Sunday, August 30, 2009


This week I went to see a couple of bands at Millennium Park as part of its New Music Mondays series.

The Pritzker Pavilion was its usual stunning self.

(Can you believe that Steve Davis's aunt thought the old Prudential Building on the left was "the tallest building in the world?" My favorite building in Chicago is the spiky new Prudential building in the center, which weighs in at #30).

Back to the Pritzker Pavilion. It is architecturally amazing and acoustically perfect. The views of the skyline are awe-inspiring. You can sit in seats, or on the lawn. The concerts are free. Plus they start and end on time.

It's the only place I want to see bands these days.

Red Red Meat sounded like their old selves, if a bit grayer and paunchier (aren't we all?).

And this time around, K-Walla and I weren't drinking Leinenkugels on a dirty old sofa and inhaling cigarette smoke.

In fact, we weren't drinking anything.

We were sitting on the lawn, breathing in fresh air and playing with her three-year-old son....

and watching Empty Bottle owner Bruce Finkelman dance with his wee daughter.

My, how times have changed!

By 9pm, we were on the El heading back north.

I don't miss the old days at all.

Not. a. tall.

(Although the heart felt a brief pang when the eyes saw the ex and the mind took its inevitable trip down memory lane).

Goodbye to all that indeed.

(Upcoming shows at Millennium Park include Rhythms of Rajasthan on September 23 and Rahim Alhaj and the Aditya Prakash Ensemble on September 24. Both shows start at noon. Details here.).

* * *

On Friday, TiaS and I went to see kirtan wallah Suzanne Sterling at Moksha Yoga.

What's nice about kirtan, or call-and-response devotional chanting, is that the audience is an equal participant.

And Dharma says that doing kirtan, or "singing to the lord" is a surefire way to banish depression.

It is also one of the easier paths to enlightenment (no austerities necessary!).

Suzanne was not only amazing and inspired, she was inspiring.

She gets it.

And the audience - who included big-time teacher Seane Corn - was just as wonderful.

I mean, they (we) were on-key. They were dancing. They (we) were into it.

The mood lifted right away.

The heart melted.

Tears fell.

The ego (and the bad haircut that had been occupying the mind for the past three days) faded right into the background.

It was a magical night.

It always is when you remember who you are and why you're here.

Hello to all that

(Upcoming kirtans include Amy and the Ananda Bliss Tribe at YogaNow Gold Coast on September 12 and Devi 2000 at Moksha on September 26).

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Someone returned the sign to the pothole!

Dirty and crumped, it's a bit worse for the wear; perhaps it had been stuffed into the hole itself.

There are other changes as well....

....Like an oil slick around the hole, as well as some spray-painted writing.

(Does anyone know what "DIE TEST" means? Or "BAB CLR"?)

Dorian Black thinks the new lines and words mean that it's not just a pothole anymore - it's a sink-hole. In other words, there's a much bigger hole below the pavement.

He also thinks they're going to have to shut down the whole street to fix it.

If they fix it.

* * *


The Chicago Reader has been sold to a New York-based hedge fund by by its bankrupt parent company, Creative Loafing, Inc. (which purchased the paper a couple of years ago and promptly drove it into the ground. Even the website sucks now). Read more here.

Monday, August 24, 2009

(one day late)

May the grace and kindness of Ganapati, fill your hearts with happiness and joy, with love and prosperity. May He rid you from all evil and guard and protect you from the perils of negativity.

The ten-day Ganesh Festival began yesterday, and marks the day on which Lord Ganesha, the son of Shiva and Parvati, is believed to bestow his presence on earth for all his devotees. This is when you see the clay idols of Ganesh - the elephant-headed remover of obstacles - decorated and worshiped. At the end of the festival, the idols are submerged in water.

The holiday coincides with the Jain holiday Sanvatsary and the beginning of Ramadan.

More on Ganesh Chaturthi here.


Photo above was snapped one year ago at a trendy Bangalore shopping mall. Notice the woman with shopping cart on the left.

Below is one of the few natural areas outside of Mysore (perhaps the only one) where you can legally submerge your idol:

Sunday, August 23, 2009


Today the sidewalk coconut wallah went AWOL for a few minutes. While waiting for him, I took a close look at the nearby stack of coconut boxes.

