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Two practices to go, before the marathon home starts. Going home is usually a bit easier because you have been camping in Mysore for the last month and are used to cramped quarters and a natural suspicion of any food you are given. Today was led primary for me, but I rush out atfter urdhva danurasana so that David can make it in time for practice. I had a weird sideways spot in the room that was hot with the occasional blast of cold stinky air from the bathroom – so my practice was a bit ridiculous. But I still like practicing to Sharath’s count.

My cold that turned into a sinus infection that ebbed back into a head cold has now evolved into a bronchial hacking cough that actors use in movies to indicate their characters are dying soon. I’m sad to leave my practice here, but if I don’t eat something green soon, I might actually perish.

Holden’s Walk for Farm Animals was a success. We took a rickshaw out to Chamundi HIll and we made it up – okay maybe 50 steps. We didn’t see any monkeys at first, which was totally disconcerting, because usually they are all up in your shit there. Instead the steps were occupied by goat families. When we got down we saw some monkeys hopping around and eating the bugs off each other.  Holden was only groped by one person, before David pushed them off – which is an improvement on our other experiences of tourist destinations in Mysore. Holden also raised almost $1400 for charity, which is awesome, and can be mostly attributed to the greatness of his hair

Last night while reading No Roses For Harry.

Holden: There? (points to a picture of a man in a store)

Stan: That is a man going shopping.

H: There?

S: That is a family going shopping.

H: Shopping. There?

S: That is a lady going shopping.

H: There?

S: I think everyone on the street is doing a bit of shopping.

H: (points to cats) Cat.

S: What do you think the cats are doing?

H: Shopping.

S: What do the cats need to buy at the store?

H: Brushes.

True say, Holdy, true say.

When I was a little girl, I thought every farmer had a couple pigs, a couple cows and some chickens. And then one day while everyone was minding their own business on the farm, the farmer (always a man?) would come out and shoot one of the pigs – Charlotte’s Web style – and then we would have bacon the next day at our house. I loved bacon, but I thought that arrangement was horribly unfair for he pig. My dad egged me on a little and on my 8th birthday I stopped eating meat. I started up again years later, but for a while I ate chip hotdogs at birthday parties and picked the pepperoni off my pizza.

Now I know that we don’t raise meat that way – or at least we don’t raise meat that way anymore. My whole family, except for the cat is vegan and I try to do whatever I can to support vegan organizations and spread the word about how awesome it is being vegan. You do feel so much better. Since I became a mom I had to really think about my choices and if they were safe for my baby. So far, Holden has been a very healthy guy and we are lucky that he has such a big appetite. As a mom, I feel kind of emotional about what breeding food mammals have to go through in a factory farm. Mercedes and Holden are my everything, and it is difficult to think of the horrific nightmare of being constantly pregnant and having your babies taken away over and over again to be eventually killed.

Anyway, I get to keep my baby, so my baby is walking for all the animals who don’t. On September 29th, while his sister and the AYCT team are walking for farm animals in Toronto,  Holdy will be walking on Chamundi Hill. Maybe not all the way up, but certainly up enough to get freaked out by the monkeys (okay that is step number one).

All the proceeds go to Farm Sanctuary. If you donate, I promise to send you a picture of Holden in his official Farm Sanctuary Walk for Farm Animals tee with the monkeys. He is very proud of his t-shirt which came in the mail for him and is for a child 10x bigger. It has a picture of a pig on it, which Holden assures me is actually a dinosaur. So, maybe he will be walking for dinosaurs, I don’t have the heart to tell him that it is a lost cause.

Here is the link to his donation page, with a super cute picture of him. Totally worth the clickity click.

Here is a picture of Holden at Farm Sanctuary in upstate New York this year, petting a goat:

And just a short drive from Farm Sanctuary is a place to get vegan ice cream. it was a big day.

Happy Heart Day!

I really prefer to celebrate Valentine’s Day with people under the age of 10. Since I can’t ply my nephew with enormous amounts of sugar from India, David and I kept the whole day pretty low key.

I mentioned in a previous blog post that I would be walking up the 1000 stairs of Chamundi Hill to celebrate the moon day and to mark my donation to the Red Cross Haiti Relief Fund, as part of a fundraising effort at the Ashtanga Yoga Centre of Toronto.

First a word about the moon day. In Ashtanga Yoga, we traditionally don’t practice on new and full moon days or Saturdays. The energy is thought to be too intense or scattered to practice on moon days, and it also serves as a great moving holiday. The full moon day landed on a Saturday for us two weeks ago, which meant no holiday. This new moon has landed on Sunday morning India time, but sadly for Torontonians it landed on Suturday evening. Really it did. David got a few emails about it today. He is a good yoga teacher, but he has yet to master the ability to control the tides. Maybe it has something to do with his moola bandha?

Anyway, back to me and my now non-existent moola bandha. We started out after breakfast when the weather was still cool. Here is me at the bottom looking all fresh. You can see on the first big step, there are quite a few offerings of pigment (!!) and flower petals. We watched a few women make an offering to each step, which would take at least a few hours.  In the distance you can see a gateway where the monkeys hang out.

