Saturday, January 31, 2004


I finally made it to Mysore last night and the cows are still florescent yellow from the January 14 festival.

Before leaving Kerala we made a bit of a scene at the Trivandrum airport. Three girls in Punjabi dresses (me, Miss Y, Bindi), two adequately covered (T and U) and two boys tan and looking fab (W and The FC, who was dressed in his tailor-made "Hugh Hefner outfit" featuring black paisley satin pants with red buttons all the way up the sides and a red red shirt). There we were making a fuss and forcing another passenger to take our picture with no fewer than five cameras.... and then a security man came over and said it's not allowed.

The flight was uneventful but the car ride (in an aqua Ambassador) was not; due to traffic it took a full hour for T, U and I just to get out of smoggy Bangalore (Miss Y and Bindi stayed overnight in that city; the former to visit her nurse friend and the latter to chill in an AC hotel w/ cable). Along the way we sucked more exhaust than you can imagine. Then there's driving in India at night -- not recommended. It's one lane each way shared by tongas (horse drawn carts), rickshaws, bicycles, pedestrians, autos, lorries, giant steel busses, cows, goats, and vansful of tourists. Passing is done on curves, uphill, and everywhere (preferably on an uphill curve in front of an oncoming truck) It took over four hours to get to the Kaveri Lodge.... which seems like it hasn't been cleaned since I left at the end of May in 2002. They remembered me, which was nice, and set me up in in the room directly below the one I stayed in for four months (western toilet!). When I'm there I keep wondering what year it is (When I'm not thinking about the dirt).... esp after ordering a breakfast chai and installing a new pink mosquito net (apparently Bob and I did NOT get ripped off when we paid Rs 350 for ours in '02). Vishunat (main manager) was there this AM and asked how i found the room. "It is nice but it is a bit dirty. "Thankyouverymuch," he said, interlacing his fingers at his chest and bobbing his head in gratitude. I decided not to press the issue. T. cleaned her room w/ Chandrika soap and now I've given mine a once-over.....Not sure how long I'll be there tho. It's 5Km to the new shala from there.

Today Prashanth came and we went around on his motorcycle running errands. He looks the same, and has stuck with the ashtanga teacher Iyengar (Rs 100 or $2/month for Indians, $100 for westerners) and is nearly finished with the intermediate series (I started teaching him the sun salutations and standing poses on the roof of the Kaveri Lodge in '02). He did not seem too impressed by the Frango mints T offered him. In any case he is back in school f/t (he has a master's in computer science) studying fil-um. His acting teacher was a big actor back in the day and is his mentor; Prashanth wants to direct.....

I went to change money at the old American Express place across from the Hanuman temple but it's changed hands. They still change money though, don't they. The dollar is still crap, 44 rupees per (in 2002 it was 48) and what used to cost $550 -- a month at Guruji's, which is now paid in rupees -- is nearly $600. They gave me such a thick stack of notes I had to count it about 20 times. It looks like I robbed a bank.....

There's no registration at the Ashtanga Yoga Research Inst on Saturday but we went over on a whim and caught Guruji, Saraswati and Sharath on the way to their car, dressed to the nines. Sharath of course looked like a Bollywood film star. Guruji said, When did you come and I answered last night and told him Y was on her way (she's been here, like, six times). He said to register tomorrow at 9. Sharath then told me to come to led practice tomorrow at 6:30. "Come early," he said, "Come at 6'15." Not sure which practice it will be (primary or intermediate) but it will be practice, that's what's important. Saraswati asked where we're staying. I said the old neighborhood, we're looking for a house. Or something....

In a short time Y and Bindi will arrive from Bangalore. Then maybe we can get more food. As far as I'm concerned it's all about eating/sleeping/yoga.....Not necessarily in that order.

Thursday, January 29, 2004


I was all primed to take the bus to town to buy some sh*t in Trivandrum today but I was *so hot* when I finally got to the stand I didn't feel like waiting and ended up weasling out and taking a rickshaw. The wallah gave me a good deal, drove me exactly where I wanted to go (round trip) and did not try to change the fare (tre unusual). His name was Ali and he was surprised that I'd heard of Nusrat Fatu Ali Khan. Anyway I found the sandalwood carving artists by the temple, where i bought stuff last time 'round, and all they had was overpriced Ganeshes (elephant head god) and I was not in the mood. I chatted for a half hour w/ the main artist and *left w/o buying anything.* I've finally gotten past shop-asana pose (or so I think).

Lino was handing out poses like candy this morning -- to me anyway. I had a relatively strong practice due to much sleeping yesterday......My new yoga poses are:
Bakasana A and B
Ardha Matsyendrasana
Eka Pada Sirsasana

The last involves putting your foot behind your head and going into a sitting forward bend....

I'm tre exhausted, big yoga day tomorrow (full vinyasa yoga, meaning many more sun salutations than usual) plus travel. After talking to Lino we're not taking a train from Bangalore to Mysore but a hired car. Much less stressful....If all goes as planned (ha) at this time manana I'll be at my home away from home, the Kaveri Lodge.

