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Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States
Karen is a yogini, writer, student, teacher and meditator. She founded Garden Street School of Yoga in 2000. Karen lives with her husband Chris. They have two amazing sons, Eli and Leo (both of them young men).

Feb 16, 2009

Last Day

This is my "almost last India Blog post". My last days in India have been amazing - full of grace and surprise. The Matri Mandir was amazing, Chidumbarum was amazing. So many day-to-day life connections were amazing. I kept my journal going but if I put it all in this blog entry you would have to log-off or die reading. Instead I will describe my last morning with Eli and India.

We got up early to go to the Ganesh temple nearby. It is a beautiful temple which we had decided to save for last since Ganesh is the deity who blesses thresholds and new beginnings. When we arrived at the temple we put our shoes behind a pillar. It is always a little anxiety provoking to leave our shoes outside temples but when it would come down to it we would think, "OK, we can honor the sacred or protect our possessions". So, this morning, like all our other temple visits, we decided to trust, and we left our shoes behind.

The temple visit was perfect.

When we came back outside both my shoes were gone and one of Eli's was missing. We figured we had finally gotten our shoes stolen and we weren't too upset. But then a temple guard let us know he had put our shoes in the "Big Bin". Getting our shoes out of the "Big Bin" would require some bail money - 10 rupeees. We paid the bail and recovered our shoes. I thought it was a perfect joke of Ganesh, who is, after all, an 8 year old boy who loves to play practical jokes almost as much as he loves sweets, to take both my shoes and leave one of Eli's. I and both of my feet were about to leave India. Eli would be keeping one foot in India. I think this worked as a sort of blessing and comfort to me, showing me that one foot in India and one foot back home is better than no feet back home!

Next we went to our favorite coffee/tea place, across from which lived the little street family I mentioned in a previous post. I had decided I would like to give them my yoga mat. Don't worry, I was not going to encourage them "do yoga." ("Here is a YOGA MAT, ma'am. You should begin a YOGA practice. It will help eliminate stress, increase your range of motion and you will sleep better. Furthermore, Yoga will encourage you to spend some time each day "just for you." AND, you will learn to breathe deeply. Please get a ventilator before you breathe too deeply. Maybe I'll bring one for you next time I'm in India").

Actually, I figured that a yoga mat would be a better sleeping surface than the dirty and hard asphalt. Over coffee, Eli and I tried to decide if it would be OK to roll a 1000 ruppee note into the mat. You know, gestures like that are not so simple. It is no big deal for us to give 1000 Rs ($20.) which is roughly equivalent to a month's earnings to someone living in that little family's situation. But it seemed to us that a gesture like that could disrupt their fine balance of survival.

We decided after all to roll the ruppees into the mat but to stay open and alert. If it didn't feel "right" or like we were getting a green light, we would not follow through with the gesture. (We had by that time quite a bit of experience of waiting for the "green light" feeling and not proceeding if it didn't happen).

We crossed the busy road and approached the square of asphalt that was "home" to the family. They welcomed us warmly. We definitely got the green light feeling. We said good bye and it was Real - full of authentic smiles and laughter. I mimed that the mat was a good thing to sleep on as I handed it to the mother.

Of course, we knew we were not "supposed" to be attached, but all the same, as we walked away, Eli and I worried that they might not even find the ruppee note - maybe they would turn right around and sell the mat for urgently needed cash, and thereby miss finding the urgently needed cash inside the mat! We knew we wouldn't get to know.

Next we loaded our packs and our bodies into the car we had hired for the day. Our driver pulled into the flow of traffic and then we realized his route would take us past the family. As we drove by we saw the father and the little girl walking together and then I saw the happiest thing. My Yoga mat, on which I had spent countless hours practicing, was now serving as a resting place for the young mother. It wasn't really resting time yet (that comes in the afternoon) so I imagined she might be test-driving her new resting-mat. That image was, for me, the best gift. It was like India had just offered me prasad (sweet offering).

OK - that's it for now. I will describe my Goodbye to India and to Eli in my next post. I won't be in connection to e-mail until the 22nd when I will begin to reweave with my wonderful people at home.


  1. The gift of your yoga/resting mat seems a profound & personal offering back to Mother India (thru the young mother) the deep rest, renewal & energy we receive in the west from this ancient practice of Yoga This gifting brought tears to my eyes. Beautifully perfect.

  2. So beautiful. I was reading this aloud to my husband and it made me cry.

  3. I would have to agree with Karen, this was a tear jerker, and a read aloud for sure! Have a safe trip back Karen!! I love you!!