Thursday, June 30, 2005


Every day they predict rain, and every day it does not come.

We're in the middle of a huge huge drought that they've only just now started talking about. The parks are brown and the leaves on the trees are cringing from the sun and the level of Lake Michigan is down, down, down. Forget the 700-odd old people who died in the Heat Wave of 1995; this thing is going to kill all the trees (although I'm sure god will be able to sort those out, too).

And there I go, leading people through sun salutations every chance I get, when what we really should be doing is a rain dance....but that's the forte of the *other* Indians, isn't it. Perhaps there's a Sanskrit monsoon chant somewhere?

Today I left the house at 5:45 am to teach the 6am class and lo and behold there was lightening which is not unusual (it torments us). And then something marvelous happened. Big fat drops of water hit the windshield, plop, plop, plop. Many of them. So many in fact that I had to use the windshield wipers, which I'd almost forgotten about. The rain made me feel like one of the characters in that Ray Bradbury story where night never comes and the sun is always there and it never rains and they are all slowly going crazy. Until it finally starts to pour.

I parked and pulled out the umbrella and used it for a few steps and then dumped it in favor of feeling the rare cold drops fall upon me. It was delightful after all of this cloying heat, and I felt like a character in one of those Bollywood movies where they belt out the song in the middle of the street in the middle of the monsoon. Only I don't really sing, there were no wardrobe changes or backup dancers (just some gung-ho triathletes on their way to the health club) and it only lasted a few minutes before the clouds slammed shut and the rain shut off. The downpour lasted just long enough to really mess up the poor plants and trees even more. And there's no rain forecast on the horizon, and the city is asking citizens to help water the trees so they don't all die like the old poeple did....

Maybe their plea will work this time.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

TODAY'S LESSON (LISTEN UP, KIDS).... that you cannot assume a cotton yoga mat is some kind of futon, set it up in the living room and sleep on same. Even if you place it on top of a Purple Travel Mat, sleep with just a sheet and use an extra fan to aim the conditioned air to your side of the apartment. No no no no no. The only thing that will help you sleep is watching The English Patient (is anyone else freaked out that Ralph Fiennes is only 43? He's either lying or spending a lot of time doing the opposite of yoga) while reading that Tuesdays with Morrie -- which instead of instilling an appreciation for all things mundane and beautiful and living in the moment and loving your fellow human makes you resent the manipulations of the Detroit-based sportswriter who wrote the thing. In any case *that* little cocktail is what finally put me down. At that point I knew that I wasn't going to be missing out on anything if I lost consciousness. Which reminds me; Is gouty Al Franken the new mascot of the Sundance Channel? Ewe. So of course I slept late and skipped yoga (will go tomorrow, which is usually the day off) and got to work on the book....


(invented in 1887 at Chicago’s Farragut Boat Club "when a Yale man tossed a bound-up boxing glove at a Harvard man and the Harvard man whacked it with a broomstick," from the Metro Chicago Almanac).

(originally called The Savory Big 5 -- now there, kids, is a band name -- they were founded in 1927 by one Al Saperstein; the original quintet came from Phillips High School and went on to beat the 1936 Olympic team, which at the time was whites-only).

(Swami Vivekananda introduced yoga to America when he crashed the 1893 World Parliament of Relgions on 9/11 and stole the show with a rousing speech at the Memorial Art Palace (now known as the Art Institute). He claimed the Windy City as his second home, and went on to tour the US (as did Anagarika Dharmapala of the Buddhist tradition); the outcome was the creation of an American Vedanta Society and a Buddhist society).

