Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Losted - to lose
Shift - to move

RUPEES PER DOLLAR: 46.3 (up from 45.9 last week)

Yesterday I lost my scooter key. After ransacking the place and the scooter itself I asked at the front counter and Vishwunath said, Yes, Madam, it is here. No problem. Apparently I had left it on the scooter. Oops.

And then I went and did it again today.

During the bucket-bath after class I also realized I hadn't brought my yoga mat up with me. I hurriedly finished and went downstairs and searched the scooter, where I'd tuck it between the seat and sissy-bar thing and.....nothing. I asked at the desk (hey, it worked before) and... nothing. I got on the scooter and retraced my steps... nothing. But during the ride I remembered a truck had been honking like crazy behind me at the scary intersection just outside of Gokulam. It had pulled up beside me and the guys had yelled something unintelligible, and, certain I was being harassed, I pulled the helmet's visor down over my face and ignored them. "I've shown them," I thought. Now I realize they were probably trying to tell me something. And now I'm out a Hugger Mugger eco-friendly mat and a carefully-selected quick-dry nylon yoga mat bag. Damn. Prashanth is loaning me his extra mat but now I have to buy a new (slow-drying, heavy cotton) bag. Yet another lesson about attachment, Madam.

Later I realize that if I had heeded the trucker and turned around / gone back there's a good chance I would have been beaned by a bus, which means that right now my brother would be trying to figure out how to fly my corpse out of the country. So maybe it's a good thing in the end....

But it was upsetting, especially after seeing Water last night (bootleg copy with subtitles, viewed on my computer). It's about how they treated (and still treat) widows here -- like pariahs. Prashanth, who's an aspiring director, had no idea that fundamentalist Hindus had shut down the shooting and that they had had to re-do the whole thing five years later in Sri Lanka. Then he volunteered that he has banned The Da Vinci Code (Da Da Vinci Code for all you Chicagoans) in his CD/video shop. Why, I asked. Because I have heard some things. Some rumors. Well, I said, have you seen it? No. Well, I said, why don't you see it and then decide. No, he said. If some things are not perfect, then -- ... BUT IT'S FICTION, I said. What? Fiction. Huh? Make-believe; not fact. That didn't go over so well....But far be it for me to let it drop.

Today I moved to my old room, Number 19, at the Kaveri Lodge -- where I stayed for FOUR MONTHS in 2002. I'd considered remaining in 17 with the recessed Indian toilet (it's a good prep for Pasasana, a twisted deep squat with the heels on the floor, which is impossible for me). But the old room was cleaner *and* has a hook for a mosquito net.

My new post-Bylapoopie question for decisionmaking is, How will it affect my yoga practice (hence no village wedding today)? On the one hand, the Indian toilet is good for Pasasana. On the other hand, a Western toilet ensures I will no longer pee on my pants leg when I take a leak in the middle of the night -- which means I don't have to rinse them out and put on new ones, which makes it easier to sleep, which makes for a better yoga practice. Malaria is not so good for yoga either. And something tells me that being violently ill into a western toilet is a far less unpleasant experience.

Yesterday afternoon P and I were on our way to see a Telugu action film when I gave V. (hotel manager) the key to my room (I usually use my own combination lock), and asked him to look into putting a hook on the ceiling so I could use my mosquito net. He literally flew up the stairs once he had the key in his hot little hand. This was unsettling, to say the least. But I got on the back of the motorcycle anyway.

On the way to the theatre we passed a horse standing in the street with its rear leg lifted; blood was dripping from its hoof and a puddle of blood had already formed on the ground. I could not stop looking, long after we'd passed. I asked P if someone would help it and he said, "Should we?" Sure but what could we do? Someone owns it, right, I asked. Yes, he said. We didn't stop. While he parked the motorcycle I pretended to be invisible as men, men and more men streamed around me towards the theatre. It was not a Mentos moment. When P returned I said, This is too much; I want to go back to my room; I am worried about my things. We went; a couple of things had been moved but so far nothing seems amiss.

Today we did make it to the Telugu movie (the hero is a prince in Andhra Pradesh and is very pale with large ears; the heroine was beautiful except for some reason she was wearing someone else's butt; there were dance sequences every half hour and it was LOUD). On the way to the theatre we saw the injured horse eating grass on the side of the road, rear hoof lifted. I'd also seen it this morning on the way to yoga; at that time it was on its bony side, covered in flies. Maybe it's improving; it's distressing but yet I didn't do a damn thing. I'm thinking I'll bring it some carrots or apples or something but what would that do in the grand scheme of things? the sad thing is it's just one example of how hard life can be here for both people and animals. Where and how does one start to help, and where and how does one stop?

In other news...

Three of my five yoga tops are already getting stinky from not drying quickly enough. So much for synthetic fibers.

And I stood up from backbend today -- for the first time in months. But only once.

