Tag Archives: asia

sri lanka photos, part ii

silentbeach01This is the second round of the Sri Lanka photos.  Lots of beaches—best to be in a water mood when you view them. They begin at silent beach, which is a five minute walk from ashtangalanka. It’s the beach of the Amanwella resort, though we saw maybe one guest on this beach, and he was in sandals, walking. He didn’t swim. It was bizarre to swim in such a gorgeous place alone, with Andrea, or the other ashtangalankans, but never a crowd. This was the most beautiful beach I’ve ever visited, I think. It was deserted because there aren’t many tourists in Sri Lanka because of the war (which has since officially ended) and because it was the very end of the tourist season. I hadn’t swum in the ocean for years (since India, I think) and it was amazing. There was, at times, a strong current, and there were moments in the water when I considered that these beaches were hit by the 2004 tsunami. I felt very, very small.

andrea&puppiesMoving along, the house and dog belong to Ben and Katrina, neighbors of Fred who came to dinner several times. They’re an interesting British couple who spend part of the year here. Ben made Andrea a proper coffee (actually, Lalith the gardener made it), which pleased Andrea immensely. Then it’s back to Rocky Point, with some pics of me, Andrea, and two puppies in the cafe (at right). The puppies were strays adopted by Kathy Cooper, the ashtanga teacher.

These are followed by photos of the road in and out of ashtangalanka, which led to the path to the surf beach (where the cows were). We passed Samatha’s (the manager at AL) brother, who tried to convince Andrea to buy some jewelry. Alas, it was on to the beach. Andrea body surfed, while I took pics with my semi-dead-battery powered camera. It was fun.

To view the slideshow, follow the link and press the play button in the bottom right. The arrow keys take you forward and back, if you don’t like the pace of the show. This is the last of the ashtangalanka/beach photos. Next up: travels in the hill country.

the sri lanka photos!

Finally! The first round of Sri Lanka photos are up. This slide show is the first of three or four to come.

flower
flower

Andrea took the photos of me, I took the rest. Most are taken around AshtangaLanka, aka Rocky Point. The rest (the cow pics) are at the next beach.

cow
cow

Still to come are more photos from around ashtangalanka and the nearby beaches, then the photos from the travels around Sri Lanka (which I’ve barely looked at much less edited). Enjoy!

sunday night on holiday

It’s Sunday night. 8:09pm. I start an intensive yoga training tomorrow at 8:30am, which runs through Saturday. Good word, I have to get up at 6:30am. Where went my week off?

I’m slowly going though the Sri Lanka pics, only about 70 more to edit until I am done with the pics from ashtangalanka and environs. It’s taking a long time because they are all quite similar and I’m not sure which to cut. I’ve never mastered my digital camera, because I quit professional photog when film was still the standard, and I’ve simply not shot that much digitally by comparison, though my SLR is five years old. The way it reads light is still strange to me, which in Sri Lanka wasn’t helped by the fact that one of the two batteries I took with me was so old as to only hold charge for about 3 minutes, before the meter went mad. I discovered this when Andrea and I went to the surf beach (as we called it, because the waves were suitable for body surfing) and there were two sweet cows on the beach. I kind of fixed the exposures, but alas.

Cows on the beach in Tangalle, Sri Lanka
Cows on the beach in Tangalle, Sri Lanka

I’ve also been reading a novel in the blissful quiet of my home, the most vacation-y thing I’ve done this week. I can’t recall the last time I indulged. It’s quite good, though I’d have cut a hundred pages plus, easily, and tightened up the story (which you’ll be saying upon viewing all the ocean photos in the upcoming photo essay). I’m two-thirds through the book, A Trip to the Stars, and am waiting to get through the rest to see as if ends as I’ve expected since page 37.  I just want the separated lovers to reunite and kiss, damn it.

A week from now will be the eve of my return to the bread and butter job, and the next six days are full of yoga. The last 7 days have been full of yoga as well, lest you think I was clever enough to take the week to laze about my home and stroll in the park. Other than the novel and editing, I’ve been fulfilling the requirements for my advanced training, as well as teaching, and reading about php/wordpress, to see exactly what I can do in this realm. I taught five classes, did five hours of required, supervised privates, and assisted/observed other classes for six hours. That was my week off.  I did lunch with friends three times, squeezed in chats with a few others, and reunited with lost friends Ilona and Narimantas, whom I’ve searched for since I last saw them in Kaunas in 1995 (yes, of course it was assbook). Remarkable. I managed to clean and do laundry in <3 hours today and was delighted to have the rest of the rainy day to read, edit and finally write before it all starts up again tomorrow. I think this might inspire the next post on the yoga blog: what does it take to be a yoga teacher?