Word on the street is that the singles issue of Today's Chicago Woman has hit the's making a *huge* splash here.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004


They show bootleg movies on video up and down the beach here at dinner time -- the Guru is a favorite -- so the other day Bindi, Miss Y and I set out for some repast and Pirates of the Caribbean, or what my friend Munkin likes to call the Black Pearl. I've been here long enough now that I thought the whole thing was about India:

-Bindi's rickshaw driver friend is the son of a fisherman and every night they (fishermen) go out in their boats and ring the horizon like a row of Xmas lights. "How cool it would be to go out with them and see what they do." I said. Bindi explained it'd be impossible -- women are invited out once a year for some ritual but otherwise are banned because they're bad luck (just as women are banned from the yoga shala during ladies holiday....God forbid we defile it). So there we are at the movie when some character protests bringing the pretty girl along: 'It's "frightful bad luck" to bring a woman on the ship, sir.'

-The cute boy in the movie wants to go after the pirates who stole his girl but isn't allowed to sail with the colonial Navy. "You're a blacksmith," he's reminded. In other words, wrong caste.

-There were naugty monkeys in the movie and many more here in India (they scare the *&^% out of me, as does Hanuman).

-Johnny Depp had to pay a creepy urchin to park his boat at the dock. Here in India it's a rupee or two to take a leak or, say, park your bike at the railway station.

-Pirates haggling over who gets what percentage of their plunder = every day here in Kovalam.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004


I had to do kapotasana twice this morning. The first time was w/ Gwendolyn who is very methodical, and it seemed like I was there for a week, trying to first inch my head back (w/ the inhale) and then crawl my hands towards the feet (w/ the exhale), and then repeating many many times. After about 45 years she let me move my hands back a few inches and straighten my arms for five breaths (Part B of the pose) and then said "Come up with a big inhale" and I did -- slowly, and not without smacking the thigh of the person next to me (yesterday she said the same thing and I started to come up and faltered. "You were doing it until you started thinking about it," she said. "You got scared." She is seventysomething and she was right). I count coming up on my own today as a breakthrough --- and it'll totally help me to stand up from BB (Which is what Lino said yesterday when I asked him what I could do to prepare to do it -- "Kapotasana," he answered). So there I was kneeling on my faded purple rug, triumphant w/ coming up on my own, and panting. Next thing I know Lino is standing in front of me. "Why you not touch-a the toes?" Because it's my fourth time (officially) doing the pose. "Fourth time, you touch-a the toes." How far were my hands from my feet? "This close" (holds fingers less than an inch apart). Oh! Should I do it again? "How does your back feel?" Fine. "Then you do it." Oh, boy. "Oh boy who?" Oh *man*. (Laughter). So I got on my knees and went back -- first you put your palms in prayer (this pose requires a prayer. And some wings) then take your arms back and land on your palms. Then the head comes down and you walk the hands in, then move the head closer and lower onto the forehead, etc. Lino gets right to the point with this adjustment (which is easier to do the 2nd time around) and next thing I knew my right fingertips were toucing something that felt like a half-cooked lima bean or semisoft M&M -- the back of one of my toes. While crawling my fingers back (like spiders) I lost sensation in the left arm, but not before feeling my fingers touching the other toe-pads. Lino helped me up this time (Thank Rama) and after doing a vinyasa he gave me the next pose -- Supta Vajrasana or Sleeping (ha) Thunderbolt pose. (You are in lotus w/ arms crossed behind your back, hands clasping your feet; for an image see and scroll down). That was also very exciting as my hands stayed bound to my feet the whole time (Lino really knows what he's doing). My muscles felt like putty afterwards, and then it was time for back bending... (still haven't come up) which seems easier to do after those two intense poses. Once I caught my breath, that is.

We were getting ready to leave for the flower show and art museum at 11:30 when who arrived at our wee hotel but T. and U. from Chicago. They are here for 3 days, then going up to Mysore. We got them coconuts, showed them the important places (tailor, German Bakery, beach, coconut lady, Webby World -- all w/i steps of our place) and then took off in the rick$shaw.... I just got back and am filthy/completely spaced out. (Miss Y and I wore Indian dress, including ankle braclets, bangles, salwaar kameez w/ scarf and bindi; I also brought my orange and pink parasol for the sun). There were a lot of cool orchids. Also a mini auto show, which I insisted on dragging Miss Y to. They had mint cond. British vehicles circa 1950 including Austins and others w/ steering wheels on the wrong side whose names are elduing me at the moment. And nearly every taxi on the street is an old white Ambassador -- very cool.

Monday, January 26, 2004


I woke up w/ a headache this am. It vexed me throughout my practice and made me so nauseous that more than once I thought I was going to toss it. Somehow I didn't lose it though (what would I throw up into? My rug?) and after Advil, coconuts and water, during my protein bomb breakfast, the thing somehow went into remission. I have decided it's due to one or all of the following: 1). side effects from parasite meds, 2. Dehydration, 3). Kapotasana, the pose (backbend) I'm working on, in which my head moves in a way it never has before (like this only my hands are miles from my feet), or 4). the intense heat and near 100% humidity. Pick one.... In any case the flower show has been postponed til tomrrow, which is a good thing since the museum we were also going to check out is closed on Mondays PLUS it's Republic Day (big holiday). So today may invovle going down to the deserted beach that has better beach chairs and waiters, where the boys are going. Over breakfast the FC and I kind of traded witty (or so we thought) repartee w/ W, Miss Y and and a male Swede.... we learned that Sweden has the highest suicide rate because of no sun. He also had the lowdown on The Scream by Howard Dean, ugh. Breakfast is the best.

