Salutations to the Son in Jewtown

13 07 2008

How’s that for a title?

Bonnie and I just spent some time in Cochin, which is a fishing town almost at the tip of India. A place where many waters converge. Interestingly, it’s also a place where many religions converge. Today, I heard my first Muslim call to prayer, we visited a section of the city called Jewtown, and we learned Hindu chants and yoga poses while sitting under an altar to Jesus. The fact that such diversity is found in quite possibly the most peaceful place in India, is a real testament to the spirit of this community.

Maybe it’s the yoga. Bonnie and I started taking a class here, but because we’re here during off season, the yoga class turned out to be a private lesson for the two of us. Our teacher is hyper-eager and expressive, and there are times when we both have tried not to laugh as he explains a certain pose or instructs us on what we need to do better. Though we have both been subject to his corrections, during our last round of Salutations to the Sun, he began to reprimand Bonnie in particular.

“You are making one big mistake,” he began, putting his face close to hers, “You are not going slow.”

Bonnie nodded with rightful confusion, as she was doing each pose slower than I was. Still, he continued to instruct her.

“When I say slow, I don’t mean like slow. Some people eat food like this.” He mimicked a person slowly eating with a spoon. “I mean you should go like this. This is medium.” He then sped up his pantomime.

“So,” Bonnie asked cautiously, “You want me to go faster?”

“No, slower! Like this!” Again with the speedy pantomime. Again Bonnie repeated her question. Again with the reprimand.

He seemed troubled by her questioning, so he began another line of reasoning. Bonnie, apparently, was not taking the Salutation to the Sun pose seriously enough. Didn’t she know that the pose encompasses everything? Didn’t she understand that it gives you life, helps you breathe, heals your liver and cures you of asthma, stroke and all possible ills? As the lecture continued, I nodded with him at Bonnie. Come on, Bonnie, we encouraged, let’s take this seriously.

Bonnie agreed to try again, and we did a few more Salutations to the Sun. Bonnie’s were indeed slower, and he beamed at her, exclaiming, “Yes. That is the right kind of slow.”

Our travels in India continue to result in much laughter. My friend James told me I would love India because of the English; it would give me, he explained, many opportunities to interact and joke with people. What he didn’t fully convey is how many Indians would match my desire to laugh. Everyone seems ready and overwhelming willing to join in on the fun.

Yesterday was one of our many exchanges. Bonnie and I were walking down a street, and Bonnie, in her fantastic way, started giggling loudly about something I said. One man, started laughing and laughing with Bonnie, and then he said to me. “I need to know the joke! You have to tell me!”

I tried to say that we were just laughing, because my previous comment wouldn’t translate, but he didn’t believe me.

“Yes. You have a joke! She is laughing! Tell me the joke!” He demanded, grinning.

“I don’t have a joke.” I promised.

“You have no joke.” He looked at me intently. “But you have two eyes.”

“I do have two eyes.” I agreed.

(I’ve gotten this comment several times about my eyes. I’ve also heard my eyes described as “one black, one white”; “one big, one small”; and “Is that what you call hazel?”)

“I need a joke! I need to laugh!” He was so eager that I scrolled through my brain looking for something that might translate. Finally, I landed on this.

“What does the word dressing mean to you?” I asked.

“It is putting on clothes. And when you prepare the chicken to make.”

Close enough, I thought. I’ll give it a shot.

“Okay, what did the chicken say to the oven?” I asked.

“Tell me! Tell me!” His eyes widened at the prospect of laughing.

I delivered the punchline. “Shut the door, I’m dressing!”

He loved it. Not sure if he just wanted to laugh or if he really got it. He bent over laughing, and then exclaimed, “You need to sit! I need to give you girls tea! You need to stay with me!”

We were off to explore Jewtown, so we couldn’t stay too long. But we agreed to stay and laugh a little longer with him. That’s India for me in a nutshell. We walk. We stop. We talk. We laugh. Walk. Stop. Talk. Laugh.

It’s the right kind of slow.

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3 responses

14 07 2008
stefan

juice! so glad you are there with your two eyes wide open and writing and that I figured out how to tune in more regularly than during your last adventures. great adventures and great writing. glad to join in vicariously. stefan

16 07 2008
John Englander

Why do we need to travel across the world to find the kind of natural connections you’re so beautifully describing, Jocelyn? Thanks for these amazing pieces. I’m going to definitely slow down when doing sun salutations!

8 12 2009
Catherine

Jocelyn!!!! These entries are awesome. Just found the blog through Facebook. Sounds amazing. So happy for you and these wonderful observations and experiences. Thanks for the smiles! Catherine

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