Tuesday, August 31, 2004


Some highlights from the WASP-Hindu wedding....

-A dozen women got mendhi (henna painting) on their hands two nights before the event (this was done at the bride's house while we womanfolk assembled the guest gifts; the men were across town drinking and driving Formula One race cars). The muddy mendhi was drawn all over the bride's hands and feet in intricate designs, and took Prasad-the-mendhi-wallah two hours to do. (She seemed unimpressed that I knew some Kannada, even though her father's from Bangalore). Afterwards the bride, Queen E, could not move her hands, just gesture for sips of margarita, etc. "It's supposed to be that way," said Prasad, who wore some very tall boots. By then the groom's family had taken over the kitchen anyway. It's traditional for the mother-in-law-to-be to feed the bride, and she did; it was quite cute as Queen E is an angular blonde Amazon and the mom is wide and very kapha. Many photos were taken while Prasad painted hand after hand after hand. My eyes were tiny from lack of sleep when it was finally my turn, which lasted about ten minutes. The stuff is supposed to last two weeks but it's already almost completely faded (no I've not been swimming). After putting it on -- it's like dried black mud -- Prasad went over it with lemon juice and sugar, to make it set. Then she said we couldn't wash our hands for 24 hours, and had to go to bed sans shower with the mud sticking to us. It wasn't just me who didn't get much sleep that night. Apparently when the groom finally got home there were so many mendhi fragments in the bed he thought the cats had tracked kitty litter between the sheets.

-The weekend was a whirl of long days and nights, driving everywhere in the Benz SUV for airport pickups, trips to the supermarket and party rental store and sister-in-law’s house (for homemade Gujurati food) and flower shop and ice cream shop (if you’ve never had cardamom and pistachio-laden kulfi ice cream, you haven’t really lived) and wedding hall, which was actually a science center where we set up the dance floor and chairs ourselves. It was on the edge of a dense forest. Inside there was a giant iguana that never moved, a nervous ferret, sleepy turtles and some other incarcerated wildlife; outside there was an owl named Hedwig who never recovered from a broken wing and lives out its days in a giant cage, eating dead white mice and keeping an eye out for annoying children. Whenever you got close to it, the beak would clack, the feathers would puff up and it would try to look menacing. But then it would blink its oddly mammal-like eyes, and your heart would go out to it. Actually they looked like the eyes of toy dolls that close when they’re horizontal....Inside the hall, where the ceremonies took place, there was a giant stuffed grizzly standing on its hind legs, teeth bared and poised to strike (didn’t I have fun trying to explain “taxidermy” to one of the younger wedding guests). The bear added a delightfully surreal element, as it was a few feet away from the Mandap or elaborate canopy under which both the Hindu and civil ceremony were performed.

-No one at the sister-in-law’s house seemed impressed by my Indian dress or trips to India or the fact that I knew who Shah Rukh Khan was when he popped up on TV while aunty prepared the pomegranate seeds. The food was so good (Biryani , sag paneer, roti, sambar, some things I didn’t recognize, rasmala), I didn’t really care.

-Also at that house: the Kitchen Wars, in which the bride’s mother slaved over the multi-layer wedding cake all day Saturday while the TV blared and the Indian women tried to do their own cooking.

-Best scene at the weddings (apart from the Hindu ceremony which was quite beautiful and featured the red thrones and ghee and a Brahmin priest and prasad and knotting the dupatas (scarves) together and tying the thali (necklace) and walking around the fire, etc.): The Indian contingent returning for the afternoon civil ceremony in even nicer saris and dresses than they’d worn earlier (except for a couple of the little girls, who changed into western dress and showed this Windian a thing or two about dancing a few hours later).

-Best scene under the tent: the bride’s estranged parents talking to each other for the first time in decades, while two of their issue (from the first litter) kept a wary eye on them.

-Best reception scene: A smattering of multiculti pomo children buzzing about the dance floor during the couple's first dance as married folk.

