Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Guruji's birthday was yesterday.

Over the weekend I accidentally found out that the celebration was changed from 1PM to 11:30 AM.

Two-thirds of The Three Sisters did a wonderful of wrapping my sari, if I do say so myself.

Everything matched -- shoes, ring, sari pin, earrings with hair-chains, over-the-top-necklace, bangles; everything but my knickers.

I missed most of the puja and caught all of the entertainment, which was a little long-ish but quite good. Jayashree-the-Sanskrit-professor sang some of Guruji's favorite Krishna slokas, and hearing her is always a treat.

Jammu and I sat behind some Brahmin priests, who were really nice. It was lovely to look at Guruji and see his family (and students) dressed to the nines.

Then it was photo-and-gift time. Since Guruji can't even have sugar-free chocolate, I brought him the traditional gift of flowers (in this case, several metres of jasmine wrapped in a leaf and decorated with more flowers.

By the time I got to the front of the line the pile of gifts - mostly flowers - was at least three feet high.

Twice we tried to take my picture with Guruji and it didn't work. It was a full moon.

Elena-from-Italy tried the third time, and it worked. She also took the fab snap of Guruji above.

Too late I realized I should have given up after the second attempt and left Guruji alone. Non-attachment and all that. Oops.

Finally we went downtstairs to eat a meal on banana leaves (bailele).

They were out of chairs, so some of us sat on the floors - the traditional way.

It was awesome, although this year there were four rather than five desserts.


Later Ammu and I drove 20km on the scooter to KRS (the dam) and Brindhavan Gardens. The latter are water gardens, at the end of which there's a lighted fountain that dances to Indian filmi music.

I wore the sari, and rode sidesaddle -- just as I did in 2002, which was the last time I was there.

The ride was uneventful, although there was plenty of staring (in a good, approving way).

Five of the dam's gates were open; on the other side was the grey, swollen, backed-up Kaveri River. Everyone swarmed to see. The water rushed, and there was plenty of mist.

They also seemed to like the sari.

No, they loved the sari.

Some even laughed, and I asked Ammu about it.

Apparently when locals laugh at a westerner in Indian dress, it could very well mean that they approve. Yet another lesson in avoiding conditioned thinking.....

We did a puja (religious ritual) at the statue of Kaveri, the river goddess. I love it when they break the coconut. But still I did not drink the holy water, but poured it over my head.

It began to rain when the sun went down and we made our way to the dancing fountains.

And my feet began to hurt after ten hours in those thin gold slippers.

So we took a boat back (Rs7) and I dared to try some lovely deep-fried street food (so far, so good - knock wood).

Still it continued to rain.

We rode all the way home in a downpour.

I wore a bright orange rain poncho over my sari.

Not a good look, if I do say so myself....

Saturday, July 28, 2007


On Friday morning the alarm did not go off -- AGAIN -- and I slept through led primary series practice.

On Friday afternoon I learned from Vance-from-Berkeley that Guruji led the second class (the one I take) and was in fine form.

The Guru makes his first appearance in eons, and I missed it.




On Wednesday I did not go to the hit Kannada film film Mungaru Malay (Monsoon Rain) with the coconut girl as planned. "Festival," she said, by way of explanation. And that was that.

Later in the afternoon, Ammu told me, "There is no festival."

He and I went to see the Hindi film Partner, a remake of Hitch. But we arrived late and the exterior of the theater was crawling with men, men and more men. So we went to see the Kannada film Cheluvina Chittara instead. He said that the hero was not nice, the heroine not nice and that there would be very little dancing and no action -- but the story was good. Apparently it's a shot-for-shot remake of a Tamil film about forbidden love between a middle-class school girl and a scooter mechanic that results in violence and beatings that cause the jilted groom to go insane. The bad guys wore white dress shirts and dhotis (sarongs) -- just like the politicians here (many of whom are in town for some big foofaraw) -- and there was an all-male dance sequence featuring a man in drag playing the wife. You can't beat that. (Well, you can beat on both the hero and heroine, if you're a villager upholding traditional values).... The hero, Ganesh, had no moustache/paunch and was quite good.

Later I learned that it was based on a true story. Ouch!

Last week I watched the Kannada-Tamil film H20 on DVD. It was released when I was here in 2002, and my Kannada teacher Waruni explained the whole plot to my fellow classmate Sean and I. I think people in both states protested it because it was in both languages and not just their own.

The plot concerns a fairskinned half-Kannadiga, half-Tamil woman named Kaveri (ie; she is the river) who's pursued by westernized Tamil guy and an earthy guy from Kanartaka. Kaveri's parents were killed due to Tamil-Kannadiga rivalry, and she was raised in a temple and works as an ayurvedic healer and wears a short skirt. The opening song sequence begins with an exuberant love song to water and ends with Kaveri's father being beaten to death by an angry mob and her mother taking off in a round boat, giving birth to her, and dying of shock. All in the first few minutes.

Anyway water is very visceral here; when there's a drought everyone feels it, and Tamil Nadu and Karnataka are always fighting over rights to water from the Kaveri River. The film included roles for a dwarf and cojoined twins that walked like a crab; the villian who fanned the flames between the two states was a humplimpett who seemed to be a stand-in for drought. Four stars.

For my birthday I wanted to chase down some waterfalls and see what they look like when the dams are full. The last time we went, in 2002, there was a drought. In fact there was so little water at KRS (the nearby dam) that a temple from one of the towns that had been flooded to make way for the dam appeared, and everyone (including Zoe, Kiran and I) made pilgrimages to it. But now the dams are full and everyone's making trips to see the falls.

The drive was only 80km but we made a wrong turn and ended up taking potholed dirt roads most of the way. The shocks on the motorcycle are not what they used to be, and it hurt like hell. Plus the fuel gage is broken; it didn't happen on this trip but from time to time the cycle sputters and dies and Ammu opens the gas cap and looks in and notices it's empty. Then he turns the thing on its side and shakes it and sets it back upright and we ride on fumes to the nearest petrol bunk (gas station).

As we drove, we saw evidence of the river at regular intervals: we crossed it once, and saw many creeks, streams, cement irrigation ditches and rice paddies.

We finally found the waterfall but could only go down part of the way. There were many warnings telling us not to go beyond the fence. The view was spectacular and you could hear the rush of the falls. But you could not feel the mist. And we remembered walking all the way down to the bottom last time around.

The coconut wallah told Ammu that we could ride another 12km to the other side and go all the way to the bottom, where there were boats.

