Tuesday, January 17, 2006

"you must watch the people!"

well i'm currently on my 3 day journey back home.

i took a general non A/C train to alway which is the airport outside of kochi. it took 6 hours and was splendid. i gazed out the open window the entire trip, nothing but rice paddys, palms, backwaters and pilgrims clad in black for sabrimala. i kept ordering coffee and chai from the constant stream of vendors. totally wonderful. probably the best train journey in the history of my travels here. who knew? rps67-that's about US1.30. 2 hungarian back packers asked me to share a cab, which was just fine. they were going to the domestic airport same as me and on their way to delhi/hungary. the girl-rita-was fed up with india and had a panic disorder. "i want to do yoga some day. will it help with my panic?" um, yes. crammed in a 3 week journey trips to delhi, agra, jaipur, jodphur, udaipur, varkala, and kochi. no wonder she is sick of it. all with a huge back pack. i prefer to snack on india and with a suitcase. anyhow, i thought she would have a heart attack on deccan airlines-the size of a large helicopter and with propellers. oh well.
i hung at the airport 4 hours busying myself with the internet cafe and bookstores.

bangalore, as usual, is totally nice and comfortable. it's very east meets west fusion and hip. if i had to live in india, i might choose this city. i opted for a nicer hotel with a/c, tv, hot water, room service action. i take advantage in india cause it's so cheap. i chow down on the confused order (they always get it wrong even if they repeat it back perfectly) and watch jack nicholson in "wolf" and indulge in the most addictive mtv india. in the morning, i ventured on the streets to search for internet. "we do not have internet here, madam" "in the silicone valley of india???" well, i could not find anything and bribed the staff at the hotel to let me use theirs for free. i indulged in my free breakfast, which was the best in india ever. 4 idlys stuffed with nuts, tomato oothapam, peanut chutney, coconut chutney, and the best sambhar i have ever tasted.

my driver back to the airport was mohammad nassir khan-nassir for short. he dropped the khan part. he was very charming and spent the entire half hour begging me for work in america or any country for that matter. "i cook, clean, drive, fix cars, garden, and counsel (?)" he was very proud of his passport and worked in malaysia for 2 weeks. i asked him, "what about visa?" cause that's the hard one, i know from talking to many indians that it is almost impossible. lots of red tape, waiting years and a huge amount of money. the poor never make it to my country. "i get visa, you just tell me when to come! i do not cheat. i am not a cheater. i am born 1962! i do not take much money. i only need eat, sleep-i work hard! please you help me get a job!!" than he busts into a muslim prayer song and chant to allah, praying for lisa lisa lisa to help him. i just did not have the heart to tell him that his chances were slim to none, so i tipped him generously.

the airport guards would not let me through security. "you must take food, you must watch the people!" "but i only want to buy magazines, not eat" "oh...she is fasting! well you sit and watch the people." ok. i go to the airport coffee day and purchase a pile of bollywood rag. such a funny place.

an uneventful flight back to mumbai. when i arrived, i went to the hotel reservation booth and got snagged away and got talked into staying with a gaggle of sari clad lady seniors at the sai baba ashram. "you stay with us at ashram and we meditate till we go back to airport." which would be 8 hours. "ok". so i sit and i wait and i wait and i start thinking, do i really want to do this? i notice many of the ladies won't sit by me, looking at me with distrust. (?) i wonder what i'm getting into cause all that was on my mind after 2 days travel and another ahead of me, was a hot bath, internet, mtv, food and beer-none of which would be found with sai baba. "ummm...i am not a sai baba devotee" "why?" she says. i have no answer. she understands, i get my swank modern hotel in the middle of some horrifying slums with everything i need.

this will be the last entry to my blog this trip. thanks for staying with me on my journey!

with love-

Saturday, January 14, 2006

birth & death party

"the important elements constituting a nation are being disease free, wealth & productivity, harmonious living & strong defense," abdul kalam; president of india.
he is quoting from a 2000 year old text thirukkural(the south's ramayana)

"there is no difference between a poor man and a dead man"-the ramayana.

some interesting takes on the wealth subject in "being indian"

i finished my last day with lino. "one side very good, other not so good. they must be same" he tells me about vasisthasana. which is true and just fine. i have a lot of work in front of me and yoga was a joke today. almost killed myself in titibasana. no explanation. couldn't balance in pinca mayurasana. these have not been problems before. i get sappy. tears coming. snap out of it and finish the damn practice. let it go.

i'm in my room after the post yoga shower and "knock knock knock" those soft siva knocks. he appears with a perfectly wrapped package of sweets-prasad. i know before opening cause you can squeeze them-like snowballs. very "sweet" gesture. the last day on the island.

daren had a party friday for me leaving and nicola and lauren arriving. i called it "birth and death" party. a wonderful gesture. a supurb spread of real kerala thali served on the banana leaf. such a treat. a nice party consisting of tamil people, a girl from mozambique (of course i HAD to know how astanga reached HER!), wild adam and his purple hair and his mates, some sassy english lassies, gopan the flirt, todd, daren and the new girlies.

