Yoga Nutter

Once again I’m up early, this time it’s because of a yoga session that starts at 7 am. In spite of lots of enthusiastic reactions from the others when I’ve talked about it, I’m the only one there. After a while the Yogi shows up and we start by saluting pictures of Shiva and Ganesh while saying the “Oum” sound. Then it’s time for some breathing exercises and already my attention is fading. The guy keeps talking about all the mumbo jumbo aspects of yoga such as rubbing pressure points to remove belly ache, back pain, heart disorders and what have you. There’s one point that I shall rub and in 6 months I will no longer need glasses, another one and I will have long black hair in notime (I resist the urge of asking why he has almost exactly the same baldness pattern as I do and even some grey hair).

After a lot of useless yoga we finally get to some real exercising when we do a tree pose. We do a few more like that, and I realize that I have an audience in Piff, Puff and Petra who have awaken and are watching from the balcony. Many of the exercises we do he doesn’t even show properly, but as I have done a little bit of Ashtanga Yoga back home I know how the positions are supposed to look and do them right instead. The Yogi compliments me on my flexibility (which isn’t all that good, but his is much worse) and we move on to sleep yoga.

Sleep yoga is exactly what it sounds like, it’s positions good for sleeping in. Apparently you should lie flat on your back with your hand along the sides, or on the side with the hand under the head or if you are on your stomach you should keep your hands flat under your chest. Especially the last one is really uncomfortable and noone in their right mind would sleep like that.

The guy finishes up with something even weirder though: laugh yoga! This is how you should laugh: “Ha -ha ha ha ha!”, “Hi hi hi hi hi hi!”, “Ho, ho, ho, ho, ho, ho!” The guy is obviously nuts and I can’t help laughing at his antics. The lesson finishes up with me writing in his guest book and promising to send him a picture of us two.

After the lesson I go meet my guides for the day and get some breakfast samosas. Then we’re off to the first stop which is one of the guys uncles wood carving shop. Now to be fair I actually said I wanted some wood stamps so I actually wanted to see this. Too bad they’re almost all ugly! The material is nice and all, the guy collects wood that has been lying under water for long time and looks very nice. But most of the carvings themselves looks like something even I could do with some practice. I pick out a tiger stamp though that is among the least ugly pieces and buy it so that we can move on. I see it as a tour fee more or less…

Now it’s time for the village and we start off in the Brahmin caste, which is the priest caste and also the highest one. Caste does not equal financial status though and it’s apparent that this entire village is poor. At the side of the door, dates are painted, these are the dates when polio vaccination shots were given, interesting! We move on into another caste and it is separated by a well for the Brahmin area. The guys talk about the how you can clearly see the difference between the castes but to be honest I don’t see much difference. He also points out lots of those wardrobe sized temples which are placed here and there, talking about how beautiful they are. I can’t really see it though, since they’re all so shoddily made with paint all over the place and no attention to detail.

We move on to see a couple of the east temples also. These are more of the sandstone temples we saw yesterday and these are beautiful. What happened to Indian engineering a craftsmanship in the last 1000 years? Damned if I know, but they’ve lost it… If you’ve seen the western temples you don’t need to see these ones though, as they are basically the same, only smaller.

We move on to see more houses, I’m forced to look in another shop, but manages to avoid buying anything this time. After a while we come to the school and I get showed around by the headmaster. The kids don’t have class today but I get to see the rooms and some pictures. Finally I get to write in the guest book (and see that some of the others were just here) and make a donation. This is something I can fully support though so no problem!

Before dropping me off back at the hotel we make a final stop at the sandstone factory where they make sandstone sculptures of the same kind that are on the temples. Looks more like a workshop to me, but it’s interesting to see the process. This also means a shop of course, but I manage to dodge buying anything there as well. Upon parting I offer them some turkish pepper candy to which they react as violently as you’d expect =D

I find the others and we go to the Italian restaurant across the street which Maria recommended, Mediterrano. I order a pasta arrabiata, a favorite from when I was in Italy with garlic, tomato sauce and chili. Too bad it’s awful! Ricard is satisfied with his pizza though, even if it wasn’t top notch.

Time to board the bus again and go to Rewa. On the way out of town we stop and take pictures at the tree that they didn’t bother cutting down and just drew the lines around. The Indians must think we’re crazy! =P

Monto sits back with Monica learning Swedish phrases today. He’s actually really good and is learning really fast, soon he is using the phrases he’s learned with all of us. The roads are good and the 170 km only take 5 h this time. We pull into Rewa just after dark and go down a rather modern-looking main street. We go collectively and eat at another hotel since ours doesn’t have a restaurant. The place is nice but the staff speaks almost no English at all and get our orders wrong. They also forget to bring many of the things we’ve ordered. The prices make up for it though and the food we get is good so in the end we’re a happy bunch leaving.