My mother told me tonight that Mr. Brown, Herb to my parents, died on Thursday, which was 10 years to the day that my paternal grandmother/namesake died. Mr. Brown lived across the street from us when I was a child. He was incredibly sweet and funny. When I went knocking with my girl scout cookie sales sheet each year, he’d tell me with twinkling eyes what a good girl scout he was in the day—sold more cookies than I would imagine. He’d also mow his lawn in the dark (when it was cooler) and sometimes in circles, walking around in the street to get the edges. The Brown’s daughter, about ten years older than me, was the town’s star softball player, which seemed very tough and glamorous to my eight-year-old self. Mr Brown often practiced his golf in the front yard for hours, and hollered jokes over while I mowed the lawn. “What??” Ah, memories. You were a great neighbor and you made us laugh, Mr. Brown. May you rest peacefully.

at long last

Oi! I’ve finally done it. I’ve switched my blog over to a true blog format, which lists posts backwards and allows comments. This is the first post in this format. Those below were on the old blog and I switched them over. I’ll probably change the url and design soon, but it’s nice to have the blog up and working. So much to do. Still stories and photos to edit from Sri Lanka, so I’ll pick up there.

fullmoon
fullmoon at ashtangalanka

As I mentioned in the last post, the characters and vibe at AshtangaLanka had me thinking about the culture around ashtanga, with which I don’t have much experience. In my research for my yoga blog, I came across more ashtanga blogs than any other. Some were very theoretical, like the insideowl, who has an interesting post on ashtanga and imperialism (mentioned to Amanda in the comments of the last post). She referred me to an aussie academic who’s done anthro research on ashtanga as a daily practice, as well as others’ work on yoga. My foray into exploring the world through anthropological eyes put me in a place of too much separation: me observing them. Me experiencing them (and vice verse), and the argument that me/them was too a false a dichotomy to work from, was unacceptable in academia at the time. After years on the road,  it felt fake. In the end, though I’m great with theory, it put me way up in my head and way cut off from the world around me—even the world in me, as my own senses freeze up when my analytical mind takes over. So I opted for a different way. Nevertheless, I do love to flirt with these things from time to time.

Someone asked me about a posting from years back. 2006. I reread it last week and realized that when I have more time to myself, to rest and relax and just be, as I did then, I’m much softer. My writing was much softer. I imagine my teaching was much softer, my being was much softer. I miss that. In Sri Lanka I realized that I feel good, but not connected to my life. Something needs to shift.

Sri Lanka. There are about 400 photos to edit. A few highlights to share of the travels. Oh, to write as I travel, when it’s fresh, rather than four months later! To carry a laptop? Okay, the next post will be stories. xoA.

For ashtanga fans, Sharath is on flickr (thanks elephantbeans).

first night, first day at ashtangalanka

goo.RP.mapWe left home (NYC) at five on Tuesday morning and reached Tangalle around eleven Thursday night, after an unplanned but mostly refreshing day in London due to a mechanical problem and missed connection. Our first night in SL was a horror. There was no mosquito net on our bed at Rocky Point. I should say beds, really, as a double bed is something of a luxury in SL and at all but one of our accommodations (The Galle Face) we slept in two twin beds pushed together, under one not-quite-big-enough net. The beds were nowhere near the ceiling fan, which is not only meant to keep things cool, but to discourage mosquitoes. We were mauled. So many itchy bites. So hot. We got up and pushed the beds closer to the fan, which helped a very little bit. “I was more comfortable and slept better on the flights over,” I thought repeatedly. Ugh. We both wondered what on earth we’d gotten ourselves into.

nicolai.cocoAfter almost no sleep, we got up at 6:45a and walked over a few bungalows for ashtanga yoga. This was how we greeted the next 10 days. The hot and sweaty (demanding, hard, fun) practice somehow helped me recover from the sleepless night and our first full day in SL was amazing.

Our schedule at Rocky Point was beautiful. Its absence from my life makes it almost painful to recollect now that I’m back to the grindstone: We woke around 6:45am. Yoga from 7:30am to ~9am. After yoga, a quick shower, then a snack of fresh coconuts. First we drank the juice, then cracked open the shell and ate the flesh. “It’s delightful,” said the venerated coconut. We shared this ritual with the owners and other guests at Rocky Point, before heading to Silent Beach for a swim.

sanju.cocoBy 11:30a, we returned for breakfast. After a few days of trial and error, Andrea and I settled on the “Sri Lankan omelet” and the coconut pancake with treacle (kithul palm syrup), which we shared, with toast, jam, and two lovely bowls full of papaya, pineapple, banana, and mango. After breakfast, we sat, drank tea, chatted with other guests, read, and relaxed until three or four, when we prepared for a swim and surf at Palm Beach. This joy lasted until dusk, when we returned for dinner, usually an amazing spread of veggie Sri Lankan curries with rice. The bugs became unbearable by 7:30, so we were rarely outside past 8p. And because we’d moved the beds to be under the fan (which Samantha, the Sri Lankan manager, thought very wise), we were nowhere near the reading lamps, nailed to the wall by what had been the sides of the beds. They gave us a mosquito net, which somewhat solved the bug problem, but it was too dark to read in the room on the bed, under the protection of the net, and we couldn’t take more than an hour of the mosquito swatting required while seated on a chair under a lamp. We were usually asleep well before ten.