Sunday, January 25, 2004


Today I awakened weak but w/o headache. Actually I was awakened at 4 by the ritual disgusting throat-clearing / hacking / spitting by the man across the way (he usually does this around 6 and has enough sputnum for 8). Then I went back to sleep, got up at 6 w/ the alarm (we practice at 7) and brought out the olde Sony to tape (yes, tape) the olde man (I think it's a man) but he was nowhere to be found. I'm making a Sounds of Kovalam tape, the highlight of which so far is the man selling sunglasses on the beach. "Sinnnnnnnnnn-glass-ISH!". He looks like Sammy Davis, Jr (w/ two eyes) and is a favorite from two years back.

During those many hours in my room yesterday I started mentally designing clothes, and went to the tailor to today to make them reality..... Tailors line the beach and trails, their wares flying in the wind and beckoning to us. After being a whore for a few days (I was using 3 at once at one point) we are all going to the tailor next door to our hotel, and trying to get *deals* due to our high volume of business (sometimes this does not seem to work at all). The tailors here are more expensive than Mysore but they are easy to get to, have fabulous textiles and do it right the first time.

We booked plane tickets today, which makes me happy because we're all 3 traveling together on Friday -- our posse's on Indian Air -- so my reservation at the Kaveri Lodge may actually stand (tons of people doing the workshop here go up to Mysore at the end of the month, and those that arrive first get the rooms. Last time round Bob and I came a day later than our original reservation and -- despite e-mailing and calling - there was no room at the inn, was there).

Manana we are going to town (dusty exhaust-laden 1/2 hour trip via overpriced rickshaw w/ the kick-ass driver who just made a dramatic, fillum-inspired pass at Bindi) to see a huge flower show that has sub-shows, such as a bridal fashion show, plus we'll try to hit the art musuem. The driver costs more but he's worth it: he knows where everything is, and pulls ahead at stop lights when others park next to us and try to gape at the western weirdoes in back....He also has the scoop on everyone here.

Today was about humidity and sleeping and Miss Y's kirtan (devotional call-and-response chanting -- like being a kid again -- w/ Miss Y leading and playing harmonium). All the workshoppers from different parts of the world (Europe, US, S. Africa, Down Under) seemed to relish it. Today was also about waiting an hour for the folks at Webby World to get us back online.....(got bored spending 45 minutes watching the guys trying fix the thing, pointing and clicking endlessly). They just would not take my suggestion to turn the [Mororola!] modem off and on again, which always fixes me up back home. So after awhile I went next door for a coconut. Life's a beatch and so am I.

Saturday, January 24, 2004


Yesterday's Hindi movie -- Khaaki -- was an action-western-road-buddy-comedy-romance-horror film with a Miami vice-looking bad guy, cute corrupt cop (cute in an thin nose/lips/cheeks Anglo kind of way, if you go for that sort of thing) and a seasoned good cop who useta be top box office and has Eric Estrada hair. Again the style was: high tight jeans w/ belts, shirts tucked in, sleeves rolled. up. There were nods to Scooby Doo, Gunsmoke, Fritz Lang's early work, L.A. (With DeNiro and Pacino), Papillion, Lost in America, Bonnie & Clyde, a Britny Spears Video, Law and Order and that killer chase movie w/ Steve McQueen. In other words, it kicked *ass*. A few minutes in the lights went up and seven Salwaar Grrlz (contemporary young women in long Punjabi dress ensembles w/ baggy pants and scarves) filed past us, each w/ her own theme color, matching dupata (scarf) covering her assets. 'Twas odd since you rarely see women at movies (they must wait to catch them on cable/video).....The excuses for dance sequences included: driving past a movie set, falilng asleep in the sun, and a Muslim funeral (in this one they weren't the bad guys! Instead it was a corrupt cop turned evil crook).

Later there was a "Playground" or handstand workshop with Lino at the shala, in which he explained (again!) how the breath controls the movement for jump-thrus and arm balances. He was in fine form: "You don't think about it, you-a do it." Miss Y and I helped each other into handstand several ways -- including from prasarita paddatanasana (standing legs apart forward bend) and from upavista konasana (sitting wide angle forward bend). It was then I realized how weak I am from the diarrhea/parasite/drugs.

This AM I awakend to a lovely call from The Man in the US and only later realized I had a splitting headache / nausea / major fatigue. The headache started to subside after having rehydration salts, Advil, about a gallon of water and two coconuts (both with a fair amount of meat or gungy; after drinking the water w/ used straw the woman cuts it in half and you scrape out the insides w/ a piece of the shell. Coconut has always been one of my most favorite things ever and now even moreso). Then I went over to the German Bakery (less than 1/2 block stroll down the beach) for breakfast and a pot a chai. I was still feeling a bit off -- apparently I haven't been taking the parasite seriously enough -- and afterwards forced myself to go to my room and lie down / read / sleep for the next five hours. I think it's helped immeasurably. Later I fought w/ my Chinese CD playa for 15 mins and did exercises for my knee to Jeff Buckley, (it's tre sensitive due to what I think is [but may not actually be] an improper adjustment in cobbler's pose. Otherwise I'm quite pleased w/ the instruction here, which is even better than it was two years ago....).

