Friday, November 19, 2004

A blog, a blog, my kingdom for a blog...

So, let me briefly introduce you to the four KYM amigos that I have, thanks to the Internet, met up with prior to travelling there. We've all decided to stay at the Hotel New Woodlands and kinda hang together (if we actually like each other once we meet up ;-).

So apart from me and Colin, from Scotland, we have Les from America (who is English), Pedro from Spain and Claudia from Chile. I suggested to all that we each keep a blog while there, and don't look at each others' blogs til we get back home.

Les already has his blog up and running at:

I'll update with the other blog addresses as they go up, should prove interesting reading for y'all!

Monday, October 25, 2004

A Site for Sore Eyes

Found another excellent site for the India traveller at

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Stuff to see in Chennai

My friend Navin sent me the following post, which is from the blog of a friend of his. I've asked Navin to get his name for me so I can credit him properly, but here's his guide to Chennai and surrounding area...


In Chennai ...

Some of the architecture (esp. temple architecture) is fabulous .. and your friends will only be limited by the amount of time they have on hand. Some of these are really old (we're talking about temples dating back to the Chola & Pallava period from the 8th century). There are some really neat churches too... the 15th/16th century churches - Santhome Basilica, Luz Church, St. Thomas Mount, St. Andrews, the Armenian Church, and then the more recent 19th century churches built during the Raj years - like the Gothic-style one in the Loyola College campus. Visiting the temples can be timed during periods of the day/week when there are no major pujas going on - so you could avoid the crowds.

The Museum & National Art Gallery in the Egmore area is another do-not-miss place. General state of dustiness & neglect, but stunning pieces of work. The museum building itself dates back to the mid-19th century. The museum's bronze collection is probably unmatched. Lots of old Rajasthani & Mughal paintings.

On the way to Mahabalipuram (touristy, but yet another not-to-miss location ... the whole temple town is a priceless piece of temple architecture) ... you may want to check out the old-old Murugan temple at Thiruporur (off the Old Mahabalipuram road) ... you're likely to find researchers & archeologists at work at the temple (trivia - Prabhakaran, the LTTE head-honcho, apparently got married here at this temple sometime in the early 80s :-))

Another place, on the very *top* of my list of places in Chennai to visit, is Dakshinachitra. It's a heritage center, about 10 miles south of Thiruvanmiyur on the East Coast Road to Mahabalipuram. Setup to provide insights into how people in South India lived. Separated into geographical divisions .. there are areas devoted to Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh. They've recreated old homes, with artifacts in place. This whole place is a work of love ... you'd be able to step into "typical" Syrian Christian homes, Keralite Hindu homes, Tamil Brahmin "agraharams" or neighborhoods in the vicinity of temples, and the like. It's hard to describe, but believe me, it's a fascinating place & quite unique. There are additional activities at the time of festivals - for example, Onam which is coming us soon, Christmas, Pongal, and the like. And it's on the way to Mahabalipuram in any case.

Another place, along similar lines, is Cholamandalam, the artists' village (again on East Coast Road) in Injambakkam, just a couple of miles south of Thiruvanmiyur. You may miss it while driving by, a landmark - there's that ubiquitous "Food World" grocery store adjacent to the artists' village. It's a unique concept - dedicated to nurturing artists in sculpture & painting. And the coastline ..... skip the beaches in the city, and head south on the East Coast Road. After you pass Neelankarai/Injambakkam, just look for any small lanes heading off to the left of the road, and it's highly likely you'll end up on the beach. These stretches of the shoreline are absolutely beautiful, and deserted most of the time. no crowds at all ... except for the occasional few who are vacationing in one of the beach homes nearby.

Bookstore: You've absolutely got to visit "Landmark", the pre-eminent store in the city for books, music, movies. Two locations - the original one on Nungambakkam High Road, and the new 2-story location inside Spencer Plaza.

Clothes: Whole bunch of places, depending on your budget. "Trendy" every-day clothes - Stopper's Shop (Chetpet), Globus (T. Nagar), that huge store in Alwarpet (I forget the name - Lifestyle ??? ).

Sari/kurti boutiques - Shilpi - one of the oldest boutiques in the city (Haddows Road, and another location in South Madras - probably Alwarpet), Pithambari (just off Mount Road), Roshanlal's (Mount Road), Surang (Cathedral Road), Sona's (Kasi Arcade complex). Ffolio - another upmarket boutique on Khader Nawaz Khan Rd.