On the way we stopped at the dam but could not go in; apparently the Tamil Tigers had tried to blow it up in 2002 and it's been closed to visitors ever since.

We made the trip and crossed the Kaveri River twice. The second time we were flagged down by some villagers and were told we had to pay an rs5 (7-cent) toll. They did not have change for a 10-rupee note.

Near the second bridge we passed a crew working on a Kannada film; there were exactly three vehicles; no honey wagon, no craft service table, no grip truck, and no fancy camper for the talent.

When we arrived we realized we were in the spot where we'd been in 2002, and started walking down the steep, uneven steps (which, thankfully, were dry). As we got closer we could feel the negative ions. When we got to the bottom we saw some of those little round boats made of bamboo and palm fronds. They did not seem seaworthy, but there was whole family riding around in one and they were having fun and paying little attention to the rapids and fast current that could wash them downstream to Tamil Nadu or immenent death.

So we got in one, too.

Using a single paddle, the captain went against the current and after some time brought us to a spot under the falls. We got out and went closer, and were soon drenched with water. Suddenly, the long, hot, painful ride disappeared. The wetter I got, and the more mist I inhaled, the more renewed I felt -- and I began to understand a bit the whole idea of baptism. Then I noticed a rainbow. It made almost a complete circle -- and I was at the center. It was quite a moment....

After the ride, I tipped our captain handsomely. He pointed to the far falls and said he could bring us there, too. He told Ammu in Kannada that we didn't have to pay him if we didn't want to.

We got back into the boat.

At one point we got stuck on some rocks, and grabbed onto some reeds as he tried to get us over them. Meanwhile the rushing water tried to pull us downstream. A man in another round boat came over to help.

We got past the rocks and he paddled us towards the falls. The noise was deafening. We paused between between two massive falls, and again were drenched. Amazing.

On the way back I was sure we were going to be washed downstream. But we made it back to shore, and I handed the man a 100-rupee note.

He said something in Kannada to Ammu.

Later I found out that we were the only two people so far this season who agreed to be taken to the far falls.

Last night Ammu and I went to see a concert that was part of the big, controversial Mysuru Utsava cultural festival taking place this weekend. Kannada film songs were promised. Instead we got Hindi ballads that even I knew. People seemed disappointed. Then the famous north Indian singers did some Kannada songs (butchering the some of the words) -- including ones from the aforementioned films -- and the crowd went wild.

Water service in Gokulam and many other parts of Mysuru will be interrupted on Monday -- the day of Guruji's party. Keep a full bucket of water on hand so you don't get caught with your pants down (so to speak).

Ammu and I were on the roof of the Kaveri Lodge, watching the sun go down. There were no chairs, so I was squatting a la pasasana. "Shall I bring the water?" he asked, smirking. Apparently this is a common joke; when someone squats, it looks like they're going to poop, and a friend offers to bring the water so they can clean themselves off. I told him that one wouldn't go over very well with a western audience and at the very least he'd have to substitute TP for water. But that didn't stop me from beating it to death over the next few days.

Friday, July 27, 2007


My gentleman friend in the US is always urging me to "Speak Hindi!" (as if that were possible).

The version of Blogger that came up in this computer (at Ammu's recently-expanded browsing center) is in Hindi.

ब्लॉग आपकी प्रयोग में सरल वेबसाइट है, जहाँ आप अपने विचारों को जल्दी से प्रेषित कर सकते हैं, लोगों से बात-चीत कर सकते हैं, और भी बहुत कुछ कर सकते हैं. और सब मुफ़्त.

So now I am trying to "Read Hindi!" ... or at least faking it anyway.


Yesterday was my birthday.

I was in a deep sleep when I heard something that sounded like my door buzzer.

I ignored it of course.

But it persisted.

So I crawled out from under the blanket, made a hole for myself in the mosquito net and crept towards the door.

"Who is it?" I asked, having no idea of the time.


I let him in.

His arms were filled with flowers and a birthday cake.

It was 5:40AM.

Apparently I'd told him what time I was born all those decades ago.

But now, I was half asleep.

We postponed the celebration until after yoga practice.

And after that we chased down waterfalls. It's monsoon season here and the dams are full, which makes for some spectacular water shows.

(The dams are not supposed to fill until September; they also reached maximum height early last year. According to the cyber Saddhu this is due to global warming).

In any case the search entailed a more than six-hour round-trip motorcycle ride over pockmarked roads.

Ammu and I made the same trip in 2002 with no ill effects.

This time there was pain in the back and neck and tailbone.

What a difference five years makes.

And that's the teaser. I'll post details as soon as I can download the pictures tot he thumb drive -- and locate a free USB port.



Sharath's daughter (Sharda? Shrada?) in her white school uniform with pink backpack and matching bag, saying a dignified goodbye to Saraswati. Last summer she was bursting in and out of the shala and running around like a wild little girl. What a difference a year makes.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


I finally went to see the Coconut Family at sunset on Sunday.

Only the father was there, minding the store.

I said hello and he offered me the plastic chair in front.

I sat and watched the traffic, which is highly entertaining. The store is on a busy corner and I never tire of looking at what people are wearing, how (and what) they are driving, and how many people can fit on a two-wheeler (the max I've seen is five). Some women are driving a thin, pointy new Honda scooter that comes in pink, purple and blue. Of course I want one, too. Only about 1/3 of two-wheeler drivers are wearing the mandatory helmet. More young girls are wearing western dress, and on Saturday in the cave of the cyber Saddhu I noticed that more married women have eschewed the sari for the salwaar kameeze, which I find a little bit depressing....

But back to the Coconut family.

After sitting me down, the father went to the Hotel Srinigar and returned a few minutes later to mind the shop.

Soon, a young man was crossing the street with an armful of glasses full of steaming hot liquid that turned out to be sweet creamy coffee.

It was delicious -- made even moreso by the glucose biscuits the father handed me.

I'd nearly finished the coffee when the two daughters arrived.

The younger one (who designs salwaar kameezes) looked exactly the same. She was flanked by a young girl of about eight.

The older one was wearing a sari and a thali and toe rings -- and carrying a baby.

When I left her last year, she was engaged and excited to get married.

Now she has a two-month-old daughter (and a new mother-in-law), and has duties and can no longer do frivolous things like go to Kannada movies with me.

Her daughter is tiny.

