Wednesday, June 30, 2004


After nine days of involuntary rest-taking and awakening with a *massive* sinus headache I enjoyed a wee practice this a.m. (5A, 5B, standing, 5BB, SS)....then came home to discover yet more Mysore blogs (as is the case with human reproduction, there are no tests or minimum requirements for creating one's very own weblog):

That said, the grandaddy of all Mysore diaries is Alan Little's:
While yr there, check out the rest of his web site; his photos are oft-breathtaking *and* he's a good writer to boot.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004


Just visited a new web site,, that's devoted entirely to Mysore blogs... many of which appear to be wordy, rambling, mindnumbingly boring accounts of the most mundane aspects of the lives of yoga practitioners who may, if they get the balls, and the money, and the time off, and the permission, and the sitter, and the visa, and the shots, and someone to watch the cat, and a regular practice -- who just may, one day, make it to Mysore itself. In the meantime you'll learn everything about them and then some, and realize that your own wretched little excuse of a life sucks far less than you had thought....

It does make you wonder, though, just how much your own blog blows (weigh in by e-mailing my younger, hipper, sleep-deprived alter-ego, who finished Advanced C in less than two weeks:

Monday, June 28, 2004


Sick for a week
No voice
But plenty of cable in the USA
and a fridge. and microwave
and Boyfriend
and two Indian fillums:
the '95 Shah Rukh Khan Hindi blockbuster
Diwale Dulhaniya La Jayenge
(The Braveheart Will Take the Bride)
(with her father's approval no less)
and 2000's Tamil hit Kandukondain, Kandukondain
(I Have Found It) based on
Sense & Sensibility and featuring
former Miss World Aishwarya Rai
who looks more like Bridgett from CYC
than she does.
Two men with moustaches in that audience
and more coming next week Madam:

*well actually I cried quite a bit

Tuesday, June 22, 2004


I got my hair cut on Saturday for Rs 1500. The last time was in, like, February on the roof of Saraswati's house in Mysore. I sat in the sun waving to Guruji and Saraswati on their roof across the street while Patti P. sawed away at the four inches of too-red hennaed shag that hung just below my shoulders. After cutting a section off she'd hold onto it, walk off and place it in a plastic bag. (So I had no idea what she was doing). Many taboos in India about hair and haircuts: Only certain castes can cut hair and only in certain places (outside is good) because the hair itself is dirty and can defile you. Of course you have to bathe afterwords (I didn't). Anyway she ended up giving me a newscaster's bob, which drove me crazy for several weeks (what I really wanted was layas) but looked much better. And now the news:

Summer started at 8PM Sunday and not a moment too soon. Can you say *worst week in some time*? There was all the figh-ting (and what-fo') and sobbing all day Saturday and the Loneliest Father's Day Ever, in which I read the NYT, did a full practice, taught eight people and rewarded myself with breakfast at the Swedish place, sitting at my favorite table beneath the 1976 photo of King Carl Gustav XIV. I'd finished eating and outlining a piece and was putting the finishing touches on a cartoon about my miserable existence when I heard the puberteen at the counter recount in a loud whiny voice how she didn't know if she should get a Father's Day gift for her mother's fabulous boyfriend, who treated her oh-so-well and *really took care of her*. The waitress wanted to know how they'd met. Apparently someone with my exact same name and profession had introduced them while working on a piece when they (I and it) had been going out. "He never liked her that much" and "started chasing my mom right away," she said. Apparently she wasn't interested and he had to chase and chase and chase. Apparently The Cancer did not deter him. Apparently I was not losing my mind at this time last year. Mystery solved.

On Friday I ran into the Ed when I was brain-dead from three in a row followed by an interview with a celebrity. All I wanted to do was scurry in, pick up a package and run out. Ed was (still) wearing my hairdo from three years ago and proceeded to yammer at me about my nonexistent ideas when all I wanted to do was get to BBB to see what my nephew was registered for (many pages of future landfill Madam). Ed then proceeded to introduce me to the NewUberBoss as "one of our standby writers." Me who had been in there each week for eight years straight and lost my gig to a girl with a trust fund! NewBoss did not see fit to move some stuff from his right hand to his left, thus dodging my attempt to shake it. Bad sign. Bad man. Ed continued to engage me outside and who should show her....face but mine Replacement. She averted her eyes and scurried off ASAP. And I went home thinking, Mystery solved.

