I ran out of money today.
I have gotten used to my gorgeous schedule here – Ashtanga, tea, walking home with my friends Liza and Merrin, greeting the usual cows and dogs along the way, and then spending the afternoon practicing poses and reading, stretched out on our lawn under coconut palms.
I withdrew enough rupees to pay for this month’s hotel, Ashtanga practice at the shala and massage training in the afternoons. My bank balance is now 200 rupees, which is $4.
I walked out from the ATM enclosure, and smiled at the guard, to make him feel as if he was actually performing an important service rather than sitting on a chair.
I smiled at my friend Liza. I walked off down the street in the wrong direction. She called me back.
“Rebecca! This way!” she called.
I said something unintelligible. There were sounds coming out of my mouth that echoed and I was pointing off in the distance, saying something about dehydration.
Liza grabbed my arm and handed me her water bottle. “What’s going on?”
“I have no more money.” Those words made sense. They were out. I felt better.
It wasn’t a complete surprise. I knew it would happen. But between exchange rates, the mystery numbers of foreign currency and my own tendency towards denial, I wasn’t exactly sure when the day would actually come.
Now it’s come.
I would like to say it is a relief. But I am so happy now in my wandering spiritual questing life. I don’t want to go home yet.
Liza said, “You know; you can figure something out. Someone will lend you money. Or you can just hang out on the beach and not take massage lessons. That would be cheap.”
I liked this. I had choices. I would make it work, no matter what.
“Don’t let money rule your life,” Liza said. “You might as well just go home right now if you’re going to spend your time worrying.”
Last night I rode on the back of the motorbike belonging to Gibran, an Ashtanga teacher from Mexico City. At one point, we almost skid out in the sand along the beach. A cow blocked our way as three motorbikes flanked the rest of the street. We turned a corner and almost rear-ended a truck.
“At least it says ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ on it,” he said. “If we go, we go with God.”
Ha. I was not so amused. My knuckles and inner thighs burned from clenching.
I would never go on a motorbike again. I would walk home. I would never tell my mother or grandmother about this irresponsible ride.
At dinner, I had a glass of wine. I needed to chill out.
Gibran, as Liza likes to say, is a little bit pervy, and he loves to chat. I thought I knew his type.
In the course of chatting over dinner, Gibran turned out to be a lot more. He’s a cancer and drug abuse survivor who is now a sick yogi (sick as in badass) and has a long history of studying yoga and meditation in India with some amazing gurus.
I asked him about his meditation practice.
“I don’t sit there, no?” he explains in an Indian-Mexican hybrid manner. “I live my life. I am just present. Like, now (he points up to the tree above us), a coconut could fall on my head and I could die. That’s how I live.”
I got back on the motorbike to ride home. I relaxed this time. I thought about my afternoon on Liza’s yoga mat with a book, underneath the coconut palms. Turns out, that was just as dangerous as the back of a motorbike in India along the cow-spotted beach.
Turns out, the money can always run out. The trip will inevitably end. The coconuts, as coconuts do, tend to fall.
What I can do is hop on the back of the bike and feel the wind blowing across my skin.