So a fair few yarns to share.

1. The other day I was out for a trot when down one lane I saw a limping horse. His front right hoof was all rounded over as he faltered along scourging for food; while he expressed a demeanour of contentment, you could clearly see it was giving him grief.

I desperately went up and down the roadway trying to find someone to help; this filly needed aid. My lip was fully quavering a bit when I finally found a lady who could understand my garbled English. “No no,” she said. “He here everyday. He ok.”

I tried explaining that he most definitely wasn’t, but saw it was a losing combat. I patted the horse’s head and did a little Babcia cross (the hand gesture my grandmother does to bless people) and went on my – heart tugged – way.

What a mare.

(Sorry. Awful and most definitely inappropriately pun).

But as I walked away I had a little burst of happy; that’s my inner caring Poppy that I was as a little girl coming back out.

I miss that somewhat lost part of me. (Don’t worry Mummy Deb. I won’t start collecting boxes full of horse posters and wrapping paper again).

2. Yesterday morning I approached a cluster of the Asian girls. I don’t like this divide between the Eastern and the Western of us, so thought I’d bridge it.

I was surprised to find they all spoke quite good English. After introductions and some polite chit chat, one of them said, “Poppy, can we ask how old you are?”

When I replied with 25 (I couldn’t lie and say 22), they were genuinely gobsmacked. “Whaaaaaaa(silent t)!” They exclaimed. “We thought you were 17! No more than 16, 17! No older than a teenager!”

I was chuffed, especially as just that a.m I had been scrutinising myself in the mirror thinking how haggard I was looking.

And one of the Chinese girls – Jodie – has her birthday on September 9, so her and I are going to have a joint “party” on the 7th, our day off (don’t have any idea what this shindig shall entail but I’ll fill you in after).

3. Of my new friends, two of them are just so beautiful; Bianca, the yoga teacher from Southern India who discreetly corrects me when I do things wrong and always gives me cuddles, and Sabina, the German-who-doesn’t-identify-as-German who always catches my eye and winks at me or pulls faces. They make these sometimes tough days a lot more bearable.

4. You may recall how I said last time I was in India how the ATMs all ran out of money. Well, I’ll one up it; yesterday when I went to the post office, they had run out of stamps. Imagine! A post office with no stamps. The men told me to come back this morning so I ran there in between “lunch” (10am mate; that’s brunch) and theory class, where it took a full 8.3 minutes for the man to stick 10 stamps onto four letters and two postcards.

Most definitely not up to Kiwibank speeds (unless you get little G of the Cambridge branch, who may be on par in the time stakes).

5. I really want to go back to Thailand, Vietnam and such. Now I have developed a keener appreciation for other cultures I feel I would immerse it far more, rather than the, “Oh cool, a temple. Righto; what bars do frozen margaritas?” of 2014.

I don’t think you realise just how much travel makes you grow and understand the world (or at times, make it all the more un-understandable) until you look back onto your first real exploration in a completely polar culture (I feel like the Bali party days didn’t really count all too much).

6. It’s so easy for me to eat here; all the food is laid out at meal times at the hotel/yoga school and you help yourself, meaning it’s super easy to bypass the rice and dhal, plus all along the street sides are grilled corn cobs and all the cafes have multiple options with no need for modifications on my part. It’s so nice to not have to be self conscious that I’m a hindrance.

7. I learnt today that no matter how joyous the monkeys make you, you shouldn’t smile at them. You see, when monkeys attack they show their teeth before they launch, thus having a grin at their red bums and swinging antics could very much result in one flying at your face.

8. You know how I said how the constant translating to Chinese could very much possibly crack me? It hasn’t been an issue. If anything, it’s given me more time to write notes in theory class which is ideal. What I can’t seem to understand is what “yen” means; it’s honestly used in so many contexts absolutely all the time.

The cultural difference is pretty astounding in light of authority. The Asian girls are so respectful and hold Martinet in such high regard, never questioning her and being absolutely ashamed when they are told off for speaking. Whereas us Westerners frequently have moments of met raised eyebrows when Martinet says something we don’t quite agree with and have a good wee vent to each other on the oft (though the Asian girls could be doing this all the time as well; does “yen” translate to “bitch” too?).

9. One way I keep my mind clear and in the present in meditation is mentally chanting, “Inhale positivity, exhale negativity”. However yesterday my mind must have wandered off as I mindlessly repeated my wee mantra, as I found myself chanting, “Inhale negativity, exhale positivity”. Can I blame my low self esteem state on that one?

10. I really need to learn another language. These guys here are so bilingual; Bianca speaks Hindi and English, Maria speaks Spanish and English (not always getting every word, but she’s already massively improved in four days) and Sabina speaks German, English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, some Russian, some Korean, and I’m pretty sure a couple more. It’s such a great skill to be able to claim and such a way to show appreciation for another culture.

Dutch is still my goal but I’m leaning towards rejigging a bit of French too (and I’ve got a start on that; I already know how to order two slices of quiche).

11. Lyndal (Aussie lady) was saying she needs to go to the dentist and get another filling. I did the standard clucky nose about the cost and she said that she’s been going to the dentist just down the road here; fillings are $20, a consultation is 100 rupee (all of NZD $2.50) and a scale and clean is applied for less than $15. When I questioned the standard of service (I.e., was the filling actually decently done) she said the lady dentist did a far better job than any of the Aussie counterparts.

12. Today I saw an Indian man in a full white one-piece (as in dress attire, not swimming togs) out walking his two big, beautiful German Shephards. They were gorgeous! He tried to get them to stay still so I could take a pic, but they were in full roam mode. Astounds me that people look so different, yet some dog breeds are identical all over the world.