Tuesday, June 28, 2005


So I have been banish-ed from my house due to The Painting. Not such a good thing to be out of one's discomfort zone when it's 100 degrees and the air quality is dangerous at best and one is behind on work and the cat is missing. But a very good thing indeed when the cat is finally found cowering behind the dressers (which are in the living room) and the laptop's wireless works and one imagines the sparking peach walls and white ceiling that will await once everything is finished, dusted, put back in place, reconnected and re-hung ((your joke here)). The airconditionless and aimless trip to the E-town Home Depot (oops, forgot there's one in Lincoln Park and overshot the one up north) for more paint was a sweltering nightmare *but* at least the new mobile earphone thingy works (starting July 6 it will be illegal for Chicagoans to press cell phone to ear while driving driving driving driving....). But after a bath I stayed last night at a friend's house that had the perfect amount of AC. Yoga practice today was OK; tried Kapotasana for the first time since the knee went *ping* in the pose and Miss Y even brought me up from backbend -- something I thought I'd kissed goodbye forever. After practice some brief commiseration with Henry the Punk and Buzzy Littlehead about the heat and how it magnifies anxiety levels by factors of 10 (over the superhot weekend a dozen Chicagoans were shot dead in a 24 - hour period) made all seem well again. For a few minutes anyway.

Fruit Coolata from Munkin Donuts
Iced Decaf with coconut from same
Passionfruit Lemonade from The Evil Coffee Empire

Very little

Retro 80s
Brigitte Fontaine

Rescue Me
30 Days
Territorial Cocksuckers

Tuesdays with Morrie (really)

A book

The good ol' days

*The new album by White Oprah

Monday, June 27, 2005


Today I got up at 6 to move everything (and I mean everything) out of the bedroom before teaching at 8, so the LL's handsome painters could do their thing. Tore nails out of the walls. Swept. Hid stuff. Covered things. Warned the cat. Peach walls are coming, madam. And much dust.

Then caffeineless I taught the 8AM Mysore. The Riverboat Captain Who Plays Sitar made an appearance and had many questions (some of which I could answer) plus there were some regulars. Afterwords I did my own practice. I keep forgetting to mention that I have not stood up from backbend since throwing out the thing (back) in March. Well, perhaps once or twice. But not much since. I've been doing the pose differently since Tim Miller showed me a better way at an Asana Doctor workshop a few weeks ago. It seems to be working (ie the back is being rehabilitated). I am also doing Mari C and D differently (with a straighter back, both cheeks on the floor) which also seems to help.

Afterwords I gave blood (the secret to passing the iron/anemia test is to *not* have anything with caffeine in it before donating; the two people after me both flunked). I do wish they'd take down that 9/11-era newspaper clipping of Robin Williams giving blood....It makes me not want to go back.

The weekend was punctuated by back-to-back widescreen screenings of Deadwood in central AC comfort, some Target Therapy and hanging out with the family under some gigantic oaks in my nephew's hugehuge lawn out near the hometown. He is 30. THIRTY. The family is doing well but I should've taken Young Mulletted Joey up on his offer to open my trunk (the boot hasn't opened since even before the FedEx truck hit the car in January). The great-niece is teething; very cute and quiet is that baby. Saturday night I went to see the play Leaving Iowa flanked by Larry David Midwest and The Media Junkie (who hit it off); afterwords one of the stars joined us for dinner, which was full of clever high-jinks and references to Combat! and Bedouins.

And last night I finally saw the final cut of our video project, Valerie Loves Me. It doesn't suck! It's quite good in fact. Not just the production values but also the writing and, well, even my so-called acting is halfway passable. Blaine is a genius.

I hope I still feel that way the next time we screen it.....

Friday, June 24, 2005


The thermo says 102 and the car has no AC save for a spray bottle of very warm water and a hand-held fan that doesn't really work. So what a delight it was to arrive on Devon Ave. (Little India) after a trip to the 'burbs and find that there was *no line* to get a tender Thai coconut for just $2. Not only was it chilled and perfect, but the Thai ones have that rich, nutty flava (unlike the very bland Indian ones). Maybe summer won't suck after all....