Fabrics - FabIndia (Woods Rd, just off Mount Road), another place on Khader Nawaz Khan Rd in Nungambakkam - forget the name now ("Gujrati", or Gujrali" ???) . And while in the nighborhood, check out "Bath Twirl - Towliya" ... a funky boutique collection of bath towels, yes, I'm not kidding :-)) - on Khader Nawaz Khan Rd.

OK, and now some nice places to eat ...... :-)))

South Indian : Annalakshmi (easily the best south Indian restaurant I went to during my recent visit), on Mount Road. Dakshin in the Park Sheraton Hotel, and the lunch buffet in the Residency hotel in T. Nagar were pretty good. "Ganges" - Kodambakkam High Road, near the intersection with Nungambakkam High Road, and in the basement of the complex with Komalas - the veggie buffet there was pretty good too.

North Indian : I'm partial to "Peshawari" in the Chola Sheraton hotel on Cathedral Road. Pricey, but the food's excellent. The last time I was there, a few weeks ago, there was a 25% discount if you paid with Amex or Diners. I've heard "Basera", on the East Coast Road, is good too, but I haven't been there myself. Ditto with "Pathankot" in Thiruvanmiyur, and "Dhabba Express" in Teynampet.

Chinese: I didn't go to too many places, but "China Town" on Cathedral Road, right across the road from Hotel Maris and Chola Sheraton, was pretty good. They use MSG though (aka "ajinomoto"), I was told most Chinese restaurants in the city do that, so you may want to tell the waiter beforehand if you're allergic to that stuff. My friend got a slight headache a few minutes into the meal... and he suspected the dishes had MSG - I'm OK, but he's pretty sensitive to MSG. We checked with the waiter, and bingo, my friend was right :-(

Tapas: ... didn't have time to check this out, and I've no idea if it's authentic or not (I love the ones I frequent in the bay area), but there's a Tapas bar called "Zara's" (in the same complex as China Town). Maybe some bloggers here may have some feedback on this one.

Near Mahabalipuram: a nice restaurant in the GRT Temple Bay Resort hotel (formely the Temple Bay Ashok), just north of Mahabalipuram. The lunch buffet was *excellent*. If you're going there, call ahead to reserve a table by the huge ceiling-to-floor windows with the view of the beach & the sea. Stunning, stunning, views. You can get catamaran rides into the sea (definitely, a pre-lunch activity :-))), or you can rent a bicycle and just tool around the place. I loved this hotel ... bright & airy & spacious ..

Another nice place to eat near Mahabalipuram (this was highly recommended but I didn't have time) is the open-air restaurant on the beach in the Taj Fisherman's Cove resort hotel. I think it's open around 7:30 every night.


I'm leaving out the usual sightseeing spots ... I'm sure your friends can pick up a book, or look up the Rough Guide or the Lonely Planet travel info on the web. And not very far from Chennai is a great little town - Pondicherry (there was a whole blog on it by shehrezad, you may want to check that out). And Kanchipuram - if your friends are interested in history & temple architecture, they'd want to make a day's trip to this town - the ancient capital of the Pallavas & then the Cholas , and innumerable fascinating temples - some of the oldest in the country from the 6th & 7th centuries.


Only 3 months to go!!!

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

The Yoga formerly known as Viniyoga

Despite my last update, I notice that I didn't actually mention what I will be doing in India. First of all, decided to cut it down to a mere 5 week trip - the thought of no annual leave for 2 years was kinda daunting, and it leaves the option of going back the next year if I like it.

Second, it's a definite for the course at the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram. I am very interested in the approach of Krishnamacharya (which used to be called Viniyoga, a name now abandoned by TKV Desikachar as he felt it was 'separating' them from other yogi-s, when after all the purpose of yoga is union), and have been to excellent workshops with Paul Harvey (aYs) and Kausthub Desikachar, as well as the aYs Convention. I've also started going to private lessons with aYs Scotland teacher Lynne Scott. So, it'is the 4 week international course for me and Colin in February 2005, and we'll see where that leads.

Also had a visit from my friend Navin from Chennai, which was great - even better he will be taking care of us when we get over there. Cool thing is, as I realised at the weekend, that's me got less than 6 months to go now!

