1. September six; after a natter to home and a checking of the old FB, I went upstairs set for a session of pranayama. All my new friends rejoiced with an HB, some of the Asians gave me a little arm clutch and a, “Yen yen” (must mean something for a celebratory day too?) and Martinet sat stony faced on her meditation cushion.

This will be interesting, I thought. She blatantly knows it’s my birthday (her translator girl that sits next to her pulled me down for a clinch and said, “Yay to 17 years!” right in front of her); I wonder if she’ll partake in a well wish? It might very well be the deciding measure of her character.

Well, she was a bitch.

Not just to me, but the whole class. She declared she was tired (as you absolutely would be, with 19 students sucking your knowledge out of you eight official, 12 total hours a day). And she most definitely was insanely grumpy, shrieking at us all in the morning class. She informed us one of the Taiwanese girls had been offered a new job the afternoon previous and had left the course; while on a personal level Martinet had spared this Yulia girl no ounce of affection, she absolutely fizzed over her flexibility and asana perfection. I think her girl crush had – literally – left the building, and she was pining for someone to look good in her photos to share on her site.

(I must admit, I’m gutted about Yulia too; she was next to me in every class, and I loved looking at her to see what I was supposed to be doing rather than what I was. I emailed her goodbye and she replied with a message that made my heart sing).

Theory class came, with ample op for her to wish me an HB. With nothing coming, I just thought, Fuck yah. I’ll just clarify here it wasn’t as I wanted the attention (well, not entirely); I just thought someone with a even a kindle of kindness would acknowledge it in a word at least.

In the evening class, Priyanka, Sabina and I were having a little natter about after dinner plans to go out and get a drink (alas, I mean a juice in this context, not a glass of red). Martinet came over and enquired as to what we were plotting.

“It’s Poppy’s birthday,” Priyanka said.

“Oh. I don’t attach much to birthdays,” Martinet replied.

With the calmness of the most moksha-reached Tibetan monk, I smiled, looked her so-square-it-was-circle in the eye and said, “I do. My Opa is 89 today, so I share it with him and that’s extremely important to me.”

She was taken aback. I might have exaggerated the recollection in my mind, but I think she even took a little step to the behind.

“Well,” she said. “That is quite special.”

I’m taking that as my-day recognition. She has a heart after all.

2. Following on with Martinet as the topic of convo; this morning, quite by chance, her and I crossed paths. I was filling up my neti pot (keeping up with clearing these nasal passages on my days off, how disciplined am I), and she had come out to caterwaul at two of the Asian girls to stop screeching at each other. She was only in a pair of undies, pressing a dress against her torso to shield her boobs.

I almost burst out in hysterics at the likeness to myself when on the homefront.

And then she turned to me and chatted for about ten minutes, top off in the middle of the congregation room and all.

We talked about digestion, red meat, negativity, fasting and imported fruit in New Zealand. I was just myself; no modifying my opinions to impress, no sucking up in subtle flattery. And it struck me; her and I go through the ebb and flow of like and dislike of each other, but there’s no denying it.

We are extremely alike.

3. In theory class we were going over the chakras. In explaining manipura (that of the seven at the heart centre), Martinet played a French YouTube clip of a scene of some kind of expressive domestic violence. Now, nothing about that is funny as in the subject matter at all. But it had absolutely NOTHING to do with what we were discussing. I looked over and caught Aussie Lyndal’s eye, and absolutely spluttered out in compulsive giggles.

Martinet heard the choking sound and looked up at me; knowing I couldn’t be seen to appear to find the video humourous, I pretended to be overcome with grief, finding it hard to handle.

So now I’m pretty sure she thinks I’m a victim of abuse as well as a strange-armpitted, magnetic-kneed, peppilly-preoccupied girl from the land with “absolutely no selenium in the soil”.