Monday, June 20, 2005


Does anyone else find it strange that I have three bosses with the same first name? British Francine is a health club group fitness coordinator at a super well-designed place downtown (where I haven't taught since March, although the parking fee is just $3). Fran is a distance bicyclist who does the same at an unpretentous health club on the north side (the one that pays my rent and has a small, tiled pool). And Frannie is a very young and outgoing editrix at a book publishing house in NYC (the US arm of a Scottish firm). Put them together, and I'm sure they could solve all the world's problems....Or at least fill in its potholes.

Thursday, June 16, 2005


Lest you think the following type of "solution" is confined to the Subcontinent; I recently read a similar first person story by a female police officer in one of those "true stories" American women's magazines. Her solution to the rape of a young virgin was to keep it hushed up and (you guessed it) have her marry the rapist. After all, he'd robbed* her of her honor -- so what use would she be to anyone else? I'm sure he lived happily ever after.

Indian forced to 'marry' her father-in-law rapist
New Delhi, June 16, 2005
Hindustan Times

An Indian rape victim is being forced by village elders to "marry" her rapist -- her father-in-law, a newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Community leaders in Charthawal village, backed by local Muslim clerics, believe that by being raped, 28-year-old Imrana's 10-year marriage has been nullified under Islamic law, The Asian Age newspaper said.

Holding a special council on Sunday, village leaders ordered the mother of five to leave her husband, Noor Mohammed, and live with her parental family for seven months and 10 days and make herself "pure" again, The Age said. It did not say how she becomes pure.

After that, she must "marry" her father-in-law and live with him, along with his legal wife.

"She... will then be like a mother to Noor Mohammed," the paper quoted local cleric Shamim Ahmad saying.

Her four brothers have agreed to the edict. She has not but in India, victims of crime often have nowhere to turn and with even her own family supporting the edict she may have little choice.

Police are now investigating and say they plan to arrest the father-in-law. They refuse to comment on the village elders' ruling, saying it is a sensitive religious issue.

The village is in Uttar Pradesh**, one of India's poorest and most backward states and its most populous, with more than 165 million people, more than Russia's 145 million.


*One Spanish word for rape is "robar"
En espanol "rape," (ra-PAY) on the other hand, means "a quick shave" or "a scolding."

**The state of Uttar Pradesh ("Upper Country") is where Phoolan Devi became the Bandit Queen in the late 70's and early 80's (The headstrong and outspoken Devi was a Dacoit -- or the caste formerly known as untouchable. She was married off early in an attempt to silence her, and after refusing his advances she was raped by her husband at age 11. Later village Thakurs or land-owners also tried it ; she fought them off, ran away, and was later arrested for her trouble. While in jail the police officers and guards beat (and you guessed it) her. Devi was apparently sold to a lecherous local bandit who was assasinated by a lieutenant, Vikram. They fell in love and started a new gang but he was killed and she was again violated by a Thakur gang before forming her own posse and meting out justice to the deserving many (including the pedophile husband, his second wife, and 22 upper caste Thakurs). She eventually surrendered to authorities and did time in prision -- and even ran for office and became an MP before being assassinated in 2001. There was also some talk about her winning a Nobel Peace Prize. The film about her has been dismissed by Arundhati Roy and others as a sensationalist bit of fiction).

Monday, June 13, 2005


We held poses again for ten breaths (sometimes, as in the case of headstand, more; sometimes, in the case of setu bandasana, less) at Manju's workshop yesterday. Although the body was sore and, initially, stiff, it was strong! And relatively lithe. And the practice felt good -- even holding the poses for that long (with the exception of Navasana and the final part of Utthitha Hasta Padangustasana). And -- get this -- today my back doesn't hurt. Knock wood now.

I practiced late today (12:30PM) and the back still felt good and although the body is sore I again felt strong. So maybe there is something to this pose-holding..... I held poses a breath longer than usual; who knows what could happen tomorrow.

