In Prague I stayed with my friend Marina’s friend Jake, a Canadian with dual citizenship in the Czech Republic who’s been living there since October, teaching English, translating, and making sales calls. When I first arrived at Jake’s apartment, I asked him if he had wireless, already pulling my laptop out of my bag.
He grinned and raised an eyebrow. “Mmm, you’d like that, wouldn’t you?”
After I told this story to Hellman during our first days in India, running around trying not to get ripped off or stepped on or heat exhausted, she agreed that this was a very good travel motto, especially for India. It became our refrain whenever something didn’t quite go our way–stores closed that were supposed to be open, prices that had hidden taxes, bus stations that were impossibly far from the main market. “Gack, I wish I hadn’t packed so much stuff.” “Wasn’t Lobzhang supposed to be here this afternoon?” “Umm…I wish I’d known the bathroom is under construction.” “Wasn’t the school going to have a copy of the test for me today?” Yeah…you’d like that, wouldn’t you?
In Rishikesh, I spend my first day walking all over Lakshman Jhula and Ram Jhula (two areas north of central Rishikesh filled with ashrams and retreats) asking who has yoga classes. Most places don’t, as their teachers head north or abroad during the summer. (My yoga teacher in Leh teaches a course in Rishikesh!…in October.) I find one place, eye their course, try a few classes, decide I don’t need lectures on chakras and settle on a nicer place further downstream. This place doesn’t have quite enough courses and I find myself bored, then mildly depressed. Finally, I settle into a routine at a few different studios and ashrams, filling my mornings and evenings with yoga and meditation and reading, shopping, or Internet-ing in between. On my fourth day, I finally feel my body start loosening up and begin to feel the slightest bit more flexible.
On the fifth day, my arrogance in eating street food catches up with me. A Canadian friend at my ashram scolds me into bed with water, toast, and oral rehydration salts. I sleep late, then wake up and scurry to the post office, only to find it closes at 2 Saturday. I open my computer to send off my finished article on Warsaw and discover the computer has inexplicably deleted the file. The heat saps the few drops of water left in my body right out. I feel my limberness decaying into stiffness as I climb back into bed and open my books again.
Would be nice if today had gone different, I suppose. I’d like that, yes, but that’s not how things are. And actually, I’m learning to kind of like things that way, as it’s the only way they can be.