Thursday, March 31, 2005


The 1960 classic Mughal-e-Azam, recently colourised, opens tomorrow at the Des Plaines Theatre (1/2 hour from Chicago; the Metra train station is less than a block away from the theatre). It's a rare chance to see it on the big screen; apparently it boasts the best and most moving music our friend Bindi has ever heard in an Indian fillum. So clear out three hours (plus an hour for the r/t commute) and go. Timings and directions are at

It seems there was a strike, and Mysore (12-ish hours ahead of us) was shut down today. Something tells me it was business as usual at the Ashtanga Yoga Nilam. From today's Star of Mysore (


Mysore, Mar. 31 (BLU&BRS)- Majority of traders in the heart of the city and extensions downed shutters today to observe bandh in response to the call given by All India Federation of Traders Association demanding modifications in VAT (Value Added Tax) system. The State Government is implementing VAT from tomorrow.

Consumers dependent on the shops for their many daily needs were left to fend for themselves.

They could be seen swarming around a few shops which were kept half-open in the morning.

Residents of Agrahara, Nanjumalige, Vidyaranyapuram and surrounding areas, took the brunt of the bandh. These areas witnessed curfew-like atmosphere in many thoroughfares.

However, hotels, drug stores, liquor shops and cinema halls conducted their business as usual.

Business establishments in major commercial areas like Devaraj Urs road, Sayyaji Rao Road, Shivarampet, Old Bank Road, Ashoka Road, Irwin Road, Dhanvanthri Road and Gandhi Square remained closed.

Nearly a thousand businessmen took out a procession from K.R. Circle to DC's office at noon holding placards. A delegation of the traders submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner.

The memorandum urged the Government to raise the turnover ceiling for VAT from Rs. 10 lakh to Rs. 25 lakh.

It also urged the Government to suspend harsh measures like fine and punishment for violation of VAT during the first two years. It said it was not proper for implementing VAT in some States while sparing others.

The memorandum also opposed imposition of other Central and State taxes along with VAT.

The procession was led by Mysore Chamber of Commerce and Industry President H.N. Ramathirtha, Hon. Secretary A.S. Satish, Mysore Grain Merchants Association President C. Krishnappa, APMC Grain Merchants Association Director C. Narayan and others.

The bandh at APMC in Bandi-palya badly hit the farmers who had come along with their commodities.

The vendors of perishables such as flowers, fruits and vegetables at the locations of their daily business, however, carried on their trade without any hindrance.

The consumers heaved a sigh of relief for the small mercies shown by at least a section of traders.

Meanwhile, some shops on Devaraj Urs Road opened after the procession passed through. Some activists, supporting the bandh, were seen forcing them to down the shutters.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005


TS Eliot said that April is the cruelest month.

And most of us would agree that February is the coldest.

But March is definitely the longest -- at least here in the Midwest.

I know this because on yet another dank, sunless day, my usually chipper yoga students will complain about the cold and snow -- again -- and ask why they have no energy.

"Because it's March," I tell them. "There’s no sun."

And as the month draws to a blustery, dark close, the students who aren’t out sick will start saying some very non-yogic things -- like "I hate March" and "Will this effing month never end?"

I see their point. They made it through February and are waiting for their reward. But this is Chicago. There is no reward.

It doesn’t matter whether March comes in like a lion or a lamb or some other Biblical creature. Because it always sticks around like a leech.

In March the average temperature in Chicago is 37 degrees, and 18 of the month’s 31 days are cloudy -- second only to December’s 19. And this year March began with Mother Nature dropping a bomb of snow on the city.

Sure, the first day of spring was on the 21st. But no one noticed.

And yes, there is always a day or two when the sun comes out and the temperature hovers near 50 and fratboys don shorts and blind us with their fat white winter legs.

The next day it will snow, of course, and the shorts and spring jackets will go back into storage (the baseball caps stay out of course).

But in March the snow never sticks around long enough to look pretty. Instead it stays just long enough to mix with the salt and dirt and turn the entire city an even more depressing shade of gray.

March is like a relationship that’s on its last legs but won’t give up the ghost. Both partners are compelled to flog it to death until the bitter end, making themselves and everyone around them completely miserable.

A week later the sun will come out again -- kind of like a wayward lover promising to do better. And he does for a day. And then goes back to his irritating old tricks.

