Thinking of India

We’ve had India on the mind lately. My parents are making a 3-4 month trip in November – they’ll be staying at a retreat in Kerala for 35 days, but also making the rounds through various points in Gujarat as well as Mumbai and Agra. Three of my uncles have recently bought cottages on the ocean near Valsad and are settling in; they’re on the itinerary too. Dad hasn’t seen India since he was in his 20s – 1967. He’s going to freak.

I’d love to go with them. My wife’s never seen India and we need to put a trip into our plans for the next couple of years. Taking in Yoga in Mysore is not going to happen for a long while but a trip is still well overdue.

I’ll never forget my time in India. I’ve only been there once. But it was a big once – 13 months. I was 12 and it was 1983. We came into Mumbai on a Singapore Airlines 747, my younger brother and I alone. Our parents had had their fill of London and had decided they’d pack it in, buy a plantation (some place near Bangalore) and settle there. They’d sent us ahead to get sorted in a boarding school in Bombay (as it was then). It was overwhelming. I’d seen poverty before – we spent our summers in Kenya where both my parents were born and where we had family). But it was nothing like this. Kenya wasn’t so bad in those days and in the villages and small towns where we spent our time, many people led austere and hard lives (I’m sure Nairobi and Mombasa had their hell holes but we never spent much time in those cities) but the level of deprivation was nothing like in the same league as Bombay. Bombay took stuff to a whole different level.

Bombay. Just say the word. Dramatic, percussionist. BOM-BAY! It could come with an exclamation mark, only it doesn’t need one – because it’s intrinsic. it’s built in. My recollection of Bombay was that it was all red and orange. The haze of the smoked sunshine. The dust. The water in the open sewers. The betel-juice spit flying out the cab driver’s window. We didn’t care for Bombay and were soon on the way out for a school in Baroda (or Vadodara) instead. We stayed a year in this Gujarati provincial town that had a cosmopolitan feel – I remember the wide avenues with restaurants, ice cream parlours, and hotels. Even the occasional hindu-muslim riots and the subsequent curfews didn’t take the gloss off our fine time. We stayed a year and in the end leaving was hard. I’d gotten use to India and I would happily have stayed.

Our parents never made it to India, having decided in the interim to move instead to Canada (Like wtf – where’s India and where’s Canada? How different can two places be?)

And now? India’s the flavour of the month. It’s all about India. In the papers, on TV, at the office. I work for the world’s largest IT and Business Consulting firm. India’s a big part of the company’s plans. I could move if I really wanted…and sometimes I think hard about it.

And sometimes I think about not working at all. We could sell our place and live out our days in modest comfort in some place like Simla or Coorg. But then I think Nah. I like my mod-cons..and they cost money. Too much maya in this boy for that kind of austerity just yet.

Ah well. And the practice? It has been good each day since Moonday – every couple of weeks of or so the progress that is hard to notice day in and day becomes evident (“how’d the floor get so close. It wasn’t there a couple of weeks ago!”).

I’ve also lost 12lbs since April. The 3-4 extra practices over a 4 month period apparently has a tangible cumulative impact. I’m lean and haven’t much extra baggage to lose. But what I have is in all in one spot and losing it can only help my poses.

Oh, and Arsenal lost 2-1 today. But it’s ok…because the Universe is unfolding as it should.

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