13. Yesterday Sabina and I went for a walk and I brought a notepad. On the way back I stopped at a store and bought The Neph Hank III a pair of Indian harem pants (he’s going to look so rad, especially with the traditional red Om shirt I got him today), accidentally leaving my new book on a pile of garments and not noticing until I was back at the hotel.

I ran back today and asked the man if I had left it there; he pointed behind a stash of shirts, and there it was in all its glory (the paper in this pad is just crying out to be written on; it’s that beautifully thick white stuff) (only I would get excited about a notebook). When I profusely thanked him, he said, “We respect other people’s property”. I thought that was beautiful.

14. A few things Martinet has said that have really tickled my fancy: 1. “Pregnant women are not sick women.” (We learn prenatal and postnatal yoga, and I really rated her identifying this early on). 2. “When the mind is not happy, it creates problems in the body.” (That psychosomatic idea really resonates with me). 3. “You shouldn’t say, ‘I have a headache’. You should phrase it, ‘There is a headache’.” (Observe it rather than bring it your own). 4. “Yoga is not a religion; you want to worship Shiva, if you want to worship Ganesh; if you want to worship no one, worship no one.” (Really rate because the whole Hindu side of praying to Gods doesn’t really sit well with me, and I love the idea that Yog is all-inclusive). 5. “It’s not because you eat spaghetti that you become Italian.” (She was saying this as part of the Hindu-Yoga idea, and I also take it to mean just because you do yoga doesn’t make you a yogi). 6. She quoted the Rig Veda (ancient text): “God is one and man gives it many names.” And 7. On karma: “Whatever we do/say/think produces a seed of the same nature, but they are not all going to sprout.” I liked this thought, as it made me feel better about when I slip up and be a bitch.

15. Today I decided in the morning asana class that I was going to talk to Martinet and lay how I was feeling about my yoga practice out. I approached her and said my spiel; how I felt quite out of my depth, was full of self doubt and that I felt really far behind and worried about it.

She was lovely.

(Fuck she looks like Nanna when she smiles! I wish I could get a photo).

She was great. She said that she sees all of us that haven’t trained with her before as beginners; her students are at a certain standard that no other 200 hour teacher trainer has ever produced students to. (That rating herself again, but extremely justified). She said she’ll get me there and that I should not feel desperate.

I said no one had ever enlightened me to my strange armpits before and she laughed (was hoping she may say they weren’t so strange, but it didn’t come).

At theory class she brought it up and asked me to say what I had said to her in front of everyone. She said that worried sense was quite normal and that us nine that are new to her are behind, but she’s starting us at the top level so we reach it.

And since, she has softened towards me. She used me in a demonstration of the headstand this afternoon in a good way. She sidled up and made a joke about how I had tightened my belt (as in yoga strap; I didn’t have on one around my Nike tights). And she’s smiled at me quite a lot.

I’ve warmed considerably towards her too.

She also told us she doesn’t care if we aren’t strong or flexible or don’t get there; she wants to teach us to connect with our bodies and know the map of ourselves.

I really, really rate that. Because as soon as she said it, I realised that’s why I’m here: to connect and be in tune with my body, and go home to be able to teach others the same.

She also told me and the rest of the class that I have scoliosis. (My Nanna actually had slight scoliosis herself. Oh please oh please don’t make me end up a hunchback like my lovely little Aunt Anne).

16. And I managed to find out some stuff about Martinet! She openly shared a bit; she said how she doesn’t have time to look after people and she gives all her money to animals (she’s zealous about animal rights and what not, with quotes all through her notes and even in her email signature. She gave us a very passionate lecture on not consuming dairy; “The cows are pumped full of anti-d’s because they are so beside themselves from being taken away from their babies. Their babies are pumped with hormones to gain a kg a day. Then they’re exhausted to produce milk until they are slaughtered, with their neck cut like a bread knife.” Definitely enough to put you off your milo). She mainly lives in France with her two cats from China at her mother’s house, where she has a room. (Who does that remind you of?) (room in parents’ house, not moving to France with Chinese cats, I’ll clarify) and travels around to teach yoga in countries such as Vietnam, China, Thailand, so forth.

I even plucked up the necessary bravity and asked what got her into yoga. (I wish I could say it was with complete confidence, but it was a very timid enquiry). She said she was brought up in the South of France where yoga wasn’t very well known; her mother heard of classes 6km away so took little Martinet along, who found the first class transformative and was hooked (though rock climbing interested her far more, yoga was more feasible).

Her mother didn’t keep at it though – “She can’t sticks at anything long term”. She always described her as “extremely obnoxious”. It struck me; I would never talk about Mummy Deb that way to a bunch of strangers – maybe I would to Mummy Deb’s face, but not behind her back.

It’s funny; Martinet is not a yogi in the serene sense in any way whatsoever; the discipline, yes most definitely, but the serenity aspect is something I just don’t see.

17. And last but not least – a little bit of a self humblebrag.

Today when I went over to the dinner table, Indian Bianca said, “Here’s the little ray of sunshine”. The Asian students all describe me as “The young smiley girl”. And Philippa told me how lovely is it that I show an interest in everyone around me.

I think having such an esteem is much more important than having the reputation as the girl who can do a perfect elbow stand (though that tacked on the end would be fabulous too).

Day five tomorrow, then a full off. Very much looking forward to a full 24 (well, 14-15 hours or so) of chill time.

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