Monday, May 29, 2006


Today's vocabulary words:

round table = traffic circle
marriage = wedding
function = get-together
mela = really big get-together

Sunday was my first yoga class -- a led primary series class in which everyone practices in unison. I was apprehensive about making the 6KM trip on the scooter in the darkness; apart from a brief ride home the night before, I hadn't ridden since 2004 and thought I'd get lost. I got to the shala without incident at 5AM, and people were already waiting to get in. I didn't recognize anyone in line.... except blogger Joey, whom I don't even know. NOTE TO SELF: Stop looking at and talking to people you know from blogs and yoga videos as if they know you.

When they opened the gate everyone filed in quickly but it wasn't the mad rush I'm accustomed to, and no one yelled at me when I put down my mat. In fact I heard the girl next to me say, "?Quieres cambiar conmigo?" I didn't think she was talking to me but found myself replying in some slow John Wayne drawl I'd never heard come out of my mouth before, "I'll cambiar with you." She seemed surprised but we switched spots and that was my first contact with westerners since begging the male air hostess for water on Thursday (Lufthansa was literally rationing it, which seems very wrong indeed).

While I was putting my things in the changing room I heard someone say "Satya? Satya?" It was Krista from Manju's teacher training; she's here til August and wants to go to breakfast sometime, which would be lovely. It's so nice to be recognized and spoken to. I realize I spend most of my time walking around expecting to be attacked, and am so surprised when the opposite happens. But in past trips here that feeling has diminished little by little until my outlook has veered towards optimism. I hope it happens again. It is happening again.

The led class was a treat. Guruji's counting was not too fast, and that competitive mood that I'm accustomed to was missing. Maybe it'll show up at Friday's led class; we'll see. Sharath was not there but his sister (?) Sharmila, who teaches in Bangalore, was. She gave me a firm adjustment in baddhakonasana that was right on the money. I missed conference later (I felt awful that afternoon) but from what I've heard her explanations are excellent. Maybe next time. In any case I really enjoyed all of the female energy in the room.

Afterwords I went to Bik for a coconut. He recognized me immediately and handed me one that had mostly water and sulpa gunji (less "meat"). It was exquisite. The Indian coconuts aren't as flavorful as the Thai ones we get in the US, but they contain far more water -- which is just what one needs after all of that sweating. I also exchanged a few words in Kannada with Manju the tailor. "You were here two years ago," he said. Uncanny. I should learn to say more things in Kannada. Of course I should really be learning Sanskrit...

I picked up a copy of the Vijay Times -- the writing kind of sucks but it covers regional issues -- and headed towards GreenLeaf restaurant. I tried many routes before finding the right one -- which goes past a graveyard and some cows tied to cement blocks and standing in dirt. Those are the ones that Bindi and I fed desserts and bananas to last trip. I can't decide whether that makes their lives better (a treat!) or worse (creates craving) or affects them not at all. There's a pony family living near the Kaveri Lodge and I'm keen to give them some carrots; but the ones that really need it are the stinky tonga (cart) horses tied up by the park -- which is dotted with piles of dirt and is being redesigned.

I finally found GreenLeaf but it didn't open until 7:30 so I headed home. On the way I remembered that in 2004, Zoe had mentioned the Kesari Bath (a sweet breakfast food with raisins and cashews) at the Nalpak restaurant on Devaraj Urs Road. I sat upstairs, away from the rabble, and got to watch the street awaken as I ate very fresh Kesari Bath and Wada (fried lentil donut). I chased it down with two chai.

Today was a "normal" primary series class. I arrived too early and sat and waited for some time while the others went in. After awhile Sharath looked in and said, "Caca! You come."

Which reminds me. Contrary to conventional wisdom, SHARATH IS INDEED TEACHING AT THE SHALA. I was so focused on dristi I didn't notice how many adjustments he was or wasn't giving; I think he's suspended his private classes for awhile. The rumor is that he's building a new shala in Gokulam, near the orphanage. But he is definitely there.

My spot was in the second row right behind Joey, which I thought was auspicious -- although I hope he doesn't think I'm stalking him.

My body was rather tight and weak but the prana (energy) of the room carried me along; the guy to my right was doing advanced A and the guy to the left was doing intermediate series, which also helped. Saraswati gave me a light adjustment in Supta Kurmasana. At one point Guruji saw some students' infant lying on the stage and said, "When you come? When you come?" -- which something he usually asks students. The place cracked up.

Since it was my first real practice I thought I could get away with going straight into the counterpose after backbends. But Guruji, who was sitting on his fancy chair, saw me and said, "Backbending?"

I haven't dropped back in ages with help, let alone on my own, and the experience (where they help you drop from standing into an Exorcist-style backbend) was so intense and I was so nauseated that I thought I would faint at the end, when Guruji hugs you (if you're a woman) and tells you to "Breathe! Breathe!" I had to breathe through my mouth and then sit in child's pose for awhile after the forward bend adjustment.

So today has been another day of enforced rest -- after getting the newspaper (Deccan Herald) and eating at GreenLeaf there was a mandatory morning nap followed by lunch at Three Sisters (their food is the safest and healthiest and they're steps away from the Kaveri Lodge). Although what I really want to do is go shopping for a bowl and spoon (for mueseli) and Tupperware. But I'll try to be good instead. I'm not to the point yet where I'm drinking my morning urine (which is rumored to drive the immune system through the roof) but I am doing what I can to stay a little healthier this time 'round....


