Tag Archives: yoga & meditation

I love NY

Yes, I’ve done a lot of complaining about the only place I’ve ever truly felt at home. Yes, I feel a bit less at home here now, but I do still love much about the city. In honor, I’ve made a quick list of things I love about the Big Apple. In no particular order:

♥ Walking. New York is one of the few great walking cities of the world. We really walk here. It’s the only thing I missed when I was away, the movement that’s part of daily life. And if you want to have a stroll around, there are miles to explore. When friends visit, we sometimes walk over ten miles around the city in a day. I took this shot (above) while walking back to the train from a trip to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. You’d never get that in a driving town. It creates moments. It’s fantastic.

♥ Open hours. The cliché is true. You can get almost anything you need when you need it. Except perhaps in the early morning hours around 5-6am, when the city is very quiet.

♥ Grocery stores. The selection and quality of food here is amazing. Zabar‘s, Kalustyan’s, Sahadi’s, Chelsea Market, Patel Brothers, even Fairway. I can never get enough.

♥ The Subway. While I also hate it, I do love how easy it is to get around the city. There’s no need for a car, which is great, because it’s impossible to get around, much less park, in one. Many other cities have hideous traffic and little or no parking, but it’s impossible to get around town on public transport. Melbourne’s trams and Sydney’s buses are no match for the subway. (Yes, many Euro cities have great public transit. I agree.) I also think the subways hold a beauty of their own.

♥ Restaurants, of course. I’ve had different favorites over the years. A few are Chola, La Masseria, Saravanas, Sammy’s Roumanian Steakhouse, Bamiyan, Kashkaval, Café Asean, Zoma, and, yes, Absolute Bagels (only hot & fresh in the morning). Some of these places I love for atmosphere more than the food.

♥ Yoga. I love the studios, the teachers, the schedules, the variety. The yoga scene here can be competitive and intense, but I like the vibe better than in other cities, like Boulder or L.A. A best kept secret? Genny Kapuler, on Wooster.

♥ The Nipple. Known to many as the NYPL, the New York Public Library. Almost anything you want to read (or, maybe, hear or watch) can be located in the catalog and sent to your local branch for pickup. I adore it.

The list has gotten a bit long, so I’m continuing in the next post. And more photos for this one tomorrow. I’m tired. I’ve gotta go to bed.

Also: I <3 NY parts two & three.

new york custom & an (attempted) pickup

xerxbathroomI suppose any city that requires its citizens interact constantly (as opposed to being shielded inside cars) has its share of hilarious attempted pickup stories. Though I also suppose that these are numerous and uninteresting in bars the world over. I don’t know, I don’t frequent them. I remember once when I was a teen walking my mother’s dalmatian in the park, a guy with a dalmatian tried to convince me to give him my number so our dogs could play together because “dalmatians need dalmatians.” Good grief. Ever since, I’ve wanted to compile hilarious and creative pickup stories (success irrelevant. sorry, this is not a how-to), so if you’ve any good stories to share, comment below.

Yesterday, walking to the train after yoga, a guy asked me if I knew where a deli was. I raised an eyebrow, as there’s one on every block. He said, “I know we just passed one, but they don’t have phone cards. I need a phone card.” Even in the Skype age, I happen to know a lot about phone cards.

“Hmm.” I said, as we were on a stretch without delis. “Sixth Avenue will have some. If not, I know they’re sold in the train station.”

“The train station?” he laughed. “Where are you from?” he asked, with, I finally pinpointed, an Arabic accent.

I ignored his question and said, “The subway station. In the kiosk.”

“How do you know all this. Do you work in the subway?” he asked.

“Ah, no.” I replied.

“Where do you work? I am from Egypt. I work in hotels and design.”

“Hmmm.” I said. “Salaam Alaikum.”

“Wa Alaikum Salaam,” he laughed, “How do you know this?”

I shrugged.

“My people have something called Ramadan right now.” he explained.

“Already? So early this year!” I replied.

“How do you know these things? Where are you from that you know this?”

“I travel a lot.”

“Have you been to Egypt? What else do you know? You must know habiba, too”

I claimed I did not know habiba (babe, beloved, sweetheart, etc), hoping he wouldn’t translate. I explained I had been to Egypt, but had spent more time in non-Arabic speaking Muslim countries, like Iran, Central Asia, Pakistan.

“You’ve been to Pakistan? Did you dress like that?!”

“No,” I smiled. “It was too cold.”

