Wednesday, December 10, 2008

BKS Iyengar's 90 birthday Celebration - the journey to Pune begins

I arrived in Pune this morning into my holistic home away from home on Hanuman Mandir Road. The journey from the Mumbai airport was uneventful. The airport has been redone, remodelled, redug once again, and the journey from the gate to the exit got longer, though much more visually appealling.

There was chaos at the end, as none of the luggage belts showed flight information and as soon as luggage arrived, the crowds swelled and it became impossible to get out with lines backed up on Xray machines at the "green line". Why call it a green line, if you are going to check every passenger for contraband and harrass them for money anyway? I went to kind lady customs officer at the completely empty red line and remarked "I had nothing to declare". She said "go" as she got swamped by another group of 5. I tried to go, but was immediately confronted by a policeman with an old rifle. I stepped back and just went around him. I had been "Cleared".

Then came the long walk with no clear signs if I should left, which is where I always turned in the past or go right. They will work this out eventually. As I walked down this long alway with no visual sign of an exit, I was looking for armed guards and commandos - all the security that I had read about. No none at all other than a sea of humans waiting outside for their loved ones. Just one cop at the exit with an old 50s rifle. I could sense negative thoughts come into mind, so I had hurriedly detach from those thoughts and started dialing the cabbies number. I couldn't imagine how I would spot my name amongst the hundreds of sign carrying cab and limo drivers. But before I could touch the dial, there it was and then the blast of heat hit me. I needed water.

The whole front of the arrival area has been dug up. Pot holes everywhere but it felt like an ocean of calmness at that hour. No honking horns, just quiet and occasional yelling of waiting folks calling up on their arriving relatives. It was hard to say that just about 2 weeks ago Mumbai had suffered its own version of 9/11. The roads were quiet and the highway to Pune had trucks, but all seem to be quietly dragging them up the hills. It was surreal.

I was welcomed by Manu at 5 am into my digs. This time I am at the "outhouse". I wish they all knew what an outhouse means in American.... :) This is an annex to the main house. It was a book storage shed Neena Shahani had told me last time which was converted into a quaint cottage for yoga students. I immediately crashed after trying to call my munchkins, and then a couple of calls back to the office.

Its the shortest sleep I have had as on the dot at 6 am I could hear the sweeping of floors and a strange pungent smell. Someone was burning their garbage. I recalled the open sewer than runs by the park. It didn't matter, and I kept my eyes shut and finally was awakened by the alarm in a couple of hours.

3 cups of chai and I was ready to start the day at work with a stop on the way at Govinda Gardens where Guruji's birthday celebrations had started bright and early around 7 am. There must be hundreds of people there. I ran into Najeeb, one of the teachers from Mumbai and a good friend of Nuvana. She had called him - I was on the way and I had already a request to carry something back. And then familiar faces started to appear. Najeeb asked me to go eat first. While I was grabbing some quick South Indian breakfast, Geeta Iyengar walked right by me and I could just clobber a quick Namaste. Here was my chance to approach her as she hung around in this makeshift kitchen quiet and away from the masses and loud chanting outside. I should tell her about the going inner part from her audio class. I must introduce myself. Something held me back... its the damn fear - what am I afraid of?

Outside this calm eating area, I can't even begin to describe the pageantry, and chanting of hyms by a group of priests who sat around Guruji. There was at least 3 camera guys, making professional videos and hundreds of foreign contingent all dressed in colorful Indian garb with bindis on their forehead and henna feet. It felt like an indian wedding. It all felt unreal - I became a silent observer and amongst hundred that had their cameras out taking pictures. I spotted more familiar faces including Zubin and my teachers. It was an amazing event - especially the part towards the end when Guruji is given a bath by his family in the grassy knoll outside. A priest sings and the music is most touching. I didn't know what it meant but I instantly thought of my two girls, and overcame with emotion and love for them. I missed them. I wish they were with me experiencing this beautiful and heart touching event, where the family pours blessed water on their through a cloth full of jewellery from the family. A lady offers her gold bangles that she takes off from her hands and is firmly told that it was not necessary. I was touched not just by the offer but the firm refusal to accept such gifts. Cameras were clicking away non stop. I am certain this event will have been captured as a very important event in the history of yoga. A guru turns 90 and is wished another 90 years.

As I stood there observing I could only think of my two munchkins and how much I loved them unconditionally and that my devotion to yoga exists only because I am so devoted to them. I continue to strive to plant the seeds of my belief systems, culture and tradition all culmination into my passion for yoga and I know that nothing in the world can stop that from growing. In those feelings I continue to understand the message of yoga and patanjali - its eventually about achieving this unconditional love!

Here are some pictures from the event. I will be attaching videos in the next few days, as I find time to edit the videos.


The Yogi


Jennifer said...

Thanks for posting the pictures of Guruji, I really enjoyed them, it must have been a great day, namaste

Tara said...

Thanks for sharing, greatly appreciate it. I hope you had a great time. Love your blog as well.