Strolling through piazza San Silvestro in Rome, I stumbled upon a yoga class being organized for World Yoga week and was invited to join a class later that evening. With the sun setting I settled into my mat next to this wonderfully chatty Roman named Erica. After class she asked if I was sticking around for a few days and offered to meet the next day for an Aperitivo.
We met and had our wine and potato chips and she wanted to share a special place in the neighborhood. She led me around the corner to Caffe Sant’ Eustachio featured in the movie “Eat, Pray, Love”, the scene where Julia Roberts tries to order an espresso in a crowded cafe. Excitedly Erica said I was doing my own journey. I hadn’t really thought of it like that. My intentions were to experience everything, not aware of my own self-discovery and Erica’s clairvoyance.
I met Erica for a third night that week at the Indian Embassy for a Meditazione Yoga. I arrived earlier than she, dressed in workout clothes speculating why there are rows chairs and no yoga mats? I sat down in the front row and a beautiful older woman greeted me asking where I was from and if I spoke any Italian, “well no, but I can pick up a few words.” Aah that’s okay she would translate for me no problem. The seats started to fill and soon it was standing room only in this grand gallery of the Embassy. This wasn’t a yoga class at all, but an Italian lecture hosted by that beautiful doctor on the benefits of meditation.
Several times throughout the evening she would turn to me and ask into the microphone if I understood. I could manage a lowly nod and a “Si” as there was PowerPoint presentation with pictures behind her.
And now the meditation. I have never done more than 5 minutes at the end of a yoga class. This went on for eternity – eyes closed, gentle Italian voice, restless in a firm plastic chair in the front row. I noticed movement and would peek around with one eye open, copying the masses.
While sitting with one hand in the air the beautiful doctor sneaks over, leans in and asks me over the microphone if my hand was hot or cold. Hot / cold I have no idea and to my embarrassment it was clearly the wrong answer. She hastily motioned her hand above my head and around my hands several times and sure enough when asked again I said the other.
Afterwards the doctor assured me I did very well, to remember to practice wherever I am and then pinched my cheeks. Erica treated me to Chinese food laughing about the mix up and insisting I am on my way to my own Elizabeth Gilbert style memoir.
Eat, Pray, Love. Exactly. I managed to eat my way through every country, not just Italy. I floundered spiritually in India through a Vipassana that would be washed out by a Monsoon. And I fell completely in love in the Namibian desert, the big reason why I never made it to Bali. Her insight still amazes me.