Thursday, January 27, 2011

India Travel Guide including Tips, Traveler Tales and More

A friend of mine is visiting India in a few weeks. Of course, she is very excited and so am I for her. I always tell people i meet that they should visit India (where i was born and spent the first 25 yrs of my life) once in their lifetime. It really is a sensory, overwhelming, mystical, chaotic, eye-opening, spiritual , perhaps life-changing experience.

So this time around, i thought instead of providing tips here and there and talking about India and its stories, to actually put down a travel sheet/guide. A different type of guide that would

1. Have a suggested itinerary - in different parts - like a week in Rajasthan, a week around Delhi, etc.
2. Some tips - like must have street food, (for example Pav Bhaji in Bombay, the litti in Bihar).
3. And excerpts from traveler tales written by authors visiting from outside India. I just ran into this great collection of Travelers Tales from India edited by James O'Reilly. I would highly recommend it.

So to begin, here is an extract about the pleasures and joys of street food in India (as published in the Traveler's Tales, India - page 160).
Dining at Indian restaurants outside the country does NOT prepare you for the experience of eating in India.
No cuisine could be more exotic or particular to place, intricately reflecting a multi-layered culture defined in religion, history and ritual.

Standing in the middle of an Indian marketplace, surrounded by swirling crowds of people, animals, bicycles, fume-belching motorized rickshaws and cown0drawn carts, all impossibly squeezing in and out of the narrowest alleyways, you marvel at how life can be lived at this density.

Absolutely every human activity goes on in the streets, and that is where the best food in India is to be found, cooked on carts or in cubby holes in buildings and alleyways.

- Patricia Unterman, "Culinary Nirvana in the Streets of India,
San Francisco Chronicle.

I cant help but agree with Patricia here. It is the Indian bazaar that bring life out in the midst of the din around and give an extra dimension to the experience of eating out. So for instance, if you are in Bombay, then dont miss the Pav Bhaji at Juhu Beach, or the Kebabs at the Jama Masjid in Delhi and the countless more.
And yes i really do hope to complete the guide and dedicate it to the good friend and Yoga Instructor, whose trip initiated this all!!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Yoga Log: 90 Min Class with Hugh Millard at The Iynegar NYC

Yoga Log - Focus on The shoulders, and the Warrior Pose with Hugh Millard

Jan 21, 2011
Time - 5.30-7 pm
Instructor - Hugh Millard
Location - Iynegar NYC

Just got out of my yoga class. Always look forward to Hugh Millard's classes (too bad that i cant get out from work early enough to make it to the 5.30 pm class on friday evening). But today was one such lucky day

As always, hugh's classes challenge you a bit more physically and mentally. you hold the poses longer and you try to go the extra bit to correct and enhance your pose

Today we focused a lot on the use of block to open up the shoulders and the collar bone and the sternum

1. the arm extensions using the block
2. rotation of the shoulders to open up the chest
3. Downward dog go with the blocks - you put the blocks at a 45 degree angel against a wall and then put your hands on the blocks. the whole point was to stretch the arms longer from the arm pits and then then through the sides of the chest to lengthen the body and the spine
downward dog is hard - and even after 2-3 yrs. of practice the mind is overwhelmed by th amount of things to focus on
4. and then came the kicker- the warrior pose- regular standing pose but emphasis on using a block to correct the alignment - to work on aligning the two hips in a straight line (not one pushed too back and the other too much in the front )
5. and then the hand stands, head stands

It was a demanding but awesome class as always.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Running log: Williamsburg Bridge. Jan 15, 2011

Entry: #2
Date: Jan 15, 2011
Start Time: 10.40am
End Time: 11.18am
Total Time: 38 mins
Total Distance: 3miles
Outside Temperate: 25degrees, Cloudy
Route: Straight from Kenmare to Williamsburg Bridge

- Started on Kenmare street, onto Delancey Street
- Past Bowery, Chrystie st, Forsyth street, Allen street Starbucks, Orchard street, to Attorney street
- Up the ramp on Williamsburg bridge. The running lane was all salted, with snow on the side. The ramp has a decent incline which can slow one down.
- Took 22 mins, easy jog to get to the end of the bridge on the brooklyn side.
- Stopped for a 5min stretching gig
- And then return on the same route - 15 min pace. Always fun to run the decline on the Manhattan side. Can get the pace up quite fast.