I just realized that I stepped on the human turd Saturday with my left foot -- my poo foot.

Sunday, May 28, 2006


Today's vocabulary words:

pancher = puncture or flat tire
take diversion = detour
road hump = speed bump
ladies' toilet = turditorium

On the flight from Frankfurt they showed a program touting the upcoming World Cup matches, which starts in June in Germany (and for which Lufthansa is a major sponsor). Apparently Brazil has a famous fair-skinned one-named player called Kaka. But he pronounces it "Ka-KAA." Brazil is favored to win the cup. Uganda has a team with white guys on it; they are out to prove that the country isn't just about crises. They have mixed feelings about playing their former colonial masters, Portugal, in the first set of matches. But I digress...

Yesterday Prashanth and I motorcycled out to Bylakuppe, the Tibetan refugee settlement that's home to several lovely Buddhist temples. When Sean and Kike ("KEY-kay")and I visited in 2002 we hired a car with a surly driver and got a flat tire.

The roads have gotten even worse since then, but like everything else here they are widening and improving them -- and hacking down age-old banyon trees in the process. I had slept the night through, from 10 to 6 and was feeling quite good. It was pleasantly cool and drizzling and we saw hills and green fields and dark clouds and pink lotuses growing in water.

But about an hour into what should have been a three-hour trip we got a puncher. The nearest village was three kilometers away. Since it was a slow leak, one person could ride to town if they went fast. Prashanth flagged down a private bus so full that men were hanging out the doors. Somehow they made a spot for me and I stood, one foot on the bottom step, one foot on the platform and holding on for dear life in front of the open door, traveling along awful Pancher Road.

Not one of the men leaned or bumped against me, yet they all watched -- perhaps to marvel at the pastiness of my skin, perhaps to make sure I didn't fall out, perhaps a bit of both. They dropped me off at a bus stop in a village that's pronounced Ba-LEE-ka-dee. In no time a crowd of men with moustaches (oops, redundant) had gathered round the Firang-girl, and I was thankful that I'd decided to wear Indian dress that day (I'd considered jeans and a t-shirt, since in Tibetland they don't really care what you wear, but went with the Salwaar Kameez because it dries quickly).

After we'd gotten through "What is your name" and "Where are you from," more and more men gathered, and we began a dance in which they would inch a step closer to me and I would inch a step back. This went on for several minutes, until I'd gone several feet down the hill. Meanwhile they wanted to know if I'd like chai (no) and I asked their names in Kannada and the population of the village (6,000). They told me the name of the village means White Lake. "Like me," I said, pointing to myself. No one laughed.

Finally the cell phone rang, which seemed to amuse them. It was Prashanth, asking where I was. Apparently he'd passed the bus and had been at the pancher repair shop long enough to know he needed a new tire (Rs 750, or $18). He picked me up in a rickshaw and brought me to shop -- about a block away.

Across the narrow street a woman and her daughters sat in the sun weaving those colorful plastic bags I like (shaped like a Kenya bag, but far more festive). I went over to sit with them and asked their names. No one knew English and I can only say about five things in Kannada. Nonetheless there was a lot of smiling and soon I had the camera out and we were laughing and taking pictures, which they showed the husband in the shop next door. I called Prashanth over to translate and learned that the basket-bags take about two days to produce and cost Rs 160 ($4). I hope to return to get one. In any case I got their address so I can mail 'em the pictures if I don't.

Then it was on to Bylakuppe, which is home to loads of Tibetan refugees including many many monks (who eat every type of meat imaginable, it seems -- even beef). The most famous temple is the large, colorful Golden Temple which features three massive gold versions of Buddha. We did some sightseeing (one building had a huge sign painted in the side: Boycott Chinese Goods, which seems almost impossible to do -- especially when most Indians I spoke to had never heard the word "boycott" before). We sat in the temple for awhile and then of course I had to urinate. A nice Tibetan monk boy directed us to the Ladies Toilet, and, shoeless, I went in. It smelled barnyard-bad but not that awful in the overall scheme of things.

When Prasanth heard my scream he thought:
1. A man had attacked me in the bathroom
2. I had fallen down
3. I had seen the devil

But it was none of the above.

In my search for a clean toilet I came across a tarlike pile of poo. I was backing out of the stall when the arch of my left foot made contact with a different fresh slippery human turd, which was in front of the recessed toilet. In my rush to get to the foot-wash I noticed piles of turds here, there and everywhere -- except the toilets. It was the like those invisible ink kits they used to have, where you'd write something but couldn't see it until you passed over it with the other marker. Suddenly, all I could see was shit. Or maybe it was the devil.

When I came out a small crowd had gathered to watch the crazy Western girl act crazy. I felt like an uptight English Lady in some Jewel and the Crown / Passage to India drama, who just couldn't deal with the "native" experience.