DeeDee looks good, and is staying at her father's house while her husband's place is being painted. From what I can tell, she lives there with him, his parents, and whatever siblings he still has at home. In the novels I've read, the new daughter-in-law has a tough time adjusting and is constantly being tested by the mother-in-law. I've no idea if that's the case for DeeDee, who couldn't stay outside talking and had to go in and take care of the baby, etc.

The other big change is that the sisters were flanked by only one black dog (last year they had two very happy, excitable matching pups).

The younger sister Ash's English is only slightly better than my Kannada, but she made it clear to me that her dog had expired. "Dead," she said. "Two months."

I assumed it had been hit by a car.

But no.

From time to time, the Mysore City Corporation put out poison to kill off all the stray dogs that roam the city.

Apparently this time it killed off at least one person's pet.


After my rather wobbly dropbacks yesterday, Sharath came over to help me with the final backbending sequece. But first he asked me if I'd done Pashasana (ie, the few intermediate series that I do).

With all of those people in the room, and with his grandfather-the-Guru ill and the weight of running the shala on his (sore) back, he's still able to keep track.

I love that about him.

Later I thought about it and realize that I've spent more time studying with him (and Guruji, although I only began coming to Mysore in 2002 and even back then Sharath was the one trying to teach me to stand up from backbends and getting me to touch my heel with my hand) than with any other teacher.

I had loose motions all day yesterday (even after lunch near the Nandi statue with several other westerners and the Cyber Saddhu -- who has a satellite dish behind his cave) -- and today I woke up with a massive headache and nausea in addition to general weakness. I went to practice anyway, but it was a struggle.

Perhaps Sharath sensed this.

I was "testing the waters" between backbending and dropbacks -- ie, bouncing a few times in backbends and seeing if I could stand up -- when Sharath appeared at the front of the mat.

Our eyes met.

Then I did another backbend and stood up with ease and grace.

He's like a magnet.

And, thankfully, he did not make me do any more unassisted, nausea-inducing dropbacks (even though we're usually supposed to do two or three).

I think he is doing a fine job of carrying the torch....


You should never even COUNT money with your left hand, let alone hand it to someone with your left hand. Nor should you count it in your left hand and then give it to someone while holding it between your right index and middle finger. Ammu informed me today that that too is "bad."

Spotted in the shala this week:
Lino, Rolf, Regina-from-NYC, David Swenson+wife, Vance-from-Berkeley, and Peter-from-New Zealand.

Sunday, July 22, 2007


Yesterday La Profesora (a fellow ashtangi) and I planned to walk up the thousand steps to the top of Chamundi Hill.

But first we had to find our way there on the scooter.

Vishwunath (Kaveri Lodge manager) gave us some detailed and convulted directions, and then finally admitted we could avoid all the turns and just take JLB Road the whole way.

But thanks to La Profesora's excellent navigation skills, we took the convulted route.

Ammu called me just before we left and said to follow a family.

"Do you mean that we shouldn't pass them on the steps?" I asked.

No, he said. Just stay near a family.

"Why?" I asked.

"So that you are not bothered by creepy guys."

He also said to watch out for the monkeys.

The way up was hotter and sweatier and more taxing than I remember from my last trip up, in 2002. The steps were steeper, and more uneven.

Or maybe I'm just older....

There were more flies and caterpillars and little boys saying "Hello! Hello!". And the steps were decorated with orange and red marks for Friday's special puja (apparently there's a special puja every Friday in July -- the month in which the goddess Chamundi was meant to have killed the demon Mahishasura, the namesake of Mysore city).

With 300 steps remaining we stopped at the Nandi (Shiva's bull) statue and walked around three times clockwise before heading back to the Shiva cave that is the abode of the cyber Saddhu (holy man who has a cell phone).

The outside of the cave is painted with ochre and white stripes (like the outer walls of a temple) and you must duck so that the torso is horizontal in order to get in; fortunately there's some padding just above the low entryway.

We stayed and sat for awhile as families crawled in and got blessed and crunched loudly on the prasad (chunky sugar) they were given. La Profesora occasionally asked the saddhu a question.

We learned that he was ill last year with pneumonia and spent a month in the hospital. In his absence a young man did the morning puja (dressing and chanting to the many deities on the cave altar), and he has stayed on to help. Once or twice a week they feed lepers at the colony at the bottom of the hill.

I've been a little obsessed with the idea of gurus and holy men since reading "It's Here Now, Are You?" and watching the Ram Dass documentary Fierce Grace, and I sat there trying to feel something.

I never feel something when I'm supposed to, though. I did notice that the Saddhu has a calm demeanor and very kind eyes.

We stayed so long with the saddhu that it began to pour, so we stayed even longer. His helper gave us some chai as we waited for the rain to taper off.

Finally it let up enough that we could leave the saddhu to eat his lunch.

After climbing the final 300 steps, we bought some devotional CD's at a kiosk and then got in the free line for the Chamundi Temple, which was set to re-open at 3:30PM. It was decked out with flowers and garlands from Friday's puja.

But there were monkeys everywhere, eating the decorations and generally harssing the poeple in line. So we went to the monkeyless VIP line, where you pay Rs 20 (25 cents) to get in.

We waited a long time as people pushed behind us and pushed ahead of us or left the line altogether. As we waited, two monkeys came and hovered over a woman. Everyone gasped and warned her to get out of the way.

Finally the line moved.

We paid and then got into another line -- the one to enter the temple.

There was even more pushing in this line.

There was so much pushing in fact that a man on crutches fell, loudly, and was nearly crushed by the crowd.

Finally we were pushed forward toward the topless Brahmin priests with the sacred threads and plates with flames in the inner sanctum, where in the back you could see a festively decorated Chamundi who was drowning in flower garlands.

Again I wanted to feel something.

After receiving the blessing we went out and had a tender coconut and visited the Godly Museum, which depicts human vices and must be seen to be appreciated.

Then we walked back down the hill -- which was not easy, since the steep and uneven steps were slick from the rain (NOTE TO CONSUMERS: Neither Keen or Earth Vegan sandals worked very well on this terrain). By this point, all of the lovely decorations had washed away.

At least we didn't see any monkeys.

Or creepy guys.

It began to rain hard as we got onto JLB Road and made our way to Gokulam. Exhausted and hungry, we went straight to Gokul Chats, where we had a dosa festival. If you've never eaten a chop suey dosa out-of-doors, under a corrugated plastic roof in the middle of downpour, you've really been missing out.

As we ate, we watched a herd of goats make their way up the street. A few of them stopped and began feasting on the flowers in the restaurant's planters. One of them stood up, put its coven hooves on the seat of my scooter, and began to nibble at the tender leaves of the tree above.