Had the first two rabies vaccinations (and a Hep B booster), which was interesting ot say the least. Was given Rabipur, which comes in a kit with a (subcutaneous) needle. Got the first jag and immediately my shoulder muscles starts twitching. Nurse starts reading the side-effects, then blocks the door I am heading for and demands that I sit down for a few minutes. When she got to 'nervous damage and paralysis in extreme cases' I started getting a bit worried. But it wore off after a few minutes and I had no other side effects.

Went back for my next jag to a different nurse (they are given at 0, 7 and 21 days) and it was given with no problems (though she was worried by the first reaction, as often the second one is worse). Then we sussed out the reason for the problem - although the needle is sub-cutaneous, which is how the first nurse gave it, the instructions are for the injection to be given intra-muscular. So the vaccine went in and reacted with the muscle on the surface instead of being absorbed by the bulk of the main muscle.

Apparently I should be okay after the third vaccination (this Friday, day before I jet off on holiday) but just in case I'll give those mad slavering Indian dogs a miss!

Monday, July 12, 2004

Are you a nurse, or a female reincarnation of Jocky Wilson?

Well, sorry that I've been neglecting the blog, promise to post more often as we approach the trip. In the interim i have booked my flights, so I'm definitely going. Fly out January 25th 2005, returning 2nd march. Great news is that my mate Colin is coming over too.

Also have arranged travel insurance, and the title of this post is all about the fact I had my vaccinations on Friday, well the bulk of them. Got tetanus/diptheria (one jag), hep A, typhoid and polio (drops), all for free on NHS. Got to go back over next 4 weeks to get 3 rabies injections (need to pay for those), and find the result of my Hep B blood test (been vaccinated before) to see if I need a booster. Also go back in 6 months for a Hep A booster, which will give me 10 year coverage, so good advice to go early.

Am going to opt for Malarone for the malaria meds, which is expensive as it is a private prescription. Nurse reckons it's £22 for two weeks worth and you need 2 days before and a week after, so I'll be at least £66 in total. Still, it's better than juggling the other 3 meds they recommend in its place, which would probably cost a bit too.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

India Survival Kit

Occurred to me as I researched this entry (starting over a month ago) that I was intending to reinvent the wheel. There are some fantastic sites out there already delaing with this topic, and the others I intend to deal with. So... brevity is the rule of the day from now on. Some good hints and excellent links to guide the way, and get you thinking in the right direction.

What kind of pack? Depending on whether you are travelling or staying in one centre, do you want a backpack (travel) or suitcase (stationary). Consider poly bags inside of the main bag, to prevent spillage.

For a travel checklist try here or the excellent advice at this site

For electronic gear that uses mains electricity, consider surge protectors and multiple power adaptors/universal plug (different areas have different power sockets). Also consider keeping equipment in a ziploc bag with silica gel sachets, given the humidity in India. Also, don't forget your torch for the power outages - seems to be a personal preference on whether to take a maglite v. headtorch - you decide!

Clothing - consider the suitability of clothes as regards heat and humidity, and also the amount of clothes you will need (especially in a country where made-to-measure clothes cost, well, buttons!). Women need to consider personal safety when deciding what kind of clothing to take. Also think about what constitutes suitable footwear. Finally, almost everyone recommendstaking your money in a money belt.

Travel security - remember to find out from the airline exactly what you must not to carry in hand luggage and what should be in cabin baggage. I have read that in all internal flights you will have the batteries for electronic devices confiscated if you try to take them onboard with you.

Other useful items - penknife, cup and immersion heater, keep books to a minimum, one max (too much to do, too many people to chat with), cleaning wipes, photocopies of important documents including traveller cheques, padlocks, writing materials, mosquito net.

Anyone got specific suggestions to add, drop me a line...

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Dammit Jim, I'm a doctor, not a travel agent!

First, the ouch-factor - innoculations. Been avoiding them since I was old enough to realise that I didn't like getting a big thick needle stuck into my arm (or alternate body location) and here I am looking to ask my doctor, "please sir may I have another!" However, that seems a far better option than dying choking on my own vomit in the throes of Dengue Fever or Bilharzia (if indeed those afflictions induce vomiting).

