Friday, 10 May 2013

That's not a green bean!

Life is getting better and better in Mysore.  I've been assigned a beautiful spacious classroom with a projector screen and I can even use a flash drive!  There's never going to be internet access in the classroom, printing and copying is still a pain and computer lab access doesn't seem likely but it's a relief that I'll be able to project things.  Also, more work for me because I didn't want to spend too much time coming up presentations or extensive course notes until I knew what I'd be dealing with.  But I'm super-excited for the kids to arrive on Sunday since two days of orientation has been sapping the life out of my bones (the domestic staff had an orientation in April at Duke so I've heard all this before).
This afternoon, I met up with an Infosys employee and couchsurfer named Abhi.  I would think that people would exist relatively anonymously on a campus of this size, especially because many people are here only temporarily for training.  But Abhi knew everyone!  We mostly hung out with his flatmate and a female friend of his (one of the five best bowlers in Mysore!) but everywhere we went, people wanted to say hi.  Apparently he knows people because his university supplied 400 of the incoming 1300 interns his year so they're friends from undergrad.
“When one realises one is asleep, at that moment one is already half-awake.”
― P.D. Ouspensky
The four of us hung out at a cafe on campus and I learned a lot.  He's recently gotten really into power meditation and so he told me about its Sumerian origins.  Supposedly, it is a silent, independent practice where you harness your chakras and train yourself to get into deep trance-like states.  He had originally suggested we "share meditation lessons" and "enjoy sheesha" together if I want.  I said I'd love to hear more about his meditation and although, I've been enjoying tuesday morning meditation in Raleigh but I didn't have much advice to share- I can't even keep my feet from falling asleep during the 20 minute guided practice!
I also learned more about why Mysore is known as the (Ashtanga) yoga capital of India.  Thousands of people from all over the world come during the yoga season (November- March) to study.  Supposedly, in the cooler weather, people do yoga everywhere, starting at 2:30 AM. One cool (but potentially very confusing) thing about Ashtanga is it is self-paced so at any given time, everyone may be doing something different because they're at different places in their practice.  Hopefully I'll get to crash a yoga class before I live this site of pilgrimage for yogis!
After we chatted over coffee, we went to the campus bowling alley.  I warned them that I hadn't bowled in forever and they said not to worry, they weren't that good either.  About 65 strikes later, those three had scores around 200 and I ended up with an embarrassing score of 32 despite enthusiastic encouragement and some good tips.  But I still enjoyed bowling in the presence of greatness... the girl admitted that she's one of the top-ranked bowlers in Infosys and her coach swung by to give me a couple of tips.  His reputation extends to Bangalore, for bowling well himself and coaching champions (unfortunately, it doesn't look like I'll join the ranks anytime soon but it only costs $1 per game with shoe rentals so I can certainly afford to practice).
The spicy food here has been a struggle since I'm a huge pansy.  Abhi's probably going to take me to a non-spicy restaurant tomorrow if the Mysore Palace trip with my co-workers doesn't happen.  The floating restaurant tries hard- yesterday, they had a "Eat-like-a-king" lunch in celebration of a state's holiday (supposedly, many kings came from that state).   They featured regional food and music and even constructed a sand mandala with the state's symbol in the middle of the floor.  Everyone says the food here is really good but I'm a pansy.  I've been mostly surviving on white rice and chapati with a teeny drizzle of the daal or paneer of the day.  Last night, I thought they were serving green beans and enthusiastically spooned in a giant mouthful... steam started flowing out of my ears... those were peppers not green beans.  It doesn't help that I got sick from the food yesterday (awesome timing right when the housekeeper came to clean... poor guy) so now I'm paranoid about eating anything that isn't cooked to death.  Bub-bye juicy watermelon!  Reva, I miss your cooking!
Another Infosys couchsurfer/aerospace engineer (who I convinced to guest lecture in my class, although he's going to try to find someone with more experience since he's only 24) invited me to live music tonight which would have been so fun but Infosys has a 9 PM curfew (every night except for Saturday), which didn't give me enough time to go off campus which is a bummer.  I probably should take advantage of going to bed early since I've been up without a nap since 4:30 AM.  However, there's a pretty hardcore storm outside and I kinda want to watch it...  Good night!