7:20 am – Got up this morning before dawn to trundle down to the docks and watch Bombay begin a new day. This busiest of places is remarkably calm in the early hours. The street sweepers, bent-backed and draped in dusty saris, nonethless succeed in sustaining some dignity.
The thin patch of greenery in front of the Gateway To India (a magnificent monument erected by the British) serves as an outdoor gym where the Mumbaiyya gather and do all manner of morning calisthenics. There’s a fellow in front of me right now doing the dreaded “Hindu pushups” while his, um, boys threaten to fall out of his overly loose lungi.
But the real reason I’m here this morning is to watch a class of “laughter yoga”, a style of yoga invented by and for septagenarians, and which includes some basic callisthenics punctuated by episodes of hearty forced belly laughs.
Now, I’ve been a student of various styles of yoga for over 20 years. But the Madonnafication of this most prized of my people’s physical arts has turned me away from formal classes in recent years.
I had intended to join today’s class, but the first stirrings of “Bombay belly” have me a tad insecure. All the better, since today’s class has been taken over by a veritable gaggle of teenaged Japanese tourists. And let me tell you, there are few things in the world more ridiculous than large groups of teenage Japanese tourists, not the least of which being their annoying and bombastic tour guide and leader.
They form a wide circle on the grass and do their thing. But a dog has chosen to occupy the centre of the circle. He spends the entire half hour licking his anus. I can’t think of a more fitting visual metaphor.