Something tells me they were thinking the same thing.

A few moments later I had disinfected the pads of both feet and searched for open sores (none)and put on my shoes and made my way to a pay-toilet (Rs 2), which was halfway decent. But I felt awful for a long time afterwards.

The irony of course is that I had expected to find a spotless stall in Tibetland. However during my late-night car trip from Bangalore to Mysore I'd expected to find a shit-smeared toilet at the male-dominated filling station. Instead, it was one of the cleanest toilets I've ever used.

Yet another India lesson about expectations is there, Madam.

Friday, May 26, 2006


The plane made it to Bangalore and so did my luggage. But when I finished changing money and going through customs and locating said suitcases, Prashanth was nowhere to be found. A quick phone call from the STD booth revealed that he'd waited for me til 4AM the previous night. Apparently he never got the message that I didn't make the connecting flight. When he did get it he thought (as did I) that I was flying in on Friday. Whatever; it was Friday when I made it to Mysore (let's not forget that I left Chicago on TUESDAY), after overpaying for a prepaid government cab (Rs 2100 instead of Rs 1800). You really haven't lived until you've had a painfully full bladder at 2:30 AM on the bumpy, all-but-deserted except for men, men, and more men, Mysore-Bangalore road.... or until you've tried to find the obscurely-located Kaveri Lodge by memory while jetlagged at 4:30 AM....or until you've dismissed the taxi only to learn your room had been given away but if you'd just wait on this plastic chair for a couple of hours there will be one for you. Apparently the look on my face said 'I don't think so' because suddenly I was given the owner's room for a few hours. When you hear 'owner's room' you can't help but think 'posh' == but that's absolutely not the case. 'Dive' and 'not cleaned in ages' would be more accurate.

Since getting a room (w/ Indian toilet, which they keep apologizing about) I've had a bath, watched some Deadwood, had a nap and went with Prashanth for lunch. He also helped me to find a phone charge cord, to change money (Prashanth kicked back the kickback from his friend to me), to pay Guruji (nearly $700 for one month, ouch), who wanted to know who I was, and to pick up some necessities (clothespins, soymilk, muesli, nail polish remover, hair pomade) at Nilgiri's supermarket, which I always want to call El Corte Ingles. We also took a walk along the path around the lake at Mysore University, and later I enjoyed saffron lassi at Three Sisters, where they all actually remembered my name.

And now I'm here at ye olde internet cafe where, if I'm not mistaken, we're still using Windows '97 -- and where, if you type an "M" into the search engine, this blog address pops up. Scary.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


Remember when they first put phones on airplanes and people would call their loved ones and say, "Guess where I am?! I'm calling FROM THE PLANE!" Well I am over Bucharest at this very moment and paying top dollar for the hour. What is meant to be satellite-enabled broadband is in effect slower than dialup and far more expensive than AOL in the early years. But here I am on the aeroplane hunched up typing on my very own laptop (the seat in front of me is tilted into my knees) and listening to Tamil pop music and waiting for my Special Meal....

Which reminds me. You know how sometimes someone will come down with cancer and some know-it-all will intone, as if they'd brought it upon themselves, "Well, they have the cancer personality after all." I'm no fan of that blaming the victim BS but others believe in it wholeheartedly and far more still believe you can conjure up events and whatnot with your thoughts. Which brings me to the botched Chicago-Montreal-Toronto-Toronto-Frankfurt leg of my journey.... Did I bring it on myself via all of my PMS-fueled* anxiety and fretting? Or did I have a premonition?

I'd like to think it's the latter. In fact my sixth sense tells me this is so.


*Too much info alert...........My holiday became a literal one when Aunt Rose came to visit at O'Hare. Fortunately this trip is so long I should no longer be polluted and incapable of defilement when it's time to practice at the shala.


-All of the food trucks at the Toronto airport say "CARA."

-Buying Earth Sandals and wearing them with SmartWool for the journey was a brilliant move. My back hurts not at all. Yet.. My neck, on the other hand -- ......

-Number of people who've cut in front of me since leaving Canada: At least 30.

-Air hostesses must like it best right after they've served the meal and we cannot move, held hostage by our tray tables. No wonder it takes them so long to remove the things.

-Possibly another Mysore-goer on board; wan, white late 30's woman with stringy hair and glasses -- only she's in Business Class.

-On Air Canada to Germany the language priority is: English. German. French. No wonder the Quebecois are so angry. But their airport has WiFi, while Toronto's does not.

-From today's Hindu newspaper: All patients at government hospitals in Imphal were forcibly discharged as part of an intensified "cease work" agitation by gov. employees demanding "higher dearness allowances and other service facilities....Doctors and paramedics stopped treating patients in emergency wards."

-So far no one has looked twice at my (heavy) carry-on baggage. Perhaps I could have brought deodorant after all.

-Many pregnant Muslim and Hindu women with children, unaccompanied by husbands, brothers or fathers, are traveling this week. And the World Cup hasn't even started yet.

