Feeling: RAJA

Feeling: RAJA

1. This may get a little baffling – there’s a few characters in the mix. Bear (crazy; just Googled that phrase and was astounded – always thought it was “bare”) with me, and I apologise in advance for any confusion.

So last night Aussie Lyndal and I went to the first evening festivities of an Indian wedding. Manoj (morning teacher at the yoga school) issued us an invite to the celebratory happenings, as it was his sister who was engaging (literally) in espousal.

So we finished class at 7pm and quickly attired and adorned ourselves. I foraged out my sari and Priyanka twirled and tied me up, even applying a little bindi on my forehead. Then we retrieved Sunny (remember him? Hotel man with the laddish demeanour that aided me in feeling better my first day here) and he and his friend took us to the car (I wish I could’ve videoed the process of reversing it out of its tight park up. My goodness. So many hill starts and 27-point turns and blasting beeps at wayward cows in the way) to take us to the turn-out.

And that’s how we came to be hurtling along the potholed roads listening to ramped up Flo Rida and Sean Paul with the hazard lights on.

We arrived at the location of the jamboree and went inside.

Then realised we were at the wrong location, right in the midst of a party pertaining to different people.

Luckily, we go Mo on the phone (another character: the lad who runs the administrative side at the yoga school – may remember him from past posts) and he came to aid us on his scooter.

Take two: pitched tents, colourful lights, group of Indian men sitting outside staring. Exactly the same as the previous party. But this time, we were in the right place.

So in India, weddings last for about three days, sometimes up to a week. Day one has the Mehndi (henna festival), where all guests gather for the females to have their hands and arms artisted up and all there feast and dance and feast some more. Second day is the ceremony, which lasts for about three hours, then day three is the reception.

Lyndal and I were at the Mehndi. We walked into a large canvased area with silver pot things (sorry; unsure of the term for the contraptions that hold the curries and other edibles, and Google is of no aid) lining one side of the “room”. A little group of girls were dancing in the centre, and a multitude of men sat on the sideline watching. A DJ booth was seat up in the corner blasting out what sounded like techno-ish Hindi tunes, and glittering saris were twinkling at every turn (very glad I opted to wear my one).

Then there was Manoj, dressed in what must be his special occasion shirt and welcoming us with open arms. He was overjoyed we were there and touched we’d made the effort, and excitedly led us off to meet his sister, who was apparently in one of the two adjoining houses next to the tent (apparently the family abodes).

If The Brother Michael invited two men from a foreign country to my pre-wedding night, I’d say I’d probably be a bit fucked off. But when we went to be introduced to Manoj’s sister – for some reason, she was sitting in a room alone bar another woman doing her henna, as a gaggle of girls in saris swanned about on the floor outside the door – she greeted us with warmth. “Very glad you could come,” she said. “Please enjoy.” Conversation dried up at that point (I’d say she’d had a fair few strangers flung at her) so I did an awkward namaste bow (my go-to in such situations, it seems) (over here I mean; when in a position of pondering what to do at home, I don’t bow at my counterparts) and we retreated back to the tent.

But wait! Manoj grabbed our arms. Did we want a whiskey? The hushed tones of his enquiry made me feel he was offering a rail of something A class, not just a nip of Wild Turkey’s Indian cousin. Lyndal and I raised eyebrows at each other; why not? We deserved a bit of fire in our bellies.

So Manoj led us to yet another room, this time in the adjourning house, where mattresses were strewn across the floor. “Wait here,” he said. “I’ll be back.”

Sure enough, he soon was, with Mo, a couple of other Western women (five girls doing the yoga school course that I did in July; don’t worry, not getting into names and what not. Adding too many people to the tale. But just so you can picture the context), a couple of men proceeding plates of food and five girls to apply us with henna.

We sat around the mattresses with the food in the middle (“Please eat!” Manoj pleaded, handing me bags of Indian potato chips. “Go on Poppy, Lyndal, eat lots of food.”). There was a moment I thought one of the plates was piled high with big portions of chicken wings (meat is pretty much illegal in Rishikesh) before I realised they were actually pakora (deep fried veges). Then Manoj pulled out a paper bag with a distinctive bottle clunk, some plastic cups and poured us an evening cap.