But my mood is in the ditch (I somehow broke the cover off the toilet seat in the middle of the night and awakened this morning at the exact moment I should have been leading the mantra at the Monday Mysore class.....Later I learned that this month's cartoon is not acceptable in its current form [a pirate takeoff on Goofus and Gallant -- or do you say Pattabhi Jois and BKS Iyengar -- that could be misinterpreted by the crip community], which means it must be redone. And after two weeks of sitting on their hands, the Author's Guild informed me today that their lawyers will not review a contract with a foreign publisher. Meanwhile the editor is asking why I haven't signed yet). So I sat a bit and did what Dharma Mittra calls "positive breathing" in which you do rechaka-kumbaka etc through the right nostril only. It's *sort of* working. He says you need to do it for at least five minutes, preferably for 15 to 20, for it to work. Then, he says, "You can face a firing squad."



Last week Jack lugged the giant air conditioner up three flights of stairs. It's one of those big,strong old energy-suckers (the AC). We installed it in front of the desk I'm working at right now, and then ate at Victory's Banner. Thank Krishna for AC. It has been 90 degrees and humid (I know, that's redundant) here for a week. A week. And it's not even summer. I want to do a puja in front of the AC. It has been my best friend over the past six days. It has changed my life, and I love it. Athough I live on the third floor and have seven windows facing south, I know this is wrong. If you don't understand why this is wrong, the writer Barbara Flanagan explains it far better than I can right here



And how strange is it that this woman, who seems to practice with Eddie in NYC and love scooters, has a pic of me on her old blog (HINT: you may have to take the cursor on and off the photo to see it properly.... also, I'm not the bald guy on the right).

Sunday, June 12, 2005


Nine FM, the local "We Play Anything" station, has supposedly been trying to launch a Celebrity Spins feature, in which someone from outside comes in and plays an hour of their favorite music. Apparently Richard Roeper and Kelly Osbourne didn't want to / were too busy to schlep to the south side, and the Munchkin from Wicked just wasn't a good fit. So it's come down to me. If they're telling the truth, my so-called spins will air next Sunday night. I have to winnow the following list down to 15 plus 5 alternates and am currently taking requests. The more all-over-the-place the songs, the better (that's the format). But no swear words. I find it hard to believe they'll let me get away with it. But you never know.....

Here they are, in no particular order (ironically, the head of Newsweb's radio stations -- which include Nine FM -- is the former head of adult alternative WXRT). Your input is welcome; the deadline is tonight (Sunday 9/12):

Cornershop -- Brimful of Asha or Good to be on the Road Back Home
Stooges--No Fun
Eddie Cochran -- Somethin’ Else
Ray Charles -- One Mint Julep
Nina Simone -- My Baby Just Cares for Me
Off Broadway -- Full Moon Turn My Head Around or Bully Bully
Specials -- Rat Race
Linda Ronstadt -- Blue Bayou
Queen Latifah -- U.N.I.T.Y.
X -- Come Back to Me
Wire -- I am the Fly
Velvet Underground -- I Can’t Stand It
Spearhead -- Rock the Nation
Beastie Boys -- No Sleep Til Brooklyn or Shadrach
Luna or Serge Gainsbourg -- Bonnie and Clyde
Last Poets -- New York, New York
Pavement -- Trigger Cut/Wounded Kite
Tom Waits -- Johnsburg, IL or Goin’ Out West
Ike and Tina Turner - It’s Gonna Work Out Fine
Stevie Wonder -- Superstition
Peggy Lee -- Fever
Tennessee Ernie Ford -- 16 Tons
Mamas and the Papas -- Monday, Monday
Tones on Tail -- Twist
Slits -- I Heard it Through the Grapevine
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds -- Red Right Hand
Glen Campbell -- Southern Nights
Big Star - September Girls
Plastic Ono Band -- Midsummer New York
Breeders or Amps?
Moe Tucker - All Fired Up
Amy Rigby -- 20 Questions or Beer and Kisses
Scientists -- Demolition Derby
Paolo Conte -- Gelato Al Limon
Beasts of Burbon -- A Place Called Bad
Sonic Youth -- Bull in the Heather or Teen Riot
Cramps -- Human Fly
Rita Marley -- My Kind of War
Muffs -- Oh Nina
Ray Bryant Combo -- The Madison Time
Ramones -- Beat on the Brat
Screamin’ Jay Hawkins -- I Put a Spell on You
Shankar Mahadevan and Ravi Rags Khote -- Pretty Woman (Bhangra version from the Bollywood movie Kal Ho Naa Ho)
Gun Club -- Jack on Fire
Del-Monas -- Peter Gunn Locomotion
L7 -- Andre or Stuck Here Again
Cat Power -- Satisfaction... or something with Handsome Boy Modeling School
Devo -- Mongoloid or It’s a Beautiful World