I was wearing a not-that-revealing yoga tank and yoga pants, as I’d just been to yoga. It was 80º in New York. There were plenty wearing far less than I was, weirdo. This isn’t Cairo.

“I’ve just arrived in NY. I got here last week. Where have you been? You look like you have been at the beach.”

We were almost to the train station at this point. “I was at yoga,” I explained.

“At work?”

“At yoga.”

“Oh, yoga!” He threw his head back and laughed. “I thought you said work. Yoga! You New Yorkers have such strange customs!”

That made me smile. Yes, I suppose that we do. We passed a kiosk and I pointed it out to him as a place to get his phone card. He looked at it, then at me, then back at the kiosk. “Would you wait for me while I buy it?” he asked.

“No.”

“Would you have a tea with me? My people are very generous and we have this custom…”

“Yes, I know,” I replied, “and I’m sorry to refuse your kindness, but it’s not possible.”

“Can I have some way to contact you?”

“Nope. Sorry. Not possible” I smiled, as I waved and departed down the steps of the subway station. Strange customs indeed.

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.

an update from home

The taste of dill takes me straight back to Central Asia. Is that why I’m writing this? They use it heavily in their cuisine, but then, so do the Russians so perhaps it’s their influence.

I’m cooking beef bone soup today. It feels so good to cook in the winter, especially veggies and soups. It’s finally warmed up (44°F) but it’s gray. Just staring at the beautiful deep greens, oranges, reds, and purples toasts me up and puts me in a bit of a trance. The earth, all frozen outside, vibrates in my hands. Yum. I like winter. Especially the light.

After cleaning all the refuse, I stared at the remaining beets and decided to roast them up, since I’m in the kitchen anyway. How lovely to pretend I have time for all this.

And I sort of do. I refuse to do anymore schoolwork today and I’m not in at work until four. There’s plenty I could be doing and this is what I’ve chosen. The beef bone stock will last me probably the rest of winter so it’s time well spent. I can do some yoga before the beets are finished.

Speaking of, this is a brilliant article on food. What should be obvious, but isn’t.

This is the update? This is the update. You want to know where I’ve been? Not out of the country since the last Central Asian trek in ’04. I’ve lived in the same building for 3½ years, the same neighborhood for almost five. Can you believe? I can. It’s nice.

I’ve traveled a bit in the States, but otherwise work, school, and yoga keep me tied to the city. Order of import: yoga, school, and work. Yoga is great fun. I do it every day, I teach it almost everyday. I’ll not wax poetic about it because I’m creating a yoga site for a class, for my students, and for the fun. I didn’t intend to fall in love with yoga, much less teach it, but, well, love is seldom about intent.

School is interesting enough. I was doing a program in south asian studies, but back-burnered that this semester for a health and behavioral studies/health education MA. Both obviously pertain to yoga, but the latter is more applicable to my life. “The ideal to the real,” said the Venerated Coconut. The programs are dramatically different. I like them both. And I still learn best by grabbing some books, taking off, and talking to people along the way.

Coming back to the classroom gave me a great respect for all I learned out there, fiddling about. I am really lucky for all that, hard as it was at times. And I’m lucky to be back here in the city, where I can travel the globe, meet its people, eat their food, and be home at the end of the day. What will I do with the degree/s when finished? I don’t know. I’ve got some ideas. As always, something will come.

Many thanks for checking in on me. It’s quite sweet.

Love,
A

Sit, be still, and listen,
because you’re drunk
and we’re at
the edge of the roof.
—Rumi

…..

a deliberate, terrific refusal

Just reread this Joe Campbell quote while cleaning files yesterday and it explains beautifully my last post, shaman by night. And it regards yoga* to boot:

Willed introversion, in fact, is one of the classic implements of creative genious and can be employed as a deliberate device. It drives the psychic energies into depth and activates the lost continent of unconscious infantile and archetypal images. The result, of course, may be a disintegration of consciousness more or less complete; but on the other hand, if the personality is able to absorb and integrate the new forces, there will be experienced an almost superhuman degree of self-consciousness and masterful control. This is a basic principle of the Indian disciples of yoga. It has been the way, also, of many creative spirits in the West. It cannot be described, quite, as an answer to any specific call. Rather, it is a deliberate, terrific refusal to respond to anything but the deepest, highest richest answer to the as yet unknown demand of some waiting void within: a kind of total strike, or rejection of the offered terms of life, as a result of which some power of transformation carries the problem to a plane of new magnitudes, where it is suddenly and finally resolved.

*The yoga referred to is not simply physical (hatha) yoga we know in the west, but an entire system of philosophy.