-I've had wine with the last three meals and could easily become quite the boozer.... When in Germany one should always order the white, as the red is acidic to the point of carbonation.

-From Frankfurt to Bangalore they show one bad American movie (Cheaper By the Dozen II) and one bad Bollywood movie.

-Why am I inevitably seated in the baby and family section? The infection section.

-Vat ist und Purser? She has the watch with two dials and walks with authority.

-I can't help it: hearing "Duty Free" makes me laugh. As does "Casual Friday."

After yesterdayäs travel debacle the smallest gifts are treasures-- a hotel voucher with two BUFFETT meals, a shower with unlimited hot vasser, a European outlet that is compatible with my new converter (so that an episode of Deadwood can be enjozed on the laptop at 3AM), the rain outside, the feeling of being still rather than still up in an airplane and clean, clean hair.

And the food! I was living in the moment.... since I knew I was unlikely to have the opportunity again anztime soon I filled up on amazing whole grain German bread, butter, sour cherry jam, bread, fresh vegetables, gorgonzola ravioli, bread, mineral water, muesli, thick creamy yoghurt, etc. etc. etc.

And then I donned Indian dress -- the best slimming, expanding-waistband buffet clothes ever created -- and I am now prepared to check out and find the shuttle to the aeropuerto....

BTW nothing but excellent service from Air Canada after the last leg of the journez. And Lufthansa was quite nice as well. So far anywaz....

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


greetings from frankfurt. as predicated i did not make the connection in montreal. well actually i sprinted against their orders and made the gate just in time but they would not let me board w-o my checked baggage. some cannadian law or something. so they flew me to toronto, which was in the wrong direction. and then to frankfurt. we were in the air 45 minutes and then they turned around due to some generator malfunction. then we sat in the airport for an hour. then we boarded another plane and sat on the tarmac for an hour. they announced the engine was messed up and we deplaned again. another hour or so in the empty airport. i did some yoga. my ears are messed up from all the takeoffs and landings. the third plane worked. now i am at some weird inter city hotel, where it costs a euro for two minutes of internet. but tomorrow i will allegedly go to india.

and the germans have really weird keyboards. least i now have some euro coins, so i can stop and get one of those amazing bretzels i passed by today.

and the yoga mat is in the carry on!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


I've been hacking up phlegm so loudly and in such great quantities that I'll feel right at home when/if I get to Mysore.

I doublechecked my ticket and I finally noticed the FIVE HOUR layover in Frankfurt.

I'd put the Mysore rug in the carry-on (for sleeping) but it's already three pounds over the limit. Apparently they're getting quite strict about weight.

I think they should come up with a new formula that also takes into account the passenger's own poundage.

Monday, May 22, 2006


Despite the fact that I've been there not once but twice I'm not sleeping and the heart is beating too fast and I can't eat and all I can think about is the fact that I'm taking three legs and two airlines to get there, and they do not like each other (let alone United, which actually issued the ticket) and that I may wind up re-enacting scenes from The Terminal if I miss a connection. But hopefully not the scene from the autobiographical Aerpuerto '98, in which the O'Hare Mexicana agent tore off my paper ticket for travel to Mexico City and from M.C. to Cancun, and I was stuck ticketless and friendless at the Mexico City airport for hours suffering through one of my most massive meltdowns to date (it being the one-year anniversary of my mother's death and all), trying and failing to convince them to reissue my ticket and having them search through the garbage for it at O'Hare and finally being forced to buy a brand-new new one for top dollar. Argh. The Air Canada agent I spoke to yesterday was not at all optimistic that I'd get to my destination if I missed one of my flights.....something about the award ticket from another airline making the holder some kind of pariah. It's enough to make one turn back, or at least postpone.

At least there are credit cards.....

Thursday, May 18, 2006



FIRST MONTH OF YOGA AT THE AYRI: Rs. 27,900 = $616.43




CURRENT TIME IN INDIA: 10.5 hours ahead of Chicago

TEMPERATURE IN MYSORE: Highs around 91, lows around 68






COST OF TICKET: $85 + 80,000 miles




Links for Mysore time and temperature and a rupees-to-dollars currency converter are now listed at the right, so that you may play along at home.

The photo above depicts today's surprise Windy City mini-monsoon, which has Satya geared up for Mysore and took place just after wet clothes were hung out. The good news is that the new travel clothesline ($5) works just fine.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


India Departure date: 23 May

So far one has:

Arranged for substitute teachers.

Arranged for forwarded mail.

Arranged for bill payment.

Arranged for cat-care

Arranged for car-watching

Arranged to put on hold:

The New Yorker
The New York Times
The Chicago Sun-Times
The Chicago Tribune
The Cable TV, Phone and Internet

But not the cell phone.


Because Cingular no longer does vacation holds. One must pay $39.99/month plus taxes and whatnot (i.e.; $50 x 2) to retain one's telephone number.

One has spent over an hour on the landline trying to get around this.

One has been with Cingular for a decade -- since it was Cellular One.

One is poised to defect.

