I arrived in India significantly sad, heavily heartbroken and wanting to go home.

(The two hours sleep out of 24 and mere four hours from the night previous to departing Holland may have exasperated the situation somewhat).

On the plane it hit me that I won’t be seeing The Pedaller for the next 2.75 months. Being the numbing Pop I am, I’d sort of detached from the idea so our farewell wouldn’t leave me downtrodden. I was quite proud of my efforts too, feeling a little pang but nothing stomach-sickening, but on the plane to Delhi my mind enlightened me to the distance fact and I felt a tad forlorn.

Furthering on the feeling was the fact that it was The Neph Hank III’s first birthday back at home, and all my family and Hendrik’s little friends were gathered to his celebrational get-together . Mummy Deb was sending me pics and I felt very, very far away.

And to top it off, I got to the hotel where the yoga course is being held and I found myself shown to a room with a window looking out onto a concrete wall.

After OD-ing on Rescue Remedy I managed to get in four hours of (much needed) sleep and felt a touch better (feeling a bit dim witted for my entertaining the thoughts of packing it in and heading home). Especially as I had my Belgian vege toys to cuddle. But that feeling of sadness was still swimming around a bit.

Then I met Sunny.

My word, what a joyous soul. I had a few tears going on as I sat in the lobby looking through Hendrik’s b’day pics, when the lovely lad came over and proffered his hand. Sunny is one of the managers of the hotel, and he literally lit me up.

(With some happiness, not any illicit drugs, I shall clarify).

We yarned for a bit – he’s a trek leader and rapid boat taker as well as his hotel work – and when I said I needed to go and collect my bags I left here from the yoga school down the road, he insisted on taking me there on his scooter.

He uplifted me from my pretty black space, and completely turned me around. (Plus gave me a fab new saying: “After shower, full power”. So damn true).

All the boys at the school were so happy to see me; their faces lit up with genuine delight when I arrived and a few even gave me hugs. I went to the local store to get some h20, and the man there clapped his hands and said, “Poppy is back!” And I went down to say hi to the little man who runs the painting shop that we befriended last time, and he invited me in for a tea and chatter. It made me think: I kind of actually have some friends here.

I got my iPod and went for a long walk (always my calmer) through Lakshman Jhula and through to Ram Jhula. I was feeling really really good; happy to be back, pumped to start the course, telling myself to dispel my negativity and that my room was good for me as the blackness meant I’d sleep well and it would encourage me to go to open spaces to do my writing rather than lock myself away alone. And the vibrancy of all the beautiful saris made me smile.

It was nice too, as the streets weren’t so crowded and full of sweaty men. When I was here last the pilgrimage was still on, and it was like 1000 young lads at the Indian version of Rhythm and Vines. To have it much calmer (well, as calm as the chaos gets) was extremely good for my mind frame. (And I was proud of myself because I tore my interest in a pair of pink pants away; you have enough).

I got back and fully unpacked all my stuff (I have a serious amount of shit, I don’t know how I accumulated so much) to try and make my hole more homely, then met the others in my course for the introductions at 5pm.

So a quick overview: this course I am undertaking is a 300 hour vinyasa yoga teaching training one, running from August 21 through to October 3. The instructor is a lady who we will call Martinet; of French roots, she has lived in China, India and Singapore for the past 20 years and had studied all kinds of health and wellness disciplines in her time. She is 65, has a lot of knowledge and is as limber as a seven-year-old gymnast. (More on her at a later date).

The yoga school I was at the month before last is facilitating her course, so the same boys here are the ones that looked after me last time, cooking the food, doing the logistics, so forth. (Just in a different location across and down the road a bit). So I have my boys Mo, Lakhi (said he’ll sneak me aloo ghobi – apparently Dominique doesn’t believe in potatoes) and the others around on the daily.

There’s 20 of us students, 11 of whom are of Asian origin – Taiwanese, Chinese, Hong Kongese (is that the right terming for those from HK?). And of those 11, eight don’t speak any English, two know the basic “hello” “goodbye”, and one is a translator, to parrot everything Dominique says over to Mandarin as we go.

I took a deep breath and told myself it will teach me great patience.

I feel a bit bad; when I arrived and three of the Asian women waved me hello, I assumed they were the hotel cleaners (to be fair, they were cleaning at the time).

Then Philippa arrived as the meeting was getting underway!

Philippa is a lady I know from NZ, who I was directed to for advice when the urge to go to India engulfed me more than two years ago. Philippa had done her 200 hours in Mysore, so gave me some advice on heading to the land of curry and holy cows solo. Last year she asked me about 300 hour courses in Rishikesh, and we ended up booking to both do this one.

Fuck it was good to see her.

So we had the meeting, where Dominique told us that the course would be extremely intense and said we will be very tired. Details were shared, she said how she starts at the highest level rather than easy (goodie – after a month in Spain doing half hearted sun salutations, my body is going to be cursing me) and we were given our daily schedule. (7am-10am pranayama, meditation and asana practice, “lunch” at 10am – apparently she doesn’t believe in breakfast? – theory from 11-2pm, break 2-5, asana practice there until 7pm and then dinner, with a few hours for rest and rejuvenation before getting up to do it all over again. Five days on, one day off).

And I’m the youngest one here by a good few years, which I am beaming about.

A group of us English speakers gathered in one area, making little remarks here and there between us and striking up chat once the meeting was over. We decided to head to dinner together (first night wasn’t provided), so went down the road and had a lovely hour getting to know each other. There was a Chilean (Maria), two Germans (Bianca and Sabina), Philippa, Lyndal from Aussie and a girl from Southern India (Bianca number 2 – though her and I have bonded quite well, so she may be just Bianca here on out).

(It’s so silly; I was feeling super sad that I hadn’t come across anyone to bond really well with. Whenever I go anywhere, I always make at least one really close and special friend: Sarah from Base Camp, Eva from India take one, Marie from India take two, Melissa and Sheri and Katie from Europe. All from the instant I met them. But I am currently at the end of day one, and already Maria, Sabina, Bianca and I have hoarded ourselves away to hang out, and Philippa and I have had a good heart to heart. Why do I always overreact and then it turn out to be the complete opposite to my fears?).

And then life got all the more better. Philippa was in the same situation re. rooms as me (all the Asian crowd arrived four days ago and claimed the way better rooms with massive windows and head boarded beds), so I sidled up to Arvind (yoga school owner; remember?) and asked about the possibility of us staying at the yoga school, with its mountain views and windows and doors. He said we could and I was just getting sorted to make the switch, when news came that a room on the second floor – front facing with a window and all – was available.

Mate, I made like Walt White and hustled that set up for myself.

A window! On a floor with a wifi modem! Cupboards that I can open, that my bed doesn’t cut off! With a balcony right outside to hang my washing off! A hangout area outside with armchairs that me and my new friend group have claimed as our hang out space! And – bonus! – extremely clean as the Asian girl who moved in then decided to go share with her friend scrubbed every single space! Granted my bathroom is a lot smaller and the toilet seat gets sprayed when having a wash, but I’d far rather natural lighting and getting wet legs when having a wee than a claustrophobic concrete box and space to do the splits in the bathroom.

And I awoke this morning peaceful, happy to be here and ready to work.

By fuck the first class was hard. I thought the roof was leaking, then realised it was sweat droplets plopping on my (brand new non-slip Lululemon) yoga mat.

But I felt so, so good once it was done. (Plus one of the older Japanese ladies has a copious reflux issue and is always expelling these massive burps, which makes me giggle.

Back to (happy) yogi life).

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