Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The First of February

A new month.  A new Chinese year.  I can't seem to transfer my photos from my I-Touch to the rental computer, and I can't seem to get wi-fi on the I-touch so that I can blog independently of the rental computer in the hotel facility. So no pictures for now.  This computer doesn't even show photos that I've already posted.

Chennai is hotter and stickier than I remembered for February.  We took a walk this morning and by the time we got back at 11:00 it was close to 90.  I was red in the face. But a cold foot and overall sponge bath and
I was soon fine. 

Yesterday I had an Ayurvedic massage.  This occurred on a wooden table, and two young women worked on me at one time(sychronistic massage, this is called).  Lots of deep, long stroking on the outer edges of the body.  You put arms over your head and they go from fingers to toes, again and again. Front and back.   Also scalp massage and face massage, and all this while pouring herbal essences infused  in very warm oil all over the body, hair, et al.  Then a scrub with something gritty from head to toe.  Then they pour hot water all over you and give you a very tiny, thin  towel [think well-used clean dishtowel] and tell you to get dressed. I hoped for the use of shampoo and a comb, but none was forthcoming. Next time I'll bring my own. Now I know. And no place to hang your clothes either, so one ought to dress funky.  When it's all over, the ministering angels give you a cup of herbal tea to drink, and that's it.  It takes about 90 minutes. Neither of these dusky maids spoke a word of English.  I wanted to explain which parts of me needed gentle handling and which welcomed the deeper work,but it wasn't possible.  But I emerged none the worse for wear and ready for more adventures.

My sleep is very disorganized.  But that is nothing new for me.  I am very grateful that I have a single room, as I have been up from 2:30 a.m. (which is the time I arrived, on Jan. 30), and really dragging at 4:00 p.m. It's deliciously noisy here, all the time.  From street traffic to birds to electronic music, to inexplicable loud speaker announcements at 3:00 a.m.--in Telugu, of course, so I have no idea what they are about. I found out that one of the loud birds is a cuckoo.  It wakes up in the night and says all kinds of things in the trees adjoining my little balcony. There is a bird that sounds likea monkey sometimes, but is not.  No monkeys in this compound, though I thought so at first.  Plenty of ca-caw-caws (guess what, :that's Telugu for 'crow') .

I photograph all kinds of things with the new camera, but can't see that I have any kind of a knack for it.  Trying to get people and images of "old" India and the "new" India.  There's plenty of both.  You'll see a woman in cotton sari and chappals (sandals) walking down a busy street with a basket on her head and a cell phone on her ear.   Cell phones and the Internet are changing the world.  There's nothing that will stop this.

I enjoy asking the question: "Where is the Internet?"  The reply is as elusive as the one for "Who owns the floating mortgages and where is the alleged money that underwrote them?"    But more than one person [Indian] has noted that the Internet is like God.  You can't pin it down; it's all pervasive.  But is it omniscient???

I love this "economy class" Indian hotel, warts and all. It has a neat restaurant [Brindawan] with an amazing vegetarian breakfast that really will carry one through the day.  By noon it's way too hot to eat.  Tonight being my birthday, I am hosting a birthday dinner at a place called Anna Laksmi, run by a disciple of the late great Master Sivananda, who was the master to my late teacher, Sri Swami Satchidananda.  My tongue is enchanted to be eating South Indian cooking again.  It's impossible to find this in the States.  No restaurant that I've tried really  has it, though a few attempt a dish or two.

Another thing I love are the vendors plying their wares on the street.  On this morning's walk I noted excellent cauliflowers abounding.  Wish I could get my photos into this blog; the cauliflowers look like great white flowers.  Each vendor promised a "very good price" and I don't doubt it, but of course it wouldn't be wise to eat raw vegetables here, and I have no way to cook them.  Another edible in generous supply:  myriad bananas, many styles.  And tender green coconut--remedy of choice for uneasy stomachs. And in several neighborhood streets I saw the darzi (tailor) with his foot-driven sewing machine plying his trade in the shade of a magnolia tree.

I am absurdly happy.  My love of India seems not to have subsided one whit; it isn't just about Indian Classical Music (I haven't heard any yet), or the spiritual masters (I haven't seen any yet), or the great famous historical temples (I haven't been to any yet);the love is triggered by the strange and familiar smells--the burning cow dung that some use for fuel, the tiny temples and shrines on every street and in some of the shabbiest places, the unexpected flower, the kind faces and shining eyes.  The lovely children.  It's the conniving "tuk-tuk" drivers who want to take you to yet another shop (and they DO know the good ones; I'd never find them by myself).  But I ask myself, was it shopping I came here for?  Nevertheless I drink in the excellent bronzes (I would post pictures if I could), rugs made with natural dyes (a crimson one made with rose-petal dye--to die for!).  And undoubtedly some packages will be coming in the mail.  I can't resist entirely, can I?.

The newspaper enchants me.  Many of the articles are written the way the people talk, and I find myself mid-article wagging my head in that way that often means "Yes, I get it. It is possible.  I understand." I have clipped out a few articles to share later.  Of course movies are a big deal in India, and they get big posters.  But no bigger than the local spiritual presenters.  Maharishi's successor, Rajah, Amma, others.  And around building sites are often painted pictures of the Gods and artists celebrating them.  Again I can't transplant the photos at the moment.  Just imagine--a well-ornamented Durga, on her tiger surrounded by dancers and musicians--all in paint around a temporary wall. 

At some other time I must write about the wedding receptions that are a part of life here at the New Woodlands Hotel.  That's a blog in itself.

I think my time is up.  It will be lovely to hear from you.  Blessings, love always.  Sarapadoodles (Antoinette)