Well, it had to end some time, the shame was that after 30 days my Indian visa had expired but my desire to be there had not!
As a law-abiding citizen, however, I vacated Mumbai with only a couple of hours officially left.
The last few days were a whirlwind of trying to visit everything on my list, and re-visit a few as well. I managed it, I think, and right to the bitter end this crazy, colourful, incredible city challenged my perceptions
My last morning, I jumped in a cab and went to Chowpatty Beach for my last session of Laughing Yoga. If there’s anything that’s going to align your body, mind and soul it’s laughing yoga, right?
As I approached the group one of my favourite ladies came up and gave me a hug, her smile as broad as the sun. In fact, there were a few who seemed pleased to see me, grinning, waving, raising their eyebrows in the international sign of “Right, yeah, you, OK.”
The only person who didn’t seem over the moon was Kishore, the yoga teacher. “Her last day in India!” one of the ladies told him.
Kishore took me by the arm and pulled me away from the group and I stood to attention, thrilled that I might be getting a bit of personal guru wisdom to take home, laughter being the best medicine and all, spreading the joy being the answer to the world’s problems etc etc etc.
Here’s what he said:
“You’re supposed to pay me 1000 rupees each time you come.”
Oh my ganesh, I had no idea!
He had mentioned 1000 rupees the first time I turned up but I thought that was if you went to the big group laugh-in he was planning and for which he had printed a banner and some stickers.
I did not realise it was for the yoga on the beach. There was me, turning up every now and then grinning and laughing and having a whale of a time when I should have been paying my way.
I felt so embarrassed. For about a minute. And then I remembered that Kishore had given a very rousing speech one day about laughter being free.
OK, so that clearly wasn’t the case, but not only was it not free, it was jolly expensive. 1000 rupees is about $20 which I would not pay to go to a yoga class at home. It’s only 750 rupees to go to the Taj Mahal!
Yes, Kishore’s price tag was no joke. He might have been aligning my body, mind and soul but he was putting my wallet seriously out of whack.
So, I did the yoga class, although my laughing might not have been as authentic as usual, and if there had been a crying class further along the beach I might have been tempted to join that.
But as I jogged up and down on the sand next to my friends in their flowing saris, I thought how much I had loved the experience of getting together with them on the handful of mornings I had managed it.
I also thought that if I had known it was 1000 rupees a pop I would only have gone once, so not knowing had been a bonus. I had gained from it enormously and so, I decided, should Kishore.
Thus I gave him nearly all the cash I had on me, which was about half of what I “owed” him. I figured it’s India, he would have to be happy with that.
On the other hand, my friendly taxi driver Pinto, as per my last post, proved to be the opposite of what you might expect from someone eking out a living on the choked up streets of Mumbai. He never asked me for a cent, I just made up the fare and gave it to him at the end of our trips and all he ever did was thank me.
In fact, here’s the text I got from him when I was on my way to the airport to fly home.
“U r always be happey. God blase u. Have a nice joriney and u r in my eyes and my heart. I allwayes pear far u. God give u long life. U happey me. Thunk u.”
It’s safe to say that I left India - country of kooky contrasts - with mind, body, soul and wallet all seriously aligned. Joyfully so.