Friday, December 29, 2006


We watched Kenny the other night. It's an Aussie film about the common man, common decency and being bottom of the pile (excuse the pun).

What we all enjoyed so much about it was the typically wry and tongue in cheek use of language and timing that both good Brit and Aussie films make use of.

The film does have a serious point or two but these are happily lost under the deluge of comic material and poignant moments. On the serious side is the idea that we always seem to take the basic functions of life and those who deal with them as being somehow worth less than the higher callings and activities. Is painting really more important than pooing for instance? In a more lighthearted vein the makers constantly poke fun at Aussie stereotypes of workmen, men in general and the world of work. The first line of questioning that Kenny undertakes with a prospect on the phone is to ascertain whether or not curry is on the menu at the function requiring portable toilets. This seems to have some bearing on the number of units per 100 guests that will be required. Also, the company Kenny works for is called Splashdown Corporate Bathrooms which actually appears to be a real company. Brilliant!

For those (like me) with a distinctly scattalogical humouristic bent this film will appeal massively, but it is also distinctly redolent of the earthier notes emanating from middle Australia in all its glory.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Why did I go to Mysore?

Early on in my visit to Mysore I wondered briefly what exactly it was I was doing there. The other day, whilst enjoying a barbeque at Bronte beach a friend of mine asked me how the trip there had impacted my yoga. I said that it simply had helped me to understand my own practice much better. My practice is a lot slower now, and better focused I suppose. Still can't do Marichyasana D though. But it is coming!

We did a bit of a rainforest and gravel road circuit today. I always enjoy trips into the bush and forest in Australia. I find the landscape and natural environment so balanced to my eye. Such spare subtlety in the shades of brown, yellow and grey, with dusty greens setting it all off in the dryness.

As we walked 30 minutes each way on a random fire break, climbing a slight gradient in the cool pre-sunshine air, we wondered if the undulating mass rasp coming from the stands of gum to our left and right were somehow responding to our passage. Did the cicadas soften or intensify their calls to one another as we strode by? Stopping briefly as the clouds of sound once more built to a virtually ear splitting crescendo, a piercing top note like a distress whistle seeming almost to protrude from the canopy, we listened and heard the sound, more wave like now, recede gradually over a period of 20 seconds or so to near silence. The colony was in warm up mode, fine tuning for the day ahead.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Coffs Harbor

Coffs Harbor.

Its got a bit of Benidorm, some of Noosa and not many people, even at this time of year. It also reminds me of Southern Cal quite a lot tho with far fewer cars. My sister and I went out last night to see what the locals do for fun and ended up having an orange juice and a soda water in the Coffs Harbour Hotel which seemed about 60% full before heading down the road to The Plantation - the single local 'nitespot' - where we were refused entry because I was wearing thongs (that is flip flops english people. I'll leave the over the shoulder swim wear thong wearing to people like the group of French guys I saw on the beach in Goa. They had flouro green and pink ones). This was probably a lucky escape because the 'band' (The Vinyl Slingers) who were 'headlining' inside were carrying out a vicious and frenzied attack on several well known and loved rock tunes. A pure Green and Gold moment to savour.

Luckily for us the area is peppered with lovely beaches and beautiful national parks. The weather's not too bad either and the seafood is pukka.

This morning I got up to practice and was struck by the thought that I could well be the only person doing the primary series for several hours in each direction. Westwards and eastwards this could possibly extend to days since one might have to go to Brazil to have a hope of bumping into anyone doing anything similar. These are sketchy latitudes. Anyway, did it and really enjoyed the outside yoga. The sweat does its job, evaporating nicely and keeping ones temperature very comfortable.

Shortly afterwards, as we ate breakfast, I got a text from mates in NZ who have been getting my post. I gather I am now a Kiwi! Yes! A New Zealander. It took nearly a year to process but they got there in the end. A big thankyou to Albie Coetzee at the New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs. I'm not sure why it feels so good. Perhaps it's the sheer novelty of being able to have two passports.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

banana puja

The sweet smelling incense sticks were impaled thoughfully into the pair of small bruised bananas nestling together on the dashboard. Freshly pujad the taxi was taking me across a strangely becalmed Bangalore, to the airport. The traffic seemed almost peaceful and we passed a tranquil, round park caught in the slanting 5.30pm sun's rays where a few large family groups gathered under trees boasting bright pink blossom. Yellow flowered borders meandered around it all. I savoured the leisurely drive through the city as I had savoured the mediocre vegetable biriyani at the railway station. It was all beautiful.