So here is the CDC (Center for Disease Control) advice to travellers to the Indian Sub-Continent. Still fancy a trip to India, or would you prefer your chances sitting around in a pool of Smallpox for a couple of weeks? Notice that amongst the usual advice on tummy troubles and malaria, you'll find the plague mentioned! Hmmmm... ring-a-ring-a-roses...

To summarise, the CDC recommend vaccinations against hte following diseases:

"Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG).
Hepatitis B, if you might be exposed to blood (for example, health-care workers), have sexual contact with the local population, stay longer than 6 months, or be exposed through medical treatment.
Japanese encephalitis, only if you plan to visit rural areas for 4 weeks or more, except under special circumstances, such as a known outbreak of Japanese encephalitis.
Rabies, if you might be exposed to wild or domestic animals through your work or recreation.
Typhoid vaccination is particularly important because of the presence of S. typhi strains resistant to multiple antibiotics in this region. There have been recent reports of typhoid drug resistance in India and Nepal.
As needed, booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria and measles, and a one-time dose of polio for adults.
Hepatitis B vaccine is now recommended for all infants and for children ages 11–12 years who did not receive the series as infants."

So, I count that as 9 or 10 - quite low on the porcupine scale, but remarkably more dangerous than a darts match down the local pub.

Malaria advice seems to revolve around taking preventive medicines before you leave, during your stay, and (for some drugs) after you return home. This, apparently, is because malaria comes from a parasite in your blood, and you need to keep killing it off once you return. There is a lot of differing advice reagarding the need to take anti-malarials and also which medicines to take. Whatever you choose (based on sound medical advice, I would advise), steps to ward off mosquitos in the first place seem a good idea - mosquito repellent containing DEET and light coloured clothing being the best things.

Tummy troubles - don't eat and you should be fine! Okay, seriously it seems quite obvious but drink bottled spring water, no ice of any sort, careful where you eat, good post-toilet hygiene (since you'll be eating with your right hand)
and peeling fruit seem to be the main advice.

Another good tip, make sure you've visited the dentist before your trip - anyone who fancies a trip to an Indian sentist should watch the Marathon Man again, then reconsider.

Here's some of the things recommended for your Travel First Aid Kit for India:

Aspirin/paracetomol (pain/fever)
Antihistamine (allergies, insect bites/stings, motion sickness)
Cold and Flu Medicine (well, um, for colds and flu - duh!)
Antibiotics (should be prescribed, and carry prescription with you)
Diahorrea Medicine (like Imodium, but should only be taken if it persists)
Anti-vomiting/nausea meds (okay, enough sarcasm for one post)
Rehydration Drinks (to stop you dying from Diahorrea)
Insect repellent
Eye drops
Calamine Lotion/Sting Relief Spray/Aloe Vera
Antifungal Cream/Powder (yuk!)
Bandages and Band-Aids
Water Purification tabs and/or Iodine
Sterile Needle Kit (well, you might just not want the "doc" to stick you with the same needle as he used on that goat!)
George Clooney (yeah, dream on!)

For more on general health advice check out the MD Travel health site or the WHO information site.

Good health!

Friday, February 13, 2004

Excellent Site!!!

Anyone interested in travel in India should check out the Indiamike Travel Site and Forum. A great forum there, and I fully intend to strip it of all it's great wisdom over time!

Saturday, February 07, 2004

Whaddya mean you're gonna deport me???

Yes, my friend, it is true - you need a visa to get into India in the first place. So best give it a bit of thought before going, make sure you get one in time. This will all depend on where you live, so best get local advice, and do remember to make sure that you have a passport valid for six months after you intend to leave India.

The Ministry of External Affairs site offers general advice and also has links on its Missions page to Embassies and Consuls around the world.

Now, perhaps it is only me that finds it strange but the eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed that there is no mention of any British Embassies or Consuls there! Fear not my fellow Brits, for here is the High Commission of London website on visas. Best course of action would seem to be to turn up in person (with all the required documentation) at the High Commission of India in London, or the Consulate General of India which has offices in Birmingham and Edinburgh. There are also a number of visa 'surgeries' held at various locations throughout the UK during the year, check the website for details.

Most people will be looking for a short-term tourist visa, but all the info can be found on the High Commission website re visa types, application procedures, fees and opening times so I won't duplicate here. From what I read they will usually give you a short-term tourist visa for 6 months from date of issue, so I'm not planning to apply until November this year. Looks like you can get your visa there and then, but I'll update once I have done this part and let you know how I got on.

