Madhavi meets life // Stay nice and flexible

25. November 2017

Last Thursday, I landed at New York’s JFK airport. It was a warm fall evening, the last of its kind – the following days it turned bitter cold. I had met Isabel from SODA Books on the plane and we shared a cab to Manhattan.

I felt drawn back to New York for several reasons. One of which was that I needed some time and space to write my next book. Far away from home, with a substantial time difference – that’s the most effective scenario for me, especially now that I was pushing up against a deadline.

I had booked a hotel on the Bowery. It was affordable, the reviews generally positive and the pictures online looked fine. I wanted to stay near the Yoga studios where I’d be taking classes. In the past, I’ve always stayed with friends, but this time I wanted to be completely alone.

On my way into the hotel, I quickly realized that this was going to take some guts. There were junkies lining the hallway, looking me up and down with droopy eyes. It was almost midnight and I just wanted to sleep. I took a deep breath and walked on, gripping my suitcase.

When I got to the front desk, a seriously stoned lady checked me in, reading the house rules out loud to me in halftime: no eating in the room because of the rats. No phone calls except in the lobby (which was filled with shady characters). No setting your own alarm – if you want to wake up, we’ll take care of that. Hallelujah – where was I?! I told myself to chill out, Madhavi, and tried to relax.

I purchased an adaptor from the front desk – had left mine at home in Berlin yet again – and then made my way up to my room. When I opened the door, I had a silent laughing fit and had to sit down. I was in a tiny, windowless cabin with an open ceiling – more of a pod than a room. The air was stale and uncomfortably warm. I searched for an outlet to charge my almost-dead phone and came up empty. My laptop was dead too. I felt like crying – how was I going to work on my book in this desolate, drug-dump? Keep cool, I thought to myself – this is Yoga, the real deal. Just go with it…

At some point, I realized that this wasn’t really a hotel, but more of hostel – or a cheap by-the-hour motel. It was the middle of the night, otherwise I would have taken off immediately. When I went to the shared bathroom to freshen up, a lady was calmly shooting up in the shower. No thanks.

With my money and passport stuffed under my pillow – I wasn’t taking any chances – I tried for some shut eye. After a few minutes, I could hear snores from the other pods. Of course – the ceilings were all open. To my left, someone was noisily munching chips. I was starting to lose it. Behind me, another lady was talking on the phone, despite the explicit house rules. Practice serenity now, I thought to myself.

Please let me sleep!

At some point, as I was trying to hypnotize myself with mantras so that I could finally get some rest, a woman began to squeal like a dying pig. I sat up, electrified – no chance for sleep now. The police arrived, more screaming and at this point it was three in the morning. I still hadn’t slept a wink. I wasn’t sure anymore if I was just overreacting or if it was time to leave this hell-hole. In any case, time for Yoga, I thought.

At Gurmukh’s Golden Bridge Yoga studio there’s a five-a.m. offering. Perfect. I was there at 4:35, ready to go – somehow sensing that my luck wasn’t going to shift just yet. Sure enough, I checked online and only today, the five-a.m. class was cancelled. I was about ready to lose my tired mind, but got it together and moved on.

No way was I going back to my room. The only place open this early was Starbucks. So, I landed there and finally charged my dead phone.

You don’t always have to endure

At five-a.m. one gets a sense of the scope of poverty in Manhattan. I handed out my dollar bills like chewing gum, unable to leave the others out this early without a warm cup of coffee.

I had to decide: stay in the hell-hole, having pre-paid a whopping 400 Euro, or should I search for a new digs? Was I just being inflexible? Spoiled and picky? I decided on a new hotel and set out in the Manhattan dawn to find one. Those who know New York prices feel my pain: it’s not easy to find something affordable. I finally discovered the Ludlow Hotel online – it was just around the corner and I took a chance and booked. I couldn’t get much worse, I thought.

I collected my things from the hell-hole and tried to get my money back using all the charm and empathy I could muster. It worked. I left, still surrounded by junkies, prostitutes and police.

Two streets down, I moved into my new digs. 18th floor with a view of Manhattan. A dream. I fell into bed, took a deep breath and was flooded with gratitude for this experience, for having taken such good care of myself. Self-care is so important! And sometimes, flexibility is not the same thing as endurance. Learning to tell the difference is Yoga too!



© Maria Schiffer


Madhavi Guemoes
Madhavi Guemoes dachte mit 15, dass sie das Leben vollständig verstanden habe, um 31 Jahre später zu erkennen, dass dies schier unmöglich ist. Sie arbeitet als freie Autorin, Aromatherapeutin, Podcasterin, Bloggerin und Kundalini Yogalehrerin weltweit und ist Mutter von zwei Kindern. Madhavi praktiziert seit mehr als 30 Jahren Yoga - was aber in Wirklichkeit nichts zu bedeuten hat.
Madhavi Guemoes on EmailMadhavi Guemoes on FacebookMadhavi Guemoes on Instagram