Monday, 10 March 2014

A Cooking Lesson, Yoga, The Weather and a Rant From Glen!


Anu’s cooking lesson

We have saved a little of our weekly budget and as a treat and as we went to Anu’s Kitchen for a cooking lesson on Saturday, odd that on International Women’s day we go for a cooking lesson!  Anu has a restaurant on the rooftop of her house and cooks daily lunches for visitors, mainly yoga students.  There were at least 20 people there, all nice but in their own worlds and despite trying lots of friendly smiles not particularly easily engaged with …. Perhaps it’s us!
We learnt how to cook Okra two ways – stuffed (personally I think life’s to short to stuff Okra) and dry cooked with spices.  Beans and greens, and a scrummy salad of sprouted mung beans, carrot, fresh coconut, coriander, pomegranate, grapes, and lime with a dressing that was heated spices and lentils (see below).

Now here’s something everyone should try, this was a revelation to me.  Next time you want to spice up your salad, heat some oil (we used coconut) throw in some whole mustard seeds when they start to pop, add one whole green chilly [pierced to stop it exploding (don’t eat it, unless you really want to)] some fresh curry leaves (if you don’t have any don’t bother)  get some dried yellow lentils bung them and then gently fry / toast them in the hot frying pan until the lentils go golden and they will be just soft enough to crunch with a nuttiness and toss this through your salad.  If push came to shove I’d just do it with the lentils and maybe some seeds too! It was amazing and really easy.  And another thing … I didn’t know you don’t have to cook yellow lentils, just soak them and put them in salad like that too!
We ate until we nearly popped and then walked home …. Fantastic food and lovely not to have any Ghee!
Later a Monkey stole our packet of Lentils - from the kitchen, it must agree!


Friday we finished our two weeks with Jai at Mystic, and Monday we move to the Institute.  I feel as though my practice has smoothed out, and I am better able to flow with my breath, my lazy glutes have caused my knees to be sore and a very tight ITB and TFL so at the moment I cant get half lotus on my left side, lots of rollering (thank goodness we found room in the suitcase for the foam roller!) and asana modifications.  I have been told many times by professionals and family to get my arse in gear (probably for different reasons) and better late than never am now starting my butterflies and flutter legs, sounds pretty – looks ungainly but hopefully will help.
Registration at KPJAYI was fun?? we went Friday had to wait until the allotted time being held outside the gates until 4pm, we were then pointed up the stairs to the front door.  The building looks like a grand house from the outside but once inside you step into a small waiting area/lobby with some rather grand wooden double doors which were open and lead into the practice room. This room reminds me of my infant school assembly hall (yes I can remember that far back! And we sat cross-legged there too) it was surprisingly small, with a small stage, there were about 5 people practicing with Saraswathi.  We were pointed to the far corner and tiptoed barefoot around the outside of the room, hugging the walls catching a glimpse of Sharath sat in a rather grand looking office, we went into a very small room which doubled as an office and shop, there were people tripping over each other to buy rather overpriced KPJAYI logo’d yoga things.  There was no cuing or order so after realising waiting was getting us nowhere we just piped up and registered.  After parting with our pennies we were given our cards and a practice time of 6.30 (shala time) mon – fri at Saraswathi’s shala and a led practice time of 6.15 (shala time) Sat in the main shala, Sunday remains our holiday.  There was no interest in who our teacher is, how long we have practiced or if we knew the sequence ….. lets hope they have no assumptions ….. so we wait for Monday morning and will set the alarm super early to leave the apartment in plenty of time at 5.30 ! OMG!
Shala time, well I am told that the clock in the shala used to be 15 minutes fast however over the last year has gained another 5 minutes putting it 20 minutes fast.  Not sure if this is just to make people arrive on time or if they just cant reach the clock to put in a new battery … I haven’t seen the clock yet.
Well Mondays here!  A march to the shala in darkness at 5.30am, this is when we see people out for the daily run or walk and its surprisingly busy, the coconut man is getting ready!  There was no bustle when we arrive at the shala and without the sign you would think you were in the wrong place. We went up the outside steps and through a squeaky door straight into the practice room (actually every door squeaked), we are pointed at the changing rooms and then lay our mats out in a space, there’s quite a lot of space and we are a little early.  I whisper my opening chant and get on with it.  Standing sequence going well and through to the seated series,  I am putting my legs into half lotus …. the left knee has had a weeks rest, today is its test.  Once I get to Marichyasana Saraswathi comes to find out how far I practice and I tell her I cant bind by myself in D, at which point she plonks herself on my mat whilst I work through B and C (she literally is sat where I would quite like to practice! J ).  Now my first side is my worst side so this is tight but she sits on me and with all the might of a 72 year old 5ft nothing lady who has the strength of an Ox squidges me round and I bind on both sides, I thought maybe I’d be stopped here but I am allowed to go on and get some great assists in Supta Kurmasana and Bandasana and get stopped before starting Upavista Konasana. Time for back-bending and finishing sequence which go without note other than its meant to be done in another little room (a bedroom with a huge bed and a tele) which I don’t realise until I see that Glen has gone somewhere and quickly join him! First coconut consumed in celebration (20p), in fact my first fresh coconut – who’d have thought the flesh would be soft and slimy. In fact I might keep a list of firsts – I’m sure there will be many!