Also found out about this passport scam, mostly aimed at NRI's (Non-Resident Indians) but I think everyone should be wary. Just remember, truth and honesty are not always a protection in India, the police and officials can often be corrupt and a little (or a lot of) baksheesh can be the best way out of a situation.

Another good point came from this post on the Indiamike site. In brief, it is not usually possible to extend a 6 month tourist visa, except in an emergency which might buiy you a couple of weeks. What you need to do is leave the country and apply again - Nepal is recommended for ease of travel, and even an overnight stay is sufficient.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004


So here's the list of info posts I intend to do:

Travel Planning (how to get a visa - yes, you do need one - and other pre-travel matters to be arranged such as insurance)
Medical Matters (inlcuding innoculations, preventive medication and travel first aid kit)
India Travel Kit (a survival kit by any other name)
Money (what to take and where you can cash it)
Flights (online flight websites)
Internal Travel (getting around once you've arrived)
Food and Hygiene (how to avoid Delhi Belly)
Yoga in India (the best links I can find)

The other posts I'll do on the areas I'm planning to visit (andother areas too, if people make good recommendations to me). If anyone has suggestions for me, please email me as below - additional info resource topics, advice to add to those topics, or suggestions for places to go.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

First Contact

Well, had my first email re the blog - already had feedback from people on MIS, but it was nice to get that email. It was from someone who is headed over to India shortly, so hopefully she will give me some feedback once she has been.

So, what about all these changes? It all kicked off when I got a couple of reviews of Sivananda TT at the Neyyar Dam Ashram, one from a person who had done it (having been taught Sivananda for years and loving it) but ended up walking out of the place mid-course. Got me thinking - always thought the rules are quite oppressive, but hey it's an ashram and I reckon I could have handled that. Good for the discipline! However, after thinking about it all it just doesn't feel right for me.

So I got thinking, and found the people at SVYASA (alternate website in their incarnation as VYASA) offer a 4-week TT course at their campus at Prashanti Kutiram, near Bangalore. The cost for 4 weeks board, lodging and tuition? $350!!! At current US$ exchange rates, less than £200! I'll buy that for a dollar, thought I.

Despite the fact that it tied in so well, with the course starting 1 February 2005, I realised that I was only going there for convenience (and, truth be told, economy). What I want from India is to do things that I feel drawn towards, to experience those things that I really want to do. The Teacher Training thing has also been bugging me of late - why do I really want to do a TT course? Well, despite the fact that I feel drawn towards teaching others and that teaching is great for advancingyou personall practice, I realised that there is no great need for me to do TT right away. So I basically put the idea of doing TT in India out of my head - if it's to be, then it will come looking for me.

And that's 's when it all sort of fell together. I have been interested in the Viniyoga approach for a few months now, and am reading Gary Kraftsow's book "Yoga for Transformation". It's a great book, full of very interesting ideas - none of them truly new to yoga, but the perspective outlined is very fresh, intelligent and new to me at least. It was then that I noticed that the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram in Chennai does a 4-week course on "The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya" (not TT) from 31 January to 25 February 2005. Seems ideal!

Have had a few great reviews of this course from people who have previously attended, and about the KYM in general. Added to that, the current man in charge, Kausthub Desikachar (son of TKV Desikachar) is coming to London in April for some workshops. Hopefully I will be able to make it to at least one of these workshops, just to test the experience.

A few more interesting links, for those interested in Viniyoga. The Association for Yoga Studies in Bristol seems to be the main centre for Viniyoga in the UK. It was founded by Paul Harvey and is based around the Yoganjali Teaching and Therapy Centre in Bristol.

Another link of interest, mainly for me, is the link for Viniyoga Scotland. This site gives information on Lynne Scott and Margo Rombert, Scotlands only qualified Viniyoga practitioners.

I am hoping to also go to a couple of seminars by Paul Harvey and Lynne Scott in the next couple of months, so I'll update on that in due course.

Anyway, back to India... am thinking that the next post will be a kind of checklist of all the things that I need to do before I get there, and then each post I will take one item from the checklist and provide as many useful links as I can find.