Then the herder -- who was wearing a yellow sari -- and her two dogs came and chased them away.

Then a small herd of ponies passed by.

And then a wild pig.

And they say Gokulam is a fancy suburb. Ha!

Saturday, July 21, 2007


After lunch and a nap yesterday, I visited the new Cafe Coffee Day at the end of Devaraj Urs Road. Finally, coffee in my neighborhood!

There's a patio on the 2nd floor, where you can watch everything happening below (without being molested by the riffraff), but I sat in the AC and had a latte and chocolate fantasy cake while outlining a story about green yoga.

A trip of foreign women -- Turkish? Greek? ??? -- came in and sat in the front window. They wore sexy t-shirts, tight capri pants, stylish flats and heavy makeup -- and carried many shopping bags.

At one point a wrinkled woman in a sari came to the window and stared and stared at this bit of western-inspired opulance on Devaraj Urs Rd. What could she have been thinking? It was a bit like a scene from a Kieslowski film.

The next time I looked up, the woman was standing in front of the door, peering in. I wondered if she'd come in, and how the young, good-looking baristas would react.

The next time I looked up, she was gone. Had they chased her away when I wasn't looking?

When I left, I studied the sign on the front door, hoping to find out the cafe's timings. But the sign didn't have them. It said only that they reserve the right to decide who gets to come in -- and who does not.


I had a great parking spot, so afterwards I actually WALKED down the street (towards KR Circle) to City Optical Paradise, across from the Punjab National Bank. My $5 Walgreen's reading glasses had not survived the journey, and they were putting in new lenses for RS 400 (around $10). On the walk, I looked at the dresses displayed in front of the shops, and on the return trip I jettisoned my plans to visit The Coconut Family at Sri Rampet and spent the next hour or so buying dresses as gifts. One of them needed to be altered, so I killed time buying towels for me and doing more window shopping.

After finally collecting the altered dress -- "one half hour only, Ma'am" somehow turned into one three times that -- I returned to the scooter, loaded it with packages, and took off, images of dinner dancing in my head.

But I felt the wind in my hair and realized something was missing -- my helmet, which I'd left at the last store.

So I turnd around.

But the only way to double back was to pass the Coconut Family stand, and I didn't want to risk them seeing me.

So I took a different route, which didn't work out.

I did a very sloppy, dangerous U-turn -- losing one bag, which I was able to recover -- and ended up going past the Coconut Family after all.

Maybe they didn't see me....


For Friday's led practice, I got a spot in the front row. I figured if anyone told me it was their spot, I'd say "Oh YEAH? Well it was my spot last year." But no one made a peep, and I found myself between Keemo-from-Finland and Cathy-from-America (and Manju's teacher training), and down from Linda-from-Edinburgh. Basically, these are the three people at the shala whom I know).

It was a good practice, although I'm sure Sharath's count has slowed down even more -which is A-OK with me..... though my middle back did start to ache during the interminable headstand.

Afterwards I gave Sharath my photo (which I'd forgotten to include with my registration), talked to no one over coconuts, bought the papers (Bangalore Mirror and New Indian Express) and went to Greenleaf, where they talked me into ordering the pongol. The coconut-y rice dish is only served on Fridays and Sundays, and was amazing.


Guruji's birthday party is on the 29th or 30th (I forget which) at 1PM. I hope (and pray) that he'll be there. I'm planning to wear the purple/cream sari Ammu go for me last year -- provided Sachin-the-genius-tailor finishes the choli (blouse) on time.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


Photo: my room at the Kaveri Lodge

The unwritten rule is that students, no matter how advanced, do primary series during their first week at the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute.

Since my first class here was last Thursday, I figured I should begin adding my few intermediate series poses at the end of practice today (Thursday).


I was in Danurasana when Sharath said, from across the room, "Caca! First week - only primary series." He came closer and told me to add the extra poses on Monday. I apologized and thanked him and did my backbending. Dropbacks were sloppier than yesterday but at least I could do them.

That surprised me; since Wednesday morning I've had eggy loose motions (diarrhea) and gas as well as bloating after eating. I think it's due to something I ate in Ooty -- and it sounds suspiciously like giardia.

So what did I do?

-On my first trip to India I waited until I could barely walk before I went for help.

-On my second trip I learned to go to the hospital if I feel like crap for more than 24 hours.

-On my third trip I learned (from Jammu) that if I feel like crap for more than 24 hours, I should skip the formalities and go directly to the pharmacist behind the Kaveri Lodge.

So I went to see him yesterday afternoon.

He gave me four magic pills for just six rupees.

The round pill is taken while eating (to help digest the food), followed by the oblong yellow tablet two hours later (not sure why). The process is repeated with the next meal.

The following day you visit the pharmacist and tell him what happened. If you're not better, he gives you the hard stuff (probably metronidazole or tinidazole.). But only as a last resort. As he told me, "Why use a hammer, when sometimes a nail will work just as well?"

Of course the magic pills gave me the opposite of loose motions -- tight stiffness -- which is why I thought backbends would be a disaster today.

But it all worked out in the end....


Photo: Ammu's growing empire.

The pharmacist recently interviewed for a job with a high-tech American company in Bangalore. He made the third round of interviews, where he was told that he could have the job if he adopted an American accent. They gave him 22 days to do it, and suggested he study American TV and movies in order to get it right. He asked me for a list of ones he should study; any suggestions? Please post them in the Comments section.

In the meantime, I went to Reggae and Raga and made a list of American movies ranging from Meet the Fokkers to The Pursuit of Happyness. (Can you believe they even carry Pan's Labyrinth)?


The Vijay Times newspaper has folded. Now there's a sensational new tabloid with a lot of red splashed on the cover, called the Bangalore Mirror. Like Chicago's Red Eye paper, it seems to be aimed at the younger set. Yet it appears to be owned by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's Art of Living Foundation. Ah, India.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Yesterday Sharath told me (and many others) to come at 7AM instead of at 7:15.

Today I came a little bit late, figuring there'd be a bottleneck.

I was right.

So I waited patiently as the others sorted out who would go next.

Things had thinned out when Sharath poked his head in and said, "7:15 next"

I pointed to myself and said, "7:00?"

And he said, "What are you sitting there waiting for?"

And everyone laughed as I ducked my head and skulked inside.

(This did not stop me from doing decent backbending -- even after just primary series, which is what you do for the first week here no matter how advanced your practice).