-Second-best scene: Men in long kurtas doing crazy, Bhangara-style dances.

-This was also the first time I’ve seen middle-class Indians drinking and dancing (and eating chicken), en masse (even the mother-in-law did some traditional Gujarati moves).

-Best near-miss: The bride forgot to bring the wedding ring to the ceremony (45 minutes away from the house), but the Iranian friend stepped in and saved the day.

-Second best near-miss: This sleepy, spacy, wincing Windian was the designated "point person" for catering on the Big Day.

-Runner up: It turns out the tiny bananas I was eating for breakfast each day were earmarked as prasad (blessed food) for the wedding ceremony.....Oops!

-Biggest hit: Having my own quiet corner room - with a breeze (still had the insomnia though)

-Second biggest hit: Filling up on freshly-made masala dosas at Cambridge's Bombay Club with the newly-minted Smug Marrieds and friend-from-the-Bay-area before heading out to the five-hour debacle at the airport.

For more on Hindu weddings see

Monday, August 30, 2004


A gruelling and exhausting weekend (fourth week of insomnia) followed by three hours on the tarmac at Logan waiting for some tropical storm to pass, all while suffering from a pinched nerve / extremely sore neck and shoulder. When I finally got to my car at the El stop, my rear right tire was flat. Today is a full moon. Mercury in Retrogarde ends Thursday. More later....

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

When you are.....

The effects of Charley are here (ie it's summer again, crazy-humid and raining like crazy -- despite the fact that some kids start school today), and last night tornadoes touched down in ye olde hometown, destroying model homes built on some of the richest farmland in the nation (Is someone trying to tell us something?). While living out there I used to search the sky looking for tornadoes during the day and UFO's at night, and scoured the ground for four-leaf clovers (only finding one of the last). I also spent a lot of time in bars, drinking Shirley Temples, playing the bowling game and watching the Cubs on TV....

Now I watch the clock as I make plans to head out to Massachusetts for a WASP-Hindu wedding (unhooking is *always* followed by a matrimonial ceremony). Medhi is on the menu for tomorrow (!), and I've been told it's OK to wear Indian dress -- so I'm bringing a regular purple Punjabi, a modern black one with sequinned bell bottoms and a pink sari. They all have that delightful India-incense smell.....Hopefully someone will help me with the last. The real question is, Will the rasberry-scented travel mat fit into the carry-on bag? And what will I do in a household full of people when the inevitable insomnia shows up between 2:30 and 4? Maybe I'll bring the lighted pen, and write in my journal.....

Cheap Trick, "So Good to See You"

Jewel crunchy granola bars
(like Nature's Valley, only cheaper and crisper)

Tuesday, August 24, 2004


Not your everyday mix,
They exist easily side-by-side.
But when they intermingle
Only the foolish dare imbibe.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

(a new sit-com)

There's nothing like a day off to improve one’s spirits. Especially when you begin the day running into L., S.R. and Bee on the way to morning yoga practice (at a class I just taught for six weeks straight). The practice itself was delightful, preparing me for a day of organizing the dining room table (covered in mail, receipts, etc), the desk area (scary!) and the Closet From Hell. The last was spurred by a mad search for postage stamp-size Post-it notes, which were nowhere to be found (It was Air and Water Show / Taste of Iraq weekend, which meant that the cat was also AWOL). I tore the closet apart looking for them (the notes), and then began putting Humpty Dumpty back together again. You may recall that the problem with the Hadeslike storage area dates back to March; while I played host to various parasites in Mysore, the landlord installed a nearly-beautiful new kitchen and hall closet. Everything from the pantry and kitchen was graciously put into boxes... which were crammed into the closet, and have been sitting there ever since. But now that the taxes are done (first things first) I’m making some headway. Finally.... Also somewhere in there yesterday I took a nap, made a bowl of popcorn and watched the Kieslowski film “Red” (haven't seen it since it came out; this time 'round I was irked at the actress for not being Juliette Binoche), read a couple of chapters in the latest self-help book (too embarrassed to give away the title) and later met friends for dinner and Olympic diving at Bhabbi’s (the man at the other table was a dead ringer for a Bollywood star). Afterwards I consumed more sweets than I should have, which made this morning’s practice (particularly pashasana) a little less than delightful....