Is it any coincidence that the third month inspired the terms Mad as a March Hare and March Madness? That last term isn’t about basketball -- it’s about losing it during a winter that never ends. This year alone sets a new record for random acts of insanity. On March 12 Brian Nichols killed three people outside an Atlanta courthouse. The next day Terry Ratzmann opened fire at Living Church of God in suburban Milwaukee, killing seven. On March 21, Red Lake High School student Jeff Weise killed ten people, including himself. Two days later a man opened fire at a plumbing store in Arlington Heights, Illinois (he missed). And on the 24th, Rockford, Illinois’ Michael W. Mitchell brandished a box cutter and tried to steal a gun from a store in Florida, so he could "take some action and rescue Terri Schiavo." (At least the Midwest is well represented here).

In early Roman times March was the first month of year, named for Mars -- the god of war -- and was actually designated "the time for resumption of war" (which apparently still holds true, seeing as how the US invaded Iraq two Marches ago).

Mostly, though, March just befuddles people -- like the woman with the $300 haircut who walked past me at Jewel grocery store the other day, wearing a flowered rayon skirt, stylish pink jacket ... and salt-covered winter boots.

Like me, she was sick and tired of wearing the same old down jacket and corduroy jeans.

So maybe I’ll defy the weather, too, and break out the miniskirt and combat boots.

After all, the cruelest month is just around the corner.

Saturday, March 26, 2005


This morning's Mysore class was marred by the existence of two Futzers (people who dawdle), two Researchers (people who prep and prep and prep -- often with second series poses -- before going into a primary series pose) and two Free-Formers (there have been some minor skirmishes here between straight-up Mysore folks, who go by the book -- the book being Yoga Mala -- and those who see fit to add and subtract from and otherwise "improve" upon the practice of ashtanga yoga in their so-called Mysore classes... which means you get many different interpretations of the practice in Chi-town). In any case the Free-Formers were across from me, which meant there was no Dristi or inward focus but much marveling at their unique versions of the primary series... which in one case meant no vinyasa whatsoever, loud, earth-shaking jumping and backbend after inversions -- and which included Garudasana (Eagle pose) and various power yoga moves rarely performed outside of NYC's Om and Jivamukti studios.

At least there weren't any Locomotives (those distracting practitioners -- usually male -- who have no apparent inhale and force out their loud, short, violent exhale like Thomas the Tank Engine negotiating a steep, steep hill).

That said, it was good to practice at all, what with the sore back, tight hamstrings, hint of a cold and a demoralizing week dealing with Editors Who Can't Stand Me. (Did anyone else notice that yesterday was a full moon, Good Friday, Purim *and* the Hindu holiday of Holi? And earlier in the week it was the Persian and Bah'ai New Year!). So I could barely go into backbend today -- At least I was there. And, in the neverending month that is March (more on that soon), sometimes that's enough....

Thursday, March 24, 2005

(or, why worry about foreign terrorists, when the homegrown version is so effective?)

Am I mistaken, or have more people been going postal of late:

February 24
David Hernandez Arroyo, Sr., using an an AK-47, kills two (inlcuding his ex-wife) in a Tyler, Texas courthouse rampage before being gunned down by police

Februay 28
Bart Ross kills Chicago Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow's mother and husband (this occurred about two miles northeast of Satya's house).

March 12
Brian Nichols kills at least three people at an Atlanta courthouse.

March 13
Milwaukee-area loner Terry Ratzmann opens fire at the Living Church of God, killing seven (including himself)

March 21
16-year-old high school student Jeff Weise goes Columbine, killing ten (including himself) in Red Lake Minnesota

It's interesting that the Midwest is so well-represented....One can't help but wonder if it's all the unfortunate result of a too-long and too-dark winter (March Madness coming home to roost) or too much TiVo or not enough yoga / other hobbies or a reflection of what the gov's doing overseas or what.....

*From Bush's Sept. 21, 2001 speech, -- the last time the rest of the world really, really liked U.S.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


Today while attempting pinca mayurasana (a forearm balance with the legs in the air), my legs went all the way over and I flipped onto my back, emitting a very loud "Oh!" in the process.

It was more surprising than painful, though.

One wonders if jumping back from the pose into caturanga dandasana could be so anticlimactic.

Doubt it.