Me, Ricard, Lars, Piff and Puff decide to explore some more of the town before going to bed and head for the main street. Not only are we mostly left alone when wandering around, the few times we are bothered it’s by people wanting to take a photo with the white people! We don’t mind that kind of attention and happily agree. One of the guys claim to be from the local paper, so I guess we should be on the lookout for those pictures! The main street mostly has clothing stores and I go into one of them in search for a uniquely Indian t-shirt. The language is a definite barrier but in the end I manage to convey what I want. Too bad Indians are really small, even the largest t-shirts are tight-fitting but I can’t resist buying two cricket t-shirts: one with the Mumbai Indians and another with Kings Punjab. Awesome souvenir!

Hindu Temples at Last

Monto is up with the rooster at 6 am and bounces over to Nina and Monicas tent to return the blankets we borrowed last night. They aren’t too pleased about having to answer the door at 6 am but what are you going to do?

I eat hurried breakfast in order to make it to the yoga class at 8, only to find out that there isn’t any… Noone is able to explain why, but there you go, this is probably not the last chance for yoga on this trip. So I sit in the lobby and surf until the bus is leaving at 9.

Khujaraho is 170 km away and is said to take 5-6 hours. Monto sits next to me, eager to see pictures from Sweden. So I show him some on my laptop and also plays him some Swedish music on my mp3-player. We also set a new record for spotting a rickshaw with the most amount of people in it, the new record being 11 where 7 are inside and 4 on the outside…

At a rest stop I try the local orange soda Mirindi which is chock full of coloring making my tongue just as orange as the soda. The roads are actually better than expected for once and we make good time to Khajuraho. As we close in on the place the we come upon a road only days old to which they are still adding lines. This is because the Prime Minister is in town discussing domestic policy future and such. Hilariously enough they have a tree standing 1 m into the road and instead of cutting it down they’ve decided to paint the lines around it. India in a nutshell…

We decide it best to see the famous hindu temples with the erotic carvings before sundown and head over there right away. We find a guide with decent English at the gate and pay him to come along. I’m required to put my little gorillapod in a locker at the door though, or I’m able to take too good pictures I guess. The guide seems to be a good decision as he tells us a lot about the symbolism in the carvings. Not all of them are erotic in nature, it’s actually a minority, most of them tells us about how to achieve moksha by proper training and state of mind. As an aside the whole western temple area used to be flooded back in the day so access was by boat only.

There are also little stories like the husband with the long beard that the wife pulled off if he was unfaithful, and therefore only faithful husbands dare have long beards! He tells us about the scorpion on the leg and in the stomach??? About the symbolism with the monkey, where a man teases a monkey with a stick so that the monkey will jump on the woman he’s holding and than she in turn will jump into his lap. The monkey symbolizes mischief. As we exit the park the sun is on it’s last legs and we get some absolutely gorgeous views of the temples against the setting sun.

We find Elin and Sara at café nearby and after eating a bite we try to walk back to the hotel. We then find out why Khajuraho is infamous for their annoying shopkeepers. More or less everyone is trying to guilt trip you into their shop filled with worthless trinkets. We finally escape though, even if it takes an hour or so and end up at one of the nicer shops in town. The owner calls himself “Super Mario” and simply that is reason enough to visit him. He has great selection of not only pashmina and silk, but also bags, rugs and pillow covers. He turns out to be a really good guy and almost the entire group end up shopping from him.

Leaving Mario’s I make a pit stop back at the hotel to drop off my shopping. I’m all tapped out now and need to refuel on cash. The ATM is a good walk a ways though and I’m dreading the gauntlet I’m sure will come. For some reason it doesn’t come though, maybe it’s my determined gait that’s doing the trick, I don’t know. I don’t get all the way there though, I’m offered a ride by two guys on a motorcycle, they’re students and seem alright so I go with them. Luckily this brand of ATM also works with my card, but I forget which kind it is.

The guys gives me a ride back and wants to chat over a cup of tea. I go along with it and it turns out that they are curious of what I make of India so far. I tell them about all the annoying scams and crazy littering and they seem apologetic but acknowledges the problem. We also talk about the caste system, the Bofors scandal (of which they haven’t heard), Sweden and Ravan (which was the topic of the festival in Jaipur). They also talk me into letting them show me around the next morning, showing the village with the houses separated according to caste, the school, some more of the temples and so on. As we don’t leave until lunch the next day I agree and also ask them if they know someone reliable selling bronze statuettes. Of course they do and I get a Hanuman figurine, but also find a nice handmade silver chain.

I get back to the hotel at around 10 pm and find the others in the restaurant, drunk as skunks (especially Helena)! Turns out they were shopping some more at Super Mario’s and they got their hands on some Old Monk rum which they were merrily consuming right there in the store. Now they’re just back at the hotel for a final nightcap where they also picked up this nice German girl, Sabrina, touring India with her mom. She’s a seasoned backpacker and has lots of great stories, we end up getting each others Facebook profiles in case we can hook up later in Varanasi, to which she’s also going.