Monthly Archives: March 2013

Mayonnaise

We are slowly making the transition back from India.  It is funny how we had an incredibly hard time there at first and then we found our feet and now we are having trouble adjusting to being back home.  Alex and I have developed an acute need for coconuts!  Part of our readjusting is getting the house back in order and running smoothly again.  A big part of that is restocking my fridge and pantry with all my essentials.  I cleaned out the fridge completely before we left.  It felt good to get all the crap out and start clean when we arrived home.  So now, one of those things the fridge needed was mayonnaise.  Mayonnaise seems to have developed a bad rap over the years.  No one likes it.  If you only eat the crap that they sell in the store, I don’t blame you.  However, I use mayonnaise for a surprisingly large number of things; its current most important function is a necessary ingredient in my homemade vinaigrette (I have to confess that I use America’s Test Kitchen’s recipe.  They are like crack for cooks, just start with their recipes you will never ever stop and then when you do use another recipe you will be mad that it does not measure up to the same precision and wonderfulness that theirs does, but I digress….).  It really just pulls it together and makes it a tasty dressing for my salads.  I would argue that it is one of those fantastic kitchen staples that takes no time to make and it is just too delicious to ever buy store bought again! I admit to possibly liking the spatula when it doesn’t all fit into the designated jar.  So on that note, here we go!

Continue reading Mayonnaise

Jetlag and daylight saving

Nothing quite like being up with a jetlagged toddler at 3 a.m. Alex has some ideas on that too…..

 

Being 12 hours jetlagged makes for a really mind-bending experience, and such experiences are very good subjects to describe!

For Walter, it’s actually pretty easy, because he has bi-phasic sleep. He sleeps twice a day, so his sleep schedule naturally allows for a 12-hour time change – his afternoon nap is longer and it’s dark outside, and his nighttime sleep is shorter and the sun is up. Not a big deal, actually, which is part of why Walter did fantastic in India and didn’t really get overly sleepy and cranky that first week.

For those of us with single-phase sleep, however, it’s a pretty massive jump. When we flew to India, the sun set on us twice during 12 hours. When we came back, it was in the sky for over 24 hours, which is even longer than the longest day on the north pole.

It so happens that we were in India during the US daylight saving time change, and the clocks don’t change in India. The stats: India is GMT +5:30. and Pacific is GMT -8:00 in the winter and GMT -7:00 in the spring. That means heading east, we stashed 13 hours and 30 minutes in the DST bank, and on our way home, they gave us back only 12 hours and 30 minutes. (I guess they charge some hidden fees!)

It doesn’t seem like you’d notice that one lost hour, if you were away when the clocks actually changed, and it was a week ago that it happened. Can we really tell the difference between a 12:30 mindwarp and a 13:30 one? I would have guessed we’d completely miss the usual DST-induced jetlag, just a bit of noise in the signal.

But here’s what Eva and I both felt this morning: the sun rose later than it should have. If you were here for the DST change, the clocks jumped ahead, so the clock also showed a late time when the sun rose. Are we actually feeling the daylight saving loss on top of the jetlag? Sunrise went from 6:30 in India to 7:20 here, so I think we’re confused by what the clock says, and the DST change actually matters. I guess you also feel the same way if you travel far east or west in China, where they have only one wide timezone.

It also was dark longer last night. We got up before dawn every day in Mysore and got used to how long it took to get light. In my case, I was always practicing at the yoga shala at dawn. Now that we’ve gone further North, the daylight time is 9 minutes less. That’s not much, and it’s hard to think that would have an effect, but maybe we’re feeling that too?

There are actually a lot of changes that contribute to the disorientation this morning. For one, we went back in time one season, from almost summer to almost spring. We forgot how to wear sweaters and Walter doesn’t seem to remember socks very clearly, not having seen them in a month. Life moves faster, everything looks perfect, everyone is white. There are no animals in the street except the ones on leashes, which means the cars are more dangerous when we cross the street (they go fast and expect no obstructions in the road).

Of course we really feel the day-became-night change. It’s just so unnatural to add an extra 1/2 rotation to the earth overnight. But there was so much travel (1am to 8pm yesterday plus 12:30 is 31.5 hours) that I was ready to sleep last night, and we slept a nearly normal amount. So I think we’ll make it up just as quickly as a return trip from London.

I guess my summary is: the culture change and the DST change seem just as disorienting this morning as losing a night and half of sleep and being on the opposite side of the Earth.