Also yesterday I received a strange e-mail. The return address seemed familiar but the message area was completely blank.

....And now it's time to watch TV.


Upset, I left early, and did not watch any TV at all. All that good work and peace and calm went down the drain. I should get a flashlight and look for it right now....

Friday, August 20, 2004


Taught three today. The last one was perfect in so many ways: About half listened to what I was saying; a quarter heard with one ear and the remainder did whatever they wanted. Halfway through there was a red and crinkly Ball Shot (ew!). And I set a new walk-out record: five. Funny, those who leave seem to be the muscular ones who set up in the back row and appear to be A. hard of hearing, B. ESL, C. unable to understand concepts such as right, left, foot, hand, etc, D. in the wrong class or E. late for the airport*

I just looked at my calendar. Today was my 17th day in a row of teaching (I have tomorrow off)! Another record. Thirty-four classes without a break. And come September I will be teaching four on Thursday and four on Friday. (Ack! Exhaustion coming, Madam). And yet I feel *so* blessed, to be able to do this. Before leaving for Mysore in January I was doing 75 percent journalism and 25 percent teaching. Now it's the exact opposite. Among the many other benefits (fewer deadlines=less stress, I don't dread teaching, etc) my home has gone from being my work-prison to a (messy) place of refuge. And -- you may disagree with this -- my writing seems to be getting better...


*My new thing, adapted from the book Feeling Good, is learning to view events rationally rather than taking them personally. So for the walk-outs I came up with the above list instead of "they hated the class and they hated me," which falls under the category of mind-reading and is a no-no (this sort of distorted thinking can make the mind spin out of control, and in no time it becomes "I'm a sh*tty yoga teacher and a sh*tty person, and my whole life is a failure"). Sounds like a bunch of new-age scheisse but it actually works. More info here: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0380810336/qid=1093056496/sr=ka-1/ref=pd_ka_1/002-0338964-2708846

If you decide to buy it (or any other book) online, purchase it through the Powell's union portal (they get ten percent of sales): http://www.powellsunion.com/ If you go in person, try to find an independent bookseller (do a search at www.booksense.com). For the record, neither Borders nor B&N is unionized.


Very little sleep last night (so no practice this am). Finally after dropping off there were dreams of homeless people pelting me in the back with feces; the next day the mean gang girl smeared dung all over my face (in a very cool design) including my lips and I actually *woke up with the dry heaves*....Having never awakened so rudely (while gagging) before I've idea of how the day will go but will bring plenty of chai, just in case....

... --- ...

instead...then...finished (!)....taxes....did...
laundry...taught two classes...watched...
swim after class....bad..bad..bad....should

Wednesday, August 18, 2004


The Bourne Supremacy, seen for $5 w/ free parking at the nearby Ghettoplex, was brilliantly mindless entertainment -- like traveling without having to leave one's 'hood (just one's head) -- although it was too-too crowded (Why not bring the kids to the 9:30 PG-13 show? And the infants, too!). The fillum opened in Goa, India and featured among other things women in saris, cows in the street, the auto-rickshaws, the beached fishing boats, the chaos, the backwaters, everything -- and it reminded us of how much we miss India. Although on our trip we didn't have anyone in particular chasing us, apart from our own demons and a certain someone.