Friday, March 18, 2005


A Review of Bride & Prejudice from The Times of India (and I thought all those local papers lacked bite):

"The film employs the worst pre-packaged cliches about 'natives' letting their hair down at assorted weddings, as a classy, uptight American gulps in embarrassment while discreetly eying the pale and lifeless daughter of a middle-class family in Amritsar. Of course, there are shots of the Golden Temple to thrill the cockles of Britain's nostalgic Sikh community. What? No snakes and snake charmers? Relax, there's a hilarious Cobra dance. "


My favourite new web site is (thanks, Bindi) -- featuring really sharp desi cartoons. To start, click on issue #71: "for that yoga flame").


Oh yeah. I ran into the Vexx yesterday morn.

No, wait, he was standing by my bike after I taught two classes in a row and came out of the Habitrail club in a haze.

He had to call out to me twice before I saw him.

Stalking? It was snowing.

Apparently he's now driving a Volvo wagon. Apparently That Woman has sold half her apt. to him. Apparently...

Funny, the cat just threw up. While I was writing that last "Apparently"

Apparently he sold the recording studio and works out of her living room.....I mean "their" living room.

Apparently there was some need to tell me all this.

Apparently that couldda been me.

Most definitely I am better off (although three of the five missing lbs have come back home to roost).

I got off some real zingers, too.


That episode aired (erred?), er, occurred just five days after Jack and I went out to dinner with his ex-galpal and her husband and his (comedy) partner and intern. They were smart and accomplished but not to the point where you feel like a dullard. We were eating Death by Nachos and discussing various theater susperstitions and David Foster Wallace, etc. when some Liquid Sky-looking chick walked in. All the male heads turned at once. Turns out they were looking at Jack's most recent vexing ex.

ME: "So THAT'S why you wanted me to dye my hair blonde and get it cut short!"

ME AGAIN: "My god, Jack -- Half the women in this place have b*nged you!"

AND (hey, I had The PMS): "She looks a little pinched."

He agreed to the last. And a good time was had by all.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005


Did the war in Iraq start on March 16 2003? I thought it had. But after a Google search, I'm not so sure. Some news sources say it began March 14 or 15, others claim March 20. I think it's actually March 19. I supect that the people of Iraq and certain war vets remember the date quite well.....but for my sake let's say 'twas March 16:

-Two years ago the US invaded Iraq (the current death toll is some 16,000 dead civilians and over 1500 US troops, etc)

-One year ago (a few days before I left India) I got that e-message telling me my most regular, lucrative and long-running (8 years) writing assigment was being handed to my sub.* Some highlights:

" I think it's time to make a transition to a new....writer, and this leave of absence is as good a time as any..... Bla bla bla......various reasons....Bla.... not least the benefits that arise from making change for its own sake...Bla.... don't in any way interpret this as punishment or retaliation for your having taken time off."


-This year I'm telling you that I'm teaching some 13 classes a week and my writing career is neither here nor there. I can barely go into backbend, let alone stand up from it.

That said, any yoga practice I can do is a godsend, the Shield is back on TV, the disheveled brothers are still in The Amazing Race and the Iraqi war vet has still not had a single flashback.

Except to old girlfriends.

Which is a whole 'nother story.....


*Who now apparenty works at CB2

Friday, March 11, 2005


Apparently my latest radio essay aired while I was teaching open yoga to 14 people (one pregnant, one of whom hightailed it out of there before giving her last name)..... which just about covers the $30 parking ticket I received from a one-legged man the minute the meter expired, just after class ended (I also slipped on some snow-covered ice just before class, and tumbled down a half-flight of stairs, injuring my right hip, wrist and shoulder....Even worse, Cher's "If I Could Turn Back Time" is now lodged in my brain... and, hopefully, yours too):

We were a bit short this morning, so your essay will be on around 10:30 this morning!
Sorry for the short notice…its unfortunately the nature of the business.  I do have a copy of Online Dating for you and will also get one for this essay as well.
Manju C.

The essay in question........

By Satya Cacananda

I was driving on the tollway towards Chicago when my brother called to tell me -- again -- that I had to leave the city and move somewhere decent.  He still lives in our hometown of McHenry out in the northwest suburbs , and calls me on my prepaid cell phone every time there's a scandal in the city.   Which is often. 

This time he was hopping mad about Jeffrey Boyle, the Chicago fire lieutenant suspected of setting fires. But he was also incensed with another Boyle brother -- John "Quarters" Boyle, who was charged last year with taking payoffs in the Trucks for Hire scandal.

