Monday, November 24, 2008

Chennai Day Nine

Long day at work, so I don't have too many available brain cells for writing a post. We spent Saturday night through this morning in Mamalapuram, a town on the Indian Ocean which is known for being the site of some of the oldest temples and carvings in India (pictures tomorrow, once I label them and do some weeding), then came back to Chennai this morning so that I could be at work by 9 am.

I - yeah and double yeah - had observations pretty solidly throughout the day, and when I didn't have a consultation or class to observe, I worked on organizing my notes from last week to turn in and started organizing my notes from today so that next Monday I won't have such a backlog. Saw some very interesting students, and I continue to marvel at the teachers that I am observing. It's like (no, it IS) watching a great artist at work. They are so knowledgeable and so good at what they do; it's hard to imagine that I'd any sense of what yoga therapy looked like or how much it could do until I came here for my internship.

And I am starting to know people's names (except for those three or four guys in the office, who all have names that start with A, and I just can't seem to hear the fine differences in the pronunciations of their names), and to feel more comfortable finding a corner to sit in during the observation that lets me be discreet but not feel like I'm trying to make myself invisible, and to understand a little bit of Tamil. I can recognize the word for "slowly" -at one lesson, I heard the teacher say it about every fifth word -, and the word for mucous (sounds almost the same, and I'm not sure that I need this word, but what can you do when you're observing people who are ill?), and a word that sounds like "cheerio" and seems to be either a call to pay attention (the teacher of the class for kids with special needs kept saying it to the group) or maybe "next" or maybe "okay," as in "okay, do you understand?", and I'm trying to hear the words for left and right. And the teacher today often said a word that sounded like "mucho," but probably doesn't mean the same as the Spanish.

The funny thing is how much you can understand when you can't understand the words. You look at people's faces and hand gestures more, you hear the change in intonation, and you notice how the person listening is reacting. I'm finding that the sessions in Tamil are sometimes more interesting than those in English, because I observe more of the relationship between teacher and student and how the teacher gathers information, instead of trying to write things down on my observation sheet.

Well, the wind is blowing, and it was cool enough today for me to put on a sweater, which means it's truly winter in Chennai. (Okay, I hear all of you snowbound Northerners whining, but sorry, I can't hear you over the gentle warm breeze. And if it makes you feel any better, it rained much of the time that we were at the beach, except for a long morning walk when we went past a herd of cows and calves, hanging out on the sand and being groomed by the crows, known as caw-caws in India. I went back to take a picture in the afternoon but then the rain hit and we hightailed it back to the room, where the television offerings were cricket (score - I am not making this up - 143 to 2 - but the other team had not been up to bat), Bollywood movies on a few channels, Indian game shows, India's version of Idol, a very bad movie with Scarlett Johansen, and CNN. I read a Bertie Wooster and Jeeves novel and sat out on the balcony, looking at the rough waves on the Indian ocean.

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