We have had some amazing pre-monsoon storms this week, arriving at around 6.30 pm with lots of rain and thunder and lightening, washing all the sandy mud into the roads, everything is dry by the morning and I just hope they stay an evening occurrence.  The rains are early which means that the mangoes will be too … the countdown to mango madness begins!


3 Weeks in The Tropics and He's Already Ranting Like Colonel Water E. Kurtz.

“I think human consciousness, is a tragic misstep in evolution. We became too self-aware, nature created an aspect of nature separate from itself, we are creatures that should not exist by natural law. We are things that labor under the illusion of having a self; an accretion of sensory, experience and feeling, programmed with total assurance that we are each somebody, when in fact everybody is nobody. Maybe the honorable thing for our species to do is deny our programming, stop reproducing, walk hand in hand into extinction, one last midnight, brothers and sisters opting out of a raw deal”. Rust Cohle: Characterized by Matthew McConaughey in True Detective.

Not being particularly interested in anthropology, given that we the only remaining species of hominids (a branch of great apes characterized by erect posture, bipedal locomotion, manual dexterity, sociality, tool use and general trend toward larger and more complex brains) have a tendency since becoming self aware to do everything in our power to discriminate against and destroy our fellow human kind in the name of greed and god(s). I don’t subscribe to or care about our worldly cultural or religious differences. In my eyes they only serve as tools for a means of this control and destruction.

However, just like everyone else. When I visit a foreign land, I leave my opinion or moral code at the door and go with the flow in the name of an easy life and peaceful death. Arriving in India, we had half an idea what to expect and the rest we just figured we’d pick up along the way.

Etiquette - I guess in a way it’s like a trip back in time.

Public appearance is a big thing here. The way you dress and the way you conduct yourself in public is as important as the day is long. A few observations thus far have been.

Dress code:
Women should not show their shoulders or legs in public. Apparently bare shoulders are sexual and legs probably are too. It’s hard to imagine English culture of the past being like this, as it was. In a day and age where Lady GaGa and Miley Cyrus are role models for young girls and gangster rappers for boys preaching b***hes this and n***ers that. Children learn about sex by watching porn on the internet and grow up wanting to be ‘Glamor Models’(That’s a polite way of saying porn star for those of you who don’t know). It’s hard to tell which culture is the most progressive. If anything we are certainly desensitised to the sexual nature of shoulders and ankles.
Men should wear full length trousers and a collared shirt representative of your social status. Although westerners generally get off a lightly, I’ve drawn a few funny looks wearing my board shorts out and about every day. Shorts being the apparel of the lower castes.

Men and woman don’t hold hands or kiss in public. These acts are considered a part of the sexual experience and are confined to the bedroom. However it is Ok for men to hold hands with each other so long as they’re not gay. That is still illegal.

Table etiquette consists of eating with your hand. More specifically your right hand. Your left hand is for wiping your bum and never the two shall meet (if only they new). Pass and receive with your right hand only and don’t point at anyone with the poo-y hand.

The Caste System at A Glance

Post world war 2 British soldiers returned home only to find they were expected to fall back in to the class from which they were emancipated (thanks to the rise of Nazi Germany) and head back down the mines.
Having experienced the freedoms of war (a strange term I know), a superior diet to that which they could afford back home and having served along side their US counterparts and seen first hand the wealth and freedoms they possessed. It was time to say no more and a new Britain was born.
Now I’m not saying that system is gone, it never will go. We’re pack animals and it’s part of our nature to be part of a gang. And so we group ourselves into the haves and the have not’s and do our damnedest to keep the wolves at bay. But at least it’s possible to own your own home now along with all the other ridiculous consumerisms we’ve subscribed to, and if you do manage to rise to the top of the social ladder through no effort but your own, then you’ll be accepted for it.

Coming from a former colony like New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the USA, we don’t subscribe to the class system in the same sense. It’s half the reason our families left (or were shipped out in chains) in the first place. To make a better life without the oppression of the ruling classes to stop you.

In India, Caste is commonly thought of as an ancient fact of Indian life, but various contemporary scholars have argued that the caste system was constructed by the British colonial regime. If this is in fact the case then it seems strange that this of all systems has been the one most rigidly held on to in 67 years of independence. In contradiction to this is the Hindu belief that the only way to scale the caste ladder is by death and reincarnation. Therefore one is expected to accept their birth caste as fate and wait it out till the next life in hope of a better hand.

Daily Life

We’ve settled into daily life now with a fairly rigid routine of wake, yoga, eat, shower, rest, chanting practice (to come), eat, daily walk and grocery shopping, strength exercise, stretch, meditate and bed.

It’s a bit like being back home only without the 12 hour travel/work grind. The number one question we seem to ask is “what day is it”? I imagine that question will evolve to which month is it before long.

Still trying to get some yoga match fitness together and find I alternate between a strong practice and a weak, tired practice each day. I’m currently supplementing the yoga with a daily workout aimed at increasing bodyweight strength ratio in a bid to undo the damage I self inflict during the winter months:

60 Press Ups (wide for chest – I do enough triceps with Chaturanga)
60 Squats (body weight)
60 Dips (off chairs)
120 Sit Ups
6 Chin Ups (of the wardrobe)
5 Hand Stands (20 seconds each) – These should be Hand Stand Push Ups but my shoulders aren’t strong enough at the moment. (was doing 30 of these last summer)

I do these in sets of 5 and will be doubling the reps at the beginning  of next week.

The Mega Concrete Block Truck

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