My shows in India are going well (There’s a sentence I never thought I’d hear myself say.) Where I’m from people don’t brave Indian food much less troop over to Bangalore. I owe it all to stand-up comedy and the Brits, of course, for making sure the entire world spoke English. Throw in some ex-pats and I’m in micro-pubs in India telling people to try the veal, with caramelized onions of course. It would probably take a small book to describe what I’ve seen in just the past two days. Not that summing it up is even possible but Bangalore is a perfect blend of 3rd world meets 1st world. Rickshaws whizzing around Mercedes Benzes. High end shopping malls with make shift street markets in the foreground. And yes, cows walking the streets like squirrels.
It’s all been a little overwhelming, even for this native New Yorker who’s comfortable in any concrete jungle. It’s when you combine the concrete with actual trees and such that I get a little gun shy.
India is associated with spirituality but don’t look for it like you would a pair of socks in your drawer. Much better to feel it. The spirit of millions of people humming along and moving en masse but simultaneously in different directions and somehow the whole thing works. I think you’ll find much more suggested spirituality in the kindness of the people than say people sitting in prayer poses.
Still, I would be remiss if I didn’t eat Indian food (my tour guide seems to favor pizza and wings) and do yoga. My contact, Ajit, takes me to a proper Yoga place. It’s in a Hindu temple. As I was walked in I thought, “I’m getting the works.” The place looked exactly what most westerners picture when they picture people in India doing yoga. There were no Pinkberrys in sight. And no one rocked Lululemons.
The twist? Well, there’s always a twist. The instructor was a Black American woman from New York. Yogi says what?! Is this what they mean by traveling abroad to find yourself. I’m in Bangalore, India and my instructor is a sister from 9th and Broadway. Go figure. Then again it could have been a Dominican guy from Washington Heights. Really go figure.
She knew her stuff though. The class was rigorous. I could tell the Manhattanite was going extra hard on the Brooklynite. As she adjusted my Half Moon, I wished I told her I was from White Plains. “Do Yoga in India” was not on my bucket list but I added it this morning and then checked it off, my instructor’s origins notwithstanding.
As I laid in Shavasana Corpse pose I listened to the sounds of Bangalore come together in perfect harmony: birds chirping, the wind rustling through the trees, cars honking and a Black woman singing Hindi chants. Namaste.