Of course as the Bard said (and a belated happy birthday to you, Rabbie!) - "The best laid plans o' mice and men gang aft agley".

Monday, January 26, 2004

Purple Valley

Okay, the Purple Valley Yoga website seems to be back up and running, so check out their link.

Have been thinking long and hard about a few choices I have for my trip, particularly on the Teacher Training side. Have been advised against the Sivananda Ashram as it seems not to be the kind of atmosphere I am looking for (but be your own judge of that). Will post more when I get the time to add in a number of links to some other places I found.

Friday, January 16, 2004

A Tale of Two Ashrams

So, if not Mysore, than where? Well, I had been thinking of doing yoga teacher training at some point this year and suddenly noticed that the YTTC were holding this course in Scotland. However, I would miss the last 3 months of that course, and resitting the missed classes would cost far too much as I'd have to go to Ireland. A big shame, I think I would really have enjoyed that course - everyone I've asked about the YTTC have spoken good of them.

So then I noticed that the Sivananda people have a Teacher Training Course at their Ashram at Neyyar Dam in January. Coincidence? Probably, but also an excellent opportunity for me to mix pleasure with, em, well, pleasure I guess. The ashram experience looks intense - long days, restricted food, no sex, no drink, no smoking, no garlic, no onions, no eggs - no anything by the looks of things! And on top of that you get to pay for it all! Joking aside, I think it will offer a great opportunity to focus my practice and to truly learn a lot.

That's four weeks, and should see the warmer weather come in big-style (not that it will be cold). Then, perhaps after a couple of days rest at Kovalam and on to Chennai by plane.

A couple of things of interest in Chennai (formerly Madras). First, a friend from the MIS site lives there - he recommended an Indian wedding as an experience not to be missed, so hopefully we'll find one to gatecrash in the time I spend there. That aside, Chennai is also home to TKV Desikachar, son of the great yoga legend T Krishnamacharya (who trained, amongst others, yoga greats like Sri K Pattabhi Jois and BKS Iyengar). I am hoping that maybe I can take in some classes there, perhaps even with Mr. Desikachar himself, but who knows - there certainly seems a lack of info on that site about ordinary classes and the like.

Chennai is also the home of the Theosophical Society, which might be interesting to visit, although I am not too knowledgeable about exactly what they are all about.
Near to Chennai there are a few other places of interest, such as the Auroville community and Sri Aurobindo Ashram, but with so much that I actually want to do, I doubt I'll make it to either.

Well, if I'm not that interested in those places, where do I want to go? Easy one there - Sri Ramanashramam in Tiruvannamalai. That website can tell you much more about Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, the great saint/sage/guru who once lived there, than I would try to, but this is one definite necessity for me. David Godman's book, Be As You Are, on the teachings of Sri Ramana just spoke volumes to me, as did The Secret Path by Paul Brunton, a British spiritual explorer and eventual follower of Bhagavan's path of self-enquiry. Any serious spiritual explorer should read those books and make up their own minds.

There's some good info on Ramanashramam on the web, particularly Michael Langford's site and another one of walking around the sacred Mount Arunachala (or Annamalai). I think a couple of weeks there, spending some time around the Ashram and Arunachala (believed by Hindus to be Siva himself) will be very interesting.

After that, it's time for me to make my way to Mumbai and meet up with my girlfriend, before heading down for a fortnight in Goa. It will be a leisurely trip across the country, and I hope to experience the Indian railroads at their best. Also hoping for some interesting historical sites, such as Hampi, Ellora or Sriringapatam. Or maybe temple experiences , encounters with elephants or tigers or a trip round more palatial settings.

And when in Mumbai, perhaps there'll be time for me to hunt down stardom in Bollywood before heading off to the (comparative) hedonism of Goa.

Haven't really thought much about where in Goa we will be sunning ourselves, but I had been going to drop a link to Purple Valley Yoga there, however I cannot seem to access their website. Is there trouble at t'mill or is it simply a case of routine web maintenance? Tune in later to find out for sure!

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Contact us

Well, contact me, actually. Here's an email address for anyone who feels moved to drop me a few lines, with either comments on the blog or suggestions on sites of interest on India or even sights of interest in India.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Online Yoga Communities of Note

Okay, before I get started, just a couple of quick links to my favourite online yoga forums. Been on a few, and I'd say that the newsgroups and Yahoo groups are definitely to be avoided. The usual trolls hang about there, flame wars, spammers and that the sort of nonsense, no community there at all. Bulletin boards are the way to go, as they can be effectively moderated to get rid of the above.