Saturday, June 11, 2005


Manju. Had. Us. Hold. Poses. So. Long. Today. That. I. Thought. I. Was. Going. To. Lose. It. Stop.

Maybe. That . Was . The. Point. Stop.

He. Counted. To. Ten. Stop.

His. Ten. Is. Equal. To. My. Twenty. Dash. Five.

Or. More. Stop.

And. I. Get. Agitated. When. Lino. Does. His. Interminable. Count . To. Five.

Which. Is. Seven. Of. My. Breaths. Stop.

Afterwards. I. Was. As. Tired. Slash. Depressed. As. I've. Ever. Been. Stop.

Something. Is. To. Be. Learned. From. This. Stop.

Like. The. Fact. That. When. I. Self. Slash. Practice. Four. Point. Five. Breaths. Are. Not. Enough. Stop.

All. I'm. Fit. To. Do. Now. Is. Sit. In. Bed. And. Try. To. Read. Suketu. Mehta's. Maximum. City. Colon. Bombay. Lost. And. Found. Stop.

He. Does. Not. Call. It. Mumbai. Stop.

I. May. Get. To. Meet. Him . Next Month. Ellipses. Through. The. Best. Hyphen. Selling. Author. Stop.

If. I. Make. It. Through. Tomorrow's. Class. Comma. That. Is.


Wednesday, June 08, 2005


Some highlights from Mr. Bikram Choudhury's appearance on 60 Minutes this evening:

According to Bikram mythology it was Richard Nixon who brought him to this country; Nixon was sick in the South Pacific, Bikram was summoned and "cured" him with yoga. [The disease was phlebitis, or inflamation of the vein. According to eMedicine Health, "superficial phlebitis affects veins on the skin surface. The condition is rarely serious and, with proper care, usually resolves rapidly."] Nonetheless Dick was so pleased, he gave him a free pass to come to America whenever he wanted. So far no one's unearthed a photo of Bikram and Fat Elvis flanking Tricky D.

He has a unique sense of style (read; ick... although you do kind of have to appreciate that he wears just a Speedo, Rolex and cordless headset while teaching). Not once did they show or mention his wife, Rajashree, who teaches with him and was herself a five-time winner of the All-India Yoga Championship Competition.* (She specializes in yoga for pregnancy, and runs a yoga camp for kids with cancer).

They showed Mr. Choudhury walking and being hailed in Kolkata, where he visited Ghosh's College of Physical Education. That's where he (and Rajashree) learned the ancient / patented poses. While there he corrected someone's finger placement in a pose I cannot name, and stood on a man's hips while he performed Ustrasana [his hips were way too far back if you ask me]. It reminded me of the story of Krishnamacharya standing on Pattabhi Jois while he was making a speech. Of course, later in life Krishnamacharya was all about adapting the yoga to the person's needs.

Bikram said that Americans have everything and are miserable, while in India they have nothing and are not [groan]. It's all because we measure success according to wealth, he said, and in India there are other measures [like caste?]. Also they have The Yoga. He basically said that the only way to enlightenment is through his yoga. He stopped short of saying "Do my practice and all is coming." They also mentioned the lawsuit. So far it seems like he's winning. The woman on the other side came off like a spoiled brat, which is unfortunate.

