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What makes me return to India so many time over the past 7 years? Well, besides this wonderland hypnotised me, the Sri family in New Delhi is one big factor! I feel safe even I was down south in Chennei.

In 2001 Christmas eve when I about to depart from Singapore’s Changi airport, someone asked me, “Where are you going? England? France? Australia or Canada?” I said, “India, New Delhi.” This person was so surprise that I choose India for my Christmas holiday. It sets 3 of my Christmas in the following 7 years were spent in India. It wasn’t intended to be, it just happened.

I knew Sri in Melbourne, while both of us were studied in RMIT. He was doing his PhD, and I was doing my MFA.

After few days looming around Lakeside in Pokhara, we lost our fine taste bud. It seems we can only have 2nd or even 3rd class Western food in the local restaurants. Yes, tons of restaurants here and most of them offer similar breakfast, lunch and dinner menus. Some offers Chinese food too, but I was sick of the so-called Chinese food such as choumen (fried noodle), fried rice, momo etc.

There is one expansive Japanese restaurant which we can forget about it; a Korean restaurant which I shouldn’t even think as I was still recovering from diarrhoea plus gastric pain. “When you are sick, you better eat food that you are used to.” Alex commented. So, we tried the Chinese restaurant.

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The first night we climbed up the little metal stairway to Yi Xiang Ge, a half-year old Chinese restaurant and found it closed due to running out of gas. Though disappointed but facing 4 young gentlemen with apologitic expression, we promised to drop by the next evening and we did. Since then, Alex and I was happily visiting this restaurant practically every evening. Yi Xiang Ge stands out of the crowd by offering simple but authentic Chinese cuisine.

Our favorite dishes are veggie steam dumplings in sweet & sour soup; veggie fired dumplings, stir-fry green veggie as well as the ‘san shi liang chai’ (apetizer)… Yum Yum! It is not a vegetarian restaurant but the cook was happily offering what we like. The food brought our hearts right back to Singapore!!!! We miss home terribly!

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What I feel amazing is the restaurant is owned by 3 young people, all in their 20s. Two of them from Beijing, they are Xang Dung and his sister and one Nepali… After 7 days we became friends…

Jing

Our safety straw at Varanasi train station. During our stay we had a lot of fun together. He did a 10 days crash trip through India and has seen probably all important North India sites something I cannot say about Jing and me.

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He convinced us to take a boat ride on Ganges and to make a trip together to Sarnath Buddhas first teaching spot. Coffee, talks and walks along the Ghats are one of our special memories with him. His little gift a key chain with a small torch was my life saver in Lumbini with it’s constant power cuts.

Poor Mi Ryung, she always had to translate.

We also met first at Mandala. Her body got so much twisted by Sheshadri that I needed to cover my eyes. It was like in a horror movie were a women’s torso get separated from the legs. After that Jing and I were 100% sure not to attend Mandalas class. But we made great friends with her and Mi Kyong.

Her reddish Kim Chi under the eyes of Mi Kyong made her to the princess of Kim Chi.

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The first time we met was at Mandalas class were we got a glimpse at the yogashala and his teacher. We were sitting beside Mi Kyong who was doing all her asanas with a smile on her face. I was impressed by her strength.

Life is a circle and Isan made friends her and Mi Ryung. It ended up that we all spend an amazing amount of time together with talk, translation and a lot of laughs.

She is by the way the Queen of Kim Chi.

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We were so lucky to meet many wonderful people in Mysore.

Through the Korean community we met Ji Yeon who became our Ashtanga Vinyasa teacher. Willing to share with us we enjoyed the sweat pouring hours in her house. Mostly finishing with great Korean green tea and free Kim Chi.   Yummy!

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The first dinner we invited Isan, and Isan brought along her housemate Rebekka. It turned out to be an evening gathering for 4 bald girls on the roof terrace of Lakshmi nest. Subsequently more dinners and hangouts among the 4 of us. Besides Isan’s delicious fried rice, Rebekah’s spaghetti seasoned with fried garlic oil was a cool recipe. We really miss those time that we were together…

Rebekah, who had 2 years of yoga experience, became the hit for Mdm Lakshmi, as her lengthy figure and flexibility is perfect for yoga practise. Rebekah! Mdm Lakshmi felt so sorry that you couldn’t participate in their regional Yoga competition… We too were disappointed. We were really looking forward to see you on stage!

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Our stay in Mysore was a memorable experience. This experience came from many forms – the opportunity for practicing Yoga, taking a rest from our long term travel and last but not least, the incredible friendships. Isan Alex Chou! You are top on our list as being our foreign friend in Mysore!

From the first sight we saw one another in the Internet cafe, then you became our frequent visitor at our home, till we headed off Bangalore where we split. Within a short period of time we shared thick and thin, joy and sorrow.

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You are always in our memory when we think of Mysore and the Yoga… We were so glad to have you with us. Till we see each other again, we would like to send our best wishes to your newly born – Yogashala in Taiwan. All the best, my friend!

Liling Lee, my old time friend! The only old friend cum travel mate whom is still regularly in touch with me over the past 11 years. She was the one who constantly keep me company while I was at my worst depression…

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Liling and I both are sponsors of two Tibetan monks.

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For Liling coming to India to meet us as well as our sponsored monks, she brought us an idea of the possibility to go South India which it wasn’t initially in our plan. Our South India trip was delighted by the touch of the Tibetan culture. We had a great one-day tour into Sera monestary, guided by our sponsored monks and the evening ended with a pleasant meal prepared by them.

We missed meeting Dalai Lama though by missing an entrance pass but we heard his voice came out of a loud speaker from Giumei Monestary while we were waiting outside… that was as much blessing from His Holy 14th Dalai Lama…

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The 10 days while she was here, we travelled between Hampi and Mysore. Her way of travelling and interacting with locals is what I admire. Before she left, she printed out photographs for those locals she promised to send and put us in shame of all those promises we made and yet not be able to put it in action…

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It is so hard to capture Harsha so we ended up with a picture of his house. We got introduced to each other by Shirley. Both friends haven’t met for a long time and the opportunity to come to Mysore was great for a reunion.

Actually he is a busy artist, hard to catch at home and if at home visited by many different people from all over the world. We still don’t know how he managed to entertain us for so many days and still finishing his work on time.

He was our key to find our yoga teacher here in Mysore and our accommodation. We are grateful for his help and hope to meet once again.

I was requested to write bad things about him but sorry I cannot find anything. I hope he can forgive me.

Harsha's house

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