculous.

As a group we must enter the airport in the order our name appears on the itinerary. We dutifully oblige. After we enter we take our bags to the screening area – just the checked bags. They are scanned, locked with a zip tie and a label then released back to us. Now we take them to the counter to get weighed and check in. All the bags are weighed together and divided by the number of people in our group. Sounds good, but last time we still had to pay nearly $200 as a group for our excessive American ways. We leave our bags and dashed hopes with the airline and take our seats as Swamiji gets everything sorted out. She walks toward us with boarding passes in her hand. We have not been charged an overage, she informs us with a smile. One of the women working the counter was a yoga student of Swamiji’s and was so happy to see her, she just waived it. Yoga works in so many ways.

The first leg of our flight takes us through Chennai. It is on this short hop we once again meet Murugesh, Swami Satchidananda’s grandson. Small world indeed. He leaves us in Chennai and we continue on to New Delhi. We arrive after 10 pm road weary.

Our hotel room feels a little icky. At first glance it looks nicely appointed, but upon closer inspection it just feels a little off. Just one quick night, we’re to be up at 4:30 and out by 5 tomorrow morning. We’re also very tired. And cranky.

Ready for bed, long after midnight now, we can’t seem to locate the light switches. There are three lights that refuse to be extinguished no matter which toggle we hit – and there are many. Frustrated we call the front desk. They send the the rude bellman. He rolls his eyes and shows us that, of course, the toggle for the bedside lights is behind the table, near the floor. Fantastic, here’s 10 rupees. All we have to do is move the table out of the way, hit the switch then move the table back in the dark without knocking the lamp over. Genius. We sleep in our clothes, it’s just a place to land for the night.

Tomorrow, the train station.

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