Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Dude, I'm From New York!

Here's the thing about pushing the body into uncomfortable positions. It's, um, well, umcomfortable. Also quite frequently exhausting. And painful.

I was there for my yoga class all bright and early, despite a lousy night tossing and turning, and worrying about tossing and turning and getting no sleep. Perhaps I should have switched on the light and continued with my Didion. Perhaps I should have continued transcribing my interview for the day. As it was, I did none of these. I just tossed. And turned.

The alarm went off at six and I switched it off automatically. Then I managed to force myself up at 7.30. I hear some people are naturally morning people. They jump out of bed at six or seven, raring to go. I'm not one of them. I could be, if I went to sleep early enough, but that's the whole point. I don't seem to go to bed early enough.

So there I was, signing up for classes.

Richard asks me: "Are you ready?"

I say: "No, but I'm here anyway."

And I go spread my mat and try to get comfortable. The studio starts filling up with women, whom I can only imagine are expat wives. If their husbands come, they come in the evening. One nice Aussie woman told me just that.

"Why don't you go with him?"

"Are you kidding? By the time he's finished and grabbed a bite to eat, it's almost 10.30. That's already bedtime. No, I'm a morning person."

Ah, one of those mythical morning people. She tells me she started class about 3 months ago, went for 4 classes and then got injured and so had to stop for about 2 months. Her husband went in the meantime and after only 2 months, he can clasp his feet in the forward bend. She still can't reach them yet.

I nod sympathetically. Those forward bends are killers.

So we go through the different asanas. Slowly, as this is a beginner's class. But I find myself faltering at the warrior pose, unable to keep my balance at the tree pose, unable to lean forward very well, when it comes to the forward bend. Oh well. It has been 2 years. The last time I did this was in 2008.

I start to sweat profusely and regret that I forgot to bring a towel. I bedew the floor and my mat with drops, making it slippery and slick. Heck, my whole body is slippery and slick.

Richard walks around correcting positions. He's sterner than I remember him being. I guess it's because this is his own business. I guess it's because he's not a dabbler and tends to take the practice very seriously.

And then glorious, glorious, it's time for the final pose, the corpse pose, although there's a difference...he continues the hip opening element in this. But he says, if you feel uncomfortable, you can stretch out your legs. I do. I stretch them out and proceed to fall into a deep sleep.

Richard is sitting in lotus, meditating. Just a few seconds before he tells us to turn over and make ready for getting up, I find myself conscious again. It's like an invisible command has gone out from him, to us.

We sit up, namaste, bow.

He tells me I did good for the first class. I look at him incredulously. "Didn't you see how I struggled?

He laughed. "Everyone has to start somewhere."

I can sense a difference though. This time, I am not "enduring" the classes. This time I intend to practice, to stiffen my spine, to acquire structure.

And then, I find I cannot get into my locker, the key doesn't work. Richard tries and then he opens up a paper clip and proceeds to jiggle the lock.

No cigar.

He calls his contractor, who is on leave that day and who has promised to call his boss to see if there's anyone who will help. I go sit down outside and wait. My staring at him jiggling the lock and cheering him on doesn't seem to be doing the trick. And then Richard calls out: "Jenn!"

I go back to the locker room and voila, the door to my locker is swinging open. My mouth falls open. "Did you pick that lock? You're brilliant!"

"Dude, I'm from New York."

There are four missed calls on my phone, and when I call back the PR of the person I was supposed to interview today, tells me my interview has been rescheduled to tomorrow. Normally I would be pissed, but I'm so tired now, I'm elated.

"Sure, no problem."

"OK, make sure you be here by 2.40, k?"


I put down the phone, beam at Richard.

He asks: "Your next lesson?"

I say: "You have a morning class tomorrow? Then maybe you'll see me tomorrow."


I stumble out of there and take myself off to Devi's Corner for lunch. I haven't had breakfast yet and I'm famished. My Didion of the day splayed open I dig into my roti canai and mutton curry. And then a bru coffee. It's been months since I've been here. In fact, more than half a year. I don't recognise any of the waiters and my favourites are not there. No matter. The ones who are still smile in a friendly manner, bring me my orders and shuffle off.

Some grocery shopping and I think, oh well, I have time for a nap. I get up at half past five with most of the day gone.

Think I'll tackle the rest of the transcription now.

I've just finished Joan Didion's "Where I Was From" and it's left me with the sort of bleak, desolate feeling, all honest books that explore identity and cannot bring itself to sum things up into neat conclusions, do. I loved it. Now, that I've finished all my Joan Didions, I think I will eventually get around to getting "A Year of Magical Thinking". But for now, I will read "The Infernal World of Branwell Bronte" by Daphne Du Maurier. When I finish this one, I'll send it off to Mary. She sent me a text today to see how I was doing and I haven't responded. Sometimes, you just don't feel like texting. I'll send her a letter when I'm done.

Also worthy of note, I got a friend request from an ex, one of those who came, saw, broke my heart and left without saying goodbye. Normally, I would agonize over these things and it would take me a week or two to click "ignore". This time, I did it in two seconds, without thinking about it.

I definitely recommend sitting zazen. It seems to be having a positive effect on my life.


Nessa said...

I'm not a morning person. I have been trying to live a morning life and it is limiting.

Jenn said...

I wish I was a morning person. Being a night person puts me out of tune with the rest of the world. Have transcribed the remaining 40 minutes of the interview. Now I have to do the 8-minute addendum because Martin took it upon himself to ask some more questions. Oh well, at least I'm getting somewhere.

Tudor Rose said...

I am definitely a morning person. Even on the weekends I am usually up at 7am. I blame my cats.

Jenn said...

Cats do that. They jump on your chest when you are just surfacing from Morpheus to tell you it's morning and feed, feed me Seymour! My friend used to refer to hers as walking stomachs.

I finished transcribing the entire interview. Will read it now...and see what I can write for the next chapter. Or alternatively, will heat up the beef vindaloo. OK, the latter, I'm hungry now.