Bindi and Miss Y (Bindi is a drummer, Y sings and plays harmonium) are leading a kirtan at the yoga shala tomorrow night and while watching the sunset tonight --- giant red-orange ball type -- we called out to and recruited a lad walking by w/ a guitar in his hand (a pierced teacher from Sheffield on a nine-month world tour, starting in India). He may bring an Irish banjo player. I will bring the lighter.....

Friday, January 23, 2004


THE FOLLOWING WAS CRIBBED DIRECTLY FROM YESTERDAY'S ENTRY IN MY *REAL* DIARY, A DAY AFTER BEING DIAGNOSED W/ A PARASITE -- which can cause dehydration -- and told to come back in two days for a checkup. It was written after walking up a HUGE hill to the hospital in awful heat and featured about a million more cross-outs and misspelled words than usual. The stuff in the brackets was added later, for clarity:

"Thurs 21 [notice the wrong date] Jan 04. Kovalam Hospital Waiting Room, 5:30 PM

"(The [nurse's] Saris are actually lavender, like this paper)

"You walk in , the fan goes on. What must they think of us?

"The [climb up the] hill has made me tre lightheaded. Perhaps not a good idea to see the Dr. a day early to tell him I'm OK, so I can go to a movie tomorrow at our appointed time.

"So nice to sit down. Sweating bullets. Looking ill, I bet [I am now, let me tell you].

"Many people here today.

"My handwriting looks bizarre even to me. At least I'm in the right place if I pass out (why am I wearing the longsleeved heavy pink top)?

"Maybe I'm delirious.


"Just felt faint [ie -- I almost lost it and fell forward onto the cold tile floor]


"So easy it'd be to give into it......

"After peeing (it smelled like iddly but was not so yellow as to be scary)....

"Saved self from faiting somehow. Sweated bullets. Cute-but-annoying little boy -- a miniature man, actually -- w/ red kumkum paste one his palms -- & his baby sister in the over-the-top ruffled pale yellow dress, massive makeup, giant fake mole [so evil spirits are distracted from her beauty],, shaved head & bracelts on her wrists and ankles. Saw me and cried harder. Scary white sweaty ghost.

"Sitting is good.

"That was definitely an India, what-the-hell-am-I-doing-here-moment. Looked outside @ red dust & dilapadated hut & old bicycle & greenery & thought, 'I'm so fucking far from my own safe bed, why in the hell did I decide to come here? And if I faint, will the hospital....."

Thursday, January 22, 2004


I had Hitler's breakfast today -- coffee and bread -- and so far so good. Actually they call it a German Breakfast (the French Breakfast consists of cafe au lait, croissant and cigarette; the American one is a whole list of food including CornFlakes, eggs, bacon, etc. The German Bakery also has Indian, Fisherman's, Farmer's, Italian and English [ick!] breakfasts). Today we were there for two hours -- nothing like a day off from each other to make the heart grow fonder......Yesterday I saw one of Lino's adjusters consuming coffee and German chocolate cake for breakfast -- scandalous!

The parasite meds make a girl itchy and unable to sleep so I spent most of the night w/ racing thoughts -- none of my tricks, including doing the primary series in my head (and using ujjayi breath), could slow it down -- and it brought on an amazing headache. I was sure I wasn't going to yoga when I got up but then my four course pre-breakfast of orange / pink ayurvedic banana / electrolytes / Advil kicked in and I tried some sun salutations in my room and decided, Why Not? I went, thinking I'd stop after navasana (boat pose / primary series halfway point, sort of). That felt OK so I kept going. Apparently some of my pot belly was lost during my recent "cleansing" because for the first time ever I held my wrist in supta kurmasana (sleeping tortoise pose, in which you are face down, feet behind your head and clasping hands (wrist!) at your back). I continued to feel good after setu bandasana (neck-killing final pose in the primary series -- a backbend in which the feet are like Charlie Chaplin and your forehead is on the floor) so I kept going and surprise! I held my wrist for the first time ever in pashasana (noose pose, in which you squate low and encircle your fat bum / legs w/ your long arms). A few poses later Lino gave me Kapotasana (intense backbend in which the forehead is on the mat moving towards the butt and the hands are on the feet (ha!) and forearms are (supposed to be) on the floor. Before that I had to come up twice from the prior backbend, Laguvajrasana (to prove i could do it) and let me tell you the second time was slow and wobbly indeed. I do know that when I have these (physical) breakthroughs they usually disappear for some time and come back when / if they please.