Next up: the yoga.

 

out of new york (please get me)

My biggest concern about Sri Lanka was that I wouldn’t come back refreshed. Instead, I’d come back, exhausted, to work and teaching, and to start another teacher training. Could I really fly for two days just for the beach? But if I travelled the hill country and Buddhist ruins on my own the last week (Andrea would travel later) it could be terribly tiring, and then the long flights home. Yet I couldn’t imagine going that far just for the beach, and ignoring the rest of the amazing country. Oh well. I’d decide when I got there, I figured. I needed a break, a break from work, from teaching, from my routine, and from NYC. And I wanted to be in the ocean with Andrea.

Rocky Point, Tangalle
Rocky Point, Tangalle

I raced to get everything ready in six days. On the flight I was relieved to be out of the city for a while. I’m so tired of New York. I’m not a hipster. I do not care. I hate the ubiquitous ads. I hate the weather. I hate the MTA (I used to love the subways, and of course, my bus drivers). I especially hate the ads on the outside of our subway cars. I hate the noise. I especially hate the noise my neighbors make, the noise of my neighbors on the train with ipods blaring and the noise of my tone-deaf, retired-pharmacist neighbor who has taken up the violin and asserts his legal right to hack at it between the hours of 8am and 10pm (“I know. I’ve been taken to court,” he once informed, at 7:56am on a Sunday).

But most of all, I hate the sameness of it. I’ve walked these streets so many times. Nothing feels new, nothing surprises. This might sound like sacrilege to some, and I realize I might be slamming the only place I’ll ever feel truly at home, but I need some space if I’m going to appreciate it again.

That wasn’t provided on the flight out. I think every movie on offer, and there were over 20, was based in New York and sought to glorify it in some way. Ugh! I watched one, and then a bit of a documentary about the French guy who tightrope-walked between the World Trade Center towers in the 70s. I’d heard him on “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” a few weeks earlier. Yes, you’re right. It’s my favorite show. Out of Chicago.

The situation was the same on the way back home. When I walked the streets of NYC via the tiny screen wedged into the seat in front of me on my crowded Kingfisher flight from Bangalore to London, I thought, “That place…that place looks like a great place to visit. But to live there? What a mess.”

Rani, at the Millennium Elephant Foundation, Kegalle, Sri Lanka
Rani, at the Millennium Elephant Foundation, Kegalle, Sri Lanka

Unfortunately, I think that about most places, including those I’d just visited.

I did rest a bit. And I traveled the hill country with Andrea (he left Silent Beach early to come with me), which was beautiful. The flight home was long and the jet-lag still lingers. And yes, I was back at work, teaching, and the full catastrophe within ten hours of my arrival. But Sri Lanka was amazing. It was a wonderful trip and I’m so glad I went. But I did come back still needing rest. How do we, why do we, all go on this way?

More to come.

{June 2009 update: Okay, I love NY. We have a strained relationship at times, but I love it. Could use a break, but yes, the love is real.}

sri lanka?

I have jet lag. And for some foggy-headed reason, I think that when and how much I’ve slept in the last four days is interesting to people. It is not. As if stories about the fabulous trip to Sri Lanka aren’t bad enough.

silent beach, tangalle, sri lanka
silent beach, tangalle, sri lanka

Sri Lanka? Why Sri Lanka? I just wanted some beach and a rest. But a few months ago when I passed a link from a british yoga marketing email on to Andrea, I had a small feeling there might be consequences. It was for a place called ashtanga lanka, on the beach in southern Sri Lanka. I passed it on because it boasted great bodysurfing, which is among Andrea’s true joys.

I’d have been happy with the Caribbean or South America. I’ve never been. I’ve been to Asia—central and south Asia—more than five times. Only once because I was truly aching to go there. Sri Lanka takes a long time to get to, isn’t an easy place, and has a huge time difference. And I’d only managed to wedge three weeks out of work and teaching, and another teacher training. Sri Lanka?

But Andrea was set. “The surf in the Caribbean and South America is dreadful,” he asserted. He got his tix, and I wanted to go. Ashtanga every morning before ocean swimming sounded great, and perhaps I could get some traveling in my last week there. I was also curious about the American couple running the place. I’m burning for another way to live. And, the food would delight me. Though it would perpetuate the untruth that I prefer to vacation in troubled places, I was somehow convinced. Seven days before the flight, I booked my tix. Once again, I didn’t choose South Asia, but she somehow got me back. Perhaps it’s time to stop blaming George.