Archive for Mysore, India

For Ashtangi Parents: A Toddler Visits Mysore

Over the years I have noticed there are two types of Ashtangi parents: those that wish they could go to Mysore, but are afraid to take the kids and those that book their tickets. We fell into the second category and never thought twice about it.

Our daughter, Rowan, got to experience the Ashtanga pilgrimage to Mysore a month after she turned one year old. Since then people are always asking me for feedback on my experience in traveling with a child to such an intense place. Paul Dallaghan recently wrote an article on Ashtanga.com about taking your kids to Mysore that had some great information and our experiences with a child in Mysore were pretty much the same.

We enjoyed it so much that we plan on taking her to Mysore again at the beginning of next year.

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The happy family’s room in Mysore

Planning before taking your kids to Mysore is helpful, but it is India after all and at some point you have to just let it go. We had an apartment set up beforehand, which is probably the only thing I felt was a must to have (who wants to apartment hunt in India with a kid in tow?) and we had a routine for our days. Someone watched her while we practiced – which was nice so we could practice together – but a lot of couples I saw there with children did the “switch-off”. That also seemed to work and Sharath was pretty accommodating for couples with children. (Watch out for Guruji giving large amounts of chocolate to your kid!)

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Nermala, the landlady

We were lucky that our landlady watched Rowan for us. She would get up at 5:00 am (!) and we would bring Rowan down to her. She was a school teacher and would grade papers in the early hours while Rowan still slept. She had a grandson the same age as Rowan and they played together very well. Her older son also watched Rowan some and we still email them from time to time. They always want to know how she is doing and when we are coming back to Mysore.

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Rowan & some of her schoolmates

We also let Rowan attend an Indian nursery school that was around the corner from Guruji’s shala. She had a great time and I will let her attend again this year. She was the youngest one at the time (most kids were 2-4 years old), but the kids loved her and the staff were really nice. They spoke English well and it was easy to communicate with them. They also made it a point to let me know they were Christian Indians and were very bummed that Rowan was going to miss Christmas with them ( :) ). They were open from 8:30am – 12:30pm – so we dropped her off after practice and breakfast and picked her up before lunch. We had to fill out a registration form when we enrolled her (it asked for our caste) and then we paid on a monthly basis, which ended up being around $12.50 per month. It was a little overwhelming for her at first because she was the only non-Indian at the school and ALL the kids wanted to play with her at once. They got used to her and she loved having some playtime with other children.

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Rowan’s school in Mysore

We did set up some playgroups with other children of Ashtangis, too. Some parents I saw with kids there never left their apartment except to practice and others, like us, were off every weekend exploring or hanging out at the pool. I think that people who warn you from taking children to Mysore are probably the type of parents that freak out every time their child falls down. I went into the experience thinking that she would probably get sick at least once, but there are good hospitals, doctors, and chemists in Mysore and I wasn’t worried (she didn’t get sick though).

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Mysore-Style Table Dance?

Obviously there are going to be places you like to go more (i.e., that are set up more kid friendly) and places you might not go. Restaurants on the whole were fine. Staff ALWAYS liked her and would often take her and watch her while we ate (usually that was because there were five staff for every one person and they would rather hang out with a cute kid than do nothing). She was still mainly breastfeeding and eating some solid foods, but we didn’t really have a hard time finding food for her. Breakfast ended up being her largest meal. You can get some wonderful Western-style breakfasts at many places around Gokulam. The Green Hotel, the Southern Star, and Green Leaf were restaurants we ate at frequently because they were the most accommodating. We also frequented many of the homes of Indian women who make lunches for students. They always loved Rowan and would take her out of my arms as soon as we would enter. It can be a bit unnerving at first, but they were always very gentle and loving with her and she adored the attention. Coffee Day ended up being an afternoon treat on many days. The staff would take her from me (this happened so much everywhere we went!) and keep her behind the counter with them. All the young Indian kids that hung out in Coffee Day also loved playing with her.

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Jason, Rowan & Tara getting ready to go

Getting around in Mysore was pretty easy. We had a motorcycle and did the Indian thing where we sat her in-between us and rode around with her on the bike. I actually put her in a front sling carrier and that made me feel safer since she wouldn’t wiggle out while we were driving. I probably won’t do that the next time since she will be older. I bought a helmet for her here in the states before we left (you can’t find them in India) and made sure she wore that, too. We went everywhere on the motorcycle – even as far out as Chamundi Hill and the dam.

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The Rowanmobile

Jason was a good driver and we tried to not drive after dark when we would often take a rickshaw. I also brought a cheap umbrella stroller (one with bigger wheels to get around in dirt) and it came in handy when walking around Gokulam and when we went to the zoo.

We also did some traveling in India while we were there and I never had a problem with it. Rowan enjoyed the experiences and we always found that people loved her and were accommodating.