And now the extremely local news.... The talkative sunburnt lovelorn Kiwi moved into our hotel -- which is so clean and has such a great balcony and is like a girl's dorm (sort of) full of mostly women and their (mostly well-behaved) kids. Each day is a new adventure for said Kiwi -- elephant riding, henna tattoos (his "Ohm" looks like "36"), exotic beaches -- and he is still coming up with some entertaining blanket generalizations about people. His *travel agent* friend came to visit him the other day and I noticed that she wore one toe ring only. "Interesting" I thought, recalling that in India two toe rings (one on each second toe) means you're married (they're usually silver; two gold ones apparently mean you're in the kyshatrya or warrior caste). I learned this in 2002 when I was going around w/ two silver toe-rings and was told, "People think you are married." Not wanting to break the rules / appear as something I'm not, I took them off. This time, to seem less like the western trollop that I am, I kept them on and got a thin silver band for my ring finger (my husband is very, very cheap). But I also knew from reading the Mysore bulletin board that one ring means you are a prostitute (doncha love how everything is out in the open here -- death, life, work). Bindi did some asking around and sho-nuff, the travel agent is an agent-cum-working girl. Sad story - Fi Fie Foe Fum, married an Englishmun.... who cheated on and ditched her. What else can a woman do? She can't divorce the fop and it's not like everyone can be a doctor these days, even in literate Kerala. In any case she seems perfectly delightful (I particularly enjoy the way in which she tows the Kiwi around by his nose). In fact Y is at this very moment deciding whether or not she'll go on a backwaters tour w/ him tomorrow.....arranged by One Ring herself for many many rupees.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004


Today I slept thru practice. Last night was rough -- as it got darker the fever came back and worsened and each time after eating the stomach would churn, churn, churn and then it'd be time to hit the toilet. And drink water. This makes one tired as the body is not getting any nourishment -- although I did finally keep down a pudgy, rose-colored Kerala banana......Today was a moon day anyway (primary series practice only) and after Y knocked on my door around 9'30 I met up w/ her at the German Bakery (of course) where I tried to consume my usual pot of chai (made it thru half) and uppama (ate about a third, despite thinking, "There are starving children in the US!"). I was invited to A) go to Kanyakumari w/ Y, The FC and W, or B) hit a movie w/ Bindi and her rickshaw driver friend -- a controversial one in the local language w/ action and communual violence. I tentatively chose B and said, "Let me go back to my room and see what happens" and sho 'nuff about ten minutes later the washing machine effect began -- I imagine the little fuckers taking all they need from what I've eaten and spitting out the rest -- and then it was back to my most lovely western toilet. BTW a hot topic of meal conversation here is bowel movements -- how often, the consistency, color, etc. So if you are not into such talk STOP NOW.

OK, you had your chance. Suffice to say 'twas yellow, frothy, eggy -- all the symptoms of giardia. After emptying myself I went to the "English Doctor" I visited last time around (for a sinus infection), walking past our old hotel, down a most delightful windy cement path thru a green green palm-filled paddy or whatever and up a huge hill -- and he was right where I left him. The "sisters" in pale blue saris had me sit down and a minute later I was sitting next to the doctor himself, who checked my pulse and tongue and had me describe in detail my symptoms (always a treat for me). He agreed it was most likely a parasite, probably giardia. Only a stool sample would tell for sure and I was not in the mood. He fixed me up w/ two days of meds, hydration salts etc for Rs 300 (about $6) and said to come back in two days; one day if I hadn't improved. Love that man. Spent the afternoon buying books, making a call to the US (where it was 1'45 AM, oops), eating (and expelling) iddly and hanging out in my room. I ventured out an hour or so ago for a tender coconut on the beach, where I met a German man who told me about a type of alpine skiing where you walk up the hill yourself. He said not many Americans are traveling abroad. I said it was because of the weak dollar. He said no, they're afraid of air travel. And then it all became clear: Bush's reelection plan is to keep us scared so we don't travel and find out how weak the dollar is (and how upset the rest of the world is with the US right now). Meanwhile our foreign goods are cheap, they fly off the shelves and jobs are created in 'Merica. Life looks good so people actually elect him this time around. O for an absentee ballot....

Diatribe is finished. Can I just say I can see the beach from where I am typing this? There's a breeze, the sun is going down, and there is a beautiful pink glow to everything. Feeling very lucky to be an ugly 'Merican right now....(and knocking wood at this very moment).

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

(The Subcontinental rock/paper/scissors)