I was taken aback by what I saw.

Each coconut has 270 calories.

Two hundred seventy.

No more two-fer Tuesdays for me!

Friday, August 21, 2009


Although the latest "This Pothole Supports the 2016 Olympic Bid" sign disappeared shortly after last week's Indian Independence Day Parade, people are still adding things to the beloved West Ridge Pothole Installation.

No one has bothered to fix it.

Yet someone *has* taken the time to remove the clip of its recent newspaper appearance from the pylon.

Meanwhile, Dreyfus has been clamoring to know just how deep the hole is.

About 14 inches, I'd say.

And growing.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


When I teach ashtanga on new and full moon days*, I always tell the students that in Mysore they don't practice at all on those days; that the energy is considered to be unstable and that if you injure yourself on a moon day it takes twice as long to heal. I asked them to have a soft practice and to save their big breakthrough for another day.

Today I mentioned that a new moon usually means low energy.

After class a student suggested that projects begun on a new moon day come to fruition on the full moon. I sort of nodded, but it didn't sit right with me.

Later, I went online and found this:

"On new moon days, the raja-tama spreading ghosts (demons, devils, negative energies, etc.), people engaged in occult rituals and predominantly rajasik and tamasik people are strongly influenced and receive black energy for their raja-tama activities. As it is a day conducive for negative activities, it is considered an inauspicious day for any positive activities. As the raja-tama from the moon affects the mind, the incidence of raja-tama tendencies like running away, suicide or possession by ghosts is highest on new moon. Especially during the night, as the otherwise naturally available purification by the Absolute Cosmic Fire element through the Sun being absent, new moon night is a golden opportunity for the ghosts to cause distress to man....

"....Spiritual research has further revealed that there are some finer differences between the effect of new moon and full moon on man. Overall the distressing effect of moon on man is more on new moon than on full moon. The adverse effect of full moon is more on the physical body whereas that of new moon is more on the mind. The effect of full moon is more apparent whereas the effect on new moon is more intangible (subtle). As the effect of new moon is not apparent to the person, it is even more dangerous. This is because as he is not aware of the distress, no step is taken to overcome it."

No wonder nothing got done today...



*Yes, the bad lady teaches led classes on moon days - do you really think the health club is going to close down because of the moon? She tries to limit the class to a soft, slow, half primary series. She doesn't usually practice astanga on moon days - not since injuring her right knee on a full moon back in '03. It took nine. long. miserable. months. to heal.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


The parade actually made the throat tighten and the eyes tear up; how I miss India - the country that gave me a new lease on life.

These gents brought back memories of the Indian military band that plays rousing marches and songs like "Auld Lang Syne" at the palace in Mysore.

These two young (and very good) dhol drummers walked past a few minutes later, then reappeared on another float!

When one thinks of Independence, one can't help but recall the bloody Partition between India and Pakistan, which resulted in the forced movement of 20 million people and approximately 1.5 million deaths. I like this float, because they're waving the flags of both countries. They also waved the Stars and Stripes.

It's also rather interesting to see the American flag going "backwards" (the parade was traveling right to left). Oops!

No comment.

Notice the young dhol drummers behind the flags; they're ba-ack!

Definitely. Not. Shriners.

This group of dhoti'd drummers from Kerala most reminded me of India. There was nothing desi about them.

Many politicos were there... of all stripes. One of them even shook my hand (even though I have no idea who's running - or what for). Interestingly, the local alderman was greeted by a chorus of boos when he took the stage - and one cry of "Fix our pothole!"

Jesus also made an appearance. Finally.

These air hostesses are living, breathing people - not dolls. One can only imagine how posh the Etihad Airways lounge at the Bombay airport must be.

This pro-Maharashtra group brought to mind the scary Shiv Sena.

No Windy City parade would be complete without the gravity-defying Jesse White Tumblers. Secretary of State White is below the red-and-white "Do Not Feed Pigeons" sign.

Seconds after the final police car had passed, this North Side "sweeper" was cleaning up.

