Next stop, Varanasi. What a funny, mad place. Arriving in Varanasi felt like arriving in India. Everything I'd ever been told about India, I managed to see here in just a few short days. Most days were spent walking. Walking and watching...and replacing my Vietnamese coffee addiction with an Indian chai addiction. Somehow lactose intolerance doesn't cross continents, so it was with delight that I indulged the sweet, hot milky goodness of this national obsession.
After 10 days on the meditation retreat in Bodhgaya, I was in major need of a good, long str-e-e-e-tch.
So off I went to Babalu's. Quite simply, Babalu was an Indian 'Disco Stu'.
Babalu was so cool, he never removed his shades, he barely spoke above a whisper and when he did, his sentences were so short, they were practically haiku. He wore his pants tight and he played the Sitar like a God. He owned two mobile phones and he was always on a call. I loved him, not just because he was so damn funny, but also because he introduced me to the yoga king himself, Raju.
Oh Raju! Compact, ageless and powerful with flaming eyes that saw right through you and revealed nothing back. He was a yoga machine with a heart of gold. He knew the secrets to health and happiness and he'd made it his mission to share it with anyone willing to search him out. Raju kept a scrapbook of all his media appearances as the Mr Universe of the yoga world. Black and white mementos of a greatness gone by. He loved to share the stories behind the photos and such was his enthusiasm in storytelling that he’d jump out of lotus position and be on his head in seconds to demonstrate his ongoing yogic prowess. I couldn’t help but be charmed and it was by far the most entertaining yoga course I’ve ever undertaken. He taught yoga like bootcamp but with exceptional warmth and humour. I’m so grateful for his demanding and regimented tutelage and for reminding me that yoga needn’t always be a sober om. THANK YOU RAJU! My head has at long last met my knees and while the two are yet to linger for more than a quick hello, I’m sure it’s just a matter of time till they’re firm friends.
Bride at Dasaswamedh Ghat
Having a shave.
Just how did the cow get on the balcony?