Saturday, June 19, 2004


Comments can be sent to

Thursday, June 17, 2004


from Reuters:


AHMEDABAD, India, June 16 (Reuters) - Some cinema halls in India's western state of Gujarat stopped showing a controversial film about a love affair between two women from Wednesday on fears of attacks by hardline Hindu groups.

The move came after two days of violent protests by right-wing Hindus who vandalised cinemas in several cities against the screening of the Bollywood film, "Girlfriend", which they said violated India's traditional culture.

"We have decided not to show the film from today for security reasons," Ashok Purohit, owner of City Pulse group, which runs two multiplexes in Ahmedabad, Gujarat's main city, and Gandhinagar, the state capital, told Reuters.

"Though there have been no attacks on any theatres or any threats from anyone, we're not taking any chances."

Gujarat, one of India's most industrialised states and ruled by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, was torn by the country's worst religious riots in a decade in 2002. Some 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were slaughtered in the riots.

Cinema owners said they were taking precautions after members of hardline groups such as the Shiv Sena and Bajrang Dal ripped posters and smashed windows in theatres screening the film in various parts of India including Bombay, home of Bollywood.

"Security of the building and the general public coming to watch the movie was paramount while deciding to suspend the shows," said Anshu Vyas, a spokesman of Fun Republic, a countrywide chain of multiplexes.

Groups like the Shiv Sena and Bajrang Dal are part of a growing tribe of cultural vigilantes in India opposed to the country's increasing Westernisation.

In the past, they have launched violent protests against Valentine's Day celebrations in India and have also stopped a film on the plight of widows forced into prostitution, saying they denigrated India's ancient traditions.

Homosexuality is banned in India under a law first framed by British colonialists, but a strong gay rights movement has grown over the past few years in urban centres like Delhi and Bombay.

"Girlfriend" had a lukewarn opening last Friday, but shows at some cinemas have been packed since the controversy erupted.

In Bombay, the film is showing in over a dozen theatres with police protection and crowds have started thronging cinema halls after television channels aired scenes from the film.

"Our shows were sold out yesterday. The crowds have increased after all this controversy," said Pawan Jain, manager of a cinema in central Bombay.

But some said they were disappointed about missing the film.

"Why should they stop screening the film? The choice should be left to individuals," said Abhijat Shah, a college student who came to watch a noon show in Ahmedabad.

"Nobody, whether it's a religious or political group, should decide what's good or bad for me."



Mumbai, June 16 (IANS) :

While "Girlfriend" has invited the ire of the self-proclaimed Hindu culture police and gays, actress Isha Koppiker who plays a lesbian in the film is asking what the fuss is all about.

"What are people protesting about? 'Girlfriend' is a very real film, based on real situations," Isha, who plays the traumatised psycho Tanya in the film, told IANS.

"Having said that, I'd like to say it was just another role for me...nothing more, nothing less. I've already moved on. For me 'Girlfriend' is history. If others want to hold on to it and create controversies because it suits their purpose, they are welcome to their moment of glory. I'll have none of it."

"For me, Tanya was just another character. That she happened to be a lesbian made it a fascinating challenge to play the role. Though some of my close friends are gay I knew nothing about how they think or behave. So I had to work very hard on getting the body language and attitude right. Which I did."

There have been protests in Varanasi, Mumbai, Bhubaneswar by Hindu rightwing activists, who say the film's theme of alternate sexuality is against Indian culture.

Gay rights activists too have opposed "Girlfriend", saying it is a warped, unrealistic take on lesbianism.

But asks Isha: "Now what's the big deal? Why all this fuss? If it offends a certain section of viewers they've the option of not seeing the film, just like I had the option of not doing the role if it offended my sensibilities as a human being and an actress."
But why the explicit love making sequence with Amrita Arora, filled with suggestive groans on the soundtrack?

Reveals Isha, "Frankly, when it came up I did feel uncomfortable about it. But I left the decision entirely to the director. You'll have to ask him about the groans and moans."

Isha seems adamant on moving on, not being part of the gathering storm that threatens to envelope "Girlfriend".

One recalls how staunchly Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das had defended the lesbian relationship of their characters in Deepa Mehta's "Fire".

Says Isha: "I don't disown 'Girlfriend'. But I don't own it either. The director called the shots. I did what I had to as an actress. Now it's over.

"I've worked so hard on being convincing as a butch that now I'm afraid men will be scared away from me."

The controversies remind one of "Fire", the only mainstream film on female homosexuality from any part of the world, until Andy Wachowsky's "Bound" in 1996 where Gina Gershon and Jennifer Tilly played lesbian lovers collaborating in a heist. However, the film had no overt reference to homosexuality.