4. I have the most beautiful set of especially three friends here – Priyanka, Sabina and Maria. Yesterday when I was getting my massage they snuck in and paid for it, then last night they presented me with a book I really wanted (what else but Lizzy G’s sequel to Eat, Pray Love?). Philippa gave me a lovely birthday card with an extremely applicable quote on the back (below). A group of seven of us went out for dessert (I had a plate of the most delicious potatoes) and we sat for a few hours by the flowing Ganges talking philosophy, theology and the meaning of life (absolute crap. We talked about sex and affairs and gossiped a good fair bit).

After we got back to the abode, the aforementioned trio came to my room and we lay on my bed and just were for an hour or so. I love it; Maria is 37, Priyanka is a couple of years older than me and Sabina falls somewhere in between the two, but age means nothing in the connection of our friendship.

I thanked them so much for spoiling me and making my day special. Maria – whose English is up with chat, just sometimes a little bit wrong – said, “Thank you for your life.” We laughed at her phrasing, but she said, “No no, I mean what I said. Thank you for your life, and having it here with us.”

I thought that was one of the most beautiful things to ever possibly be given some gratitude for.

5. In many Eastern areas, tourism is one of the main financial incomes for the country. So places like Thailand, Bali, Malaysia and Vietnam have arranged themselves to help you – the Westerner with the credit cards – to get around with ultimate ease.

Not so much for India.

The ATMs are all back out of money again. When you ask for directions, you’ll be given some only to ask someone again five minutes later and be sent in the opposite direction. It’s just colourful chaos and a constant puzzle, like the most complex living Sudoku.

6. I read this lovely passage somewhere that said in life, we are all given both attributes of virtue and of malevolence. We choose which to cultivate and which to muffle, with the way of knowing our goodness as using our conscience as our guide.

How simple is that to use as a yardstick to determine if your actions are good or not?

7. While those of more affluence in India have high, tottering abodes, those of less wealth often live out their lives together in the various interconnected “homes” (read – rooms with linen-cupboard-sized kitchens, a bedroom with two single recliners crammed in for four people and one shower stall with two squatting toilets for five families to share) within the walls. Cramped living to the inth degree – but they know no difference.

8. Last week Priyanka told me I was, “In no way whatsoever annoying”. I thought she was taking the piss, and upon her swearing she was fully telling the truth, I found myself in stupendous shock – I consider myself to be the most pesky, plaguy, pestilent, pestiferous and punchable person out, so it was a lovely admission to hear that at least one person disagrees.

9. I just went and had a consultation with an Ayurvedic doctor. And wow.

I love the approach of the ancient medicine way. Rather than the Western, “What are your symptoms? Sore throat and cough? Cool. Here’s a prescription for this [long-complicated-name] drug to clear that right up”, the lovely lady asked me questions about all parts of my being for a solid forty minutes.

What’s your digestion like? The solidarity of your stool? How much water do you drink? She checked my eyes and tongue and hair and hands. Then upon completion of the catechism, she handed me three A4 pieces of paper detailing exactly as I am and what I should do to bring myself into balance.

I always knew I was of a vata-pitta dosha composition (an Ayurvedic theory about how all your physical and mental attributes categorises you into one or two or even all of three body types) from quizzes and what not online, but she confirmed this as absolute. She instructed me many different things to bringing myself into balance: starting my day with a glass of warm water, best if been kept in a copper pot overnight; washing my feet properly and applying oil on the soles before I go to sleep; not yielding to my workaholic tendencies (she picked that up on her own); avoiding cold water and food in winter; practising two particular pranayamas, and only in the a.m; drinking a glass of warm milk (almond or soy, as I prefer) before bed.

Then she said something quite interesting. “You push your body far too much,” she insisted. “Those nights where you can’t sleep, you’ve gone beyond what you can physically do. You need to moderate your physical exercise.”

She also diagnosed a weak liver, giving me some natural medicine to bring it back into hearty health, as well as some “Aswagandha Gutika” pills to strengthen me from inside and calm my anxiousness.

It was amazing, and she just knew me so well.

In some ways India absolutely fucks me off. In others, I revere it with zeal (all or nothing in every aspect). But being here is absolutely where I’m meant to be.

The journey to bringing about balance and flexibility, in mind, body, brain and that hard-to-hold handstand.

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