Nine signs that I’m in Hilo, my hometown

1. A Hilo downpour There’s nothing like falling asleep to the loud drumbeat of a Hilo rainstorm. In a downpour, you’d be soaked in a minute. When I moved to Vancouver, I was a bit disappointed with the misty drizzle, blowing into my face and frizzing my hair, lacking the satisfaction of palpable pounding raindrops. Since Hilo’s average annual rainfall is 130 inches, people assume that it’s raining all the time. But Hilo’s showers alternate with brilliant sunshine. Big rain, big sun. No wishy-washy weather here. 2. Using the human bank teller Living on the mainland, I use ATMs almost … Continue reading Nine signs that I’m in Hilo, my hometown

Top 10 things about Winnipeg

Two weeks ago, I traveled to Winnipeg, the capital of Manitoba, for the first time. I knew little about Canada’s “Gateway to the West.” I’ve met a few people who grew up here. I remember a movie, My Winnipeg, that screened at the Vancouver Film Festival several years ago. That’s about it. Well, my first impression was very positive, Travelling can be really fun and it can help you to get more positive. (Winnipeg in December might have been a different story.) My Winnipeg top 10: Continue reading Top 10 things about Winnipeg

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 Kong, Israel, Mexico, Singapore, Chile, Colombia, and South Africa. The Indian students were local, i.e., Indian citizens, mostly Pune residents. In terms of race/ethnicity, the majority of foreigners were Caucasian. There were some Asians and Hispanics; I saw no blacks or people of African descent. The gender ratio was relatively balanced, with about a 60/40 … 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 asking me about my trip; I’ll stop thinking about it. Time marches on. So, before I forget, here’s a two-part post on “what it’s like” at RIMYI, dedicated to other first-timers. I’ll post the second half next week, so feel free to ask any burning questions before … 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 a suitcase stocked with favorite foods, such as Brazil nuts, and her OdorKlenz Sports which she can’t find in India. Others want luggage space to bring home yoga props, books, textiles, cookware, or souvenirs. I asked people, “Can I find rolled oats in Pune?” since oatmeal … 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 life is amplified and multiplied. The noise, the air, the population, the traffic, the rain and wind and humidity! Since I stay with a friend, however, I was generally shielded from the struggles of daily life. Take food. I’ve raved about the cooking of Abelin, my friend’s wonderful housekeeper. She’s … 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 was treated to a wonderful impromptu Odissi dance done for me. In Mumbai, Hemali Talsania, the Bravo Bombay tour guide I met in July, invited me to her home south of Crawford Market. Amid narrow, bustling lanes that confused even my cab driver, her house is an old, … Continue reading Odissi, Ganesh, and complexity of Indian culture

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). 1. Large chain stores come with a price Large-scale retailers, such as The Bombay Company, are spacious, clean, and luxuriously air conditioned. Bear in mind, however, that you might pay higher prices and you cannot return or exchange purchases. (At Fabindia I was surprised that I … 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 be solitary, to go inward. I didn’t feel like embarking on a five-hour road trip twice in three days. I also wanted to head to Mumbai sooner, definitely before Ganesh Chaturthi. Still, I figured that I “should” go and see the caves. On second thought, however, … Continue reading What to do, where to go: further “adjusting” in India