Just looking around at what I see on the Central Coast, people from India seem very polite and pleasant but also very nerdy. This was not something I seriously thought about until I read the LA Times Sports section one recent morning and discovered that India, a country of 1.3 billion people, only had one medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, and it’s a puny bronze to boot. Even tiny Fiji secured a gold. America, a country of 320 million, had, at last count, 93 medals and 30 gold, and still counting….
I wonder if India’s lack of athleticism and competitive zeal, obviously, has something to do with yoga, an ancient Indian practice of mental discipline and physical flexibility, which I started practicing three months ago at the age of 72. I’ve never been to India and what I know about India, besides yoga and the image of yogis in ashrams hypnotizing the Western world’s spiritual needy, is this: Gandhi was a great pacifist whose philosophy is the most sensible in world history; some Indians around here have pink dots on their foreheads; most of the motels and hotels in this area are owned by Indians who do not permit dogs in their rooms; every time you need to know something on the phone when you’re ripped off, a polite Indian, whom you cannot understand, answers; just about every cold call on your phone is a fucking polite Indian; Indians and their spawn, which I see walking around outside of their motels and businesses, seem clannish and do not carry themselves with the swagger and light-footed rhythm of athletes; India children in America dominate national spelling bees, seeming to memorize entire dictionaries, destroying white, brain-trust children; most Indians are named Patel; Indian yogis lead the world in all phases of yoga and are idolized by their disciples and pupils; behind the sweet politeness of Indians is a ruthless mercenary streak that I suspect overruns humanity.
Of course, most of the Indians I’ve come in contact with are probably not from the bottom of the caste system in India, because at least they have enough money to buy a plane ticket to America and buy all our motels and hotels, live in them in some cases, and make more money. They come from a country teeming with beggars; and I wonder, do the millions of impoverished in India give a damn about yoga and yogis or athletics when they’re hungry and wasting away and on the verge of stealing a pig, a goat, an apple, a piece of bread?
I’ve read of a famous and fabulously rich India yoga guru in Beverly Hills who was trying to fuck all the pretty female acolytes in his classes who worshipped him and ended up getting sued for his millions. I once, as a cabbie, picked up an Indian man in a beautiful suit and drove him to a business conference at a snazzy hotel and he was very interesting and intelligent and friendly and tipped me well and even gave me some rupees which I still hold in my wallet, in case I ever get to India; though I’ve never had any desire to visit a country that hot and overcrowded.
I probably wouldn’t even give a second thought to poor feeble India garnering only one measly bronze medal from a country of 1.3 billion if it wasn’t for my recent plunge into yoga, where everybody seems happily under the influence of its precepts, and those precepts are from India. In many of my yoga articles I have admitted to the exercises softening my hard edge and rendering me less competitive, even if I still do toss my tennis racket at times, though not as often.
Speaking of tennis, this is the only sport where I recognize any professionals from India, and what I read about the few who succeeded just a little on the pro tennis tour was that they were really nice guys, almost too nice, which leads me to believe further that a country with a vast yoga culture breeds a bunch of gawky nerds interested only in taming A-type personalities while stressing non-confrontation.
What is shocking to me is that I have not seen one India person in any of my yoga classes, nor any Indian instructors or gurus, though I have read about big shot yogis spell-binding rich white people (mostly females) in Hollywood and Beverly Hills, which means that perhaps these Indian gurus are secretly trying to squeeze the aggressiveness out of our guilty aggressors and therefore undermine the maniacal aggressiveness of our country—probably a good thing. It also might be obvious that, for the most part, India people hate fucking yoga and think we’re a bunch of idiots for adopting it in a manner that has caused it to take off as a business empire for the yogis who prey on our guilt and lack of spiritualism as we ruthlessly lead the world in finance as well as the Olympics.
I think I might ask one of my yoga instructors if there are any India people in their classes, or if there ever has been. My guess is that most of the local India people are well-apprised of yoga and would be embarrassed to join a local class and observe our instructors and pupils, just as an American in India would laugh out loud at an Indian trying to hit a baseball when one of their national sports is cricket, kind of a foolhardy offshoot of baseball if not the outline of the beginning of that sport.
This morning, the day after I read about the Americans earning 93 medals to India’s one, I picked up the paper and saw that we were up to 100 and the Indians still had only one pathetic bronze, but when I turned on MSNBC to see what Trump has done next, a gold medal ladies’ badminton game was going on between a Spanish woman and an Indian woman! The Indian woman was assured a silver, and for that I was glad, but I still rooted for her to beat the world-class Spaniard to whom she was an underdog, but she lost the second set after winning the first, and then I had to go to yoga class and therefore missed the final set, so I guess I’ll have to read about it tomorrow. §
Dell Franklin, once a skeptic of the benefits of yoga, has become a regular practitioner and has regained flexibility in both his body and mind. More of his stories can be viewed at his website: dellfranklin.com, where this story, a series about yoga, first appeared.