Thursday, May 25, 2006


Yoga police at the Taj...

Bret, in his wisdom, decided to do yoga at the Taj Mahal in Agra the other day and nearly got kicked out. He had just received that morning his first-ever Indian shave-and-a-haircut and looked to the untrained eye quite authentic in his new white kurta (a long shirt) and pants. And there he was, in full-fledged sun salutation, making himself at home with the downward dog and cobra postures. He is a tall man and when he stretches out, he grows even taller. For all his height he remains graceful and at ease in the pose, and for the ten or so of us who were relaxing around the perimeter of the Taj it was enjoyable and relaxing to watch.

Geoff, who is always game for something new, joined him and together they stretched amid the tourists and the marble mausoleum. Ten minutes had passed and a guard came over to Bret and asked, “Is that yoga you are doing?” Well, yes, it was. She told Bret to stop practicing yoga, and trouble started when Bret asked why. Another guard arrived a few minutes later with a pistol (and had a back-up man who wielded a rifle). He made it clear with his presence (but perhaps not in his words) why Bret couldn’t finish the sun salutation. What we could piece together was this: the Supreme Court of India ruled that (?) no photographs of people doing yoga could be taken at the Taj Mahal. I have to say we were surprised that this question would have become a matter for consideration by the Indian Supreme Court. The guard said that, anyone could do yoga out on the lawns, but any photos that we had of people doing yoga at the Taj Mahal would have to be deleted. The issue wasn’t the yoga itself, he said. It was the documentation of it. My feeling is that Bret wanted to continue to debate this matter, test the boundaries of performing (in its origin) a Hindu stretching exercise at a Mughal Islamic temple. Perhaps the prospect of the gun, and having to sit in his white kurta on the dirty floor in an Agra jail cell deterred him from taking the matter further.

Ha ha. you have arule foe everything.
Oh my!!! I am so glad that the situation didn't escalate into more. Please be careful! We want you all to return safely.
Great story, but don't push the envelope too hard. Reminds me of the time I got off a plane in India, turned and without thinking took a picture of the rest of our party descending the steps from the plane. I nearly got arrested on the spot.
Happiness is yoga, not a warm gun.
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