No post yesterday due to fever and *loose motions* as they call it here (I prefer "anal leakage" myself). I stayed in bed / bathroom and Bindi and Y brought me tender coconuts at regular intervals. (They reuse the straws here, which I find icky).....Anyway I was in all day, resting and having racing thoughts that never got to the "what in the hell am I doing here / every decision I've made has been wrong" stage they did the last time I was sick. It really helps to have friends here (not to mention an avidly e-mailing malepal back at home). This morn the fever was gone (I check it obsessively, to make sure I don't have maleria/ giardia / amoeba) and after some Emerge'nC decided that if I felt OK at the top of the many stairs we climb to get to the shala, I'd stay. All seemed well so I did my primary series practice and some intermediate poses, which Lino said would be OK today (There are six series in the ashtanga vinyasa practice; primary, second [aka intermediate], advanced ABCD. You can't do second til you've done first, and get only one pose at a time, etc. I like the few poses I do in 2nd because it's all about backbends -- opening the heart, moving the spine the other way, etc. Anyway when you first get here you do primary til Lino thinks you're ready to move on). But after my last pose, laguvajrasana (intense backbend w/ hands behind yr knees), I thought I was going to faint or vomit. So there was no help in backbend for me (today would have been the first day to have help dropping back; Lino busted me when I went into a forward bend before he came over for dropbacks but when I explained I was dizzy he said no problem-a, we'll try it on Thursday [tomorrow being a moon day]). I felt OK for breakfast -- had uppama, a very mild South Indian grain dish which I did not finish -- and we saw The Firecracker (and cracked up talking about a Mysore teacher telling Bindi's friend she couldn't jump back because her ass was too big, and segueing into a discussion of the merits of Sir Mix A-Lot's "Baby Got Back"). FC and W. are going to Kanyakumari tomorrow (southermost tip of India where three seas meet) and invited us. I've been and would go again -- they're taking a car, so much more luxurious than the seven-hour bus ride two years ago -- but the loose motions have returned. So more time in bed today, I think. I've nearly finished VS Naipaul's "Half a Life" --which I got in a big hurry at the Bangalore airport, thinking it was "A House for Mr. Viswas" -- and at first it reminded me of Narayan's "The Guide," then Zadie Smith's "White Teeth." Then I remembered that I'd already read it. In any case it certainly makes for some interesting fever-reading.....

Sunday, January 18, 2004

I went into the water all the way yesterday -- awesome. Tre refreshing and I did not get dragged out by the undertow (a few tourists die that way each year).

Yesterday we also saw a too-too funny action/war Hindi movie. Bindi's rickshaw guy took us right to the Trivandrum theater w/o incident . The film-um we thought was playing was not (welcome to India) so we saw what they had, Zameen, about (Muslim) Kasmiri terrorists and the country of Pakistan vs two swaggering hot guys in the Indian army. The hottie without the moustache was married to a stunning air hostess (they had to bring her in so there could be dance sequences) and of course she ends up on the plane the bad guys hijack (BTW it's the same word in Hindi as it is in English). You could tell which was the baddest of the bad guys because he made a little girl cry by twisting the head off her (Caucasian) doll, slapped the air hostess in the face and beat up a spastic. The last was one of the great movie sequences of all time, I think, as you could not tell whether the spastic was acting (he did seem to be when one of his palsied arms suddenly straightened, got really long and smacked the baddest bad guy). At the end the airplane took off from the Pakistani airport at the last minute, while the hotties just barely made it into the helicopter before the Pakistani army blew them away. The had the head terrorist with him, and stuck a grenade in his pocket and threw him out of the chopper; he fell straight down and blew up the Pakistani army guys. Apparently happy endings are unusual, and on the way out of the theater Bindi heard a man (very few women go to movies) say, "American ending." ...For the record -- they have popcorn but it's in little plastic packets. I opted for the cheese balls (a cross between Bugles and Cheetoes, only stinkier), which you get at intermission when suddenly the screen goes white and the lights come on -- never in a place that makes sense.

Most of today was spent inside my room, sleeping and figuring out the CD playa. This is because Lino looked at Y and I this morning and said, "After class, you sleep-a. You don't see the way you look at me. You are jetlagged. Sleep-a." I was, like, "Can we eat first" (it's all about the food) and he said OK.....You don't argue w/ a teacher like him ; he *knows*, and you do. I was exhausted/dizzy and Y was sick last night anyway, after we had dinner at Beatles (yes, that's what it's called and that's what they play, ad nauseum). We ate with an embittered piano- playing Kiwi whose wife just went AWOL. We like him because he gets ripped off worse than we do and spouts amusing stereotypes about Americans and Indians. He was here to do a tour w/ a famous (in some places) Indian-born violinist who got stalked and had to go back home to Austrailia. BTW, did you now that N.Z. was the first country to give women the vote (late 1800's) and that Russell Crowe is a Kiwi, not an Aussie? All I know is he's not for me.

Tonight I got kind of groped on the beach by some boys who asked Bindi and I to take a pic w/ them after we watched the sun go down. The guy standing next to me first brushed one of my cans, then "accidentally" touched my other can (bum). I gave him an earful.

The yoga has been great so far. We practice on the top floor of the Peacock Hotel; there's a flame-colored opaque plastic ceiling, green clay tile floors and wicker wall coverings. It's like being outside, but you're protected from the elements (it's not good to practice out of doors, even if you have a mohawk). It's very loud as the birds are out of their minds, especially the hawks. There are lots of people but we're scheduled (Bindi goes at 5, we go at 7) so it's not a problem to get a spot...more details later