This week's episode of "Entourage" with the Yokolike yoga teacher, on the other hand, reminded us of one of our beefs with the media's portrayal of yoga teachers (our B.A. thesis examined how the punk rock subculture was viewed by the media -- anyone else remember that episode of Quincy?). This show's YokoYogi was a vegan codependent wheatgrass-chugging pothead tantric sex junkie who worked *at Gold's Gym.* As with Josh Harnett's insufferable detective/yoga teacher in 2002's Hollywood Homicide (caught it on an airplane) they always seem to be skipping savasana, spending endless supplies of money and f*cking their students. OK so a studmuffin-y real-life teacher *has* been sued by a student for impropriety. But really. If it were like that, wouldn't more people be yoga teachers (actually, there *are* too many yoga teachers). And let's not even talk about Madonna's icky toenail-painting, gay man-banging instructor in 2000's Next Big Thing (her classroom delivery was about as lively a royal blue sticky mat). I've never seen an episode of "Dharma & Greg" (or "Friends" for that matter) but if I had I'm sure I'd have something to say about it, too.

My solution in college was to make a film depicting a day in the life of a mohicanned punk rock chick (me of course). Maybe it's high time for a new type of sit-com....

Tuesday, August 17, 2004


5:00 Fed the cat

6:45 Woke up to NPR story about how expensive it is to eat healthy food (:0===)

7:15 Updated blog, ate a red plum ($0.79 / lb)

7:25 Played “slats” with cat in stairway and got the paper (no Rob Feder)

7:30 Yoga practice to Howard Stern; stiff but four dropbacks

9:00 Grabbed chai, left house on mtn. bike (streets eerily vacant)

9:30 Taught two at faltering health club

11:30 Orientation at thriving nearby rival (free clothes!)

12:00 Swam 1/4 mile

12:30 Steam 'n Weep

12:35 Weighed self (two lost lbs have come home to roost)

1:00 Photocopied kirtan article

1:15 Tailor (four days, $5 for yoga top alteration)

1:30 Got car, shoved road bike in back

1:45 Bike shop (one week and $140 for tune-up, new tire, flat repair, new chain and gear)

2:00 Waited eons for bubble tea while talking to Miss Y on cell (worth it)

2:15 Caught up with former triathlon buddy while waiting for falafel (free chips)

2:30 Spotted Wilco baby and mom browsing at CB2

2:45 Responded desolately to perky Trader Joe’s clerk

3:00 Got mail (Bob-E has begun his world tour!), schlepped groceries upstairs

3:15 E-mail (one from Germany -- with advice), phone messages

3:30 Nap nap nap

4:30 Nappy hair, crappy thoughts

4:40 Chocolate-and-salt cure

4:45 Returned phone calls

4:55 Feline pedicure

5:00 Perused online pix of nephew’s wedding (bad idea)

5:15 Worked on 2003 taxes while watching John Scott DVD

6:30 Discussed sit-com with B, then back to taxes

6:50 Dined on sesame noodles and salad in front of John Scott (Warning: Do not try split-leg chakrasana while eating!)

7:15 Looked over story edit

7:30 Went to ghettoplex to see blockbuster sequel

8:00 Studied sit-coms instead (mate was stuck on CTA train for 1.5 hours due to fire): Entourage (Yokolike yoga teacher gets star smitten and leaves for India), According to Jim (:0====), Sports Night (wow)

9:00 See 7:30

12:00 Reviewed final story edit

12:30 Old-time radio and Zzz


New moon on Monday
Two classes plus two deadlines
One sad girl indeed

Monday, August 16, 2004


Sunday began with a flat tire, a mediocre practice and too much bubble tea.....
Bad teacher made someone cry out in Mysore class in the morning (turns out she was fine, just surprised). Class Two saw a student arrive late, not listen to the instruction, and claim afterwords she had no money to pay. After a heartbreakingly lonely breakfast and an awful mountain bike ride across town in pristine weather (couples everywhere), not one, not two, not three but four! people walked out in the middle of Class Three. The teacher then rode back across town where she took a major nosedive, dragging down her friends and nearly causing permament damage to her right eye (Left Eye was the one who torched her bf's house). Now she can't sleep, and can't stop wondering why someone would call a mutual friend, but not her, to inquire about her well-being. Any ideas? E-mail chaigirl@india.com.

