Sunrise, Boulders Beach — Cape Town, South Africa

Outside this window #39

Outside this window the afternoon dozes beneath the blanket of heat. My hair has a static styled quality about it, tumbling in long perfectly formed curls. My tresses look intricately fussed over until I touch one of the snakey coils. Chlorine. The pool has claimed another victim aside from my lank crackling hair. My silver toe ring. A thick plain silver ring I bought at the night market in India. I looked for ages through the blinding array of tin for ears, toes and other places. No dolphins. No ying. Nor yang. No peace signs. A pair of plain toe rings marking my time here and on the yoga mat where I learned how to climb out of my own way. The shala waited at the end of the long narrow path. Every day the path trickled me past long communal tables and cushions made of old saris, past the hammocks, past the swimming pool and the outdoor loungers, right down to the far end of the property. Before sunrise I sit with an eight cup cafetiere brimming with fresh ground coffee. I write. Tattered notepaper and biro sprawled across the wooden table top and me lounging on a chair. I sip my coffee. Astrovarti, the blonde doe eyed three legged dog, curls up next to me on a cushion. She makes a half hearted attempt to take my pen before setttling down to sleep. The advanced yogis make their way to the shala. Soundlessly. Like mist. Weightless. Like a troupe of ballerinas darting into position for their finale. Some early mornings I felt brave and left the comfort of coffee, story and dog, and took myself into the shala to watch how a body’s understanding of strength and grace is transformed when we show up every day. The shala hummed with the power of focus. A pair of plain toe rings marked those four weeks. And so they remained with me, one the second toe of each foot, for seven years. Last year the right ring became too big and started flying off my foot, so it ended up in the jewellry box my mother bought for me in Amsterdam. And today after swimming I arrived home and noticed both my feet were naked. And the thing that had marked the experience; in its departure it led me back round, reminding me of where I had been. Where I’ve come from. Outside this window is a world of time we mark with experiences we want to remember.