Their laughter was not unlike that of the Salwaar Grrlz (young women wearing the salwaar kameez) who looked me up and down and up and down and pointed and could not stop laughing as I passed them while walking home from having snacks at Ammu's house. Like the other yoga students, it did not seem like they were laughing with me. "What am I doing wrong NOW," I wondered -- and I remembered why I like to drive the scooter and wear the helmet and go around incognito.

I'd gone over to see Ammu's new printing business. But it was silent as there was no current (power) on his street because they're installing new power lines. He offered to print my book at a very reasonable write. Now I must write it.

Then we went to his house, which is quiet without the dog Blackie (who took a death leap last week). His mother made us chai and gave us some of the biscuits Ammu brought back from Ooty. She also made bonda. She was very sweet and I love to eat but the onions inside gave me pause -- -- onions are not sattvic (mild) and hence not part of the yoga diet -- but I ate the deep-fried snack anyway.

(Ammu went to Bangalore last night to work for some weeks on a new film about early Indian resistance to British rule. He may have a role for Catesey. Apparently he showed Valerie Loves Me to his director, who saw me (I star in it, although by all accounts I cannot act) and said, "Who's that girl?" Girl, ha.

Although he supposedly came down early one time last week, I've not seen Guruji since arriving. There hearsay is tha his conditioned has worsened. They are taking off three days for his birthday:
Sat July 28 (the shala is always closed on Saturdays)
Sun July 29
Mon July 30
Tues July 31

One of those days is the full moon/his birthday.

He was born July 26 92 years ago on a full moon.

I was born on July 26 43 years ago -- on an inauspicious moon.

And on July 26 a new festival starts here in Mysore -- it's meant to be like Dussara but based on performance. Sonu Nigam and many others are slated to give concerts.

The newspaper says that 20 percent of the seats will be reserved, and the rest open to the public.

The papers do not say where these performances will take place or how to get tickets or even give a phone number to call.

Ah, India.


Today after practice, pedicure, bath and laundry I went to do an errand at Nilgiri's (supermarket). I'd parked the scooter and was walking into the Kaveri Lodge when the owner popped his head out and asked me if I had eaten my lunch. "I'm about to go now," I said. "Have two chappati," he said.

So I sat and ate lunch with him and his wife in his office in room #6 (I stayed in his old office down the hall for a few hours last year, when my plane arrived one day late and they had, understandably, given up my room).

Actually, he and I ate while his wife served us. Afterwards, she ate what was left. (Can you say, "guilt?")

She'd made the food at home, with help from one other person. Apparently it took just one hour. There was bitter gourd sweetened with jaggery, a tasty veg dish whose name I did not catch, a very tangy sambar and rasam. They are Tamil, and apparently their rasam is different than that of the Kannadigas (in Karnataka). I think they were right, as I really liked it. It's also good for digestion. The bitter gourd is good for diabetes and the veg dish was full of iron. The meal ended with salty curd rice -- also good for digestion.

We made small talk -- his father opened the lodge in 1974 -- until he said something like, "Madame will be taking rest after lunch?" and Madame took off.


Students do stupid things during their first few jetlagged days here (well, I do anyway).

On Sunday night (after the bus ride), I set the alarm for led primary series class at 6:15AM and went to sleep.

On Monday morning I was driving ot the shala when I looked at my watch: 6:45.


I checked the cell phone and it too said 6:45.

So I turned around and went back to Room 19 for self-practice.

It all went well until backbends.

I wanted to prepare for dropbacks, so I locked the bathroom door and pulled my mat up to it so I could walk up it with my hands (to go from backbend to standing).

I was halfway up when the door flew open and I landed on the middle of my back, hard.

(The floor, by the way, is concrete).

I went into yoga mudra (cross-legged forward bend) and stayed there for a few minutes before scanning my body; everything seemed to be OK, although my neck and shoulder were sore.

But while rolling around in Garba Pindasana the next day I noticed a sharp sting in my right middle back.

So after class I went to the ayurvedic pharmacy behind the hotel and got some pinda taila (oil) to put on it.

It seems to have worked.

Ah, India.

A new Bangalore airport will open in January 2008. Or so they say.

The sad photo shows Hotel SaptaTERRY, a nearby restaurant where the service is good, the food is safe and no one looks twice at you.

Monday, July 16, 2007


The plan was to go to Ooty on Friday after led primary series class but someone -- I -- felt awful (sore throat, weird stomach, exhaustion) so we called it off and I stayed in and slept most of the day. It worked; was able to make it to Three Sisters for a massive lunch. I think I am becoming fat.

Ooty is a hill station/resort 170km from Mysore, high in the Nilgiris (India's second highest mountain range) in Tamil Nadu. Ooty is known for being cold, so we made sure to wear covered shoes and jackets and bring monkey caps (see photo, below). We made reservations at the YWCA (turns out it's not all that fun to stay there after all, plus meals cost extra).

On Saturday we left at 7 to make the 8AM bus.

When we arrived at the station, Ammu learnt that there was no 8AM bus, but we could take one at 9. Or we could take one at 8 that would bring us 50K from Ooty, where we could transfer to another bus; apparently they came every five minutes.

We chose to leave at 8.

We got on the bus at 7:30.

When we left at 8 I already had to urinate. I was careful not to drink any more water.

During the ride a woman vomited out the window.

At one brief stop a Brahmin priest got on, did a brief puja (blessed some people, who handed him rupees) and left.

Around 10:30 the bus stopped. "Five minutes break," said the conductor. Ammu stayed to watch our things and I ran out, not knowing where to go, and not knowing if we were in Karnataka (where they speak Kannada), Kerala (Malayalam) or Tamil Nadu (Tamil). Not that I know how to say "Where's the toilet?" in any of those languages -- but I did know that sticking out the little finger does indeed mean that one has to urinate. I wagged my finger at a few people and they pointed me in the right direction. As I was running to the toilet, my phone rang; It was TJ, calling from the US. "I can't talk -- Please call back in five minutes." I did not want to miss the bus. I threw the attendant rs5 (it costs rs2 to urinate in most pay toilets) and ran in, did my business, and sprinted back to the bus, which was still there. It left about ten minutes later.

When TJ called back, he said, "The bus would not have left without you."


