Guest post by my then boyfriend and now husband Rishi. He wrote this satirical piece in 2016 when I had gone to Mysore for six months to study Yoga. Today also happens to be World Men’s Day, and while this wasn’t planned, it seems like a good day to share his perspective of witnessing my yoga journey. Rishi is a satirist and is a best selling humour author. This article too takes some creative license and is meant to be read in good humor not literally. 🙂
Writer on the Mat
So the girlfriend decided that she wanted some serious yoga training and indefinitely moved to Mysore, apparently yoga’s birthplace. She’s been gone a few months, and I thought I’d go visit, and she was like, come and check it out and try some yoga also. So I land up in this neighbourhood called Gokulam, the equivalent of Goa’s entire Candolim to Baga stretch squeezed into one square kilometre. Swarms of nose-ringed yoginis in colourful singlets and loosey-goosey skirts and bearded yogis in frayed underwear-banians hang around coconut water stalls, and makeshift cafes plastered with Organic, Natural, Vegan and Go Green signs. I look around for any semblance of a bar or pub, but nada and I’m holy flexible shit, what am I going to do here?
I observe what others do, and basically, everyone in Mysore wakes up at 3 am to do yoga, and this goes on until evening, and any free time between classes is spent at the cafes discussing how blessed they are. And the city is dead by 8 pm, and there is pin-drop silence, and even the leaves don’t rustle. I know for sure because sometimes when we had a late dinner and the girlfriend would bite that organic cucumber in her salad, the crunch would reverberate through Gokulam louder than a Romeo shouting ‘Sangeeta’ at any hill station’s Echo Point.
By day 4, I was bored shitless, but she said, don’t worry, Saturday is party night since no one has class on Sunday.I was like, “Awesome!” and looked forward to checking out the Mysore clubbing scene. And come Saturday night, I put on my black shirt and party shoes and was ready to sway to Guetta. For the first time, we even breached the borders of Gokulam to go to the adjacent Vani Vilas Mohalla where her friends had congregated in their singlets, loosey-goosey skirts and underwear-banians and we all exchanged Namastes. Then someone called for a round of green smoothies, and a few even did bottoms up. There was some Indian classical stuff playing on the speakers, and I’m like shouting over the sitar, “Where’s the party?” and she’s like shouting back, “Yes, isn’t this awesome!” And then someone goes “Shots, Shots”, and a stick figure in a lungi appeared with cups of wheatgrass, and people gulped and slammed them on the table. Soon the clock struck eleven, and people were “Damn, it’s so late, we are all going to be so hungover tomorrow” and dispersed.
I have avoided yoga classes in Mysore so far, but she registers me at a shala, so I introduce myself to the manager. He asks me if I have any yoga experience, to which I shake my head illa, so he says no problem and rattles out class options. He starts with 3 am and goes 4 am, 5 am, 6 am, 7 am and then pauses, and I wait, but apparently it isn’t a comma but a full stop. So I enrol in the last possible class, and he starts explaining the shala rules. I’m okay with the ‘be courteous to the teacher’ and ‘don’t be late’ kind of stuff, but we get stuck on the dress code because he only wants shorts that go below the knees, but my brand new Dryfit ones end low-thigh. I assure him that the crown jewels will stay covered if that’s his concern, but he doesn’t relent, and we argue until we are almost ready to chuck yoga blocks at each other. We pause as a yogini in a sports bra and yoga pants passes by, and we then go back to debating the length of my shorts.
I go to class and place my mat at the back while students around me twist and turn as a teacher belts out instructions. The teacher tries to get me to do basic stuff like sit up and lie down, but I’m simply making an ass of every asana. She helpfully adjusts my postures, but every time she as much as brushes my elbow, she checks if I’m in the least bit uncomfortable, and I just shake my head politely. I have signed up for a week, but within two days, I recognize that I most enjoy the Shavasana where I have to lie down and sleep, and I rather practice it in my bed than a 7 am class. So I drop out.
Mid-week the girlfriend invites me for breakfast with her friends, and I go “Sure” since I have nothing better to do. We go to a café, and everyone’s sitting at a communal table talking about how blessed they are. My scrambled eggs are more like an omelette cut into pieces, and I ask a bearded guy to pass the salt, but he is meditating on a piece of toast, which is quite fascinating. I overhear someone complaining about her shoulder injury and the lack of good local doctors to read X-rays, and I immediately think of my school friend Aditya, a radiologist in Mumbai, and offer his services pro-bono. As soon as people hear that I’m a chaddi buddy with a radiologist, they start sharing intimate details of their yoga aches and pains; I last had these many people crowd around me when I banged my car into the Flora Fountain. I frantically message Aditya to come to Mysore to read some X-rays; he’s travelling but promises to take a look if I send across a CD. I relay this to the breakfast group, and before lunch, I have accumulated a collection of compact disks larger than Rhythm House.
Another Saturday arrives, and the girlfriend announces that we aren’t going clubbing because her friend is having a house party, and I shrug “Cool, whatever”. I don’t bother dressing up, and we carry a bottle of freshly squeezed orange juice and a kilo of apples in an eco-friendly paper bag. We reach, and people are sitting around on yoga mats chatting about how blessed they are. I am greeted warmly thanks to Aditya, who will hopefully deliver on his promise to read those darn X-rays. Once the appetizer-cum-main course-cum-dessert bowl of fresh fruit has been exhausted, the hostess asks if we are ready for some entertainment. My ears perk up at the prospect of Dum Maro Dum type songs being enacted–both the original Zeenat Aman and the Deepika Padukone techno version happening, and I look around expectantly. There’s a cheer, and all get onto the mats, cross-legged with palms on knees; someone goes “Hit It”, and everyone starts chanting. And there is chanting, more chanting and even more chanting, and I’m like, what the heck is going on and start banging the cymbals.
Finally, the trip draws to an end, it’s time to return home, and I pack my stuff, the unused yoga shorts, X-rays, say Namaste to the girlfriend and toodle off. It’s a four-hour drive to the nearest airport–Kempegowda–and we have to pass through Bangalore city during peak rush hours. Finally, after what seems like a gap of years, I am back amid harried people in suits and ties, snarling traffic, constant noise and glitzy billboards on tall glass towers. “I’m sorry, Saar, only half-hour more, and we will be out of here”, the cabbie says apologetically. I gratefully take in all the chaos around me and tell him there’s no rush. I am feeling blessed.
Rishi Piparaiya is a Mumbai-based satirist and author who visited Mysore around 2016 when he penned this experience. He hasn’t been back since . . .