The first one I found and enjoyed was the Ashtanga EZBoard Board. It is a great resource, especially for Ashtanga neophytes, but i have drifted away from there. You will find, amongst the fantastic wealth of information, a few intense regulars who can be a bit rude, and who I found more than a trifle annoying, but on the whole it's a good place to be.

The best, though is undoubtedly Erich Schiffman's "Moving Into Stillness" EZBoard. There's a real community spirit here, and the more you join in the more you'll get out of it. Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Why, oh why, oh why?

Okay, so let me take you back, waaaaaay back...

Actually, not that far back, just about 2 1/2 years ago when I first started yoga. I must admit that I first came to yoga as an open-minded skeptic - very interested in the physical benefits (improved health and relaxation) and some of the mental aspects (better concentration) but the spiritual aspect was something that I was definitely not interested in (to say the least). I have always been very much a believer in science, and the power of man to carve his own destiny in life, and the likelihood of me actually following all the mumbo-jumbo hippy tree-hugging crap that is (so I thought) the spiritual aspect of yoga was as likely as Saddam Hussein turning Buddhist (the mother of all conversions?).

Still, I approached it with an open mind (and an open heart), and here I am. What I found was the same as many people. That yoga is not a religion, it doesn't need to involve airy-fairy "all is love" nonsense, and it is a practical philosophy to help you better yourself merely by learning a bit more about yourself. Can I do lotus or bend my leg behind my head? No, not quite. Have I attained perfect tranquility and oneness with the universe? Nope, still on my 'to do' list. Do I feel better for all my efforts? A resounding yes. In the end, I feel I have a better grip on the world and 'how things work' than I did back then, and that can't be a bad thing!

So, what's that got to do with India? Muuuuuh! as they say on Chewin the Fat. Yoga comes from India, you see. As an unashamed Internet-junkie I have joined in (and left) many an online yoga forum in my time, and watching all the people tell their tales of India, and wheedling off to the sub-continent for months on end one after another I often thought, "I wish I could do that." And in June last year, that thought changed to, "Well why can't I?"

First hurdle - the work! No point in going somewhere like India for a few weeks, I thought, so first step is getting the bosses to agree to let me go for a month or three. At that time I primarily practiced Ashtanga yoga at the Practice Place in Edinburgh. A fantastic place full of great people (teachers, staff and students), I can heartily recommend practicing there to anyone. At that time I was thinking of
going to Mysore to study with Sri K. Pattabhi Jois (Guruji), which requires at least a month's practice, so I set my heart on 10 weeks' leave, so that I could spend a month or two there and then do a bit of touring before returning home.

But things change - I had the pleasure of practicing with Guruji in London in October 2003, but by then the dreadful truth of my worsening knee problem was striking home. Went to the doctor and he's now referred me to a specialist to get both knees checked out, with probable cartilage tears in both knees (the left one having had 2 ops already). Ashtanga is not very kind to already-damaged knees, so it was time to take a different approach.

Well, it took my work about 5 months from me first asking to the boss officially saying yes, but I now have permission for 10 weeks paid leave in early 2005. I am having to take most of my leave for 2 years to do so, but it's 'trip-of-a-lifetime' stuff, so who cares?!

Right now, I have nothing but that permission. What I do have is a headful of ideas that I will hopefully turn into plans, a few friends who are trying to join me for at least part fo the journey, a couple of people living in India that I will be meeting for the first time, and a whole load of travel arrangements to make, inoculations to suffer and a multitude of things to buy before I set off. Before all that, there's a whole World Wide Web for me to research, to absorb all the info I can and pass it on to you, if you wanna join me for the ride.

But that, as they say, is another story...

Friday, January 09, 2004

In the beginning.

Woo-hoo! A year today, all going well, I will be flying on my way to India for a 10-week trip! I thought that I would keep a blog while over there, to keep in contact with everyone, but have also decided to record all the useful interesting sites I find as I plan my journey. Hopefully that will be of use to anyone else planning a similar journey in future.

Also some thoughts and dreams, and a bit about why I am going. All will be revealed...