I'm putting off working on a story about this cartoonist:

Saturday, August 14, 2004


Last night two friends and I went to see the silent film "It" starring Clara Bow as the girl with sex appeal who wins the guy (to win the guy you must play ukulele, get thrown off a yacht and swim in high heels), with live organ accompaniment. There was a singalong (tunes too old for even me to know) and some zaftig flappers and then the fillum itself, which made today's blockbusters look like the poorly-acted pablum they are. The only problem was that there was no soda fountain to visit afterwords (the theatre is in Polish Town, which closes down early).

We met up again today for India Fest which is strange since none of us ever have large blocks of free time. The fest was a bust but it was sunny and unseasonably cool and they *did* have fresh (tasty Thai) coconuts and lukewarm chai. Apparently tomorrow it'll hop after the Indian Independence Day Parade. We headed over to India Town for some tre fresh food (the eggplant dish and radish paratha were amazing) at Bhabi's, where Bindi (who discovered the place) was finishing up her meal. Then a winding twilight bike ride home, checking out the people on their porches. Not such a bad day, considering.

An unexpected visitor, someone I never really met but have heard about for seven months, came to class today..........strange days indeed.

Friday, August 13, 2004


Things forgotten:

Neglected to set alarm three times this week

Forgot to bring yoga bottoms to class

Did not include Utkatasana in standing poses.

Skipped Sirsasana in closing sequence.

Spaced out all four Prasaritas one day

Could not recall where I left the car

Left the back door wide open and went to see a fillum ("It")

Blanked on the name of his friend who came to class.

Things gained:

Four, possibly five new teaching gig$


Titibasana A,B,C

Lifted up from Upavista Konasana for the first time ever -- while demonstrating in front of a class no less

Learned to text message

One new therapist, who says the temper issue is not a fatal flaw but can be managed if the desire is there (it is)

The pounds are also returning, madam

Thursday, August 12, 2004


"Fatalists say that a bad man has no redemption in his present life. His only hope is in his reincarnation. But the enlightened ones say that man can renew life any time at will. That is the privilege of the human birth.
"The snake casts off the slough and thereby renews its skin. Man can change his mind and therby renew his life. Purified thoughts and cleansed ideas emanate from a reborn mind. When the mind reforms itself life also changes for the better."

--Swami Chidbhavananada

"Knowing is not enough; we must apply.
Willing is not enough; we must do."

--Goethe (pronounced "GOATH-ee")

"Ashtanga yoga is 99 percent practice, one percent theory."

"Do your practice and all is coming"

"You do!!!"

--Sri K. Pattabhi Jois

Apparently Guruji is going to Africa in the fall and to the US west coast in the spring.

On the turntable:
Mata Amritanandamayi Bhajans. 2002

On the tube:
Rescue Me

Bedside Table:
Feeling Good : The New Mood Therapy by David Burns

Bathroom Floor:
The New Yorker
Cat Hair

Dining Room Table:
2003 Tax Receipts
More Kleenex

Wednesday, August 11, 2004


--Teaching classes, subbing like crazy
--IM-ing Dublin in the hard wee hours
--Talking to friends
--Talking to strangers
--Eating with friends
--Birthday cake
--Bubble Tea (it's the new chai)
--"Eeeee!" mantra
--Walking in the park with Mary (a woman selling ice cream, singing Ecuadoran songs)
--Strolling down Broadway with Doug (the neon lights are bright, no lambs)
--Interrogating happy couples
--Bad self-help books
--Good self-help books
--Driving everywhere (so no one can look at you)
--Riding the bike everywhere (when the above no longer matters)
--Watching the Kieslowski fillum "Blue"
--Writing in ye olde journal
--Composing a long letter
--Finding out about "cognitive distortions" and hatching a plan
--Making lists