To add one more insight: even if you don’t ever travel, it was pretty strange for our bodies when they changed the start and end dates for DST. I want to think it’s spring now, because it used to be close to spring when the clocks changed. But it’s still not light for enough hours to be spring. So that’s one way the clock can mess you up.

PS: it was nice having the moon still behave the same in India. That and the same gravity was all that made it feel like we stayed on the same planet.

Highlights from Conference (3.10.13)

Alex wanted to cover some interesting things Sharath talked about in conference last week. 🙂 So here we go….

I asked, how much should we encourage friends and family in their yoga practice? Practical answer: let them observe your practice, answer their questions, and then let their curiosity and inclinations lead them. Sharath talked about how Guruji never advertised, and that was critical to his success. Like the honey in a flower, the bees just came to find him. He laughed a bit about Guruji being honey. It’s interesting that there are Sharath and Saraswathi posters in California and I’m sure New York as well. But Sharath doesn’t claim to be the guru.

Asked “is it okay while here to practice extra postures in the changing room” he replied with a nicely stated “absolutely not.” If you already know the postures, why come study with a teacher? There was then a sizeable lecture about the relationship with the teacher. This brought another Guruji reference: how he had an aura of light coming from him due to his accumulated amrita bindu [http://suzanneelsafty.com/2011/12/23/conference-the-true-purpose-of-asana-4th-december-2011/]. You can’t get an aura along with your certificate at yoga teacher training, he added.

He also talked about Guruji when asked, how do you continue to learn after the master has left? He answers that though the teacher is gone, the teachings remain, and that he has observed the large June full moon and thought that as the moon follows you wherever you go, but you cannot reach it, so it is now for him with Guruji.

Very interesting answer to an obsure question about beginning vs. advanced series. First, he clarifies that they’re essentially the same, it’s just that for a sadhaka who is more flexible or strong or has better balance, they take more challenging asanas. Even those doing half-primary are doing real Yoga. But also a more personal illumination: when Sharath practices Kapotasana, it’s not the same as when one of the students practices it. It’s not that he’s egoistic about it, rather, he has a different experience while in the pose than others have. He becomes fully absorbed in the posture, and doesn’t know where he is. I suppose as a result of incredible focus. He told the story of his first demo in the US, where he was to perform some asanas for a crowd of 500. A friend asked if he was nervous, but he laughed that no, he wouldn’t have any idea the audience was there.

Last question: should one practice at a shala [presumably with an authorized teacher] or at home? Sharath gives no guidance, it’s totally at your discretion.

Bangalore

We had quite a weekend in Bangalore!  We went up to go a Alex, co-worker’s wedding.  We thought a full on India wedding was not to be missed!  Alex and I wanted to relay the experience in a bit more depth than we normally do so we split the writing up.  Alex wrote about the taxi ride (and took the pictures) and I wrote about the wedding so enjoy!

Taxi Ride to Bangalore*

The taxi driver arrived a bit early, and helpfully loaded our luggage and Walter’s pack-n-play into the trunk of his compact car. We left for Bangalore feeling good, and soon Walter napped on me in the backseat as we went through Mandya and smaller towns. We stopped in Channapatna for a wooden toy, which the town produces in huge numbers, and found a train with spinning letters. For whatever reason, the words are in Spanish and Walter proceeded to destroy it in about two days flat.  So much for good quality!

As we got into Bangalore, we followed a similar route as we had from the airport when we first arrived. I assumed the driver had picked a route, having gotten the address in advance from Ganesh (the taxi company guy/storage guy/owner of Anu’s cafe/other stuff). He probably studied it a bit, since Bangalore is a mish-mash of small streets, complex intersections, and big signs with traffic laws.

We opted to go local, and not take the air conditioning (which costs an extra ₹500). We were pretty warm by noon, and Walter was now awake and cranky and wanted to get out of the car. Eva felt a bit like she wanted to pass out.  We passed into denser parts of Bangalore, inching past buses that were inches away, and into downtown, near the Mahatma Gandhi road and train station, and packed markets.

Later, we learned those were not places on the way to our destination, which was lunch with friends of friends from Sunnyvale. Instead, the driver apparently started by going into the center of the city, then phoning for help, which he did a lot. Then he asked rikshaw drivers as we waited at traffic signals. They gave us quick answers, but I think that might have been to get rid of us. The driver started calling our host, speaking quickly in Kannada, and I could only hope this stranger on the other end of the phone was talented enough to help our driver get closer to the address rather than further. Sometimes he stopped and got out to seek help. I felt helpless as the data connection on our phones wasn’t working, and I couldn’t help.