These two found some of the offerings to Ganesh and shared a bite of banana.

There are so many monkeys, some people walk with sticks to shoo them off. I don’t find them that aggressive, but I did keep all my Dog Whisperer techniques in mind.

Nandi, Shiva’s bull, is at about step 800. This Nandi has his own priest.

I love his face.

I huffed and puffed my way to the top. It wasn’t that bad because I stopped and rested a few times. And I did have a few of these conversations:

David: Are you OK?

Stan: (Breathless) Yeah, no problem

David: Umm, because your breath is sort of laboured…

When you get to the top, you can wait in line to give an offering to Chamundi temple. These were my favourite: double coconuts with marigolds, roses and a lotus flower on top.

Last time we went up the hill, we went into the temple. You have to wait in a long line and the whole event is a bit rushed and chaotic when you get there and involves forking rupees over to everyone you happen to cross paths with. This year we skipped it because it was pretty busy at the top. Lot of calves, I think some were born on the last full moon.

Here I am, happy and winded in front of Chamundi Temple!

Then we slowly walked back down, and I made lunch on our cook stove.

Miso soup, salad and a big bowl of pasta. It was delicious, I was famished.

Happy Valentine’s Day, happy moon day, happy help Haiti day. I hope your day is beautiful. I’m off to donate!

I had a great practice today. Sometimes the energy in the Mysore room can really throw me off, but today I could just breathe and focus on my dristi even though I was on a ridge. Anyone who has practiced at KPJAYI, feels my pain. Basically, the room has a marble floor and is covered with several overlapping (sweaty) rugs. There are an infinite number of rugs, and sections of the room have no rug at all. So, sometimes, you end up on the cold hard marble, other times you end up on a ridge made from the overlap of two or three rugs, and occasionally you hit a sweet spot – no ridge, no marble. With all the bumps, valleys, and divots, you get positively sea-worthy after a ridge practice. Today I was a good sailor.

Here’s a pic of the shala I found online. I’m sure the rugs were straightened out that day.

This weekend we have two days off because of the moon day on Sunday. Torontonians – don’t be haters, I know your moon day is on Saturday but I don’t make the rules here. Ordinarily, I would have spent the weekend reading and lollygagging about, but AYCT (inspired by Liz!) is raising money for relief efforts in Haiti this Valentine’s Day. I just don’t feel right sitting around while my do-gooder yoga buddies are facing another full week of practice.

So, David and I are going to walk up and down the 1000 steps of Chamundi Hill and I will donate to the Canadian Red Cross Haiti fund when we finish and I regain consciousness. I’m actually really excited to see it again. The hill is named after the goddess Chamundi, or Durga, who slayed a demon at the top.

At step 800, there is a huge statue of Shiva’s bull, Nandi (sadly not of his pugs) made out of a single piece of black granite.

I know many of you have raised money for Haiti, but if you haven’t yet – Sunday is a great day to share your love and your good fortune. Plus the Canadian government will match your donation. At the very least, the idea of me hauling my big belly up Chamundi Hill in 30 degree weather will amuse you enough to give!

You can clickity click here to donate online. If the Canadian Red Cross gives you the heebie-jeebies, CBC has collected a list of organizations here.

Extremely Exciting Photos from the Day:

Me on the steps leading up to our apartment.

David put up a mosquito net around our bed, so we won’t be eaten alive while we sleep.

We made popcorn and watched a movie.

Thrilling, I know. Try not to have a coronary reading this blog!

I had a lovely practice this morning, and after lunch we went walking around Kukkaranahalli Lake. It was fantastic to walk for two hours without dodging rickshaws and getting beeped at every five seconds. We saw some amazing critters. I had great time and was thoroughly exhausted by the time we got home.

In the background, you can see Chamundi Hill with its 1000 steps. This moon day weekend, pregnant lady is going to tackle that with plenty of snacks and water. I promise to take lots of pictures of the crazy monkeys.

The lake was filled with the most stunning birds.  Here are a squadron of pelicans (real term – I looked it up!) all bunched in one poor, overworked tree.

David got this great shot of a pelican that landed pretty close to the trail we were on.

The trees are all massive and ancient. This one looked like a green monster and was covered in morning glory. Lovely.

An Irish student told us that playing Bach will make your baby smarter. Today I listened to Bach at full volume with the speaker pointed at my stomach. And the baby kicked happily! Then we played some Erik Satie, and the baby settled right down. I think that combination will make a smart, morose baby – which doesn’t sound that appealing. i think I want a happy dummy.  Anyway, for what it is worth – the baby likes Bach.

And speaking of high-brow taste, did you know that our apartment has a Monet?

A real Monet! The likeness is incredible. It is signed and everything.

Clueless, the greatest movie of all time, uses Monet as an adjective. Quite astutely, I think.

Cher: Oh, she’s a full-on Monet.
Tai: What’s that?
Cher: You see, it’s like the painting. Seen from far away, it’s okay; but up close, it’s a big ol’ mess.

But our Monet is a a big ol’ mess far away and close up. I fear it might be a fake.

Oh well, turn up the Bach and pass the vitamins – this kid needs all the help she/he can get!