Or to lose one's number altogether and say (all together now) to the hell with the cell.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

by Julia Ward Howe

Arise then...women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
Say firmly:
"We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

From the voice of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says: "Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe our dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil
At the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace...
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God -
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

Saturday, May 13, 2006


1. The workshop today kicked arse. I had an usually slow and mindful practice this morning, with excellent breathing -- until I got to the few Intermediate twists and backbends I do. Many students were stopped in poses (particularly backbends, including Ustrasana) and told to get a strap and a block. Apparently it's not a crime to do ashtanga *and* use props (hard-liners don't allow it).* The real crime, according to Chuck and Maty, is practicing improperly and "working through" pain. "We do yoga to reduce suffering, not increase it." The afternoon backbending segment was exquisite and afterwords instead of feeling sore/agitated/aggressive I felt calm. Even during the backbending I felt calm. So how can I get a yoga block to India?

2. What is the string that some yoga workshoppers wear tied around the waist? From what I can tell, they're not Brahmin. Danis? Franciscans? Kabbalahists? They are all quite thin though.

3. How amusing to see yogis wearing shirts that say "Satya."

4. It's apparent that the city's new Lululemon shop already has a loyal following. At least five women sported the pants with the two-tone waistband. At least it's not the yoga prom. Or the Academy Awards.


*The first time The Hex visited Eddie Stern's old shala on Broadway he looked around and asked, rather loudly, where they kept the blocks and straps.


Friday afternoon I gave blood for the last time this year (you're ineligible to give blood 12 months after going to India). That made me woozy and stomach-achy for the evening's Chuck and Maty workshop, where we spent no less than 2.75 hours deconstructing Surya Namaskar A. Boring? On the contrary. It was challenging and illuminating and invaluable for teaching. Potentially esoteric principles about shoulder alignment and lower rib movement, which some have turned into metaphorical hogwash, were made clear and accessible. We used blocks, yet at no point did the Ashtanginazis storm the doors and remove them (or us).

The pair, who have innumerable years of experience between them and founded LA's Yoga Works (which they have since sold, and is now a chain), have equal billing and switch off adjusting and speaking. They're also quite funny. It was encouraging to hear many of the things I say while teaching ("Samasthithi is the root of all poses" and "Move your head last" in up-dog, which Chuck calls "Don't drive with your face") reinforced and sometimes spoken verbatim.....although they stopped short of my common admonishment, "And if you can't get Samsthithi you're going to have trouble with every other pose in the series." They didn't have to threaten.

What was surprising was the absence of prominent local ashtanga teachers in at the workshop.

Perhaps they'll show at this morning's Mysore class. On a moon day no less.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


Last night Dorian Black and I made our way to REI, which is in the suburbs far, far away. I was in search of a computer sleeve, a back-friendly bag and a rain-poncho-in-a-pouch for my trip to India. The pickin's were rather slim and the prices were high -- apart from a well-made Timbuk2 commuter bag with laptop pocket ($70, marked down from $100). Unfortunately my very large and heavy laptop would never fit in it. But I'm bringing it to Mysore with me anyway, dammit. I did find a quick-dry towel for yoga ($7.50), which seems like it'll come in handy during the monsoon; apparently nothing dries in the humidity.... Which reminds me -- has anyone else noticed that outdoors folks are just this side of hippie-zombies? Pass the granola bars, bro.

Starving, we crossed the street and came to a crossroads: China Buffet or World Buffet? I'd never even seen one of these places but Dorian Black had had a good experience at one of the the former. After a quick walk-through it appeared that World Buffet was the more veggie-friendly. It was massive and brightly-lit, with a bar and dance floor (after hours it turns into a night club) and innumerable tables and chairs. Every other diner was an immigrant of some sort. There were several buffets, representing the five countries that make up The World: China, Japan, Korea, Mexico and the USA. Apparently that just about covers it. But upon closer inspection it turned out there wasn't much that was veggie-friendly after all. So we filled up on Korean glass noodles, Japanese tofu, Chinese bean buns and desserts. And felt rather ill for the rest of the night.

But at least the food was cooked.


*One should never leave except to buy spraypaint, which is verboten within city limits. Far more pleasing is the fact that foie gras was just banned -- in the former Hog Butcher to the World, no less. Which is in a state that placed a moratorium on the death penalty. Take that, NYC.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Is there any stranger gap than the one between noticing a strange vibrating sensation through the haunches while sitting on a student's arse and pulling their shoulders back in bhekasana and the slow realization that it's not their stomach that's growling but, rather, a very intimate gift in the form of a full-blown fart?

Of course it's payback for one's own accidental, humiliating and very loud loss of control just inches below poor David Life's face during a danurasana adjustment at Jivamukti's long-ago workshop in Chicago.

No, Mr. Life did not return for seconds.

Nor did Caca.