We snaked through Bangalore’s crazy Indian streets for about an hour, and finally through the window comes a smile from our hosts as we arrived. Walter flew out of the car and we settled in to seat in the beautiful living room, with backs sweaty from the seat without air flow.

Lunch was fantastic. It was a brief rest on our journey to my co-worker’s wedding, in another part of town about 20 minutes away. They have a nice courtyard with a fish pond that Walter enjoyed, and fed us very tasty food from the Goa area.

Before leaving, I rebooted my phone and the data started working, so I opened Google Maps and also the map of the wedding location. That map was clearly meant for the old style of navigation: it wasn’t to scale and mostly hinted at the major roads and where the landmarks are to find turns. I imagine that’s how the locals think about navigation, but I couldn’t find the same place on Google Maps. With some help from our hosts I stuck a star on the map, and that was my lifeline as we called Nagaraj back from his lunch and got back in the car.

Now I sat in front, and fired up the navigation app in Google Maps. Nagaraj was amazed and asked “this dot is my car?” I held the phone for him; when I said “it’s getting low on battery” he quickly grabbed his charging cable. The phone was now his lifeline to avoid getting lost and he moved extraordinarily quickly to make sure he didn’t lose it! We followed the directions, winding through dusty streets and narrow alleys, and amazingly we arrived at the wedding hall in only 20 minutes.

I felt a little bad as we drove back to Mysore the next day. Nagaraj asked how much this phone costs, and we told him about ₹26,000. That’s about 9 times the amount he was paid to drive us for two days (including petrol). I imagine that’s several months earnings for him, so on his next taxi job, he’ll probably have to resort to rikshaw driver navigation.

The Wedding**

We arrived at the wedding hall which was in a local convention center of sorts.  The security guy stopped us at the gate with a very concerned look on his which basically said, “what exactly are YOU doing here?”  We told him that we were here for the Karthik and Harshihta wedding and went inside.  Luckily, Harshihta’s father came out and told the security guard that we were indeed their for his daughter’s wedding.  He offered us some delicious coffee and showed us to our room.  The room was positively luxurious!  The beds were soft and there was AIR CONDITIONING!!  We all plopped down on the bed and just lay there watching Super Why with Walter on his iPad.

The wedding was to be in two different parts (well there were a couple more, but we were going to do the two main parts): the reception in the evening and then the puja the next day at 11:15 a.m. which was an auspicious time for the couple.  So after we finished resting, I took a shower and started to get ready.  I had used the wedding as a fantastic excuse to buy myself a sari.  One of my favorite things about India is seeing all the beautiful saris that the women wear.  The colors are fantastic and the dressy ones tend to have lots and lots of sparkles on them.  Harshihta’s sari was just beautiful, but must have weighed a lot with all the sparkles!  I bought a beautiful turquoise one with gold and sliver sparkles on it.  I even got bangles to match (5 for each arm as instructed by our rickshaw driver, Appu)!

However, I had no idea how to put it on.  So I asked around and one of the women across the hall from our room volunteered to help.  As we quickly discovered, I am actually too tall for a normal sari, but with some expert pinning she managed to make it work and it didn’t fall off (which was the important part!).  She also had to have it sit rather low on my hips so I was quite glad that my mid-section had several weeks of hard core yoga and a reduced diet due to the Indian heat!

Alex put Walter in his cute outfit and we made our way downstairs.  Karthik and Harshihta were on stage with many, many flowers and it looked like a line was forming to take pictures with them.  The line was already getting long so we decided that we should get in it sooner than later.  This gave me a chance to check out the rest of the women’s saris; checking out the clothes is always a favorite part of any event.  They did not disappoint!  The color were just so rich and the saris seems to be made most of a heavy silk.  The patterns on the silk were lovely also.  The colors just popped.  Each of the women also had matching bangles and several heavy gold necklaces on that complemented the sari.  I so enjoyed watching all those women (well in between chasing Walter around, toddlers do not stand in lines well!).  My sari seemed to be in a different style than the rest – it was not silk, made of a much lighter chiffon type material with more sparkles.  As on of the women who helped me get dressed told me, “next time you buy silk sari, you are lean, you wear silk, your sari is for when you get fat.”  So now I know what to do next time! However, I love my sari and intend to try to find times to wear it at home too.

Once we gave our congratulations to the bride and groom, we made our way out to the food.  Ohmygoodness!  There were many buffet tables set up with all sorts of delicious looking things on them.  So I stood in line while Alex followed Walter around and sampled as much as I could.  It was quite tasty.  For the last couple of weeks, Alex and I have been eating less because it is so darn hot that you just don’t feel like eating and our practices are much better the next day if you don’t stuff yourself the day before.  So at a buffet, our initial inclination was to taste everything and eat lots, but we just couldn’t quite manage it.  I wasn’t quite sure what to think.  We wondered around a bit and let Walter explore some more.  We found the kids corner where the little ones ran around being chased by their dads.  Alex ran into another co-worker of his and chatted with him.  By then, we were pretty tired from the day and it was long past our normal bedtime of 7:30 p.m. So we headed upstairs to collapse into our very soft beds (for those of your not experienced with India, the beds here seem to all have very thin mattresses that aren’t particularly soft for those used to pillow top American mattresses).

We woke up the next morning, got dressed and made our way downstairs with the intent of going out to look for some breakfast.  However, we had no idea where to go.  Walter wanted to go exploring more so we followed him right into the dining hall and saw that breakfast was being served.  We weren’t really sure though if the breakfast was just for the wedding party or what exactly.  I often find myself attempting to navigate social customs on this trip that I just don’t have any idea what the ground rules are so I do a combination of feeling out the situation and just plain asking.  So in the breakfast situation, I started looking for one of the ladies that had helped me with my sari.  I saw one and then as I was working up the courage to go ask, a man came by and said, “You go sit there.”  So we sat, grateful that we were going to get some breakfast without trying to go find it!  Oh and what a breakfast it was. 🙂  Dosas, tasty dipping sauces, something like a savory donut and sorts of other things that I can’t name.  Then afterwards there was the tasty coffee and chai too.  It is possible that I was slightly more caffeinated than normal that morning….After breakfast we went back upstairs, got re-dressed and re-saried and then went back downstairs to see the pujas start.  I have been to one Indian wedding in Houston before so I knew that during this part you were welcome to watch, but most people would mill around and talk.  So we did, we watched for a bit, chased Walter for a bit and then even convinced him to sit in a chair and watch (well Alex let him play with the camera, but only if he was in the chair on his bum).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then we learned (from one of my sari ladies), that once this puja ended the married couples were to make their way onstage to put rice on the couple to bless them.  So we watched for people to line up and then got in line with Walter.  Just as we got to the stage, Walter scratched a blood blister on his face and started bleeding profusely.  I freaked out and then three of us ran upstairs to our room to get cotton balls to try and stop the bleeding.  There is something about lots of blood coming out my child that just sets me into freakout and must protect my baby mode.  After about a half an hour of fighting with Walter to keep the cotton ball on his face to be able to apply pressure, it stopped bleeding.  We successfully applied a band-aid (Walter currently loves stickers so Alex told him it was a “special sticker” to go on his face and he actually left it alone – amazing dad skills!).  By this time, we were hungry for lunch and I was just wiped out emotionally.  We made out way downstairs and lunch was in full swing.  We sat back to watch and realized that people seemed to be eating in shifts.  So Alex went off to try and locate our taxi driver (we decided that after lunch it was time to go home, we were wiped) and I staked out a spot near what looked like the beginning of the tables to do the shift change.  Walter was exhausted from his bleeding ordeal and went to sleep while I held him.

Once one of the chairs opened up near me, I sat down with Walter and just waited and watched.  Once the table, where I was seated, was done, the server came along and rolled up the butcher paper, banana leaves and food remains into a neat ball.  Then the next person came by and laid down clean butcher paper, followed by clean banana leaves and a cup of water.  You are supposed to take the water and use your hands to sprinkle it on the banana leaves, clean it with your hands and then shake the banana leaf to remove the water.  Then the food procession began.  Each server had a steel bucket and put a dollop of something on our banana leaf.  At some point, I got hungry and started eating, but the food keep coming.  We weren’t quite sure when it would stop, but it was fascinating to see what would come next.  Alex chatted with the ladies next to us about the food and we ate until we were quite full.  Then we paid our respects to the bride and groom and found our taxi driver to take us home!  I have to say, I was quite glad to see Mysore again.  Mysore is still overwhelming at times, but Bangalore was even more overwhelming!

*by my wonderful husband, Alex.
** back to me doing the writing!