Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Mysore: Driver 8 Redux

"The walls are built up, stone by stone,
The fields divided one by one
And the train conductor says
"Take a break Driver 8, Driver 8 take a break
We've been on this shift too long"
And the train conductor says

"Take a break Driver 8, Driver 8 take a break
We can reach our destination, but we're still a ways away" — Driver 8 (Berry/Buck/Mills/Stipe)

Out of the blue, I started humming this old R.E.M tune today. That's the power of a song for you, showing up in places (such as walking a dusty road in India) you'd never think when you first heard it, 25 years ago, when Michael Stipe had hair, to give you a little oomph. Jeepers, the stuff that comes up here. But if practicing yoga in Mysore isn't performing tapas —"focused effort leading towards bodily purification and spiritual enlightenment" — I'm not sure what is.  Sure enough,  it's been an up and down few days on this end, the practice cooking me, or rather cooking things out of me, in unexpected ways. As it should. I've been thinking about those bull runners I saw Sunday for inspiration. The farmers who ran with their bulls through the fire were barefoot, afterall. Barefoot! Nonetheless, I'm feeling a bit more like Driver 8, a little weary, a little far from from a longed for Santosha-like destination.
Speaking of drivers, when I was walking into the bustling Devaraja Market a few days ago I was surprised to hear my name called out. I turned to see Raju, a rickshaw driver who delivered me to the train station on my first visit to Mysore in 2004. I saw him on subsequent trips, catching up about his children and family, and relying on him to get around town, but was mystified, and concerned, not to see him this go. As it turned out, he has been driving downtown now, rather than Gokulam, the rickshaw scene around the yoga shala a little too competitive (and cut-throat when it comes to inflating fares for we Western types). That said, he's my likely ride for the remainder of the trip. Raju is a good egg.
Speaking of eggs, or good things just-hatched, check out this vintage R.E.M. footage.

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