Friday, May 05, 2006


Last night we checked out the new raw food restaurant. My old bosses from the vegetarian place were eating there front and center; apparently they're now raw foodies, although their restaurant is not. Yet. Because raw is the new cooked. (And after that everyone will be fruitarian, wait and see). Suffice to say we ate our way through most of the menu (at home, Dorian eats with an oversize fork and spoon). The mock burger, pista falafel, flax pizza, pulverized kale, zucchini "pasta" and stuffed slimy mushrooms were tasty, yes -- because of all the garlic, onions and oil (cold-pressed of course). The fake cheesecake and mock mousse were divine.

But afterwords Dorian was starving and I had The Gas and unquenchable thirst. Today we both felt hung over. My yoga practice was torture and I was so run down I had to cancel my blood donation. Coincidence? I don't think so.


....of good junk is what I brought to The Ark today. Unlike the B.E., they don't chase you down the street and force you to take back your stuff on what is already a very bad day. No, there are receiving bins in the front of the store and they actually thank you for your donation.

When I told Dorian Black-the-Packrat about my need to shed he said, quoting George Carlin, "Your house is just a place to keep your stuff while you're out getting more stuff." Ouch.


Deepa Mehta's new film Water opened here today. It deals with widowhood in India, which sucks in ways we can only imagine. Like her previous film, "Fire," it incensed the Hindu fundamentalists. They rioted and stormed the set in Varanasi and burnt effigies of Mehta and the government finally closed down the production; the shooting secretly resumed nearly five years later in Sri Lanka. Mehta, who also made 1999's harrowing "Earth," (about Partition) was interviewed today on the public radio show "Worldview." To hear it click here.

In today's Salon, Sandip Roy riffs on Harvard plagiarist Kaavya Viswanathan and what an impossibly high bar overacheivers such as Mehta, Lahiri, Roy, Rai and Rushdie have set for other Indians.

Lucky for me there are no similarly successful Danish-Swedish-French-Norwegian-German-Russian role models that I've failed to emulate, thus allowing me to wallow guilt-free in my mediocrity. Phew.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


From How to Conquer Clutter (purchased at a yard sale for 25-cents and immediately disinfected):

"Get rid of anything that doesn't fit, is the wrong color, is stupid and / or is out of date."

From Trinny and Susannah's What You Wear Can Change Your Life:

"When your hair gets too long and the ends become split-ridden you get it cut. If your appendix explodes you have it surgically removed. Well, the same has to be done with your clothes...

"Culling is relevant to every stage of a woman's life, and particularly for women going through menopause, who may hold on to clothing from the time they felt their most feminine and sexy. Get these clothes out of your wardrobe; the will only depress you. And then you can get something new to replace them."

Yes, but with what money?


For the record, both tomes recommend recruiting a critical, sharp-tongued friend to help with the task.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


Update on India: After many calls and many hours on the phone with United's incredibly patient Mileage Plus folks, I managed to get a flight to Bangalore during high season. If all goes as planned I leave for Mysore on May 23 and return July 21.

So today, my first day off in what seems like years, I rode my bike down to the Indian Consulate at NBC Tower (above). Many immigrants were there. I took a number (43) and a seat and waited. And did some work. And waited. And when my number was called I went up to the window and asked for not a six-month, not a one-year, not a five-year but a ten-year visa.

Then I headed over to the Savvy Traveller and purchased a couple of travel clotheslines -- probably a good idea during monsoon season -- and pilot earplugs and a luggage scale. I noticed that they also sell very costly disposable panties called OneDerWear and expensive one-packs of quick-dry underwear that you can re-use for an entire few-week trip. One couldn't help but wonder whether they had a cotton panel, and where they keep the yeast infection meds.

While cycling back to pick up the visa a few hours later I ran into Miss Y, who was instrumental in getting me to Mysore in '02. There she was, right in the middle of downtown Chicago. Auspicious? I think so.

The waiting area was nearly empty when I arrived; only men, including a fellow firang who sported a red liberty spike mohawk. I picked a number (86) waited a short time and when I got the visa I checked and it does indeed expire in 2016.

I'm hoping it's not like when people come to yoga diligently once a week for months, paying for one class at a time, and when they finally do purchase a series or a monthly unlimited they suddenly stop coming....

Time will tell, Madam.

Monday, May 01, 2006


6:30 AM
Satya finishes up a g-rated dream of traveling to India and landing in a posh hotel near the ocean (???) that stars Filipino immigrant Joey and his cohorts; apparently he's not taking the day off.

7:30 AM
The line of cars at the Dunkin' Donuts drive-thru on Ashland Avenue is moving, albeit slowly (as per usual). At least three people (read; Southeast Asian immigrants) mind the counter.

7:55 AM
No attendant at the parking lot behind the downtown YogaNow. The white plastic chair sits empty. Parking anarchy reigns.

8-9:30 AM
No immigrants (or so it seems) at Mysore class at YogaNow, where the studio temperature hovers around 80 degrees. Nor are there any Native or African Americans -- ie, the people who technically aren't the spawn of immigrants who came here looking for a better deal...although when it comes to Native Americans and the Bering Strait land bridge, well, it does get kind of messy.

