Kolkata: Day 2
To recover from a long day yesterday that was more like 3 days, we stay around the hotel in the morning. Sleeping late is impossible because of jet lag, but we bathe, do some asana and pranayama practice and eat on the terrace. The food at the hotel is quite good.
We head to downtown Kolkata to arrange for train tickets for tomorrow's journey to Ranchi. The ticket office is in the business district, crowded with street vendors and businessmen. We go to the office for foreigners as it is supposedly much faster than the one for Indians.
We get fresh green coconuts from a street vendor, drinking the water through a straw and then scooping out the flesh to eat. We also get a pomegranate and eat it while overlooking the Ganges.
We wait two hours for them to call our number at the ticket office. Then they tell us we should just go to the regular office where there is no line. So we leave and go around the corner. There are no lines, but the building smells like an outhouse. The bureaucracy is ridiculous, the computers are from the 80s, and communication seems way too hard.
We visit the Ghosh Yoga College and ask Muktamala a few questions. The walls are covered with photographs of Biswanath doing strongman feats and standing next to movie stars. There is one photo of Bose, none of Tony. Many advanced postures are on the wall, performed by Prem Sundar Das.
We visit 4 Garpur Rd., Bishnu and Yogananda's childhood home. A small tour of the home takes us to Yogananda's bedroom and meditation room. We are accompanied by an old man and his family, devotees of Yogananda. His devotion is moving even though I feel nothing from my experience at the home.
To end the day we follow some narrow alleys to the door of Ironman Nilmoni Das' place. It is run by Nilmoni's son Swapan Kumar Das. They lift weights and practice yoga for general health and fitness. They have been publishing books and charts of exercises for decades. These charts are a big part of the reason why athletes would come to Kolkata to train, even if it was with someone like BC Ghosh.
Swapan Kumar tells us many stories of Ghosh and the yoga culture of the 50s through today. He also has charts that detail 26 yoga asanas. They are unmistakably similar to Bikram's 26, though far from identical.
Das, along with everyone else we have talked to, says that Bikram was a weight lifter not a yogi. He is kind, saying that we should talk about the good in people, not their dark sides.
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This journal honors my ongoing experience with the practice, study and teaching of yoga.
1) Sridaiva Yoga: Good Intention But Imbalanced
2) Understanding Chair Posture
2) Why I Don't Use Sanskrit or Say Namaste
3) The Meaningless Drudgery of Physical Yoga
5) Beyond Bikram: Why This Is a Great Time For Ghosh Yoga