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.


  1. Like last winter when you coaxed me into a couple of dropbacks ;)

  2. Of interest to Caca>

    Chicago Reader bought by chain
    Weekly's staff 'discombobulated'

    By Ameet Sachdev

    Tribune staff reporter

    July 25, 2007

    The local owners of the Chicago Reader, an alternative weekly newspaper that combines long cover stories with comprehensive entertainment and cultural listings, said Tuesday they have sold the publication to a Tampa-based publisher.

    The deal with Creative Loafing Inc., a chain of four alternative weeklies, caught Reader staff members by surprise. The paper has enjoyed stable ownership since it was started in 1971, and several of its 10 shareholders, including co-founder Bob Roth, worked in management.

    But Roth, president of the company, acknowledged several factors made the timing right for an ownership change, including the uncertain future facing all types of newspapers.

    Roth, 60, also said several of the Reader's owner-managers were contemplating retirement when Creative Loafing's Chief Executive Ben Eason approached the company.

    "I think Ben Eason has a better idea of how to fix our company than we do," Roth said. "I think the company needs a more energetic management."

    Terms of the sale, which includes the Reader's sister paper in Washington, D.C., and the syndicated column "Straight Dope," were not disclosed.

    Alternative weeklies have not been immune to the economic forces that have challenged the newspaper industry in recent years. They face a steady decline of readers and advertisers. Free classified advertisements on the Internet, such as on Craigslist, have hit free weeklies especially hard because the weeklies tend to rely more on such listings for revenue than mainstream dailies, said newspaper analyst John Morton.

    The weeklies also face new competition. Mainstream newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune have launched free daily tabloids filled with entertainment listings and ads for bars and nightclubs aimed at the same young-adult audience.

    The Reader's circulation stands at about 117,000 copies weekly, Roth said, down from about 133,000 in 2002. It also distributes about 18,000 copies of a condensed edition in the suburbs.

    Just like mainstream newspapers, alternative weeklies are consolidating as a way to cut costs and build greater audiences to sell to advertisers. Last year, New Times Media acquired the Village Voice of New York, the nation's oldest alternative publication, to create a chain of 17 papers.

    4 other papers

    Creative Loafing traces its roots to an alternative weekly started in Atlanta in 1971. The Reader acquisition is a significant move for the company because the two papers would nearly double Creative Loafing's circulation. Its weeklies in Atlanta, Charlotte, Tampa and Sarasota, Fla., have a combined average circulation of 275,000 per week.

    "There has never been a more exciting or challenging time to be in the publishing business," Eason said in a statement. "We're thrilled to be in the position to take advantage of the trends that are emerging: localism, local search, hard-hitting, community-focused journalism."

    Despite the rapid changes in the industry, the ownership switch left employees of the Reader "discombobulated," said Michael Miner, the paper's media critic.

    "This has been a very insular paper," Miner said. "We've seen other papers buffeted by change that hasn't affected us until now."

    There is much angst among the Reader's journalists, Miner added, about whether the out-of-town owners will maintain the paper's eclectic mix of features, criticism and investigative stories.

    Eason, in a memo to the Reader's employees, said that Publisher Michael Crystal and Editor Alison True will stay on. Eason could not be reached for further comment.

    In a separate transaction, the Reader's owners also sold the paper's headquarters at 11 E. Illinois St. to an undisclosed investor, Roth said.



    - - -

    In cold print

    Chicago Reader

    - Founded: 1971

    - President and co-founder: Bob Roth

    - Weekly circulation (including suburban edition): 135,000

    Creative Loafing Inc.

    - Owns: Alternative weeklies in Atlanta, Charlotte, Tampa and Sarasota, Fla.

    - Combined circulation: Nearly 275,000

    - CEO: Ben Eason

    - Headquarters: Tampa