The roads got worse the further we were from Mysore. Finally we stopped at the junction, which I think was in Tamil Nadu. Ammu speaks Tamil but does not read it, so he asked where we could find the Ooty bus (Indian men are not afraid to ask for directions). Immediately a bus pulled up and we and 20 others swarmed towards it. It was packed to the gills; a few people got out and a few more got on. The same thing happened a few minutes later. Finally a third bus came. It was a KSRTC bus (ie, a Karnataka state bus). It too was packed. Several people got off and we swarmed towards the door. People began shouting at the conductor, who pointed to a couple of people and let them on. Ammu said something to him in Kannada, and suddenly we were seated near the front of the bus (the top photo is the view through the windshield).

What did you say to him? I asked.

"I told him we were from Mysore."

(Apparently there is some antipathy between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, and Karnatakans stick together. Apparently Ooty once belonged to Karnataka and is now in Tamil Nadu; the the neighboring states are also always fighting over water from the Kavery River).

The roads were awful and we went through 36 hairpin turns before reaching Ooty, which is high in the moutains. The driver and conductor did amazing jobs; I was really impressed, since the roads are no wider than a single lane and the bus is massive. The secret was not to look down, although the scenery was stunning. We even saw some deer posing in front of Bandipur National Park (which for some reason is closed).

We arrived at the YWCA at 2:30PM. Our room was damp and cold and they were no longer serving lunch, so we headed to town for dosas and utthapam. Then we went to the lake (see below), where we watched the boaters, ate corn on the cob, took a ride in the toy train and saw an indoor garden made entirely of thread.

Then we started walking towards the Botanical Garden. It was a long walk, and on the way we stopped at a Cafe Coffee Day (where they serve the best coffee ever). But the waiter would not wait on us. (Did I mention that I only saw two other westerners the entire time I was in Ooty? And that Ammu is Indian?) Finally another man waited on us; I enjoyed the chocolate fantasy cake (which is heated and covered in hot fudge) and a latte while Ammu had a hot fudge sundae. While we warmed up we watched Shahrukh Khan dance up a storm in his 1996 breakout hit film Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge .

The Botanical Gardens were stunning and well worth the walk. We kept climbing up and up until we got to a Toda village. We were too afraid to venture very far in, but an elderly woman came out and talked to Prashanth for a bit. She was beautiful, and wore the traditional white toga-like wrap -- which the men also wear. Then we headed back down.

We were too afraid to venture very far in, but an elderly woman came out and talked to Prashanth for a bit. She was beautiful, and wore the traditional white toga-like wrap -- which the men also wear. Then we headed back down.

Then we were off to the most expensive Tamil film ever made -- Shivaji, which opened Friday and features acting by the high-paid star Rajinikanth, direction by the man who did "Boys" and music by AR Rahman. The guys at the Kaveri Lodge had told me it was mediocre despite all the hype, and they were right. I slept through most of the first half, waking only to watch the big-budget musical numbers. I followed most of the second half though. Afterwards we had thali (a meal) at a Gurjarati place across the street.

Back at the YWCA, our room was damp and freezing. I put on my pyjamas over leggings and a yoga top, and added a sweater, wool socks and monkey cap and piled on the blankets. It was enough; Ooty is incredibly quite and after all the fresh air I slept more soundly than usual.

In the morning we had dosas at a cheap, clean hotel (restaurant) where we'd eaten the previous day. The men who work there were smiling and efficient and had high cheekbones and strong jaws (though for some reason they cut up my dosa and utthapam for me). It was raining and quite cold, but we went to the outdoor rose garden anyway -- where there are thousands of varieties of roses (including ones named First Lady Nancy, Margaret Thatcher, Cary Grant, Dolly Parton and Emily Post). I had a hard time trying to explain Dolly Parton and how cool she is despite the boobs and hair.

It was raining at this point, and still quite cold. So we went to the wax museum. It opened just a couple of months ago and I liked it far more than Madame Tussaud's in London. The statues included Gandhi, Prime Minister Singh and the outgoing president (below) as well as Osho, Sai Baba, Vivekananda, Shakaracharya (who was missing his tiger skin), Krishna and Radha, Jesus, and Mother Teresa. At the very end there was a little alcove that featured the bandit Veerappan, who was holded up in the nearby wildlife parks for decades and was killed a few years ago (there's no pic of him because by then my batteries had died).

By 1:30 we were ready to leave, and went to the bus stand. There we learned that the next direct state bus would leave at 3:50 and take 5.5 hours to get to Mysore. Or we could take a private bus that would leave at 3:30 and arrive in Mysore at 7PM. We bought tickets for the latter and went to the hotel (restaurant) recommended by the private bus company.

We sat in front of banana leaves and ordered thali (a meal). The proper way to clean the leaf is to pour some water into the hand and sprinkle it, rub it around, and then pour away the excess. I of course poured water directly from the cup and drowned the thing. The men with the buckets of food stood there forever waiting for me to dry my leaf with my bandanna (the sensitive western stomach cannot handle the local water). It took forever. Finally, they put down the food, which was OK but not great.

Afterwards we went to wait at the private bus company.

And wait.

When 3:50 rolled around, Ammu tracked down the man in charge and asked him when the bus would come. "Within five minutes. It is here, turning around."

Of course I had to urinate. But now that I knew the bus wouldn't leave without me, I walked quickly to the pay toilet, dropped my Rs2 and ran in. But there was a line. There were women with buckets going in after each person left a stall and "flushing" the squat toilet. It was confusing. A large woman pushed me out of the way and cut in front of me, so I pushed my way into the nearest stall. Afterwards I walked quickly towards the private bus place. Ammu was still sitting there, waiting.

The bus came just after 4. We were the first people on it. After we were settled, it sat awhile before the driver and his two lackeys got on and drove up a hill. They parked in front of a lodge (hotel) and we waited.

And waited.

Finally a couple with a baby got on the bus and sat across from us.

We drove to another hotel.

And waited.

After 20 minutes a few more people got on the bus (which seats 22). Then we drove back to the private bus waiting area, and a couple more got on. Then to a hotel, where we waited. Each time we stopped, the men would get out and smoke. I considered another trip to the toilet but decided against it.

By around 6PM the bus was full.

We seemed to be heading out of town, but then we stopped. The driver and his two lackeys got out. The windows were fogged and it was raining and difficult to see what was going on. We were defintely not in front of a hotel. A passenger got out and returned a few minutes later. "They are checking the brakes." For the next 10 minutes the lackey would get on the bus and push the brakes when the driver yelled. After awhile they all got back on and we headed down the mountain. After a minute they stopped cold a couple of times; apparently the brakes were working. I decided to do Ganesh mantras in my head for the rest of the trip.

