Tuesday, February 16, 2010


I didn't even realize today was Pązcki Day (Fat Tuesday) until I drove past Dinkel's Bakery at 7pm.

By then, it was too late.

By then, I didn't care.

Maybe some bad habits are finally falling away.


* * *

Last year Pazcki Day came right after Shiva Ratri, which fell on a Monday.

Last year I fasted all day on Shiva Ratri, but couldn't leave the neighborhood to go to a celebration, because there wouldn't have been a parking space when I got home. (Parking was always difficult in that neighborhood - but even moreso in the winter, when no one shovels the snow, and there are even fewer spaces. Also for some reason it seems to snow more up there. Or perhaps it just never melts because the buildings are so tall. Anyway, when I lived there I always had to be home by 9:30pm or not find a parking space).

So instead of going out and communing with likeminded souls, I sat in the freezing cold apartment, fasting all day and all evening long. No fruit, no nothing.

It was COLD.

All day, I had looked forward to my reward, which was to be a hot bath.

Finally, night fell.

I started the bath and went into the other room.

When I returned the tub was full.

I put my hand in to check the water - and withdrew it quickly.

The water was ice cold.

The apartment was ice cold.

I was ice cold.

And lonely.

And hungry.

And upset with myself to moving to such an awful place.

So I curled into a ball right there on the bathroom floor, and had a good cry.

Yet another lesson in non-attachment.

* * *

The next day, I broke the fast with fresh, wonderful Pązcki from Dinkel's Bakery.

I had a few of them.

They were very good going down.

But a little while later, I felt rather ill.

It was yet more proof of the truth of the Bhagavad-Gita's definition of Rajas*:

What is nectar in the beginning becomes poison in the end.


* * *

This year I celebrated Fat Thursday (the day before Shiva Ratri) by indulging a 25-year-old craving for hot chocolate and churros at Xoco, the new place owned by famous local wonder-chef Rick Bayless.

I had to walk by on my way to class anyway.

So I decided to indulge my craving for the hot, fresh, very wrong breakfast I used to eat at Madrid's Plaza del Sol during the spring of 1985. In those days I was a punk-rock omnivore who lived for bullfights, the Rastro, and dates with batos named Pedro.

I've been passively craving chocolate con churros ever since.

The craving became more active a couple of months ago, when I heard about Xoco - which specializes in freshly-made Mexican street food.

So I went in, joined the short line, and ordered.

And then I sweated and waited and waited some more, since both items are made-to-order.

When I finally got them, I went outside to try them.

Both were steaming hot - a good sign.

But you know what?

They weren't that great.

The hot chocolate seemed a little too thin and tart, and lacked any hint of cinnamon.

And the churros were too sweet.

I ended up tossing most of it out.

And I thought, "Phew! That's one more desire I can finally let go of!"

If only the rest would follow.



*Rajas is a state of energy, action, change and movement. The nature of rajas is of attraction, longing and attachment and rajas strongly binds us to the fruits of our work.


  1. Anonymous7:03 AM

    You felt ill after taking Pązcki ???

    Hum ... maybe it's because of the eggs. ;-)

    There is surely the eggs in donuts, as well as in croissants, in cakes, in icecreams, in cookies, in italian spaghettis and pastas, etc, etc.

    It is incredible that you could eat the eggs indirectly and involuntarily if you are not careful, isn't it ?

    I hope you are now in a warm and sattvic place.

    With metta.

  2. Oh, I hope you feel better already.

    It made me smile that you eat these cakes, too......:)

  3. I'll eat the cakes for you. They look amazing!!

  4. i celebrated mardi gras too. i don't call it pazki.
    you don't like xoco???
    i ♥ xoco. but have never had the churro.
    why crying? you should be happy & grateful.
    what exactly makes you happy? eggs are bad too????

  5. what a difference a year makes, huh?

  6. Luckily my attachment to cold
    winter days, candy corn, and Peeps are now long gone. Oh wait, they never were.

  7. Thank you for all of the comments.

    I am indeed in a warm and sattvic place now - where I can see just how awful things were at this time last year. (I was so cold inside the house that my face became red and chapped. When a studio owner put me up at a hotel in Madison, I almost cried with gratitude when I saw the thermostat and tried the hot water).

    To clarify: I did not eat Pazcki this year. I did not miss it.

    Nataraja- I didn't even think about the eggs. Oy! But I think the sugar and the fact that they're deep-fried are what made me feel ill.

    I did not cry this year. That was last year. This year I was not miserable. This year I am indeed grateful.

    Pazcki are a special Polish doughnut that is only eaten on Fat Tuesday.

    Xoco's menu is full of things I can't/don't/won't eat.

    What makes me happy: Teaching. Practicing. Seeing my teachers. Thinking about my teachers and reading things they've written and watching their videos. Reading, thinking and talking about yoga. Writing. Kirtan.

    I also like reading, sleeping (perhaps too much), Hindi movies, taking pictures, walking, and watching certain TV shows. But the first list is the important one.