and Paneer tikka masala
Slept amazingly well again- must be the mountain air. When I woke up I got really into my Iyengar book and spent the morning in bed reading and decided to give Ashtanga a miss today. Had a long luxurious bucket bath and then a big breakfast downstairs with ayurvedic tea which I've been getting into as much as I crave coffee it just makes me too hyper now. And uber-intense. Oh shit I may be turning into someone who drinks decaff/ No/ I shall resist that above all else... Put my thai fisherman pants and Ganeshe t-shirt on and spent the day with Sandra. She's wonderful- very French she smokes too much and reads Dostoyevsky. And tarot cards. She's got the most amazing old Marseilles deck and did me a good reading this morning. Everything at the moment whether its advice from palmists or Ayurvedic doctors or Mysore energy healers etc etc (and I"ve been talking to a lot of people) boils down to being present and not being even an iota in the past. We met up with Soma for a walk in town but there wasn't time to go to his ashram as we wanted to go to Yoga at the Sivananda Ashram at 4.30.
Yoga was amazing. It was taught by a Japanese lady who was a nun with a shaved head and orange robes. When I was lying down in savasana I suddenly felt the air around me 'thicken' and a heavy throbbing stillness descended on me. I opened my eyes and she was standing near me. I have never felt anything like that before from a human being. It was a beautiful class. The room is right on the banks of the Ganges so theres a beautiful river view and halfway through the class they started chanting for the puja so that was like a sound backdrop to the practice. She kept emphasizing the breath and I actually released a great deal in sitting forward bends through breathing- all the postures that have been my least favourite since I hurt my hamstring. We went from sarvangasana straight into bridge and then chakrasana. It was a classical Hatha class but very challenging and about two hours long. We felt wonderful afterwards. Sandra decided to ask her when it was best to have a cigarette after a Yoga practice!!!!! What a thing to ask a Yoga teacher!!! And the memorable part of the class was the monkeys. There were two really cute little young monkeys playing outside. There were these verandah windows that were open and one kept trying to see in to look at what we were doing. Monkeys are very nosy and like to be involved. She kept chasing him away and it started to be like a pantomime... She would turn around and he would appear again and vice versa. It was the most perfect comic timing, I wish I'd had a video camera. He hissed at her quite theatrically at one point! And then he tried to pinch her water bottle but it was too big for him. Then they started banging on the windows which were by now shut. In the final relaxation they were playing with everyones shoes outside, chucking them around and putting t shirts on their heads and using flip flops to skid across the patio with... I've decided that the monkeys are the chavs of Rishikesh. They have no respect for anything and are really anarchic.
We went to the Madras Cafe for dinner which is an institution in this town. The manager and owner sat with us and we had a nice chat (I impressed them with my knowledge of South Indian cuisine and ordered off-menu like a celebrity) and we had some great dosas and himalayan health rice. Beautiful. And I had the best paneer tikka masala I've ever eaten, with red onions and coconut chutney. I've also found the best Indian sweet shop locally that sells these pastries soaked in syrup so I'm pretty happy. Having an early night as going to the Gita Ashram tomorrow and for a swim too. Thirsty as well from all the pickles we ate so in seach of soda water first...
We've also got this ongoing rickshaw saga. The rickshaw drivers here have no qualms about charging 3 times the going rate or more to tourists, especially me, as thanks to my liberal use of factor 50, I could feasibly have just got off the plane and so they try to get 50 rupees for a 20 rupee trip. Its not a lot of money but its irritating being taken for an idiot so I say 30 rupees and if they don't want it I'll walk. Anyway, Sandra and I caused a massive fight 2 days ago as all these drivers were trying to undercut each other as we were negotiating a price and there was much swearing and pushing and guys trying to lead us into different vehicles. Anyway, they all remember us now and we only have to pay 30! We asked if there was going to be another fight about it this evening and they all started laughing..
Its very noisy at Swiss Cottage this evening, some of the locals are drinking whisky and listening to what sounds like Hindi techno beats. And the dogs are joining in too..... But I'm so tired I'll sleep through anything though I think the iron drinks starting to perk me up a little...