Highlight of the run was spotting the "Domino Sugar Factory" on the Brooklyn side, a large transport ship docked along the east river park right under the bridge and overlooking the snow covered rooftops and parks.
And yes, stopping right at the start of the ramp to pick up a blown away orange traffic diverting cone and placing it on the side (some good citizen brownie points)

Good to get out and get some cold freshness.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Yoga Practice Log: With Bobby Clennel. Jan 12, 2011

Yoga Practice Log
Entry: #2
Date: Jan 12, 2011
Instructor: Bobby C (substituting for Marcella who is out for 6 weeks )

Practice Description

1. Some chanting - need to learn the Sutra that they chant in the Iyengar classes
2. Started with child pose and downward dog. Learnt an important point about the downward dog pose. Dont get into the pose all at once, start from pushing out your hands (more pulling actually, so that you are almost lifting your hand up from the ground). Keep the knees bent a bit and really push your thighs back, lengthening your spine. This is key. Before you fully straighten your legs, make you sure you can stretch back as far out. It really feels awesome. And then when you can go no more (the way to sense that is when you know your clenching your lips and holding your breath tight).
3. Some hanging ropes to lengthen the lower back
4. Some Janu shirsh Asana (head to knee forward bend pose), but using chair and moving your leg out at an angle to get a bigger stretch
5. Supported Head Stand (Salambh Shirshasana) - went unsupported and was able to hold for a minute, perhaps (every second feels like a minute) !
6. Then the Hand Stand (ah-doh moo-kah vriks-SHAHS-anna) - even tougher and more demanding. Took a few attempts. But got into the pose eventually. A few weeks back i had to get pulled up. The hips are now rolling along so that the center of gravity moves in line with the axis of the arms and the upper body
Tip: - the key in this pose is the starting posture. Stretch your hands as much as possible and try to bring your feet and hips closer to the hands. That way the center of gravity moves in, allowing the legs to go up easily
7. Shoulder Stand (Salamba Sarvangasana) - this is i believe tougher than even the head and the hand stand. But this time, i got the feet to really pull up, thus pulling the torso and the shoulder up as much as possible. The crease between the shoulder blades is a good indicator of how the shoulder are doing. If they feel free and airy then things are good.

Yoga Practice Log: 90 Min Iynegar Class. Jan 5, 2011

Yoga Practice Log
Entry: #1 (first class and log of the new year)
Date: Jan 5, 2011
Location: Iyengar NYC
Time: 7.30-9pm
Instructor: Marcella

First class of the year. And a much needed one, after the week long 4,500 mile roadtrip and the 2 week gap because of the holidays.

Did the following poses
1. Many Downward dogs
2. Equal number of child's pose - the key learning today was to get into the pose starting from sitting back on your legs and then making sure your butt stays down and doesnt come up. That makes you stretch along the sides
3. supta veer asana - was tough to get back to the bolster
4. head stand
5. shoulder stand

And a bunch others. Was great to stretch after sitting for long hours on the roadtrip (which was awesome and more on that later).

Jan 9, 2011. Run to East River Park

Running Log
Entry: #1
Date: Jan 9, 2011.
Time : Around 12.30pm

Running Route: (See map below)
Starting Point - Mott Street
- Onto kenmare street, crossing into delancy street
- Along Delancy street Past the climb to Williamsburg bridge, passing by playfield of PS 142
- Past the Baruch Housing settlements (crossing ridge street, pitt street ) and onto baruch drive
- Crossing over the overbridge on houston street to get down to the East river park (the running track). The entire park and the track along the river too were still covered in snow/ice from the storm on X-mas weekend
- Stop over in the small gymnastic area where you can do some crunches, situp, pushups
- return route through east village, ave D, Av C
- Cutting back onto 2nd street and then turning further down at Bowery Street
- back home after turn on Mott and Elizabeth

Total distance: 4 miles

It was a slow, nice run. Good to run parts on snow/ice. Gorgeous day - Brilliant sun.
Only a few runners around. Some folks were playing ball in the snow covered field
As always exhilarating to feel the inner warmth against the cold outside. Makes every pore breath.

Note to self - i think i may need to buy gloves and a cap. I guess the temperature was 25 degrees

Its 2011 and with it an Attempt to Log My Runs and Yoga Practice

Its a new year. But its also a new decade.
And one of the things that i plan (we all plan, lets see how much of the plan gets done)
is to maintain a log of my running and yoga practice. The goals are simple

1. Running Goals for 2011
a. log 750 miles for the year - that s like 2 miles a day - very doable (if i manage to run every day)
b. Run the bridges in the city - i have been doing that but this year the goal is to get through all of them. There is Williamsburg Bridge, Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan bridge, George Washington bridge and i am sure there are another dozen or so that one can run across.
c. Run in all the five boroughs of the city

2. Yoga Practice goals for 2011
a. log 400 hours of practice
b. maintain a unsupported head stand for 5 mins
c. complete the level two schedule of the 'light on yoga' practice schedule

50 weeks to go - the log starts!