Our conversation turned to Quarters' nickname, which he got  after being  convicted  of stealing $4 million in change from the Illinois Tollway Authority.

I told my brother I’d opened two rolls of pennies for this trip on the tollway, and was preparing to drop all 100 of them into the toll basket. 

I've been tossing pennies into the toll baskets for years out of principle -- the tollways were paid off long ago, and payments from motorists were supposed to be  temporary.   Pitching pennies is my one-woman protest, designed to make it as difficult and as expensive as possible for the state to take -- and transport -- my money. 

But I didn't get serious and start buying rolls of pennies until after the first of the year, when tolls doubled for drivers who paid in cash instead of using I-Pass. 

I brought home one of those  I-Pass devices.  But I don't like being coerced into having my movements tracked, even if it means paying double.  And when I opened up the box and saw how much information they wanted from me,  I decided to put off the transition as long as possible. 

I don't like anyone knowing what I'm up to -- that's one of the reasons I live in a big apartment building on a busy street.  But it doesn't stop there.  I   never use  an ATM card, and pay in cash whenever I can.  I buy magazines at the newsstand rather than subscribe.  The US Patriot Act makes it much easier for the government to track the library books and videos I borrow.   So I get what I can from friends.   "They"  can also track the TV shows we watch and the web sites we visit -- so of course I don't have TiVo or a cable modem. And when it was time to fill out the application for a Jewel Preferred Card,  I used the first two street names that came to mind and created  a whole new identity -- Lawrence J. Wacker.  After all, I don't want The Man to find out I don't eat meat.

My brother warned me that I'd better not put my name on this essay.   He said if I did, Homeland Security would be onto me in no time.

So this is Larry Wacker.  Reporting from corrupt, beautiful, laissez-faire Chicago. 

While she still can.

Thursday, March 10, 2005


The back is mending little by little what with help from the magical exercises in Pain Free (by Peter Egoscue, a big man with a moustache) and a visit to the chiro who's covering for my regular chiro. Turns out the new chiro's family's from Mumbai and his uncle is *a major producer of Bollywood fillums*. Although he's from Toronto and has never visited India, he's met every single star I named (all three of 'em) plus many I didn't. Can't wait to go back this afternoon....

That will be *after* a trip to Devon Avenue (street of Indian shops and restaurants).

Which reminds me. The competition to the Backwards R -- TimeOut Chicago -- has finally launched. It's coherent and easy-to-follow (unlike the re-designed, slightly dumbed-down Backwards R) and even has listings for kids' stuff... Not only that but you don't have to bend over (and throw out your back) to pick it up off the floor -- it comes right to your mailbox! ... yes, I'm kicking myself for not hitting 'em up for work after returning from India last year sans lucrative weekly Backwards R column. At the same time their movie listings are incomplete and the Backwards R covers things TOC would never even admit exist.......

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

(oh yeah)

Prior to Monday, I believed that people who "threw their back out" were full of sh*t; that the inevitable incapacitation and whining that came with it was a either a desperate cry for attention or a convenient excuse for breaking plans with me -- or both. Worse, I thought that if they were indeed in actual pain, it was their own fault for being stupid.

I take all of that back. Except for the last part. It IS probably quite foolish to repeatedly help tall, stiff yogi men drop back from standing into Backbend (and back up again, several times) when the entire time you're thinking, "This guy weighs too much! He's not ready for this. I'm not ready for this! Why did anyone ever start him on dropbacks? He should learn to walk down the wall instead, and open his own *&^%$#@ back......Why am I doing this? Mon dieu I hope my foot doesn't slip, and I fall on my tailbone! Please don't let my foot slip!" (There's less concern about Stiffy falling onto his head; having experienced this with Guruji in Mysore, I know it can be overcome. On the other hand, I'm still suffering the effects of a hard fall from Utthita Hasta Padangustasana onto my coccyx during a 1998 Mysore workshop, the trauma of which created an imbalance that has contributed to two hamstring pulls, wrist and knee pain, chronic S-I joint problems and thousands of dollars of therapy).

So yesterday while helping yet another Stiff Man back onto his head -- my least favorite part of the whole ordeal -- I felt something lock up somewhere around L3, and pain started shooting in every direction. Next thing I knew I was walking like Chaka from Land of the Lost. Every adjustment after that was a nightmare.