In response to my enquiry as to whether or not there was some kind of holiday which might explain the quiet traffic the driver simply looked at his watch and tried again to add Rs25 to the previously agreed fare. I glared into the rearview mirror at him.

At the airport no-one had heard of a flight with my number. The airport staff seemed to believe the date was the 16th, not the 15th which it actually was. Having won that dispute I had still to wait for the Singapore airlines staff to arrive an hour later to clear up the confusion and ascertain that all was fine, I was on the flight but it was leaving 3 hours late and had a different number to that on my ticket.

Now at slick Changi Airport in Singapore. A bigger contrast to India might be possible to find but only if all the staff here had antennae and scooped insects from the air with their tongues as a passtime.

Looking forward to Sydney and catching up with Mum and Sis, hearing about their trip and also to a Sunday morning practice at ashtanga yoga space in Paddington. Laid back Aussie hols are looking good.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Today is my 'day off'.

This is a good thing because a) the randomly picked hotel here in Panjim (Elite Lodge - don't go there. Clearly I am a sucker for a fresh paint job and a ludicrously unlikely name) was of the 'too grubby to unroll your mat' variety and b) the hotel here in Panjim was also of the 'the mattress is infested with something and you can't sleep for scratching all night' variety. It was also c) of the R150/night, noisy with no glass in the windows variety. So, I am a bit tired. This was the reason that I stared at the menu in the restaurant this morning for a little while longer than might be reasonable. Not, as the kind man opposite me assumed, because I just got here and cannot imagine what the words Masala Dosa might mean once on a plate.

Getting the plane back to Bangalore today feels like it might be a relief. For the first time since I have been in India I have a sensation like leaving might be a little bit of a relief in fact. Could just be the tiredness though.

Aaaaah. 5 days in Mysore. Probably just go to the pool and have a little reflect on the whole thing I think. I have done my pre-tanning for Australia here in Goa and the Southern Star will facilitate the post-pretan phase prior to fully prone pigmentation promotion. Of which there will be much. I might have to fend off the sister's attempts to get me out clubbing loads as the mornings are precious for practice.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Gabby Gabby Gabby

She is a great teacher - why does she have to be based in such a dodgy part of India?

Rupee for Rupee I would say that she offers the best value ashtanga ANYWHERE on the planet. The shala is a bamboo hut set in a small gully looking out onto Little Vagator beach. Perfect. There is a very small group of people with a very laid back non-ego unhyped european/south american type ambience. That is great (know what I mean....?;=). She is a very observant, committed and energetically minded teacher. No bullshit about this lady. Awesome.

Serious yoga. But ya gotta put up with Vagator and environs.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

fly blown Goa

There is a very fly blown juice bar in Chapora frequented by sweaty junkies, and the juices aren't bad. Set dankly amongst the layers of grime, tat, commercialism and history that make up places like this some 4 centuries after European powers arrived the juice bar churns out R25 treats customers for whom an early morning means 1pm.

Once villages, now holiday camps of a very specific type, these communities have simply had to adapt and live with the hoards who keep coming in ever increasing numbers in the now invisible wake of the first Hippy visitors of the late 60s and early 70s who arrived when this was still a viable fishing community.

I'm staying in Vagator which is still party central but with more of a breeze and less outright debauchery visible to the naked eye. On the upside we have here a great yoga teacher in the person of Gabriella Pascoli who is aided and complemented by her assistant Michael. I've never had so much input in 1 class. Sometimes both of them are on you at once. The perfect antidote to Mysore where the numbers of students involved make any meaningful teaching continuity impossible in the short term. Thank god!

The main question that has crossed my mind in the last couple of days is:

'Where in the world can one go to practice and learn Ashtanga and find a grounded and truly peaceful environment too?'

One could reply that yoga (like Ind-yah) is a state of mind. Indeed. However, as suggestible as the next person I have to admit to being influenced by the world around me. And it doesn't always feel that great.

Yesterday, after too much sun and beach the previous day, I went to the fabulously airconditioned multiplex cinema in Panaji, the European tinged capital of Goa, to see Casino Royale with Daniel Craig having a stab at 007. You know what? In contrast to the last effort, which was directed by Lee Tamahori, it's pretty good! Formulaic by definition of course but also fresh and up to date, without too much play on the gadgets (the fx crew seems to have realised like the rest of the world that, yes, the mobile phone is actually taking over every function known to humankind) and enough sharp edged self referencing humour to spice up the cliches. More like that please.