Our train arrives at the Howrah station at 7am. It is across the Ganges from Kolkata. We briefly try to catch a taxi but the line is incredibly long and confusing. We decide to walk outside of the train station to try our luck but end up walking all the way across the Howrah bridge and into Kolkata. We cross the Ganges and pass the garland district where dozens of piles of flower garlands are stacked for sale. Bright orange on the left, bright yellow on the right.
Once in Kolkata, we catch a taxi and return to the hotel to bathe and eat. This afternoon is our one time to be tourists. We go all around the city just looking at the shops and taking it in. Jerome gets gifts for his family, I get a couple Indian cotton shirts, and we all get some tea from Dolly's Tea Shop. Arup tells us a bit about tea, its history and quality. He tells us about the first crop of the season after the winter called the First Flush, that is the most flavorful and the most valuable of the tea crops of the year.
We go into a shop full of Kashmiri goods. They have some Cashmere, very nice stuff. But there is an even better quality wool product that I have never heard of. I can't even remember the name of it to write here. They have scarves and shawls made of this very fine wool. It is beautiful, soft and supposedly very warm in the winter, though I doubt it would suffice here in the Midwest in February. Kashmir is also known for it Papier Mache that they lacquer and hand paint in intricate designs. There are ornaments, boxes and all sorts of items.
After being tourists we go to Chitralekha's (Bose's daughter in law, mother of Pavitra) home for dinner. We eat around 7 which is apparently very early for Indians who eat around 10. So they feed us but don't eat. A strange feeling. The best part of the evening is the conversation.
She shows us old pictures of her family and tells us many stories. She is modest so I won't divulge any revealing stories here, but she is full of knowledge and insight about yoga, physical culture, Calcutta, Bishnu Ghosh, Buddha Bose and even Bikram. I am more than happy to soak it in. To simply listen to her stories and follow whatever narrative whims she may have. Jerome is a little more pointed, chiming in from time to time with historical queries and factual questions.
They feed us lots of food. I thought that Americans were generous hosts, but they rivaled any I have met. I was the only one of the three of us adventurous enough to try paan, a digestive that is a leaf wrapped around some fennel seeds, other seeds that I don't recognize and a red paste. At first it is pleasant, after awhile it is very bitter. Not bad.
I has been a relaxing day. A lot of walking, a bit of culture and some good conversation. All in all, very human.
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