Nor did the gay hero, played by Tom Hanks, in Jonatham Demme's Oscar-winning "Philadelphia", smooch and get into bed with his screen lover Antonio Banderas to prove his sexuality.

So is the Indian censor board getting more liberal than its Hollywood counterpart?

Censor chief Anupam Kher is, for once, evasive. "I haven't seen 'Girlfriend', nor is it my job to watch every film that comes up for censoring. I've been out of the country with my new play, so I wouldn't know about the explicit content of 'Girlfriend'.

"But yes, I do know that what was submitted for censoring was far more strong in content. Now that the film has been properly graded and censored, there's nothing more to be said on the matter."

Wednesday, June 16, 2004


Industry darling Google is poised to launch a free e-mail service with millions of bytes of storage. Two days ago the 98 percent of free space I was taking up on Yahoo suddenly becomes four percent (ie the packratting warnings have disappeared and now there's *tons* more storage for photos and the like). Coincidence?

Industry darling Time Out is poised to launch its tre successful over-the-counter weekly arts magazine in Chicago. Chicagomag tells writers it's decided to expand and revamp its front section, while the Backwards R is hard at work on a redesign. Coincidence?

Methinks not.

The question is, How does this affect me as a cat?

Tuesday, June 15, 2004


"Ah, uh, people... I mean, who's fighting, what for? Who's fighting and what for? Why are we fighting? Why are we fighting? We don't want to fight. Come on.... Do we want....Who wants to fight? Hey, hey people....Sisters. Brothers and sisters...Brothers and sisters. Come on now! That means everybody just COOL OUT! Will you cool out, everybody?"

--Mick Jagger* at Altamont Speedway, 1969

*The craggy Mickster, the crabby author and the venerable Sri K. Pattabi Jois share the same birthday.

Saturday, June 12, 2004


After nine days in a row of ashtanga I’m finally taking a day off..... and inadvertantly missing the post-Saturday-Mysore-with-Suddha social scene. Most of the day will be spent listening to Indian fillum soundtracks, reacquainting myself with my apartment and editing Part III of my Mysore Diary for Yoga Chicago ( And rewarding myself with bits and pieces of this must-read 1999 Mysore blog:
It takes place *in the olden days*, when things were on a smaller scale, before they built the giant new shala and moved the whole shebang to tony Gokalum (the Lake Forest of Greater Mysore). It’s also unique in that the couple writes a lot about (and take many, many pictures of) their Indian friends and acquaintances. Well worth putting off work or play for.

I got the lowdown on it at Sr. Ganesha Tea Stall Radio, a project by the NYC Chai Guys that boasts an unparalleled playlist of Indian music as well as updates on Eddie Stern’s studio and NYC-area events of yogic interest:

Friday, June 11, 2004


OK So I did 33 hours of yoga (asana, adjustments, chanting/mantra, pranayama) in the past week -- all with Manju. And I am far less of a bitch for it.

At the last minute (ie 9AM Monday, when it began) I decided to take Manju's teacher training course. Hence the missing blogs. I only had to sub out two classes (and pay the price of admission) and it was *so* worth it. More details to follow. Suffice to say if you get a chance, no matter how popular a teacher you are or how "advanced" your so-called practice is, you should jump at the opportunity to learn the real thing via the real lineage (ie not some westernized version of the ashtanga vinyasa yoga system). Manju has been teaching for over 40 years and is Pattabhi Jois' son, for crying out loud (which he apparently did a lot of when his father cranked him into all of those poses when he was growing up....and is also what Gwynneth Paltrow did a lot of when she first encountered Baddhakonasana / Bound Angle Pose).

In the meantime here's the mantra we learned best (except for the Om Shanti part we really sucked at most of them, which elicited many smiles from Guruji-the-younger):

Gayatri Mantra (long version)

Om Pranamasya Parabrahmhar Chihi
Paramatma Devata Daivi Gayatri Chindaha
Pranayamane Viniyogaha

Om Buhu Om Buvaha, Om Soo aha
Om Mahaha, Om Janaha, Om tapaha, Om Satyam
Om Thath Savithur Varenyam
Bhargo Devasya Dheemahi
Dhiyo Yonaha Prachodayat Te
Om A Po Jo Ti
Raso Ambritam BramhHa
Bhur Buvaha Sewa Rome

One translation is this:

We contemplate the glory of Light illuminating the three worlds: gross, subtle, and causal.

