Another early morning, which is something that has become the norm at this point. My travel companions are actually on this trip for business reasons, and I, for pleasure.
I decided to take advantage of the hotel’s free yoga lessons, and today’s class started at 7:45 a.m. sharp. After having another satisfying breakfast, I parted ways with my friends and got ready for the class. It has been a few years since I’ve been to a yoga class. Much of the reason for this has been the outrageous cost of taking yoga classes in New York City. And since I’m in the land where yoga originated, why not partake?
I was pleasantly surprised that there was only one other student in the class with me this morning. The instructor was a very pleasant gentleman who had us start with pranna breathing exercises. As I sat there cross-legged, I cleared my mind and relaxed, listening to the calming voice as he directed us. I have to say, even the littlest thing such as his accent, made for a different experience. Perhaps its because I felt more of an authenticity being in India and taking yoga lessons from an Indian person. But don’t get me wrong, I was by no means in the countryside, in a village under a tree with a yogi on a spiritual retreat doing an “Eat, Pray, Love” ordeal. I was actually in a room next to the gym facility in a very nice hotel. But say what you will, it was still a completely different yoga experience that I’ve had in the past.
After about an hour of stretching, breathing and relaxing, our class ended. I was in a state of mind that I haven’t been in a long time. My entire being was at peace. I wished the class could have gone on all day, or that I could continue to meditate. And with nothing particular on my schedule for the day, I got dressed and wandered over to the pool to maintain my state of zen.
It was early still, but the sun was quickly getting warmer. At one end of the Roman-style pool, there was a ledge with lion head bubblers. I sat for a minute and let the lion do its work on the back of my neck, the vibrations soothing me even more, as I closed my eyes and listened to the quiet around me. I slipped between two lion heads, leaned back and let the water slowly seep into my ears as my body floated. The water is shallow enough to the ledge that I’m able to anchor myself and not float away. As I listened to the sound of the lions’ spit bubbling under water, I closed my eyes and tuned out all of the madness, focused on the positive, and simply existed. Right there, in that moment.
It was the first time since the trip that I could really digest the fact that I was in such a beautiful place. It was hard to hear anything outside of the hotel walls. The mynah birds chirped as I lay on the pool chair, letting my skin soak up the much-needed sun. When it got too hot, I jumped back in the pool to cool off and relax again. I thought about what I have experienced so far. I collected the thoughts and images in my head, and put them in their respective places. I kept reminding myself that I must not get too comfortable in the hotel, as it could easily happen. I realized that things outside the hotel walls are much different, and that my experience would not be genuine if I didn’t go and see what’s out there. So I did.
After a quick shower to wash the chlorine off, I realized as soon as I stepped back outside, that the sweat from my body probably would have sufficed. Before anything else, the intense humidity was always a reminder of where you were. As I approached the streets, I was bombarded by the usual group of drivers offering me rides in their rickshaws and tuk-tuks. But since I wasn’t sure where exactly I was going, I kindly declined and kept walking. I was actually in search of an ATM. I made sure to ask the concierge before I left and he pointed me in the right direction.
I was in search for the Janpath Market, which was supposed to be very close to where we were staying. Quickly after pulling out some cash, I found what I was looking for, literally located two blocks away from the hotel. As I entered through the metal detectors, my eyes were pulled in every which direction, trying to figure out how the market was laid out. It wasn’t an extremely big market, but one could definitely get lost in there for an hour or so. And being that it’s not a “government controlled” market, negotiating is what works best here. There was somewhat of an organization in the madness, with women’s clothing located on one side, and men’s on another. Tops, trousers, accessories, all seemed to be grouped together. On the outskirts of the actual market were more merchants, selling rugs, shoes, and other miscellaneous items.
Almost directly across the street, there was another market that I was told to be great for souvenirs. This place is called the Cottage Emporium. Five levels of hand crafted items from all over India. However, this place is government controlled, which means all prices are fixed. As soon as I walked in and realized how big this place was, the excitement took over. It was like being in a kid in a candy store! This place was also very organized, with the handmade items separated by the materials they are made of, textiles being on one floor, leather having its own department, and even an entire room filled with sarees.
I knew this place could be dangerous for me, as I wanted to buy almost everything that I saw in there. But nonetheless, I did a quick run through, just to get an idea of what I really wanted, and how much space I had in my suitcase to bring these items back. Lunch -time was also approaching and my stomach was kind enough to remind me. It was time to head back to the hotel and grab a bite, and maybe lay by the pool again for more relaxation.
As I walked back and looked around, I realized that I was enamored by the city more and more every day.
See more of my posts on India here.