Mysuru’s best-kept Madonna secret- The New Indian Express

Mysuru’s best-kept Madonna secret- The New Indian Express

I live in the Yoga capital of the world, Mysuru. The locality I live in, called Gokulam, houses the yoga ashram of the late K Pattabhi Jois, famous for Ashtanga yoga. Local legend has it that this ashram hit the popularity charts when presumably the pop icon Madonna decided to indulge into some very serious body twisting, the yoga asanas. Moreover, pictures of Paramaguru Shrarath Jois, the grandson of the great Pattabhi Jois who is also a yoga instructor, hobnobbing with the who’s who of the world, like music icon Sting, in the local newspapers has only added to the mystique and charm of this heritage city.

Following the celebrity yoga trend, people from across the world throng my neighbourhood. They are here with their bags and hand sanitisers and lo and behold this place looks like a giant, diverse gene pool in a petri dish. Now I don’t know how true the Madonna story is but it’s now part of the local folklore and has done wonders to the economy of this place for sure.

It took me some time to understand the workings of this place. There are two worlds here, one belonging to the yoga people and the other to the non-yoga people. So if you are one of those lucky few who is learning yoga at the world-renowned yoga ashrams, many have mushroomed now, and drinking coconut water at the coconut corner, which by the way is marked on Google Maps, then you have access to all the backyard cafes and waffle places, the happening rooftop satsangs, free home delivery from grocery stores, the luxury of smoking joints on the roadside, driving around the city on a Vespa or a bike with no valid licence without any fear of the traffic inspector’s danda. But if you belong to the non-yoga community, you better forget about all these perks.

Many people don’t mind this discrimination because it keeps the local economy well oiled. Most houses are in some way connected to yoga. They rent rooms, run cafes, Ayurvedic massage parlours, shloka classes, offer tiffin services or just guide them on surviving in India. A Buddhist family staying close by serves Taiwanese buffet lunch every weekend for just `500 a plate. These places only cater to the yoga community and their way of advertising is mostly word-of-mouth.

The place suits me too! A lot of people smile and greet you on the road, all stray dogs are adopted and taken care of by the yoga students and have a collar, the small grocery shop has organic stuff, the best exotic vegetables and fancy cheese, nowhere to be found in a small Malgudi-type town like Mysuru.


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