the Kids to Mysore
By Paul Dallaghan
called Seventh Series—even Eighth, depending on how many kids you
for those of us gifted with moving
on in practice to include wee ones, it is in every way a gift and
a bonus in life that is pure yoga. In my own experience, the practice
has even gotten deeper, though the extra activities get curtailed
and even dropped. This is how it is in Mysore with the family.
Those single carefree days of just getting up and practicing and
seeing how the day evolves definitely have been transformed.
Those little ones need full attention all day. For me as a father, it has
become a great opportunity to spend all day with them, whereas
back home has hindered this. So for me, the time in Mysore for
practice has become a great time for parent-child bonding.
the parenting role, one must also settle into it within the Indian
context. If you have been to Mysore before, it is really a simple
affair. You know the setup, and it is just getting
used to managing a family in that environment. For those going to Mysore
for the first time with children, Mysore is one of
the best ways to ease into the Indian experience.
stores in Mysore sell all the typical baby supplies you would be
accustomed to at home: baby wipes, diapers, etc. There is daycare,
parks, pediatricians and chemists. The main thing is to keep
your apartment clean, make the children wear shoes outside, leave
outside the house and try to cook for them yourself. Restaurant food
will more likely send them into a tumble. But then there are a number
of great ladies cooking wholesome food each day in both Gokulam and
elsewhere in Mysore. All in all, it is a fairly straightforward
affair with nothing to worry about, but still something to prepare
for. Our son is just over two years old at the time of this writing,
and he has made
trips already to Mysore—at 6 months, one year combining his
birthday with Guruji, and then most recently at 22 months. He will
be back at almost three years old, too. And by then we will have
Number Two along, who will only be three months old. So our experience
is positive. Just be strong together as a family, enjoy the family
time, and all works well. Guruji, Saraswathi and Sharath love the
children and give them special treatment. Watch out for the chocolate! My
son was bouncing around for a few hours after his first chocolate
from Guruji. Consider it Prasad. And we did eventually sleep!
some specific points to help in your planning and decision-making:
to Mysore and Travel Tips
When your child is under two years of age, you pay a minimum child
fare, so this is one bonus. And, you get to skip the queue legitimately
on to that plane or through immigration! Do bring a baby stroller,
which is invaluable on the streets of Mysore. Have a taxi booked
to meet you at the airport or book one of the government prepaid taxis
land. Book something the size of a Toyota Qualis to accommodate
all of you, including baggage and strollers. The best option
is to book Murthy to
pick you up. He runs the shop at the AYRI shala and services for students.
He is a lovely guy and totally reliable. Getting from
to Gokulam is probably the biggest challenge, so with that handled,
you're plain sailing. With the stroller you can walk comfortably
around Gokulam. You can try rickshaws to go together to places,
though we never use them. We are used to driving there and have
and hire a self-drive car. You can also book a driver for any
of your longer distance needs. Again, check with Murthy at the
shala and he will hook you up. Our policy is just to pay
that little bit extra to have the better service, car, driver,
etc. I can't
give any comment on the bus as we never use it, and I think life
is simpler that way. But you are welcome to try, though
not on our recommendation list here.
Recommended Age for Travel
Our son first went to Mysore at six months, but he had already traveled around
Asia and the U.S. at the age of three months. That age is one of
the easiest times to travel as they cannot crawl all over the plane
and usually sleep or eat. We intend to go to Mysore next when our
second child will be between two and three months. Once the neck is strong
enough that they can hold their head up, it's easy enough.
The only thing to pay attention to is their sensitivity to air
and atmosphere. With so many vehicles on the road these days in
Mysore, pollution has increased.
Vaccinations are the parents' personal decision. We, ourselves, have never
done any and have in no way given any to our child, and everything
has been healthy and strong. We did, however, visit a very good homeopathic
doctor in Bangalore for this other form of "vaccination," which
is administering certain homeopathic remedies that strengthen the
young child's immunity. Everything worked very well for us.
Julie and Vivek, who run the Green Market, put us on to this doctor
as he is her teacher. Again, I stress each parent must decide vaccinations themselves.
This is only our opinion and experience.
to Find Baby Supplies
The supermarkets have most things you need: diapers (nappies), baby
wipes, formula, baby food and everything else you need to cook
for your child to be healthy. Nilgiris and Loyal World are the
main supermarkets. The prices are good.
and Childcare Recommendations
This issue comes down initially to having somebody with whom you can really
trust to leave your child. Recommendations from some of the other students
in Mysore are helpful. Plus, checking in on the student
vine with Murthy, Shiva, Tina and the other ladies who cook or
clean can offer advice or even help find someone. Our cleaning
lady, Ratna, is an angel, and is great with our son. In fact, he
loves her and runs into her arms. So whenever we need back-up minding,
she does a great job and Sean is happy. But as I mentioned
above, one of the benefits of being in Mysore with the kids is maximizing the
We just use a babysitter when necessary. A typical time is
in the morning managing practice. Ratna will come by and let Jutima
go to practice while I will have gone earlier. But you can also
practice at different times and trade off the baby. There will
be many hands to take baby in the waiting area, and the whole Jois family will
too. This is easier to do when it's
still a baby. With older children a babysitter will help.
At other times of the day, you can find family-oriented activities to
do. On my own, I never ended up at the pool, but suddenly with a child,
became a favorite haunt. Children love the water, and there is
open grass area to run around in and play some ball. Plus down at
the Southern Star Hotel, it is clean and you are not bothered
by people grabbing and squeezing your child's cheeks. We
would also take off on weekends and extended moon days to different
nature spots. For us, that has been a bonus and a saving grace for
managing family time.
are a few childcare centres around the Gokulam area. This is really
for when they are older, though our son
did not take
to it because they were usually small and crowded with other
kids coming up and squeezing his cheeks.
So we felt much better just keeping him with us. There is a good
kindergarten that Sharath’s daughter attends. All these
places are closed in May, quite possibly in April and for two weeks
All are very affordable. It certainly would be a cultural adaptation
for the little one. If they are really not into it, then I'd
have to say keep them with you and find a very personal and reliable
babysitter or child helping hand.
amongst parent students will really depend on who is there. There
are a number of parks with swings and more, providing a
good outlet. You can also buy a variety of all sorts of educational
and noisy modern toys in the supermarkets. Conveniently
forget to buy
and Medical Emergencies
A doctor's house may be found on practically every street in Gokulam.
We were directed to a good one, Dr. Murthy. Unfortunately,
all I can remember right now is his residence. Go up 8th Cross, which
is the shala street, take a left at that first crossroads, go through
the next crossroads which has the shops on the corner. The cross
after that will have a big field at one corner. Opposite that on
the nearest left corner is his residence. So if any emergency check-up
is needed, that is the best I can recommend. Beyond that, there are a number
main thing is to take care of the children's food and how they
are out on the streets.
Always have them wear shoes and watch out for what they handle.
There is the usual adjustment phase for everyone
at first. Keep their immune systems strong with fresh orange juice
and wholesome food, then slipping into Mysore life is quite easy.
means, just feel relaxed and enjoy your time in practice and in
India. Many parents have done it, and it typically works fine.
Come prepared and let it be a holiday for you all together.
© 2006 Paul