Lotus Flowers along the Backwater

I left the ashram two days ago, and have been doing morning yoga on my own already.  In retrospect, it was everything I'd hoped it would be.  I made some great friends and picked up a yoga habit I hope will counter all that soan papdi. 
Yesterday, I took a boat ride along the backwaters of Allepy in a long wooden boat.  I lay on a comfy mat as my guide rowed through the canals and toward the open lake.  After some time, he made a groaning sound, waited a moment, and then said, "Madam, stick?  Use stick?"  He was asking me to row, and I said ok.  We glided by lines of houseboats, hordes of lillies, a few lotus flowers, and two pet eagles before reaching his house.  We approached a bank, and his daughter and another girl of 11 reached for my hand to pull me ashore.  They held my hands and led me to their house, picking exotic flowers along the way and lavishing me with them.  Their faces were both mature and innocent at the same time.  I sat on a chair while the girls put the flowers in my hair, drank a glass of chai made by the boatman's wife, and looked out at the rice paddies.  Water buffalo and a flock of white birds flying over them.  Neighbor children with bindis on their foreheads.  Photos with the family. 
Evening brought a raucous outing with an older French couple and some silly Indian guys, smoking and drinking (well, they did while I breathed second-hand smoke and drank mineral water.  I'm a yogini now!) This morning, I slept in, did some yoga and then went for a full-body ayruvedic massage with so much oil that was absolutely exquisite.

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