Saturday, January 17, 2004

Today I woke up for the first time w/o nausea / headache. I think my sinuses were having a hard time adjusting. Today's a day off from yoga (Sat) but I was up at 6'30 sharp -- slept very well, thanks to earplugs -- and puttered about my tiny room (I had a chance to switch to a bigger one but chose not to, thus saving over $1/day) before going for a walk along the beach. The fishermen were there, pulliing in their nets. It looks like a tug of war, with a row of men in colorful lungis (kind of like a billowy diaper; think Gandhi) and oxford shirts and white mini-turbans (towels, actually) facing the sea yanking on a rope; the guy at the very end coils it into a perfect circle. Also seen on the beach: A western woman in bikini w/ her small daughter, walking into the surf (much less rough today); a woman in tights and jogbra lying on her back in savasana, nothing between her and the sand; and nearby a thin, way-too-tan western man w/ a mohawk that ended in a grey dreadlocked ponytail, folded into into a pretty good rendition of pascimattasana (sitting forward bend). Also the supermangy dog that curled up at my feet on the beach yesterday. I also spotted the owner of the mysterious sparkling ballerina slippers Y and I keep seeing outside the shala; I think it's the really pretty blonde German woman who was so nice to Bob and I two years ago....she was deep in reverie, looking into the water, so I left her alone... Was not asked to buy something til the late hour of 8AM. Then did my laundry and had another longwinded breakfast w/ Bindi, X and V-the-firecracker at the German Bakery.

Bindi is better and we are going to a Hindi movie in Thrivandrum today. We are taking her friend's auto-rickshaw for a few hundred rupees; It'll be nice to meet her friend/see the view from the mini-UPS truck.. (Two years ago Bob and I went into the city many times on the bus, which is totally chaotic and interesting and Rs 5. It's the #111 if I'm not mistaken. Next week if I feel good/have the courage / can find a co-conspirator I'm going to try the bus again. Not a good idea to do alone, though -- even in Indian dress [no one will harm you, it's just taxing to be stared at like that and have no one to elbow in the ribs and complain to]).

OK, I will try to hit the beach now -- W and The Firecracker have a primo regular spot w/ umbrella, which I hid under yesterday -- before hitting the town.

Friday, January 16, 2004

Lots of load-shedding (power outages) lately; this computer has a tendency to go blue and shut off, so this will be brief....

We were gonna go into town today for a Hindi movie but X got sick for the first time since arriving here in November (of course it happened after she said, "I can't believe I haven't got sick yet." I knocked wood but apparently not quickly enough). She was throwing up all night after eating bindi (okra). So that is her new Indian name: Bindi. For now I'm still Satya Cacananda (Truth ShitBliss), til something else sticks, ha. The cure for lots of puking is fresh coconut juice and that is plentiful (Rs 10, vs Rs 5 in Mysore, Rs 30 in touristy Goa). It replaces electrolytes and according to Y is something they put in IV's for people who get dehydrated, etc. here. Those of you at home can get 'em for an arm and a leg at Karyn's.

Tomorrow is Saturday and a day off; perhaps we will go to a Hindi movie (if X is better; BTW she is the cutest sick person I have ever seen; pigtails and great color in her face) and a quest for a coil type (a plug-in thing to boil water; everything is closed when we get up for yoga and Y would like a nip of coffee before class (to heat the body, as there is no hot water at that time)and I have that little Indian French press thing I got in Bangalore....which will allow me to make fab South Indian-style coffee when I get home -- if I can just remember how to use the thing.

W is here -- has been coming for years -- and brought a real firecracker with him, named V. I think there are more people here from Chicago than Helsinki (tre unusal). We met them last night (when X was eating hte bindi) and this AM we had an hours-long breakfast, with lots of schtick and laughing our asses off. Again we were at the German Bakery (which sells chai by the pot), looking out over the blue blue sea. (BTW we can hear the sea from our rooms at the Sky Palace; it soothes the insomnia that I now have after kicking Tylenol PM).

I still need to explain more about Bangalore and how difficult it is for regular upper class folks to get housing and servants now that the IT people have all come back from Silicon Valley and are commanding the huge salaries and how weak the dollar is and how L. explained today that it's because of Bush's reelection plan to jump start the economy by making it easier for other countries to buy our shit, thus creating jobs and making people wanna vote for him, ugh.... This means that it is costing, if not an arm and a leg, than at least a few teeth to take the worshop here. So far tho it's well worth every cent; again I had another very intense, deep practice today despite the very aromatic woman on my left and sick sneezing man on my right (kept turning my head away when he'd let one go). And so far no pain in backbend....(knocking wood now).

OK, off to find V's umbrella and chairs....

Thursday, January 15, 2004

I've done a 180 mood-wise, haven't I. I met up w/ my girls after yesterday's pissy blog-post and had lunch w/ X; the three of us have been hanging out all day. They are so sweet/funny and we rarely get a chance to hang out in Chicago because we're all busy teaching, etc. Y and I just got ripped off -- happily. She bought a *wild* beaded top for kirtan and I got a magenta and maroon bedspread thingy, which will make my cell seem like home (and make my home seem more like India). I got the guy down to half of what he was asking (to $18... BTW, the dollar SUCKS right now).... The sun and sea aren't so bad, if you wear long sleeves and take it slow. Also my first yoga practice -- primary only -- was divine. I woke up at 5 AM queasy w/ one of my famous headaches and wasn't even sure I should practice. At 6 Y knocked on my door (she's in the next room, a double) and we chatted and had some EmergenC and it was all good and I went to practice anyway and sweated out whatever it was. I can't say how much I love the yoga. And Lino (the teacher), well -- suffice to say I took my first workshop w/ him in Chicago after my dad got sick in '99 and I was out of my mind, etc. and he' s a really intuitive teacher -- compassionate w/o playing favorites or being sickening/sweet, knows just what you need, and has been my favorite out-of-town teacher ever since. After class Y and I sat down for tender coconuts (coconut juice; they hack off the top and stick a purple straw in it) and then we argued w/ a shopkeeper about prices (Y is a recovering actuary) on fruit, batteries, etc. and cleaned up (no hot water) and went to breakfast at the German Bakery, where you can watch the sea while you eat -- front row seats, the wind in your hair -- but watch out for the crows because they'll steal your food if you're not looking. I had ginger-laden chai and a protein bomb (eggs -- bad for yoga, good for fatigue) and the headache became a distant memory.