The girls drew up our arms (I let Mo ink up my left one, and am now stuck with a swastika – not a Nazi one, I’ll clarify; the swastika is an auspicious symbol in Hindu culture – an Om and what I’ve been told is “Poppy” in Hindu script) and we sat about and ate and swigged for about an hour. Manoj, Lyndal, myself and one other man were the only ones game to have a drink (I had about a single shot topped up with water then was out myself I must say) and it was pretty hilarious – lean and clean Manoj was obviously not very seasoned on the spirit front (in the case of alcohol, I’ll clarify; in light of beliefs and enlightenment and what not, he is very much so) and was quite tipsy.

When the time came to get going (after a quick dance up with some beckoning bejewelled ladies on the D floor) Manoj stumbled us down the driveway back to our awaiting Sunny. “Poppy, I love your smile. It give me hope,” he said, before begging Lyndal and I to try come to the actual ceremony the following day (alas – much as I would have loved to, we had a day of classes and exams and the site of it – an hour or so away – rendered it a bit unfeasible).

We rampaged home (Sunny had had a few whiskeys himself – don’t worry, his friend was driving now) and had a quick pullover on a cliff side so he could show us his moves to Body Rockers (there was a brief moment where he opened the boot and Lyndal and I thought he was going to murder us, by just a misunderstanding; he was just trying to get optimum sound out of his fav song).

And we were back home and in bed by 10.30pm.

Rager. (And I’ll admit, I awoke today with that dull thump of a hungover headache).

2. Yesterday morning in my pranayama exam, there was a moment when Martinet flipped her lid and had a go at a girl (so nothing new).

But this time she was really brassed off, more so than usual. At the start of asana class I sort of sidled up to Martinet and enquired as to the misunderstanding. “It’s not because you all have got the knowledge wrong,” she said. “It’s the attitude. It’s been going on since day one; eyebrows raised and rolling eyes when I say it’s wrong. It’s not you Poppy – it’s one in particular.”

My heart absolutely went out to her. (I’m a sucker for someone feeling submissive). This whole time I’ve been inwardly berating her for her bad behaviour, when in actuality it is often a reaction to what she’s been sent.

In the break I sent her an email. I apologised if I had in any way at any time come across as having attitude myself (“I get a bit defensive sometimes; I don’t like to be wrong – even though I often am – and I hope this hasn’t come across as ill feeling towards you”). Even though I have had my moments with her and have struggled with her sharpness, it’s all been masked and I’ve never been – knowingly – overtly rude to her.

She replied soon after. “It’s absolutely not you,” she said. “You have never been offending to me.” And ended with a smiley emoji.

And since then something has turned. A little mutual kinship has been met. This morning in shavasana she especially came over and put a rolled up mat under my legs (ultra more comfy). We’ve had a few little laughs. She did blast me for not listening in theory (I’ll admit, I had nodded off a bit and was working out what to do in my break), but after she gave me a warm – warm! Not pursed lips! – smile.

3. This afternoon I went back to the physio again. An hour 15 this time, much like before with emphasis on my C6. Honestly, I want to move this woman back to NZ with me to give me a little line up every a.m.

4. In theory there was a moment of major clarity for me. We were talking about Tantra (a sort of belief system to spiritual enlightenment and liberation) and Martinet said how the essence of it is that rather than attempting to rid oneself of the ego and negative emotions, the ego is opened to the world and the universal consciousness, with all fatalistic and destructive feelings (anger, envy, so on) transformed into positive. Take anger: a powerful emotion, rather than trying to quash it, you should recognise it straight away and harness that energy into something good.

I fucking love that. Much more feasible than muffling a huge case of pessimistic Pop.

5. Last one for this yarn.

Tonight in class we were doing Eka pada rajakapotanasana – quite an advanced posture involving one internally rotated hip, one externally, a back bend and some balance. I’ve never quite been able to master it before, so was quite astounded when I flicked my arms over and found my toes straight on in the back of my head – one of the four out of 18 who did.

“Yes!” Martinet exclaimed. “Yes yes yes!” She came over and took some photos, then did so again when I – amazingly – managed to crack it on the other side too.

The below photo is to show what the posture is; I must admit, I didn’t quite look like the girl pictured. For one, I’ll admit I did have a block under my thigh just to prop my balance, and on account of the full-on rainday, there were a lot more mince-and-cheese ringlets going on with my hair. Also, my compression shorts were really riding up my fanny. But it was along these lines.

The improvement is real.


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