Six and a half years ago, I knew I had two choices: To kill myself or run away. So I sold everything I owned, re-homed my dog and bought a one-way ticket to India. I was done living a life that wasn’t mine. And I have stories from that life-altering journey. I’m going to use this blog to tell some of them. If you don’t like a bit of bad language and are uncomfortable with racy taboo subjects, this post – and what this blog is becoming – may not be for you – just word of warning.
I catch a train to spend some time in Mysore with The Brazilian Seducer and his pretty, and very flexible, girlfriend that I’d met in the Ashram.
The offer is too good to pass up. It goes something like this: “Dana, come here. We have already paid for the house. You stay for free. We will do Ashtanga Yoga every day, get massages, and eat healthy. You need to rest. You need to re-find your center. Remember what I told you at the Ashram, when you are in your center, then there is no bullshit. Come here with us. Get rid of the b.s.”
What it really should have sounded like was this: “Dana, come here. We have already paid for the house. You stay for sex with me. I’ll make up an excuse when you get here as to why my girlfriend should go visit somewhere else in India. We can go out to eat because you are not special enough to cook for, only my girlfriend is. I’ll tell you that you’re pretty, but I’ll also point out to you why you don’t believe in yourself and how you have zero confidence. We will do Ashtanga Yoga which I am very good at and you are not, so you can leave practice everyday feeling really bad about yourself and like a Yoga phony, but it’s ok, I will have sex with you. When can we expect you?”
The night I arrive, he sends his girlfriend off to see her guru, Maya Baba.
I sleep fitfully, not yet recognizing my self as someone who could have boundaries and say no when someone so clearly wants something from me. Early the next morning, I ask the Brazilian Seducer if he wants to go to the 6am Yoga class. “No,” he says, “Not good sleep. We shouldn’t go.”
“I want to go,” I say.
“Drive bike. Keys are here,” He points lazily to the dresser.
“I can’t drive a motorbike. I’ll walk.”
“Should drive,” he says as he falls back asleep.
I walk, I think, I walk, I think. What the hell am I doing here? This was supposed to be a recoup visit, a time to eat healthy and do Yoga and rest before I decide where to go next. Instead, it’s a guilt-ridden, I want to hump you and totally ignore the fact that I have a girlfriend fest. Deep in thought on the dark street to my Yoga safety zone, I feel someone walking behind me. It’s dark. The sun isn’t up. No one’s around. No lights are on. I turn around. There is a man behind me, possibly in his 20s. I cross the street. He crosses the street and stays behind me. My insides go cold. I slow down to let him pass me by. He slows down. I stop. He walks two steps in front of me and stops. “Can I help you? Do you need something?” I loudly ask. My voice full of a bravado and courage that my body doesn’t feel. He looks at me and then looks stupidly ahead. He’s an egg short of a dozen, maybe even three eggs short. Shit. This guy’s eggs are scrambled.
He lunges for me. His hands wrap around my waist, pulling my hips backward into his body. I yell loudly and swing my Yoga mat around at him. Who knew that a Yoga mat can double as a weapon? Well, now you know. I push him away. He backs up a couple of steps. He stares at me. I stare at him. My heart pounds so loudly that it’s ringing in my ears. He stares. I stare. He charges toward me. I lift the whistle that I grabbed out of my suitcase at the very last minute this morning, the whistle that Cam, my best friend from home, gave me that I’ve never used. I lift it to my lips and blow. And blow. And blow. He runs off.
I walk like a stunned robot through the gate of the Yoga school and go upstairs. It’s locked. No one is there. I sit outside on the balcony and remind myself to breathe. Another student comes. We make small talk. Jai comes and unlocks the door. I fall into Yoga like it’s the strongest man I’ve ever known. I tell my practice everything that happened. And it holds me. And it comforts me. And I regain a little of my strength.
I walk back home. I tell Brazilian Seducer what happened. Let’s shorten it to his initials, shall we? B. S. Can we agree to call him that? It’s fitting.
He says, “You should have listened to me. I told you not to go. I told you it wasn’t safe.” And, in that moment, I should have packed my bags and left. But I didn’t.
In those hours after that harmless attack, I reconnect with a passion I thought was gone, a passion B.S. ignites with his insensitivity that blossomed from him not getting his way.
He raises his voice. “Why are you traveling? All I see in you is fear. I do not think you are courageous. It hasn’t seemed to be so good, your trip. Maybe you should go home. I came for learning chanting and meditation and deepening my practice. Why are you here in India?”
Through hot tears, tears withheld for too long, I let my soul pour out the answer: “I think our reasons are different for being in India. I want to be here to see,” I say. “I want to see the Taj Mahal, the building built out of love and passion. I want to feel the marble under my hands and my feet, feel its vibrations in my body. I want to go to Bodh Gaya and sit in the spot where Buddha gained enlightenment. I want to see it, to feel the wisdom dripping off the leaves of the tree. I want to see India, to taste her, touch her and know her.”
And I do. That’s what I want. To know her. To know me.
B.S. was right after all, now that I was back in my center, I had no time for bullshit, or B.S. None at all. So I pack my bags, and me and my new-found center walk through a swarm of dragonflies to the train.