9:45 AM
E-mail from Scottish immigrant The Hex, reporting the impossibility of getting a cup of coffee in Park Slope as both Dizzy's and Red Hen Bakery are closed.

10:00 AM
Speculation as to whether the young Romanian woman will be working at the chiro's today and whether or not Blogger has a significant number of immigrants on the payroll.

10:15 AM
A woman with a thick accent calls from a local Lithuanian newspaper, to talk to Miss Y.

10:45 AM
While practicing, Satya realizes all of her favorite yoga teachers including Guruji and Sharath have accents: Suddha (American citizen from Austria), Manju (American citizen from Mysore itself), Dharma Mittra (American citizen from Brazil) and Lino (world citizen from Italy).

11:15 AM
Midday parking attendant graciously moves the Lexus blocking Satya's Civic.

11:30 AM
The Romanian lady is indeed AWOL.

12:00 PM
A Sun-Times newspaper box screams a headline about Chicago gang graffiti turning up in Iraq.

Traffic patterns normal. The threatened rain continues to hold off. A small group of black-jacketed Latinos holding small American flags congregates at a southbound bus stop.

12:35 PM
Satya realizes she left her (expensive, Swiss-made) water bottle at the Chiro's.

12:45 PM
Hedge Fund lady cancels 3PM yoga lesson; turns out her nanny has called in sick.

1:15 PM
Dorian Black reports normal activity in Little India. "[The immigrants] own all the businesses and they all work there themselves," he explains. "There are no Mexicans on Devon Avenue." That last bit is debatable, as Satya has seen them toiling away in various tandoori kitchens.

3:15 PM
Satya awakens from nap to hear public radio traffic reporter give an update on the "ingrates'" march and rally in downtown Chicago.

4:00 PM
Report from Gridlife that famous meat-pusher Hot Doug's has closed for the day (see comments for details).

4:45 PM
The Hex calls while standing in front of NYC's National Wholesale Liquidators but is barely audible due to the march passing by. Apparently it's nowhere near as big as Saturday's peace protest. "There are a lot of busboys and cooks on Broadway right now...I'm waiting for them to sing 'The Star Spangled Banner' in Spanish -- or some other language." Like Farsi?

6:45 PM
One-third of Satya's ashtanga students do not show up for class. Is it a walkout? Are they all sick? Perhaps it's just a lousy day to be out and about. The woman with the trans-Atlantic accent does show up, albeit a bit late.

8:30 PM
Dreaming of a delicious fish sauce-free Pad Thai, Satya rolls her bike over to Penny's Noodle Shop. But the branch that's usually open on Mondays (at Diversey) is closed. A sign in the window says something like, "You support our business. We support your cause."

9:30 PM
Dorian Black reports that his teenage grandson, who is half-Mexican, decided not to do his chores in honor of the strike.

10:00 PM
The media can't decide whether the protest drew 300,000 (the police) or 700,000 (the organizers); they do agree however that it wasn't just Mexicans but also Eastern Europeans, Asians and at least one Swede. Best sign: "I'm Juan. Not Saddam." Si Juan pero ya sabemos que el enemigo es Osama, no Saddam. !Por su puesto!

Between hearing Led Zeppelin's "The Immigrant Song" and U2's "A Day Without Me"* in head, speculation that there are some immigrants who are taking highly-paid jobs that Americans actually do want -- entertainers. Such as Russel Crowe (Angry Kiwi), Nicole Kidman (Aussie), Bryan Adams (Canadian, very popular in India), Neil Young (Canada), Donald Sutherland (Canada), Jason Priestly, Norm McDonald, William Shatner, Keanu Reeves, Tom Green, Christopher Plummer, Matthew Perry, Martin Short, Dan Aykroyd, Mike Meiers, Howie Mandel, Jim Carrey, Alan Thicke, Leslie Nielsen, Michael J. Fox, Sarah Polley, Kim Cattrall, Neve Campbell, Geneveive Bujold, Margot Kidder, Jill Hennessey, Mary Pickford, Jennifer and Mel Tilly, Fay Wray, Sandra Oh, Rufus Wainwright, Avril Lavigne, Celine Dion, Sloan, k.d. lang, Corey Hart, Sarah McLachlan, Rush, Glen Gould, Burton Cummings, Joni Mitchell, The Guess Who, Barenaked Ladies, Tragically Hip, Jane Siberry, Crash Test Dummies, Bachman Turner Overdrive, Daniel Lanois, Paul Anka, Shania Twain, Alanis Morissette, Bruce Cockburn, Gordon Lightfoot, Leonard Cohen, Loverboy, Paul Shaffer, Cowboy Junkies, Anne Murray, Peter Jennings (all Canadian), Anna Paquin, Naomi Watts, Elle Mcpherson, Mel Gibson, Cate Blanchett, Flea, Erroll Flynn, Heath Ledger, Hugh Jackman, Olivia Newton-John, Geoffrey Rush, Rick Springfield, Rachel Griffiths (all Aussie) and so on.....But you don't hear about anyone trying to deport them, do you?


*"A Day Without Me" is actually about the suicide of Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis