The yoga hand

The “yoga foot” has been much studied, taught, debated, and photographed. But what about the “yoga hand”? A few weeks ago, I was practicing yoga with my friend Sharmeen. She observed one of my standing poses and suddenly asked, “Why are your fingers spread apart like that?” Surprised, I exited the pose. “You mean like this?”…… Continue reading The yoga hand

What it’s like at RIMYI (Part II)

Note: This post continues my “self interview” about RIMYI. Read Part I first. Was the student population diverse? Based on my unscientific observations during August 2014, the biggest contingent was from Italy. I met dozens of Italians and many British and French. I met a handful each from the US, Canada, and Japan, and others from Germany, Australia, Spain, Russia, Hungary, Hong…… Continue reading What it’s like at RIMYI (Part II)

What it’s like at RIMYI (Part I)

Since flying home two weeks ago, my temporary life in Pune already feels distant–long ago, far away, a parallel world that words cannot quite describe. Once back, my mind switched to the here and now, the immediate stuff of life. Sooner than I probably realize, my memories of RIMYI and India will grow fuzzy, however vivid they once were. People will stop…… Continue reading What it’s like at RIMYI (Part I)

Packing wisely

Before my nearly seven-week trip to Pune, Bombay, and London, I debated about luggage. Initially I planned to travel light: rolling carry-on, plus computer backpack and messenger bag. In chatting with colleagues, however, I decided to bring a 26-inch check-in suitcase. One friend always packs important items  such as survival tools in her carry-on bag, but checks in…… Continue reading Packing wisely

London: civilization as I know it

I love London! On my first day, I was in fantasy land. How can streets and sidewalks be this clean? Where’s the garbage, poop, and unidentifiable muck? Why are cars stopping for pedestrians? Tap water is drinkable and power outages rare? In India I spent my final week in Mumbai. This city is incomparably larger than Pune–and urban…… Continue reading London: civilization as I know it

Odissi, Ganesh, and complexity of Indian culture

India has long intrigued the Western imagination. Ancient, colorful, and intense, it is a beacon to those seeking a place unlike anywhere else. People often rave about the country’s “exotic” culture and downplay its negatives, such as rampant corruption and abysmal infrastructure. But even the culture, as practiced today, is thorny. Here are two examples. First, on Ganesh Chaturthi, I…… Continue reading Odissi, Ganesh, and complexity of Indian culture

A few thoughts on solitude and solo travel

In Pune, few RIMYI students live alone, as I chose to do. Most share apartments with other students, either friends or strangers, while a few stay at hotels like the Chetak or Ambience. Every option has its risks, especially for first timers, but I decided that after a day among 150+ classmates, it would be a relief to…… Continue reading A few thoughts on solitude and solo travel

10 tips for touring Pune

During the first three weeks of August, I rarely ventured beyond the neighborhood around RIMYI. In the past week, I’ve gone shopping and sightseeing with Nana, a favored rickshaw driver who became my informal tour guide, insider source, and translator. Going around Pune, I noticed a few things (including this orange billboard featuring Mr Iyengar).…… Continue reading 10 tips for touring Pune

What to do, where to go: further “adjusting” in India

RIMYI is closed until September. No more classes for us August students. Suddenly, the purpose of my trip, yoga, was gone–at least in the way I’d expected. At first I agreed to join my Canadian colleagues on a three-night trip to Ellora and Ajanta. That wasn’t my first inclination. I wanted still to practice daily, to…… Continue reading What to do, where to go: further “adjusting” in India

Farewell, Mr Iyengar

Walking toward RIMYI just after noon, I saw a crowd blocking the street. Just outside the gate, an ambulance was parked. Soon I heard chanting, and five or six men, draped in white cloth, came carrying the body of BKS Iyengar, adorned with flowers, high on a stretcher. I went alone, not knowing what to expect. Suddenly I was swept along with…… Continue reading Farewell, Mr Iyengar

Acquiring a taste for Indian food

In the past three weeks, I’ve eaten more Indian food than ever in my life. Truth be told, Indan was never among my favorite cuisines. Perhaps because I grew up eating Japanese food, I prefer lighter preparations, vegetables that resemble their original form, translucent sauces, and plain rice. Folks seem to gravitate toward unfamiliar cuisines just because they’re “different,” but to me that’s…… Continue reading Acquiring a taste for Indian food