After the first few hairpin turns we saw a minibus turned over on its side; it was one we had seen earlier. I decided not to look out the window any more.

The diesel exhaust seemed to be pumped into the bus, and soon my throat was sore. A woman nearby cleared her throat and spat out the window. A little boy used the seats as monkey bars. The lackey started a video and then stopped it.

Finally we made it through the 36 hairpin turns (which are marked and numbered) and made it to more hairpin turns and even worse roads below.

At around 7:55 the lights came on and the bus stopped. "Ten minutes coffee break."

I pushed my way past the others and was the first in line for the ladies toilet. Afterwards, Ammu ate some pastries while I had moong dhal (a salty lentil snack) and Frooty (mango juice), which made my throat feel better.

Then it was back to the bus. I watched the mile markers and did Ganesh mantras before finally falling asleep.

When I woke up at 9:20 we were in Mysore -- at about the same time that the state bus would have arrived.

All for just Rs 125.

That said, I wouldn't change a thing about the trip; Not only was it a test of one's yoga and patience, it was an Adventure with a capital "A" -- and we don't get to experience those very often.

Friday, July 13, 2007


On Thursday I slept the night through and awakened to the sound of something; I could not identify what it was and had to paw my way out of a deep, dreamless sleep to find out. After some time the brain recognized the sound of the telephone, and the body pawed its way out from under the mosquito net and picked up the receiver. There was a dial tone, and the sound continued. It seemed to be coming from under the net. After more pawing the source was found; the mobile phone. Apparently I'd calculated Chicago-to-Mysore time correctly, as it was 6:15AM. I was getting ready for class when the door's buzzer rang. Is there anything better than waking up to a steaming cup of chai? Served by an attractive man, no less?

The same man had to help me start the scooter a short time later. I'd forgotten how. Oops.

I found my way to the shala without incident. On the way in I waved to Manju-the-tailor and Bick-the-coconut wallah, who recognized me. Two other students were inside, waiting for a practice spot. It was 7:15. My arse had been set on the cool marble floor for less than 30 seconds when Sharath looked at me and said, "Caca - you come!"

Practice was surprisingly good (for the first week here you do primary series only). I was strong and flexible -- which means that Friday's led primary series class is sure to be a disaster.

In the dressing room I spoke to my first westerner since arriving; Kathy O, whom I know from Manju's 2004 teacher training, and who I last saw at Dharma Mittra's birthday party in May. We keep running into each other; maybe this time we can sit down and chat.

After gathering provisions at Loyal World (a supermarket-cum-department store), I drove back to the Kaveri Lodge, where I unpacked and had a bucket bath.

Then I went over to 3 Sisters, who did indeed have the trunk I left there last year. Can you say "mothballs?" Inside were q-tips, cockroach chalk, clothes, towels, sheets, jerkin (raincoat), travel guides and more. Which reminds me. The moon has been moved to Sunday, which means we have two days off in a row (Sat and Sun). Ammu and I may go to Ooty, a hill station in Tamil Nadu.

After a massive lunch at 3 Sisters and a nap and some sitting I had a chai and headed to the internet place. Later Ammu and I went to see the cellphone wallah. After 30 minutes and 500 more rupees they got the thing working... and I've been on it ever since. This was all done in front of a live audience of course. They seemed appalled that I'd paid $10 for the rubbery pink Razr cover I'd picked up at Target. "You can get the same one here for Rs 20 (50 cents)." Later I found out that no, you can't get it here at all. Men....

Over dinner Ammu and I discussed accents. He thinks my Chicago accent sounds like a cat. I think the Mysore/Kannada accent sounds like a rooster, because so many words end in "a-roo" or "da-doo." When I told him that roosters say "cock-a-doodle-doo" he was shocked. Apparently they say something quite different in Kannada. Kind of like how cows here say "ambaa," rather than "moo."

He was in much better spirits. We sat in the restaurant's upstairs family room (where it is more comfortable for ladies and children to dine; ie, away from the male gaze). Apparently the women at the next table were prostitutes. When I asked Ammu if they were wearing one toe ring on one foot, he said, "WhaTT?" He'd never heard of that (The way I've understood it, married women wear toe rings on each second toe, while prostitutes wear a single ring on just one foot; this was true in Kovalam in 2004 at least). Either he's out of the loop, or I'm guilty of hearsay. Again. I hope they don't burn me....


I've been wearing my rudraksha beads every day since February's teacher training. "Wear your beads," we were told. But today Harini (of 3 Sisters) said that in India only men wear these beads, which are sacred and denote worship of Shiva. For elderly women it's not such a big deal. But it is especially disrespectful for a woman to wear them during ladies holiday. Oy vey. I can't help but wonder what the punishment is for this.

The photo of the approaching storm was taken Wednesday near the Nandi statue on Chamundi Hill.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


This is the Indian place in Erlangen, where we dined al fresco. There was a colorful old pedal-powered rickshaw on the patio, and the kids were itching to play on it. The Indian-German accent is, um, interesting to say the least.

Here's proof that the meeting with Ursula really did take place. Bob took video of it but it's hard enough for me to upload pictures, let alone ones that move. Is it just me, or do I seem transfixed by the camera? On the right is Ms. Vijay, who does Mars over Erlangen, where you can see pix of us in the torture chamber. According to the brochure, it was the Romans who introduced the practice of torture to Germany. In other words, the idea was not theirs. Of course not. Did you know that the punishment for hearsay (spreading secondhand information) was to be burnt alive? The same as for arson, if I remember correctly. Bakers who shorted their customers were repeatedly dunked in the river, which was dirty and cold and usually made them get sick and die.

The computer in the corner is playing a Hindi video in which they are repeating "Salami" over and over again. "Salami...salami....salami....salamai....salami." One wishes one knew what "Salami" means in Hindi -- it certainly has nothing to do with meat -- but one is too gube (lazy) to ask.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Cribbed from yesterday's diary

RM 19 KAVERI LODGE 7/11/07 8:30PM

-Too tired to write

-Trying to stay awake til Ammu comes w/ scooter, so we can go out for food.

-Alarm clock not working

-Mobile phone not working despite Rs 463 for new SIM card + time and assurances it would work after 5PM.

-Mobile phone clock is on Chicago time, so cannot use the alarm for 7:15 practice Thursday. Unless the jetlagged mind can calculate the 10.5 hour time difference....

