Graduation followed a three-hour Maha Sadhana (Great Practice) class, which consisted of mantra, breathing and various purification techniques as well as asana. There were mere inches between mats, and when Forearm Balance time came around (which was whenever we did Downward Dog -- which was often) you had to be rather careful. But there were no serious collisions.
There were only a few of us for the actual graduation, which was very low key and consisted of Dharma handing us a certificate and saying some words to each of us. I of course couldn't understand what he said to me; he couldn't possibly have said "Eat more sole. Eat fish." I did learn afterwards, during the pot-luck, that two of my fellow graduates are seriously considering the 500 hour traning next year.
After the potluck there was a birthday party for Dharma, which was also low key; people sat on the floor and got up and gave him presents and/or gave testimonials in a very informal manner. Dharma actually turned 68 today; Saturday was Catesey/The Hex's birthday(46).
Things wrapped up after midnight, and Erin and I stayed over at the Hotel 17. Unfortunately our friend from Argentina couldn't make her connecting flight in Florida and missed the festivities.
Of course I lost another earring; it was my second on this trip. Plus during teacher training I lost one of the 24-kt gold ones from India. Apparently the gods do not want me to wear earrings. But will I listen? No. After getting back to P-Slope on Sunday I scoured the area for earrings; nothing under $40 and all of it quite ugly and made of some unknown substance. Pressing on, I headed to the the little flea market they hold in front of the school on 7th Avenue. At the very last stall I found a pair of servicable sterling silver earrings with decent clasps for...........$2. Now that's the stuff.
That evening we wanted to see experimental guitarist Fred Frith (say that five times fast) at John Zorn's East Village club, The Stone. We looked everywhere for a phone number to make a reservation and found nothing. Finally Catesey went online and learned that you just show up and hope for the best.
The "club" is in a corner storefront with no windows and no street number or other identifying marks; plus the metal, graffiti-covered shutters on the sides were down. We went in and found a black, triangle-shaped room filled with rows of chairs facing a shiny black grand piano. After paying the $10 cover we were offered pieces of foam and a chance to sit on the floor; after asking some people to move we were able to sit in actual chairs.
After some time Fred Frith (whom you may know from the band Henry Cow and / or The Art Bears and / or the 1980s Ralph Records samplers that also featured the Residents and other out-there acts) came out. He has gray hair and a kind face. He was followed by an older, limping woman carrying an accordian and a young woman sporting a fabulous shag haircut and Eddie Munster bangs. She sat behind the grand piano... and proceeded to play its innards with mallets. Frith played the guitar with a bow and a small chain and other devices and the other woman played accordian. It was awesome. The young woman (Elsa, who is a classical pianist) also played balloons, bubbles, a wind-up toy, and a toy Xylophone. From time to time she'd go into mad scientist mode and play the piano. It was hypnotic, astounding, and over in 45 minutes. It was also pure yoga. Plus they all hugged at the end.
Then we went to Angelica Kitchen, which is still my favorite vegetarian restaurant in America. Then it was time to take the F Train back to Park Slope. When we came out at 7th Avenue we saw him -- the man with the telescope. He was joined by two newcomers; a man with an OK 'scope and a woman with a brand-new one that she said was the strongest one there. Whatever. We got to see Saturn (which looks like a cartoon of itself) and Jupiter. It has many moons and made me think of what it would be like to live there and do ashtanga; there would be so many moon days (ie days off of practice) that everyone would do it, and no one would complain.
Well, they'd probably still complain about how much their body hurts and how hard it is to practice every day and they'd rather sleep in and why can't they do some easy late-morning hatha practice a few days each week and this pose isn't coming and why are they stuck and the teacher adjusts them too much / not enough and which teacher training should they take, etc etc etc.....
Now I'm off to Williamsburg to meet Kai at some recording studio in the back of an unmarked garage owned by the head of neurosurgery at a Manhattan hospital. I get to take the F to the mysterious G train. But it's a litle worrisome when someone says, "The neighborhood looks a little iffy but don't worry; it's safe now."
One can only hope....
photos by Catesey