They did not show Bikram doing asana. The news-lady had to take a Bikram class but unfortuantely the camera only caught her struggling with the poses at the beginning of his series. Darn. Although she did get a nice adjustment in Natarajasana (dancing warrior).

Some zingers from the show...

While showing off his collection of classic automobiles:
NEWSIE: "That doesn't seem very yogic."
BIKRAM: "I am an American yogi!"

When asked how he felt about the comparison between his copyrighted sequence of yoga poses and McDonald's (his franchise has been referred to as "McYoga"):
BIKRAM: "What's wrong with that? I eat Big Mac...."

And that's when he showed his hand.


*Rajashree is a year younger than I am, meaning she really *is* 39.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


Call the neighbors, Tell your friends --
Mr. Bikram Choudhury, the Rolls Royce collector who *invented* Bikram Yoga (the type practiced in front of a mirror in 105-degree heat) and The Yoga College of India (TM), is set to appear on 60 Minutes tomorrow (Wed.) night. He's copyrighted his sequence of 26 poses and has threatened to sue instructors who won't pay for the priviledge of teaching them. Not sure where *that* fits into the yoga sutras, Madam

More on Mr. Bikram's legal maneuverings here and here

Sunday, June 05, 2005


Why does practicing for an hour at 6:30 am followed by teaching "two in a row" and lunch with a friend and many errands, etc. make one so wretched the following day? Could it be the cloying humidity (is there any other kind)? Perhaps the chai wll get the blood moving again.

From Dharma Mittra's intro to his book Asanas: 608 Yoga Poses:

"There is always an excuse not to do yoga and I've heard them all. 'I'm not feeling well, 'It's too cold (or too hot)' or 'the city is too hectic and not a spiritual place.'"

One suspects he's also heard 'I'm too tired / have too many deadlines / must go to Tim Miller's Asana Doctor workshop later today.'

Lots of gems are in that intro, Madam.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005


I am swamped with The Deadlines yet again, and have found a wonderful new OCD-friendly way to procrastinate. Instead of cleaning the house or calling people I haven't spoken to in years or meeting someone for lunch or putting in the air conditioner or brushing the cat (not a euphemism) or taking a nap I am making occasional visits to the website. At the moment I'm hooked on the Jammu-Kashmir blogs. It seems most of the travelers don't realize the danger they're in (J-K is the bucolic, mountainous, indescribably beautiful disputed territory in Northern India that is primarily Muslim but controlled by India. Troops on both sides are always shooting at each other, and it is not uncommon for separatists to bomb public places or kidnap foreign tourists (hence the State Department warning not to go there; hence the rule that you can't visit unless you've already secured accommodations). So the tourism industry dropped to almost nil two decades ago, wiping out the local economy. Which is why neutral Switzerland serves as a stand-in for mountainous Kashmir in Hindi movies. Which is why you see so many rug, etc. sellers from Kasmir plying their wares down south in coastal tourist areas like Kovalam. Which is why, when, after plying you with Kashmiri green tea and carefully writing down their name and address and asking you to visit, you don't. Even though you want to). Some highlights:

"We returned to our boat house on Nagin Lake in Srinagar in the evening and ate supper to the sounds of Muslim prayers echoing across the lake. This is quite a magical place and is indeed a paradise on earth, as all the travel guides continue to tell us. "

"The boat was quite palacial, and it had a framed letter from a Ghandi who had stayed there before. It was however in serious need of a newer interior. I guess since the Kasmir conflict scared off tourists from the mid eighties not much had been done to improve the decor."

"We went to the two Moghul Gardens - the first one was beautiful and had a great many young students playing on the lawns. The second one was much more neglected, but both were a shadow of what they were - many fountains trickled and stonework was overrun with moss."

"I had much better things to do in Srinagar than go online! like buying saffron and shawls from bearded merchants, gazing out over the lakes and mountains from the holiest mosque in the subcontinent, and singing Titanic for my hosts' children. But most memorable was the crazy trip both ways from Jammutavi to Srinagar - along the most reacherous mountain roads I could have imagined... always entrtained by the desperate roadsigns - "better mr. late than late mr." "this is not a race or rally- enjoy Kashmir valley" and my favourite; "be gentle on my curves"."

"I heard in Leh that Kargil was shelled a few nights after we stayed there and someone died - so this journey isn't the safest in the world. I don't think it was downtown that was shelled but the army tents, but I have no idea how close they are."

And from the US State Department:


-- JAMMU and KASHMIR: The Department of State recommends that U.S. citizens avoid travel to the state of Jammu and Kashmir, with the exception of visits to the Ladakh region and its capital, Leh. A number of terrorist groups operate in the state, and security forces are active throughout the region, particularly along the Line of Control (LOC) separating Indian and Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, and are visible in the primary tourist destinations in the Kashmir Valley – Srinagar, Gulmarg and Pahalgam.

Since 1989, as many as 60,000 people (terrorists, security forces, and civilians) have been killed in the Kashmir conflict, including almost 1,000 civilians in 2003 alone. Many terrorist incidents take place in the state’s summer capital of Srinagar, but the majority occurs in rural areas. Foreigners are particularly visible, vulnerable, and definitely at risk. Occasionally, even the Ladakh region of the state has been affected by terrorist violence, but incidents there are rare. The last such case was in 2000, when terrorists in Ladakh's Zanskar region killed a German tourist. The Indian government prohibits foreign tourists from visiting the Kargil area of Ladakh along the LOC. U.S. Government employees are prohibited from traveling to the state of Jammu and Kashmir without permission from the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi.

In 1999, the terrorist organization Harakat-ul Mujahideen issued a ban on U.S. citizens, including tourists, visiting Kashmir, but has not followed up on this threat. In 1995, the terrorist organization Al Faran kidnapped seven Western tourists, including two U.S. citizens, who were trekking in Kashmir valley. One of the hostages was brutally murdered, another escaped, and the other five -- including one U.S. citizen -- have never been found. Srinagar has also been the site of a great deal of violence, including car bombings, market bombings, hand grenade attacks that miss their targets and kill or injure innocent bystanders, and deaths resulting from improvised (remote controlled) explosive devices (IEDs). In recent years, several tourists, including at least one U.S. citizen, have been fatally shot or wounded in Srinagar. The 2002 state elections were marred by multiple terrorist attacks that killed some 800 people, a large percentage of whom were innocent civilians. Some terrorist violence also marred the national parliamentary polls in April/May 2004.

-- INDIA-PAKISTAN BORDER: The State Department recommends that U.S. citizens avoid travel to border areas between India and Pakistan, including within the states of Gujarat, Punjab, and Rajasthan, and the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir. A ceasefire along the Line of Control (LOC) in Kashmir began on November 26, 2003 and a dialogue between the two countries aimed at easing tensions continues. Both India and Pakistan maintain a strong military presence on both sides of the LOC. The only official India-Pakistan border crossing point is between Atari, India, and Wagah, Pakistan. A Pakistani visa is required to enter Pakistan. The border crossing is currently open. However, travelers are advised to confirm the current status of the border crossing prior to commencing travel.

Both India and Pakistan claim an area of the Karakoram mountain range that includes the Siachen glacier. The ceasefire in Kashmir that took effect in November 2003 has also been in effect on the glacier. U.S. citizens traveling to or climbing peaks in the disputed areas face significant risks. The disputed area includes the following peaks: Rimo Peak; Apsarasas I, II, and III; Tegam Kangri I, II and III; Suingri Kangri; Ghiant I and II; Indira Col.; and Sia Kangri.