So it is breezy, warm, sunny -- kind of perfect if that's yr thing. The room is fine (albeit small) and we are all in the same lodge and it all seems to be falling in to place. X really knows her way around -- we ate at Lonely PLanet last night (healthy food, next to a rice paddy that's home to a turkey) which reminded me of two years ago.. only it's much nicer to eat w/ a galpal..... Of course by tomorrow or even in a few minutes I could do another 180. India magnfies everything -- even when you're on the beach (still have not dipped more than a couple of toes into the water).

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

I am at Lighthouse Beach in Kovalam, remembering very clearly why I did not wish to come here. The good news is that I don't have any kind of commitment (!) and can leave in a week if it still sucks. Suffice to say there was no welcome wagon. It's hot, the beach is a freak-show (nearly naked western man walking in waves reading a book, fully dressed Indian family gingerly sticking a toe in the water, silent homeless dogs lying in the sand, lounging topless European women, poor local people in yo' face selling everything you can imagine), everything here is marked up five times what it's worth, X is out, Y is sleeping and Z (me) wants attention. We're on the same floor; my room would be the one that most resembles a cell. Right now I'm just a few yards from the surf, which is rough. (I don't like that, either; the undertoe scares this Midwesterner) . I remember from last year you can't walk on the rocks because you may step on a turd ( people defecate up there). I am having a relatively mild "Why am I here?" moment, probably the first of many....

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

At 3'30 last night the phone started going crazy and halfway through the indecipherable conversation it went dead. Devdutt called the front desk and lo and behold! They had my luggage. It really did take just a day -- AND THEY BROUGHT IT TO US!! Good thing the shopping spree was a small one (underwear and one top only). Met my downstairs neighbor's parents today -- very, very nice (also got taken for a ride there by the rickshaw driver for Rs 30 (65 cents) Oh well). Also had an authentic breakfast of dosas and vada at Woody's. Now we're off to meet Devdutt's cousin. Tomorrow, the airport / Kovalam.

Monday, January 12, 2004

Once again I made it to India and my luggage did not. Those Germans. This time though I knew what to do and got out of the airport in less than 45 minutes, and this time I am going on a minor shopping spree (Devudtt and I have two rooms in the middle of Bangalore's shopping district). He was there at the airport to pick me up, which was like receiving a wonderful gift, and greeted me with cookies, a hug and bottled water. After a stunningly refreshing bucket-bath and a good night's sleep (thanks, Tylenol PM) I got up and did yoga up through Janu C, plus closing (this time I had the foresight to bring the mat on the plane with me; also a yoga outfit, alarm clock, toiletries and a change of clothes). Then we took an auto rickshaw to see Devdutt's aunt, who made us a lovely lunch. We saw her last time around; she is a great painter (minimalist Japanese style) -- wow, I am hearing a call to mosque at this very moment; it brings me right back to the Kaveri Lodge -- and brilliant/funny. We also saw his granny, who is tre sweat and joked about putting her into sirsasana. Then we walked around a bit and bought these great little coffee filter things (similar to a French press but there's no glass to break, is there). It's strange, how similar everything is. The minute I got off the plane I smelled that humid, burnt / incense smell and felt welcome. ALso I think I blew the customs' guy's mind when I heard him talking about dinner to a colleage and said, "Oota aita?" (Have you eaten?) Love love love it here. On Wed Dev. goes to Bangkok and I go south to Kovalam -- the land of Communists, coconuts, cashews, Catholics and the highest literacy rate in the country.....In the meantime there's more family tomorrow, plus I'm going to try to see my downstair's neighbor's family as well.....

Thursday, January 08, 2004

When I was flying to Bangalore on January 2, 2002, it was just a few months after 9/11 and India and Pakistan were about to go to war over Kasmir and amassing troops at the border. They have Da Bomb, you know....Three days before this year's trip, the D aily Telegraph carried this headline:
"India, Pakistan Agree to Resume Their Dialogue." They'll be in talks next month -- their first in five years. "In 2002 both countries almost went to war and were pulled back from the brink by intensive American di p lomacy" [not exactly how the Indian papers played it, if memory serves].a

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Ack! Also don't forget to bring:
triple antibiotic
Swiss Army knife

Also it's $69 ($65 for the generic) to fill the Cipro scrip in the US... and less than $6 if you do it in India.

To get the skinny on the doings (and factional fighting) among yogis in Mysore, see