I am that vivifying power, love, radiant illumination, and divine grace of universal initelligence.

We pray for the divine light to illumine our minds.

Sunday, June 06, 2004


Somehow things clicked at today's workshop with Manju. Maybe it was that Mr. B. finally found a copy of the Eternal Om CD, which Manju played during savasana and had us really zoning out. Maybe it was the led practice, which had us holding poses (including Navasana!) for eight to ten breaths each, and going all the way through Dwi Pada Sirsasana (high attrition rate at the workshop today, BTW; lots of mat space for everyone). Maybe it was teaching two classes before the practice, or the pranayama and peace chants Manju led us through afterwords. Or perhaps it was just the satsang. Whatever it was, the sour mood has lifted. For the moment anyway.

Saturday, June 05, 2004


It is one of those rare, perfect Chicago nights, neither warm nor cool and inviting everyone to come out and take a long walk -- full of the promise of a summer that we always forget will be unbearably hot and stinkyhumid and may end up opening up some housing stock by killing hundreds of old people .... So I am inside of course, writing this and making chai and, thanks to Bindi, listening to the Main Hoon Na soundtrack (note latest spelling). The neighbors are hosting a post-collegiate frat-party featuring beer and Toto and the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. Even Osco plays better music.

Manju's workshop was kind of brilliant on many levels, not the least of which is his laid-back, non-judgmental demeanor. *Love* a teacher who has nothing to prove.... Today we did a Mysore style self-practice, which over 3/4 of the participants seem to have heard of for the first time last night. When they found the cheat sheets in the other room their faces lit up like kids learning they could have not one but two! scoops of ice cream after dinner. Still they chose to do some wildly inventive, interpretative versions of the sequence; some even chose to copy us old-timers, following us in intermediate series poses after finishing their closing postures. One even did pashasana, etc after El Doctor, whose advice could *never* be construed as something other than sincere/constructive, suggested it might be a bad idea. It was in many ways priceless -- even having the two too-blue eyes of Ms. Orgasma (why do people make that sound during yoga?) boring into me during backbend (yes I stood up. Thrice. Also came up from Kapotasana, tho' it wasn't pretty). In any case our overall performance was enough to convince Manju that tomorrow he should do a led practice, "to break you of some habits." Indeed.

Afterwords me, Bindi and He Who Cannot Be Named (yet) and I enjoyed tender Thai coconuts (the water is nuttier-tasting than in India, and cold!). Then we took in too much thali at Mysore Woodlands, where I sat across the table from Manju and Bindi and sandwiched between Sudafed and HWCBN. Nothing like being in the presence of Manju and Sudafed and watching Bindi in her element with tomato soup with croutons and masala dosa and chai, just like at Mysore's Hari Prasad (only for a lot more rupees). 'Twas also nice to dish the dirt with her and HWCBN and learn a thing or two about Mine Own Personal Backstabber (suffice to say we are vindicated yet irritated). The pranayama and chanting of the shanti (peace) mantras this afternoon with Manju only served to stir me up (I *really* dislike retaining the exhale and actually saw stars today / felt faint); yet complaining with those two calmed me down. What is wrong with me? Perhaps I am further back on the path than I'd like to think.

Which reminds me. While I was supposed to be working last week I fell across an often-treacly (hey, whose isn't) occasionally-intriguing (in the way that The Shield is intriguing) Mysore blog, done by a "less-than-fit, recovering alcoholic lawyer" (his words, not mine). Suffice to say there's a gap of several weeks where the writer seemed to fall off the wagon *and* mix it up with the locals. ("The last couple of months have not been what I came to India for. A lot of drinking, casual affairs, movies, and pizza, interspersed with bouts of enthusiasm for ashtanga."). Well worth blowing off work for, but ya have to cut and paste to get there:

Friday, June 04, 2004


Some days you feel like the worst yoga teacher, some days you don't. Today would be the former.

Manju ( ) is in town this w.e. Perhaps inspiration is just around the corner....Perhaps not.