* * *

MEANING OF THE INDIAN FLAG by Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, who became the first Vice President of India (borrowed from Big B's blog):

“Bhagwa or the saffron colour denotes renunciation or disinterestedness. Our leaders must be indifferent to material gains and dedicate themselves to their work. The white in the centre is light, the path of truth to guide our conduct. The green shows our relation to (the) soil, our relation to the plant life here, on which all other life depends. The “Ashoka Chakra” in the centre of the white is the wheel of the law of dharma. Truth or satya, dharma or virtue ought to be the controlling principle of those who work under this flag. Again, the wheel denotes motion. There is death in stagnation. There is life in movement. India should no more resist change, it must move and go forward. The wheel represents the dynamism of a peaceful change."

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Today is the Indian Independence Day Parade on Devon Avenue, just one block from the apartment. The photo above shows what it looked like this morning, as I ran about doing errands for a pre-parade party that no one is coming to attend (most didn't bother to RSVP, either...*

....which is too bad, as they will be missing Syrian pizza from the Iraqi bakery, fresh khaman dhokla from Kamdar Plaza, "bobko" (kosher pecan coffee cake) from Levinson's Bakery, and home-made, dairy-free iced chai).

Last night I was too busy catching up with JC72 over vegetarian cous cous at Hashalom to see the silent movie Piccadilly at the ongoing Silent Summer Film Festival. But I'm definitely going next week, to see Douglas Fairbanks - the most handsome and charismatic American actor ever - in Thief of Baghdad.

I definitely won't be attending this weekend's Air and War Show.

Nor will Bindi and I attend today's South Asian Festival in Rosemont, where Hindi movie superstar Shahrukh Khan is slated to appear. I'm kind of glad, since the car STILL does not have AC.

I will however make every effort to see the whirling dervishes at this weekend's free Turkish Festival at Navy Pier. They will perform their Sufi devotional dance tonight from 8:30-10pm.


*I'm not too upset about the lack of enthusiasm for the pre-parade party, since:

1. A harmonium came into my possession at today's big sale at the Old Town School of Folk Music. Nothing makes a heart sing like figuring out the first bar of "Jai Ganesha."

2. The food will be transported to HH Snow's party this evening, where it will be heartily received.

3. I'm used to doing everything. alone. anyway.

4. The sign is back. Just in time for the parade.

5. And there are whirling dervishes in my future.

Friday, August 14, 2009


This is the first summer since 2005 that I did not go to India to study yoga. Instead, I may relive the experience (and get some relief from the Chicago summer!) by re-reading one of the India-travel-yoga memoirs below.

Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure by Sarah MacDonald. This 2002 memoir is a humorous, often-biting look at India's various spiritual offerings, written by an Australian radio correspondent who is far more thoughtful than the quirky cover would lead you to believe.

In Search of Secret India by Paul Brunton. The British-born Brunton traveled to India in the early 1930s in the hopes of encountering some real yogis, mystics and gurus - who were hard to find during the waning days of the Raj. He became a disciple of Sri Ramana Maharshi, one of the greatest yogis of our time. This is a classic text on the search for a guru. Read a short version of Brunton's Q&A with Ramana Maharshi here.

Radha: Diary of a Woman's Search by Swami Sivananda Radha. In 1955, at the age of 44, the German-born Canadian Sylvia Helman was called in a dream by Swami Sivananda to make a pilgramage to India. She became his disciple and was one of the first westerners - not to mention the first woman - to bring his yoga to North America, at her Yasodhara Ashram and the Radha Yoga Centres. This fascinating memoir describes her day-to-day experiences with Swami Sivananda.

Read the story behind the photo of Ramana Maharshi and Lakshmi the cow here.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


The sign has disappeared.

Whoever did it had to work hard to remove all of the tape attaching it to its stick, which is still there.

Or perhaps the pothole simply stopped supporting the Olympics. Maybe it couldn't handle the fame.

Of course it is still there.

This has not caused the residents to stop contributing to the installation, which seems to be expanding.

They've also been trying to fill the hole, using whatever materials are on hand (so far I've not seen any children in there).

And *someone* has taped a copy of the Tribune photo to the pylon, in memory of the wonderful sign.