Tuesday, August 10, 2004


Number of pounds lost since last Monday: 5

Sizes dropped: 1

Phone calls not returned: 1

Phones thrown: 0

Yoga classes taught: 12

Deadlines met: 4

Self-help books purchased: 6

Number of above that are still in the mail: 2

That make you laugh out loud: 1

Hours spent trolling the Internet for answers: 20

Answers found: 1 or 2

Tears shed: millions and counting

Number of friends bored to tears: 10

Percentage that think it ain’t over: 90

Number of times cat has bitten / walked on its owner: hundreds

Number of times said cat has been banished from the bedroom: 5

Hours of sleep missed: countless


"Vishnu Astothara Satham"
Padmasree Dr. K.J. Yesudas

Vishnu symbolizes the tendency inherent in all aspects of life to find a state of balance. This tendency manifests for example in the healing of wounds, in chemical bonds, as well as in the great incarnations such as Rama, Krishna, Buddha etc.who come to this plane when the order of the world is threatened. Vishnu preserves and maintains the cosmic order. He symbolizes compassion. This mantra attracts those who like responsibilities and who have a protective nature.

Monday, August 09, 2004


Losing however many pounds* due to the feeling of having fallen on one's sword and been unseamed from nave to chops makes it possible for the first time since Kovalam to hold the wrist in Supta Kurmasana and Pasasana and stand up easily from BB. It also makes for very little sleep and some unpleasant lighteadedness during pratice.

*Last Monday Satya bought size 9 jeans at Target. When she returned yesterday to get another pair she was a size 7. When she goes back, should she get 7's or 9's? Weigh in (so to speak) via chaigirl@india.com.

Nick Cave - "God is in the House"
(he isn't really, but we *are* looking for him)

FILLUM (make that VHS video):
Bourne Identity

Saturday, August 07, 2004


Today's Truism:

You can be a walking wound and barely make it through teaching, half-starved and your eyes half open, feeling like a black-and-blue version of your formerly colorful self and having very little to give. You go through the motions and are convinced you've taught one of your worst classes ever (your voice breaking at one point as you choke on tears) and then afterwords someone takes you aside and says, "Thank you for class. Your adjustments were wonderful" and someone else seconds it and someone else says, "My back usually hurts when I do yoga, but not when I take your classes." Slowly (too slowly if you ask me) the color starts to return.

Lauryn Hill
"Forgive Them Father"

"Philadelphia Story"

Wednesday, August 04, 2004


Something is in the air; many say it's due to last Saturday's blue moon. American Airlines computers fail, relationships explode or implode or hit the reset; on Friday more than a few students reported feeling exremely anxious for no apparent reason. Our own self lost it (again) Thursday night after the wake..... and the waters are still very troubled indeed. Somehow though the practice is going well (saving me really, knock wood) and calming the mind as much as it can be calmed with vinyasa and Tylenol PM and the "Eeeee" mantra (to stop obsessive thoughts) that S. recently showed me. (You say "Eeeeee!" as loud and long as you can until your voice wavers. Do it a few times and it activates something at the base of the skull that helps stop the cycle. Sounds strange and may get you kicked out of your apartment and / or draw all the neighborhood dogs to your door -- but it actually works). Also I am standing up from backbend again; opening the heart? We can only hope....

Today's Airport Theme Song:
The Concretes -- "You Can't Hurry Love"
(it has *nothing* to do with Phil Collins)

Monday, August 02, 2004


Apparently you can feel guilty (or, in this case, much worse) even if you do the right thing and A). watch Rescue Me while folding laundry and B). go to the wake.

Also spending 3.5 hours in a car in late July sans AC with an empty stomach will not a pleasant girl make.... even if there is diaphramatic breathing and an attempt to focus on the Ganesha totem on the dash. Death is death and they all bring up other deaths, don't they. Especially when you do a drive-by past the dead mom's house and notice they put a deck on back -- something she'd always dreamt of doing....

No surprise then that nothing much was accomplished o'er the weekend (apart from enjoying thali and Starsky & Hutch with Miss B and son, which was a very nice interlude indeed).

Delayed headache is coming, Madam.

Today's Airport Theme Song:
"Frustrated" by the Knack
(apparently they're NOT saying, "the Straight Edge")