i took the new girlies on their first rickshaw ride (it's endearing to witness this)to the kripa theatre to deflower them of the bollywood. my old rickshaw "pal" is MIA, so i negotiated a new one and we were fine on our way. the movie opened this weekend, "zindu", and was directed and produced by sanjay gupta, starring the legendary sanjay dutt, model turned actor john abraham and lara dutta, miss world. set in bankok, this excellent movie is in the new hip mtv style. no big musical numbers, but lots of graphic violence and good story and acting. a revenge movie about an educated psychotic (abraham) holding a childhood grudge and taking revenge on the kids that teased his sister and caused her to burn herself to death. he kidnapps sanjay and throws him in the thai jail and knocks him out with injections and poison smoke, making him pay for his childhood antics. lara dutta is his taxi driver (?) there is real kissing in this movie-lip on lip action, but no open mouth. i'm always totally shocked if that happens. almost turns it into porn. it's weird.

well on to my long journey home. i leave at 5am tomorrow and won't be home for 4 days. train, to taxi, to plane, to taxi, to plane, to taxi to plane to taxi.

see you soon!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

eye of the tiger

well i'm nearing the last couple days here in india. 10 months of my life spent here over 3 years and am already negosiating next year's hotel. this place definitely has it's ups and downs, but there's no better place to study. and learn about yourself. and learn patience. and learn cinema! i'm very happy to have stayed in a budget hotel this year cause it forced me to read again. it's been a long time. and appreciate the simple life, which has slowed me down quite a bit. it's hard to have nothing to do for a month or 2, but it's very good for the mind and body to just be still. most yogis who come here are obsessed with ayurvedic cleansing and massage to the point of it being more of a focal point than the yoga itself. and many women are obsessed with losing weight. i've seen the most skinny white girls here and in mysore than anywhere else in the world. this morning during led class, this toothpick massage obsessed girl fainted on my mat and had a seizure. me thinks she should add a little food to her "program." everytime i ask people to go to the movies, they tell me they have massage at 2, cleansing at 4, oil drip at 6...a movie is too long to accomodate that kind of schedule. lino tells his students that massage on top of the very hardcore astanga is a bad idea. and i listen to him. i find so many people have a hard time with doing nothing. but isn't yoga supposed to bring us to that nothing place and learn to embrace it?

what was important materialistically this year for me?
-lots of long books
-playing cards
-transistor radio-batteries only
-lots of earplugs
-lots of panties
-3 shirts, 3 skirts
-pens and notebook
-little bottles of good liquid soap (thanks julie & adam)
-scented japanese fan (thanks sue!)
-2 extra towels from home
-1st aid kit
-oil of olay moist towelettes

the ipod is nice, but not necessary.

THE EYE OF THE TIGER is playing on the radio
now it's INXS
the theme music on the radio is miami sound machine's CONGA

1.ARTHA-acquisition of wealth
2.DHARMA-rules of life, what your purpose is
3.KAMA-pursuit of desire (you must be an accomplished lover according to kama sutra)

from "being indian"

Monday, January 09, 2006


one new pose has totally altered my body. just when the hips were opening, SLAM! shut again, thanks to this asana. this practice plays this game constantly-your back is open, new pose comes, SLAM! closed. every part of your body. non-attachment is the sane way to go, believe me. this new asana seems to be about balance and strengthening the hip flexors. it's hard to be flexible and strong in all areas of the body, but astanga addresses it all, that is if you are one of the few practitioners who sticks with the practice long enough to realize this. it really takes tons of patience and many years-i've been at it 9 years and feel like an embryo in the womb.

when i first met gwendoline hunt, it was my good fortune that she whispered a wonderful snack of wisdom in my ear which has stayed with me always. she told me, "the more you do this practice, the more you will understand it." SO TRUE.

PRASAD-offerings of sweets to a god or a guest (guests ARE god to indians)
usually a sugar bomb in any thousand of shapes and textures. some dense, like almond balls, some light and airy, like these pillows of coconut balls siva gave me at the internet yesterday. he left me with 10 and i ate every single one! "what are they?" "bombay sweets!" fresh coconut balls of heaven! and straight after yoga, a woman gives me dense cookie types that fall apart in your mouth! sugary buttery goodness! and i don't know why, but i feel like a god when i am eating these.
prasad is also the name of a small young extremely sweet waiter at the lonely planet. he was born with the perfect name! he wears a tiny t-shirt that says "try me."

i'm reading my 5th book this month called "being indian-the truth about why the 21st century will be indias" by parvan k. varma. it's a bit on the scholarly side, but pretty insightful. it discusses the traits that indians have so non indians can better understand them. they have a lot going for them. resiliant people who've had to deal with adversity constantly-even the middle and upper classes have to deal with traffic, polution, water and electrical shortages on a daily basis. they are also a detached people and spiritual, constantly getting forgiveness from "sins" or "wrong-doings"-a jump in the ganga does the trick, or several hundred mantras.
yesterday i read in the hindu that there were 80,000 indians admitted into top american schools last year! this is very good news for india. bright people, hard working, curious. that will get you a lot in this life.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

A HARD RAIN is gonna fall...