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Rowan helps out.

We took the train to Chennai for a trip to Auroville for a few weeks. Even though the train ride was about 7 hours, it went fine. We stayed in Auroville (a.k.a the jungle) for two weeks and practiced yoga with Chad and Monica. It was during a freak monsoon and it rained more than I have every experienced in my life. That was the roughest point of our trip to India with a kid and that was only because we were stuck indoors for days at a time with a one year-old with boundless energy. And even that wasn’t too bad.

Overall, our experience was greatly enriched by taking our daughter with us. We wouldn’t hesitate to take her and her baby brother or sister (hopefully, one day!) back with us. I would be happy to talk to anyone more about it or answer specific questions if you are thinking of taking your children. You can email me directly at taraisagoddess(at)hotmail.com.

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Rowan & Tara

[About Tara: Tara Morton has been practicing Ashtanga yoga for about 7 years. She lives in Encinitas, California, and practices with Tim Miller. Since Rowan’s birth, she has curtailed her yoga teaching (though she still teaches occasionally), and now mostly focuses on her practice. Rowan’s father, Jason, is a full-time yoga teacher. This article is based on a four-month trip to India studying at AYRI in 2005, which is documented on Rowan's blog, Yoga Mommy, on Ashtangi.org.

Thank you so much to Tara for sharing her experiences with a toddler in Mysore in this well-written and personal article! – Ed.]

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Brand Mysore: Make Your AYRI Plans Now

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Somanthpur Temple, Mysore

Emerging from the shadow of its cosmopolitan neighbour Bangalore, Mysore, witnessing a flurry of activities on many a fronts, is all set to evolve as a brand…Making the task of building ‘Brand Mysore’ easier are the Information Technology (IT) majors, who have committed to invest crores [tens of millions] of Rupees and create thousands of jobs here.

Because so many IT professionals are expected to move to Mysore in the near future, real estate values in some areas of Mysore have doubled recently, according to an article in the Deccan Herald about the business side of Mysore.

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Downtown Mysore

What does this mean for Ashtangis looking to experience Mysore’s rich history and regal past and absorb some of its distinct character and quaint charm on the cheap (relative to Western costs)? Any thoughts from repeat visitors to Mysore?

Though Mysore lagged behind Bangalore which is located just 140 km away, by at least three decades in terms of industrialisation, the royal city could take on the State capital as it scored better in offering good quality of life, pollution-free atmosphere and live up to its reputation of being a centre of education and knowledge, according to the IT honchos of the city. -Deccan Herald, August 28, 2006

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The pool at Infosys. Does Google have a pool like that?

I love the juxtaposition of the ultra-modern headquarters of Infosys – the first company from India to ring the opening bell on the Nasdaq stock exchange – and the ancient beauty of India. If you do, too, check out this Flickr photoset, The New India (only 10 photos). We touched on this juxtaposition a little in a prior post, What India Do You See?

While I think we all know these kinds of changes are occurring throughout India, I think it’s super interesting to read the concrete details as it applies to Mysore, the home of Ashtanga yoga.

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The Bucolic Grounds of the Mysore Palace
(one of about one million photos of Mysore Palace on Flickr)

A similar optimism was evident among the members of the IT Professional Forum, Mysore chapter, who said IT business in the city was expected to grow 300 per cent during the next few years and the quality manpower output from the University of Mysore and other institutions was set to fuel the city’s IT ambitions. With nearly 7,000 English speaking graduates emerging from the city’s educational institutions, the stage was also set for the entry of Business Process Outsourcing firms.

If you like photos of traditional India, I recommend babasteve’s Flickr photostream, which we’ve highlighted in an AshtangaNews post. For more about modern India and Mysore, I think Ashtangi, Russell of Mysore Musings has it right. He’s started an outpost of a legal firm in Mysore.

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Inside Infosys. So gleaming white!

Maybe at some point, Mysoreans will visit the US to practice Ashtanga or begin taking up mat space at home at AYRI? It seems AYRI may still be a little pricey for most locals, even the more affluent. Presently, the first month of practice at Guruji’s shala in Mysore costs 27,900 rupees, while average per capita income in the Karnataka state of India (where Mysore is located) is 18,324 rupees annually. As comparison, presently the wealthiest one-third of households in Bangalore – one of the fastest growing (and wealthiest) cities in southern India, which the Deccan Herald

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To be replaced by Gap ads?

article compares to Mysore – earn an average of 25,000 rupees monthly.

But according to the Deccan Herald,

The average Indian can look forward to an eight-fold increase in incomes over the next 40 years.

Thanks again to our friend and fellow Ashtangi, Bala, who continues to keep us up to date on India.

By the way, Wikipedia is a great source for learning more about the city of Mysore, Bangalore, Karnataka state, and even Ashtanga yoga.

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