-Gave my life savings (Rs 27,530) to Sharath at 4PM sharp. With the dollar so weak (a buck bought Rs 48 my first trip; now it's barely 40), this was somewhat painful. He saw the sugar-free chocolate I brought and told me not to give it to Guruji. Already I am making quite the impression.

-Ammu says I am too thin - ha! His dog died today: Blackie. That's the one the girl who committed suicide gave him. Blackie jumped from the 3rd story roof to the ground.

-There's a new Nilgiri's in Gokulam, right on the main drag near the shala.

-There are helmet laws in Karnataka! The driver of a two-wheeler must wear one or s\he gets a Rs 100 ticket.

-Ammu and I drove up to Chamundi Hill and then back down because of a massive rain storm we could see moving towards us. It never came. I'd post the picture but the single functioning USB port in this browsing center is being used by someone else (who said he'd let me use it "in 10 minutes" some 20 minutes ago). No problem - I'll post it tomorrow. Or perhaps not....

-Ajay (whom you may know from Rebecca Mead's "Yoga Bums" August 2000 New Yorker piece) is married! And still teaching yoga. Deepak is still chef at Chakra house in Gokulam.

-My trunk is, hopefuly, still at 3 Sisters -- where I have yet to go.


Malay - Kannada (the local language) for rain
Rudrakshi - Kannada for drizzle

Monday, July 09, 2007


Yeserday we drove two hours south to Munich, where we visited the English Gardens. The gardens themselves were beautiful, and criscrossed by fast-moving streams that scared me even though people were swimming in them. They were also dotted with sunburnt naked Germans (mostly men), which was a little disconcerting to someone who looks askance at the Chicagoans in bathing suits who sometimes sun themselves in Wrigleyville parks.

We kept telling the boys (ages nine and nearly six) that we were going to meet my imaginary friend Ursula, who is blonde.

"Is she blind?" asked the younger one.

The day before -- on the way to Nurnberg's Medieval torture chamber and dungoens -- I had told him a story about a man who was reading the description of a woman he was going to meet, and mistook "blind" for "blonde."

We've also spent a lot of time singing and dancing to Styx's Mr. Roboto, much to the delight of a drunken man at the Eis (ice cream) shop; apparently it wasn't just a hit in Chicago, because Ursula's gentleman friend knew it, too.

Ursula looks just like her picture, only more petite. We went to the museum cafe (not far from the platz where Hitler made some of his most stirring speeches), and sat and talked for some time. It's so nice to have ashtangi.net to pull people together from different parts of the world. And it's so fun to talk ad nauseum about yoga yoga yoga yoga. Her English is excellent, which made that possible. My German consists of about five things: schmuck (jewelry), Freitag (Friday), nein (no), fleishen (meat), Sparkasse (bank). Ursula's account of things is here. I am hoping that next summer she too will be traveling to Mysore.

Tato* took some pictures/video of the historic meeting, which I am hoping to post soon. Any day now.


*The other night, while waiting for the announcement of the seven wonders of the world, Tato (it means "father" in Ukranian) got out the telescope and focused it on a planet. It was Jupiter -- and three of its moons were visible.

Saturday, July 07, 2007


Last night I enjoyed the deep, dreamless sleep they talked about in teacher training. It was the best slumber I've had in years.

Perhaps it's because we walked all over Erlangen last night looking for an Indian restaurant. My friends' favorite one had mysteriously closed. The second one was packed to the gills and they would not seat us (everyone was out and about because it was the first dry, warm night in weeks). We finally found seats outside at restaurant number 3.

Indian al fresco in Bavaria -- wow.

Which reminds me-

My essay about surviving summer finally aired on public radio yesterday. I recorded it last year, just after returning from India. But it still sounds like me. You can access it here.


We may take a road trip to Munchen tomorrow. If so, I hope to meet Ursula.

Friday, July 06, 2007


I made it to Germany in one piece despite the fact that every time I began to fall asleep on the plane, the little girl next to me either kicked my leg or bumped my arm or threw her hair into my face. Finally I looked at her and said, "Please stop bumping me." It worked.

My seat was in the bulkhead, just behind first class. This is also the row with the pull-down shelves that fit a cradle, and the row was full of babies (including me). Fortunately, I had my pilot earplugs.

The ICE train from Frankfurt to Nurnberg was quiet, fast and expensive. My friends were there at the station, waiting for me.

On the way home we stopped to buy fresh cherries.

It's cool here, and I'm exhausted. Apparently it doesn't get dark til 10. But I'm trying not to take a nap in the hopes that I'll sleep through the night.

Not likely, but possible....

Thursday, July 05, 2007


Today's lesson:

It helps, when leaving the country, to take off the day before departure as well as the day-of.

That way, you can finish the last-minute shopping.

You can carefully sort and stage the goods to be packed near the appropriate suitcase while watching TCM, which is screening films such as "The Spirit of St. Louis" (good), "Yankee Doodle Dandy" (also good) and "1776," a 1972 musical about the writing of the Constitution, which features a sweaty Benjamin Franklin with a low, low voice perfect for voiceover work and an entire song about who's going to have to write the darn thing (ouch!).

Also, you have plenty of time to worry about the single carry-on bag you're allowed to bring, and whether or not it meets the weight requirement.

(It doesn't).

Monday, July 02, 2007


I've not fallen off the face of the Earth.

And even though I leave for India in three days, I've not exactly been finishing deadlines, doing last-minute shopping and packing, either.


I've been socializing:

WED AFTERNOON = lunch with Bo (the friend who saves all the cats; e-mail me if you're interested in adopting) at an organic cafe and bakery in Glenview (followed by a travel-related trip to Target; you'd think that the one in the middle of the cornfield would be better-stocked and -organized than its urban counterpart. Not so).

THURS AFTERNOON = lunch and hookey with TJ

THURSDAY EVENING = chai and dinner with the former neighbors (whose delightful Bangalore-based parents -- whom I met there in 2004 -- are here visiting)

FRIDAY AFTERNOON/EVENING = snacks and high-jinks with Dreyfus and Dreyfus Jr., who were in town for the Cubs game (they beat the Brewers by 1 run)

SATURDAY MORNING/AFTERNOON/EVENING = An impromptu reunion breakfast with three of my long-lost cousins (plus one friend, one spouse and three offspring) at Heartland Cafe, followed by a trip on the EL to the Lincoln Park Zoo and lakefront and then dinner at Hema's Kitchen.


SUNDAY EVENING = Potlock with the Sunday night crew, followed by stoop-sitting and Flight of the Conchords:

Perhaps today will be a bit more productive....