February has arrived, and with it a new routine. My traveling companions from the states have all left, and I am the only remaining pampered guest of the Shankar family and their excellent staff. As planned, we've started a new routine.
We are all early risers; we all get up at 5 AM or soon thereafter. That includes Shraddha and Shruti, the 16 year old twin daughters. They are amazing - always studying, always smiling, always friendly and helpful. They spent most of January studying for a series of tests they had. There is a break in the testing now, so they do yoga with Sheela when they get up.
You who know me well will laugh to hear that I am actually setting an alarm, and most of the time don't wake up until it goes off. The first order of business for me is, of course, coffee. I can count on either Sheela or Ravi to be up and making it by the time I get downstairs. I'm still playing around with the early morning schedule, because I want to get in both an hour of yoga and an hour of exercise, either walking or biking, before breakfast at 8. It gets too hot to do it any later in the day. Tomorrow I'm going to try exercise at 6 and yoga at 7 and see how that goes.
I took a walk after breakfast this morning, on my own. I got off our regular route, and found myself in a smal fishing village tucked in between the big houses of the wealthy and the ocean. The roads were narrow and it seemed everyone was outside, looking at this strange woman and wondering what she was doing there! Fortunately I'd just learned how to say "Good morning" in Tamil. That and a smile brought a similar response. I would have loved to take a few pictures, but it seemed like that might be considered rude, so I refrained.
After breakfast there's time for one more cup of coffee and then a nice hot shower before studies begin at 9:30. Ravi and I meet up on the roof in the yoga studio, a most pleasant place to hold a class, with the ocean breezes keeping things comfortable enough. (Ravi and Sheela live fairly close to the ocean, but the beach is pretty polluted and full of litter, so I haven't spent much time there.) Our studies go until about 12:30, giving us time for a short break before lunch. The smells of Indrani's wonderful cooking beckon us to the table for lunch at around 1:00.
I've been asking the girls to teach me Tamil, so usually after lunch they show me a couple words. I've also been trying to keep a food journal, writing down the names of the foods I'm eating so that I know what I want to learn to cook. (Indrani has said she would teach me a couple of dishes.)
Afternoons are typically spent reading, studying, and writing blogs, journal entries, post cards or email. Sometimes I take a short nap. I've also spent some time planning my April adventure, when I will be traveling around different parts of India on my own. In the evening, once the sun goes down, we take Google for a walk. Then it's time for dinner, usually around 7:30. Ravi and I are trying to eat a light dinner, since it is kind of close to bedtime. But Indrani's cooking is making that tough!
We sit and talk a bit after dinner. Generally we are all ready to head to our rooms by about 9 or 9:30. My evening routine includes sometimes taking my Ayurvedic medicine (YUCK!!!), showering or at least washing my feet and a short meditation. Then brush, floss and to bed to read a page or two before I fall asleep!
That's the routine, but of course many days are anything but routine. Sunday was a day of entertaining guests, and I also went to Kalekshetra for a presentation on the sari. My first auto rickshaw ride by myself! Monday Ravi and I went to a catholic school in a neighboring town to teach yoga to the teachers, so they can teach their students. Thursday Ravi, the girls and I all have appointments with the eye doctor. (Ravi has a good doctor, and I'm due for a checkup, which will be a lot cheaper here than back home.) Yesterday Sheela found out she has a business trip to Delhi later this month, and invited me to come along. It falls on a weekend, so she is going to spend an extra day and we will go see the Taj Mahal! This is truly exciting news for me!
Life here is full, and this has come to feel like home. And no wonder! By the time I leave, I will have lived here longer than I've lived in any one place since I sold my house.
My morning coffee. It is made by mixing hot milk with a strong coffee syrup, made fresh, and raw sugar. It is very hot, and is cooled by pouring it back and forth from the saucer to the cup, hence the foam. I love both the taste and the ritual and will be bringing some of the cups and saucers home with me.
Google is resting here, but he loves his walks! He is a gentle, loving, large dog, a Doberman and Weimaraner mix.