Yoga, Dance, Drums, and Tattoos: A fun filled day in India

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It amazes me that in the U.S. I work two jobs and go to school full time and feel completely exhausted by noon, but I am in India now and it is currently 113 degrees outside and this morning I woke up at 4:30 and walked to my first yoga class at 6:30 am. After class I went to breakfast and had my morning tea and toast then went to dance class and drum lessons for an hour each and I am not tired at all.  I am waiting to have lunch, which is strictly vegetarian, and then rest for a few hours until the evening activities begin.

It is so hot by midday it is impossible to stand in the sun without feeling a little faint so they advise that we stay in the shade and relax until the sun starts to move around 5.  This works fine for me since the heat can be a little bothersome and I have decided to take this time of the day to write about the things I have seen and learned.

I was told by my music teacher, Mehul, that people in Dhrangadhra do not live on time tables, it is not essential that they do the same things everyday or at a given time.  He, on the other hand, does live with structure since he teaches children music in their schools, homes, and his house.  His students see his diary of daily events and ask him if it is his life in that book and he says no, it is his wife.  He is a truly interesting man and a very talented musician and managed to teach five of us four different instruments today.  I am learning to play the tabla, Indian drums, and I have only learned three steps but I am so in love that I am buying my own set to bring home.  The way that it is taught is also interesting in that it is not by rhythm or time, but rather by sounds. The first sounds I was taught were na, ti, ge, dhe and these can be used in any rhythm, it is just the way the drum is hit.  Mehul says, we will be performing at the end of the month and he can already see a band forming!

I also got henna today. I now have two full sleeves and a lower leg completely filled with beautiful flowers and animals. The only problem with it is that you must sleep with it on and when you awake there are ink flakes all over you and the bed, but it is well worth it. The patterns are typically of flowers and animals and my arm has many flowers and birds, then at the end they surround the tips of your fingers with ink; when I asked what the significance of it was they said it meant that it was the end of the session. I am going back in two weeks to get my back done and we have decided to do something non-traditional, because my interpreter thinks it would be more fun to be outrageous so I agreed and we may put a goddess all over my back.  As I type I am admiring my arms and hands, they have never looked so pretty and unique.

I ended this wonderful day by having dinner with 10 new friends and after, we met Dr. Jhala (or Bapa as we all call him) in the garden and discussed our research and the day’s events.  I was actually going to cut out of our nightly talk because I was so tired, but I stopped by to say good night and I ended up staying the whole time. I was glad I did. Julia, a yoga teacher from Philadelphia has been visiting and she is leaving tomorrow; Bapa asked her to sing and she sang a beautiful old song called, Today.  It was a lovely night in the garden with good conversation, music, and art.

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