Arriving and Settling In: 1/31- 2/2/2014
Has India changed? No, and yes. The aroma in the air is familiar even before the plane lands, it is distinctive. I find I recognized the airport and how to negotiate through customs while bleary eyed and jet lagged. This can be no small feat; trying to keep one’s bearings and gather luggage, change a little money, find transport and emerge safely and intact while one’s brain is logy and barely alert in a strange environment. Fortunately every year the airport has gotten easier and more friendly. Gone is the feeling of un-helfulness (or lack of) of staff to help direct or ask questions from. The process has been streamlined. Also the utter chaos we used to emerge into after leaving the terminal is gone. Now it is more organized and guarded. No unauthorized people are allowed; no one waiting to snatch your belongings. All I had to do was step out into an open area and walk along the throng gathered behind a rope looking for driver from the Leela Hotel carrying my name. Of course I missed him, but then I asked a guard who kindly took me right over. After that it was easy. My bag was quickly taken and I was whisked away to a BMW with two bottles of cool water waiting inside for me for the 5 minute ride to the clean, quiet 5 star hotel.
The view from the Leela Hotel.
Surprisingly the plane from Amsterdam was only 2/3 full and I had an empty seat next to me to curl up in; a luxury beyond imagination on a trip into India in my usual experience. Nevertheless it was a relief to get to my quiet, peaceful room, clean up and “get horizontal”. I roomed that night with Bobby Clennell and she came in a little over an hour after I did. The Leela makes a good transition into India. Bobby, Richard Jonas and I (Carrie Owerko was delayed a day so did not meet us) took our time the next day over a late brunch and then a nice sit in the sun before our car picked us up for the 4 hour drive to Pune. The drive is the same although more: more cars and more horrible air.
My apartment building. My balcony is on the top.
My landlord is a very gracious man, and he knew my arrival arrangements and had called the taxi driver (by the way, the taxi for the two of us was 3000 Rupees, only about $50 total), so we drove right here. I was surprised by the luxury of my flat. It is actually his home as his wife is in the States for several months for the birth of a grandchild. Mr. Ramesh is very helpful, to the point of helping me translate my dietary needs to the cook (she comes in to make lunch every day and then I fix dinners) to arranging for the large bottles of water or anything else I would need. It is making it very easy to be here.
Street scene on MG Road.
We had a day to settle in, do a little shopping for a few grocery supplies and then Bobby took us off to Fab India, a great store that caters to both foreigners and locals. It has some upscale clothes, home goods such as towels, great cotton spreads and such. We outfitted ourselves with a couple of good tops to wear here.
Cotton and silk bedspreads.
Class began the next morning with Geeta at 9:30, a Women’s Class to which they now accept men. It was full, but as it turns out was one of the smallest so far, there was a little space between mats and some of the wooden props that are stored piled up at the back of the room were left in the room rather than being moved out on the balconies as they have been for all the other classes. Geeta was in a “mood” and between some standing poses spent some time singling out two women for individual help. And as examples. Such examples are not always a position one would want to be in.
Sunday is a day off from both classes and a time when we can go into practice. I used it to settle in, but Bobby also took us off to another Fab India for some more shopping. She is great fun to be with. Richard and Carrie went along this time too.
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