Pune Express.

When life gives you lemons, you squeeze it on fresh papaya. Yum.

The photo above is jaggery – sugar made from fresh sugarcane.

Indians. They advertise for anything and everything. It’s the delivery needs some work. My first week in Pune at Grandpa and Granny’s house consisted of calling every single advertisement I could find for yoga, dance, singing, music – anything to keep me busy! I called ads in the paper, took pictures of interesting billboards, I asked all the neighbors, and just kept calling and calling and calling. More often than not, the ad turned out to be a flop – no teacher anymore, no longer open, no response, etc. Every studio I went to, enjoyable or not, I mentioned that hey, I teach yoga so if you need a teacher, call me.

I got into some pretty funny situations, like walking into a kids hip hop class, where I looked so awkward, being the tallest one who couldn’t really dance. But man those kids were having fun! People in India are crazy about hip hop and American music.

And then, I took my first Indian singing lesson and it was interesting. The teacher didn’t seem to understand me and liked hearing himself perform more than anything else. Sooooo thanks but no thanks.

Of course, life already has a plan in mind. Persistence pays off in India. People gave me numbers of their friends, who had friends, who had friends, etc. It’s like one of those Asian dolls, you keep opening and opening and opening until you find something!

Now I’m taking yoga every morning with this awesome three-times-world-champ yoga teacher. Six-thiry am, I meet her outside her flat, we hop on her bike, and ride to her studio. She has traveled the world just learning and teaching yoga, she has trained with Iyengar and Pattabi Jois, and she is just a really awesome, special person. Wow. I’m lucky to have met this friend. (Plus, a scooter ride everyday!).

The yoga bond is so special for me. Practicing completes my day. The opportunity to teach is like me receiving a gift. The purpose is not to make money or make a living, but to just give and give and give. What you get in return is so incredible. I can’t really describe it.

I also joined salsa classes, just for fun. When I come back, someone better be ready to salsa with me! It’s fun and I need a partner or I’m going to look silly, so go start learning! :)

My brother had made some good friends at Coffee and Me, the coffee shop down the street. It’s my new little hang out place to read the newspaper and write in my blog. They now know me as “Kunal’s sis”. I’m thinking of baking some goodies and leaving them at their counter to sell. Could be fun?

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I’ve gotten six job offers in one week, now the calls are coming – to teach yoga/aerobics, to be in a Bollywood movie/commercial, to give talks to youth, to bake cookies, all sorts of things. People are really in awe that I’m from the USA and have lived in New York. It’s funny.

My grandparents have a weighing scale that measures in “stones”. Can you believe that?

Homemade yogurt = amazing.

My grandparents are two awesome old people. They live a good, nice, happy, comfortable life and like to have fun. When I’m older, I think I would like to live like them.

It’s so hard to find real dark chocolate in India. The darkest chocolate they make here is 44% cacao bean, which is nothing! The weakest dark chocolate is usually 52% cacao. HELP.

No one knew how to translate the word “please” in Hindi because they never say it. Rude? Or maybe just culturally understood? I finally had to look it up…kripiya

I went shopping the other day, and absolutely no store had anything that fit me. The clothes were all wayy too big, so I had to buy fabric and get something custom stitched. It got me thinking…There is a huge gap and divide in Indian culture. The well-off people who can afford to shop are big and chubby because they eat A LOT, hence the humungo clothes that are sold. The poorer working class people, who can’t afford to shop are TINY – I feel like a giant next to them, because they are so under-nourished. It’s really really crazy to see. Hmm.

P.S. Did I mention that papaya is magical? It’s tasty, good for your digestion, full of vitamin A and C, and it does wonders for your skin. I’ve been taking a piece of papaya with me into my shower every day (for scrubbing). Good stuff.

So things are getting exciting. Stay tuned.

Much love,
More later,

SONIA

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2 thoughts on “Pune Express.

  1. vineeta

    I am glad that You are really enjoying and learning so many good things and same time finding real Indian Culture too. Indian life is very different than USA. Hey, the biggest yoga guru in India is Swami Ramdev In Haridwar. If you get chance go visit him , you will have totally different learning experience . He came to USA a few yrs. ago, Kevin and I attended his yoga camp and I took lessons too. I think while you are on that mission its worth to explore him too. All the best in your adventure and give regards to your grandparents ( I met them when Kunal was in grade school. They are very nice people.) Good Luck. Vineeta Talwar

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