it's totally downpouring again. monsoon is extended into the late months this year and it's delightful! i've never seen this kind of rain before. just downpours and stops. a hard rain, it is. rain in tropical india is actually romantic, except i have no one but my imagination to share that notion with. it's nice cause it's so hot here and is a nice change cause i am not a beach girl. i've made pals with my ivory white skin and we have an agreement.

in yoga, the strength is with me again, thanks to saturday's off. why we don't practice saturdays? cause saturn rules and it's inauspicious. it's a brilliant idea, imo. so during chakra bandhasana (drop back to the head), lino asks me the all too familiar question, "so how you feel?" and i'm feeling real good and strong, even though i ate 2 jaffles and drank 2 beers night before. he says "tomorrow you do vasistasana." 3rd series.

i finished the sex book. i will spare you details, but mr. kumar keeps an active sex life throughout the rest of the book. his lingam is his best pal. the last hussy he screwed asked him, "why don't you wear a condom? you should be more careful."
so kumar, who has never been sick before, gets sick and can't heal. AIDS!!! kumar and his penis are no longer friends and he even slaps it around scolding all his 15 inches of manhood. because aids is SO humiliating here in india, he decides to take 30 sleeping pills, reciting the gayatri mantra after each pill is consumed.
2 year old indian boy wearing dad's flip flops chasing a white puppy through the lonely planet restaurant during breakfast.
cut to 7 year old making silly faces, sticking his tongue out and such till he gets smacked square in the face with a ball of coconut fibers! his face went from "nya nya!" to balling like a great girls blouse! crack me up hours later!

Friday, January 06, 2006

vinyasa master

it sure feels good to be a student. when i'm in india i forget that i am a teacher and it's such a nice feeling. there's still much to learn in about yoga and life.

many people say astanga yoga is boring cause you do the same thing over and over again. but this is why we call it yoga mala-repeated prayers, chants and mantra repeated is extremely powerful. i have learned several instruments over the years and the only way i was able to finally play them was if i practiced scales and rhythms over and over again. there's something profound about that "do your practice and all is coming."

if you find that you are bored with astanga, ask yourself some questions-what is the 6th vinyasa of utkatasana? dristi is what? what is the transition? are you engaging mula and uddiyana bandhas? is your breath even and correct? this is not boring, but quite challanging.

anyhow, india is pretty interesting, both profound and scarey at times. it's 5000 years old and has much wisdom. practicing yoga here is perfect, especially with a soundtrack of chants, prayers, temple bells and explosions always in the background.

my hotel manager's name is joe-boy and his brother is johnny-boy. joe's ringtone on his cell is "oh susana, don't you cry for me, i've come from alabama with my banjo on my knee," and johnny has his name tattooed on his forarm with the crucifixion above it. interesting.

lino taught a half primary and a full today. there are lots of people confused about the correct vinyasa and he is trying hard to change that fact because he is VINYASA MASTER.

so i have met quite a few interesting people from all over the world. being alone does have it's advantages and it's actually fun to hang out with total strangers. people are so fascinating that i sometimes forget i'm shy. "you're a documentary filmaker for the bbc?" "23 years in the irish marines? now you are riding your motorbike all over india without a plan?" "nice book you've wrote of 365 yoga quotes."

gwendoline quote
hadie shared a good gwen story. she once said at age 60-"i'm gonna be through all 6 series by the time i am 70." then she goes on to say, "but when i reached 3rd, i had to go back to primary again because i had not learned the use of my bandhas!"
guruji always says, "slowly, slowly, slowly"

Thursday, January 05, 2006

the year of the dog

finally saw "bluffmaster." with a name like that and after seeing the videos, i expected this to be a real horror. to my surprise it was good. basically it's a con gets conned movie with a decent cast-nana patakar, priyanka and abishek. btw-abishek should never smile. ruins his face. it's supposed to be a remake of a 70s film and it had all the right elements-gangsta rapping, rich stylin studly con men-think "miami vice" set in mumbai and showing all it's beauty.

i was actually wanting to see a more local film, but i brought a bollywood virgin and i want to take it slow with him. with indian cinema, you don't want to scare first timers away. the next one will be regional.

and when sharaf dropped us off, he asked for "help" in the form of 3000 rupees. how awkward. daren says it always leads to that. just say no. i mean, the dude now owns his own rickshaw thanks to me. i think that's enough help.
tit bits

"we did not expect such a grand welcome. back home it's freezing but we're happy to see the climate is good here"
lady! it's south india! you are from russia!



phule triveni cows are robust and strong!
-they live 18 years
-they milk 10-12 months
-naturally disease resistant
-adaptable to drought

PRSV-papaya ring spot virus-is a major infestation of the papaya crop

why do tennis players eat bananas?
why does milk turn sour?
when the hand rests, why do the fingers curl?
whi is the left thumb impression taken for men and the right for women?

a company in northern china will only hire candidates born in the asian zodiac's year of the canine, which starts january 29.
"we believe that people born in dog years are loyal and honest"

vintage michael jackson
"wanna be startin something"
followed by the live version of "smoke on the water"

i'm totally not kidding