Ice, napping, exercises from Pain Free (a book that solved my chronic knee problem), liberal application of Traumeel (arnica) and the standing poses did little to help. While demonstrating the seated poses last night I was racked with pain -- particularly during the asanas with one leg straight, one bent. Tylenol PM and ice helped with sleep but as soon as it wore off it all came rushing back. *Now* I know what it feels like to be 40.

Of course the chiropractor is out of town.

And now my sad yoga practice is going to slip backwards even further...and when it finally resumes my hands will now be feet from my feet (rather than inches) in Kapotasana. Standing up from backbend? Not in this commercial! (In fact, doing it with splayed feet for 12 months probably contributed to this mess). Not that it's about *getting poses* or anything.

The good news is that I now have an excuse to get out of all and sundry obligations and spend some quality time sleeping in and bringing to the next level of intimacy my blossoming personal relationship with BBC America. And I'll hopefully command some much-needed attention in the process.....

Or so I think.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005


From Howard Hughes wannabe Steve Fossett's web site:

"Three days before this particular attempt, he will go on a low residue diet of protein orientated foods like eggs to ensure that nothing upsets his digestive system and to dispense with the worry and inconvenience of mid-air of bowel movements. He will also be equipped with a pee bottle and a supply of diet milkshakes - which are low residue yet nutricious."

Tuesday, March 01, 2005


No word yet on when the latest radio piece will air but today they did put on something by Aaron Freeman, one of the city's most ubiquitous and ________ writers (the "Council Wars" author's new stage show is running at the Apollo Theatre, next door to "Menopause the Musical"), so hopefully they've already run it or it's somewhere in the queue. As soon as I know I'll tell you. If not, I'll post the text here when I'm out of ideas.

In the past week:

-People in my class at the Fancy Seventies (lots of dark brown wood) Health Club on Sunday actually *listened* to what I said -- I doubt they've really gotten over their nasty habits of crossing their thumbs in V1, V2, Utkat and Parsvattonasana and sitting on their well-appointed arses and watching while I do vinyasas, *but* -- and afterwords a couple of 'em explained why; apparently *I* explain why we do certain things in yoga, "rather than just telling us to follow along." I usually explain things ad nauseum when I'm exasperated at their seeming deafness. I guess if it makes sense, they're more likely to do it (kind of like children, hmmmmm). And that from an ESL speaker no less (who also mentioned that he translated the entire class to his equally musclebound non-English speaking friend. Good man, that). Although it could be that they listened because my pink-pink top matched my way-too-visible-in-the-mirror thong. You never know.....

-After taking the Clubman moustache wax I gave him for a final spin and twirling up some really festive handlebars, Jack made good on his word and shaved off his beard, moustache and sideburns. This happened Sunday night, while I sat on the toilet and watched. Lid down. 'Twas a long and laborious process once the handlebars came off. Lots of snipping snipping snipping with scissors as red, brown and grey tufts flew everywhere. Followed by lots of foaming and shaving, interspersed with brushing and rinsing off the oft-clogged blade. He saved the intact part of the moustache for last; it made him look like an on-the-take cop. (Oops. Redudant). That was scary enough. Then he emerged tre clean-cut -- as someone much younger and far less serious looking than the Jack I know (two grey streaks in a beard can make a guy look positively professorial). I hardly recognized him. Recognize him. He also kisses differently (too much information, I know) and in some ways yes, it's like I'm cheating on him with him.

-On Friday me, Munkin and Jack went ice skating at one of the city's outdoor rinks, all of which closed for the season on the 27th. There was free parking, free skating, good weather, plentiful fresh air and lots of ice-space on which to suck at skating while tiny children whizzed by doing triple Axels (one pink-clad 'tween even tried to check me into the wall. But I showed *her*). Unfortunately the music they played is still reverberating in my head: the Bee Gees' "How Deep is Your Love?" , that annoying "Who Let the Dogs Out?" ditty and Lenny Kravitz's "Mr. Cab Driver," which they played complete with unbleeped "Fuck you!" Fun for the whole family. Can't wait to hear what they come up with next year.

-If you like The Amazing Race, which starts up again tonight, you'll love this very Satya Caca-esque take on Season 7: Media Fiends

-More caca here: The Brink