Here's a dead link to a lively piece on the recent elections in India, which actually says, in print, that the BJP (recently ousted, and now outed, right-wing Hindu nationalist party) was indeed party to the Muslim massacre in Gurjarat when I was there in 2002:

Thursday, June 03, 2004


Today Miss Y, the Backbend Queen (BBQ), Pippi and I did our usual late Thursday morning practice (I know, I know, it's a moon day). First I was superstiff, probably due to the high mold count and taking yesterday off and riding the bike all over, sleeping at the BF's house (it has no windows) and getting a long overdue chiropractic adjustment (Is it just me who finds it *really disturbing* that when you pay to have someone put electrodes on your skin and run a shock through them, it's "relaxing" -- but when it's free and done against your will it's called torture? I always think about that when I'm lying there face-down). So I was stiff at first and then it was a relief to stretch until somewhere around Marichiasana D, when everything started to hurt like hell and my practice went backwards and when I finally got to the closing sequence (I did just primary today and did not try to come up from backbend, thank you), I felt like vomiting. But I didn't. Even though I wanted to.

I was putting my shoes on when BBQ's four-year-old came over and asked me if my hair is changing.

"Yes it is," I said. "It's becoming less red and more gray" (I'm growing it out, and it looks like super-scheisse).

Then he pointed to the whitest of the grey areas, at my right temple, and said, "Treasure."

What? I asked.

"That's treasure," he repeated, and pointed again, almost touching it.

Treasure. Never thought of getting old quite like that before. From the mouths of babes and all that. I likes it.

But not enough to have one.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004


Jammu, Bindi, Miss Y and I made a pilgrimage to the Esquire last Thursday to see Shahrukh Khan in Main Hoon Naah (or do you say Waah), a Hindi fillum that is grossing millions ($, not Rs) here in the US. The female (Farah Khan) written and directed three-hour (standard) musical-cum-action-cum-comedy-cum-romance (also standard) featured the ubiquitous Bollywood superstar as an Indian army captain who's sent to a high school-like college in Darjeeling. There the square Khan must pretend to be a student in order to protect the tarty daughter of a colleague from a former army officer gone bad. Bad Man has a scar and long hair and lots of ammo and stooges and is trying to undermine the peace process with Pakistan (of course) -- all while posing as a dorky chemistry teacher (think John Cusak in Being John Malkovich). Oh yes, Khan is also searching for his estranged half-brother and stepmother (who ditched his dad when she found out about his bastard self) so they can deposit his father's ashes in the Ganga. By the end of the film he has a new family and sari-clad galpal and she (the tart) is wearing Indian dress *and* gets the Spicoli-like guy, who cuts his hair, passes his classes and just happens to be the missing half-brother. Think Khaaki plus a little Grease and Rocco and his Brothers minus My Bodyguard. Thankfully 'twas subtitled and we could actually follow what was happening. Many fights and explosions and dance numbers madam, not to mention a low-speed bicycle rickshaw chase (apparently in homage to a classic Hindi move, see useless link below). It ended with a kick-ass rooftop fight and rather gruesome explosion (Bad Man blew up real good, didn't he). Things got even better during the tre creative credits, which showed the entire crew minus Khan's wife, Gauri, who produced it (hard not to notice that the crew got darker and more moustacioed as their tasks became more mundane). *So* worth staying those extra few minutes. Not to mention the price of admission ($6, or just over Rs 300).

There were like four people in the theatre (similar to when we saw Boys at the expensive AC theatre in Mysore), but compared to India the screen was TVlike and the sound tinny and tiny. We need to get a clue here.

BTW Khan's perfectly cowlicked hair looks not unlike that of local radio personality Garry Meier (, who apparently turned down a ten-year, $12 million deal to renew his contract at WLS, installed his commercial real estate developer wife as his agent and now finds himself without an on-air gig. But at least his hair looks good.

URL for more on Main Hoon Naah ("I'm Here Now"):

Tuesday, June 01, 2004


You think you are back and into the swing of things (even though you're half-employed and have a new boyfriend you've seen everysingleday since he picked you up at the airport where he waited yet another hour while the woman from the Dept. of Agriculture interrogated you about cows and washed your shoes as you stood there sweating and getting madder and madder). You are used to the high prices and too-big bananas and wide empty streets and overweight underdressed people and the overflowing closets and your toofast bicycle and teaching yoga to miniscule groups of people and preparing your own food in your fabulously huge and well-appointed kitchen and wearing tight black western clothes with boots each and every day (still drinking fresh homemade chai though) when you open the front door and see some dark square thing hiding behind the stairs. No, it's not the charming number-cruncher from GreenLeaf who wanted you to get him a job in Amer-ica but the cloth-wrapped, windowed box o' books you had Neeru send to you back in May via suface mail when you were wobbly from yet another bacteria invasion. And it looks like all of them made it. Now, to find space for them.