All I want for Christmas…

29 November, 2005

is a Liberal majority. But more on that later.

For now though, consider the thought that life’s a lot like football; your ability to execute with quality waxes and wanes for reasons too subtle to understand. There are times when all you touch turns to gold; it doesn’t matter if you catch a cold, or if you have a hangover, or if you didn’t get enough sleep, or you’re eating crap – none of these things keep you from navigating through life (or a game) with aplomb. Then there are other times when it all goes pear-shaped for days on end with no apparent reason – inspite of you doing your level best to put in a top class performance.

Well, I can feel myself coming out of a trough right now. At work, the prospect of a downhill cruise to Christmas is a distant memory as I’ve picked up new responsibilities – the workload’s heavy but I’m enjoying the challenges of these new projects with their different applications and customers. I feel as though I’m oozing confidence and quality again.

In keeping with this, 0n the mat I came off a two-day hiatus (induced by hectic social agenda) to enjoy a fine 90 minutes of asanas this morning. We’ve enjoyed a warm break in the weather during the last day or so and this certainly helped.

I haven’t enjoyed any breakthroughs in my asanas for some time – except maybe one – my jump-throughs look good; my legs come cleanly through between my arms without touching the mat, and into a straight-legged sit. Sure, my legs are crossed going through and it’s all premised on a low profile (like a cat readying itself to pounce). I’m not sure if it’s legit and it’s certainly not the ‘crazy-ass’ jump through a la Swenson, but it’s still pretty good.

In other news we’re getting ready to vote in Canada as the opposition brought down the Government last night in a confidence vote. The first time it’s happened in 29 years. I used to be a political hack in my undergrad years – a Vice President of the University’s Liberal Party Club. I majored Political Science and History and was passionate about the issues. I once even debated Senate reform with the current Prime Minister – while we campaigned together on his first (and unsuccessful) run for the Party’s leadership in 1990. When the Grits crushed the Tories in the 1993 election he was the automatic choice for the Finance portfolio and the country’s enjoyed prosperity largely due to his leadership in the file.

Over time I’ve become cynical and disinterested. But the prospect of losing what we’ve gained over the decade has shaken me out of complacency. To me the choice is clear and obvious. The lowest unemployment in 30 years, 8 straight years of budget surpluses, 60 billion in debt paid down, a strong dollar, a strong economy and low interest rates. We are not in Iraq nor will we ever be. Instead we are now one of the handful of countries that allows people to live and love on their own terms. We’ve chosen a different path to that of our neighbour and long may it continue. I’m voting Liberal. I may even get out onto the hustings because Paul Martin deserves to lead this country.

See ya mate

26 November, 2005

The Best

Curing AIDS on your Herbal Tea Break

22 November, 2005

Yes. That’s right. You can help to cure AIDS on your herbal tea break – and the beauty of it is, the longer your break the more you will have helped. Check it out at World Community Grid where in a somewhat Yogic manner, many become one.

Today I am feeling fine. I feel only a bit of discomfort where the missing tooth once was (particularly when I swallow). On the serendipitous side, this whole tooth business has lead me to rediscover oatmeal – try this: combine 1/3 cup rolled oats, 2/3 cup water and a dash of salt. Microwave on ‘Medium’ for 4 minutes, stopping to stir halfway (make sure your bowl is big enough to keep the oatmeal from boiling over). When done, add a large dollop of apple sauce, a tablespoon of brown sugar (or artificial sweetener – but you’ve done 90 minutes of asanas so you actually deserve brown sugar), a couple of tablespoons of sliced almonds, and a small handful of raisins. It’s really good (particularly early on a November morning anywhere in Canada). And it’s sattvic to boot.

My condition, having improved overnight, did not get in the way of my asanas this morning at all. I was up at 6 and practicing at 6:30. I’ve been regular as ever in my asanas but it’s been a few days since I last got into some Yoga reading – maybe I’ll spend the evening reading Iyengar tonight – what a contribution he has made to bringing us the other 7 limbs of Ashtanga. Yes. Ashtanga Yoga – because all yoga is really Ashtanga Yoga.

Pain in the Mouth

22 November, 2005

Saturday I practiced on our hardwood floor and enjoyed a better practice for it. In particular I noticed how much easier it is to execute jump throughs on a hard floor (which seems obvious now). Today I was back on the carpet upstairs behind closed doors as I was starting practice later (6:30 am). But the jump throughs were still good.

Afterwards, I showered and dressed for an 8:30 Dental appointment – a routine checkup/cleaning followed by the not-so-routine extraction of a wisdom tooth. Dr Chan said it wouldn’t hurt nearly as much as I thought it would. The lying bastard. Worst of all was the ‘pulling’ sensation – I could hear it in my mouth; it sounded like the cracking, creaking sound of a falling tree.

There’s not much pain in my life. Physical or otherwise. I live a charmed existence. My life could be used as a story line in Bollywood movie because nobody would believe it. So when sharp pain comes, it feels unusual. Not so much unwanted or difficult (although obviously I like everyone else would sooner not have to deal with it) but more like out of place. It’s almost a novelty. A splash of ice water or a smack in the face to shake me temporarily out of my seemingly choreographed story and bring me back into the harsh realities of everybody else’s world.

Gamely I worked through the day and after waiting for my five-year old to get home from school, and my wife to come home from the grocery shopping (sometime around 6), I crashed until 10 or 11- I had a strange dream that, for once I recall, although somewhat patchily. I was pushing a car with two other people – strangers, a man and a woman – I suppose it had broken down. Anyway, we got to wherever it was we were supposed to get to and then I puked the soup I had for lunch (I had vegetable soup for lunch but the puking was only in the dream). I got up to find myself dropping bloody spit onto my pillow.

I was begin to hurt again and I felt hungry (the psychological effects of my dream-puke perhaps). I had a grilled cheese and a bowl of Heinz CoTS – trying to work it through the good side of my mouth. It’ll be interesting to see if I manage a practice tomorrow morning.

Practice and Theory

19 November, 2005

I am surprised that so many people take SKPJ so literally when he says that Yoga is 99% practice and 1% theory. And then it reaches the heights of absurdity when someone works out the arithmetic – and decides that they need to spend 54.54 seconds on theory.

All SKPJ was actually trying to convey is that, by and large, you don’t learn yoga by watching it or reading about it. No doubt you benefit by watching the masters, but learning yoga is a matter of doing it and living it.

And what is theory in the context of asanas? It is studying watching the adepts and learning from them; it is knowing the names of the asanas, understanding their benefits, their composite vinyasas etc. The theory of Yoga is not the other seven limbs. Yoga, despite the way it’s perceived in the public consciousness, is not just the esoteric sequence of contorted poses that we spend 90 minutes on every morning. In fact it is not even primarily this. Most practioners I suspect realise this to be true deep down, but how many Ashtangis actually take it to heart? It is so ironic that a system of asanas given the name (for better or worse) Ashtanga has so many practitioners who are as obsessed with asanas as they are oblivious of the other seven limbs. That needs changing.

Brew Moon

16 November, 2005

I took the day off work as I had to take Dhara, my 5 year-old daughter to Sick Kids Hospital downtown. It’s an annual ritual for us. Mine today as my wife was housebound with our baby girl. We made it a fun time in spite of the rain that has come lashing down all day. Doing crafts together at the Hospital’s excellent facilities, having a leisurely lunch in between her appointments – today was her special day and I wasn’t enforcing any rules; we had her favourites – French Fries, Ketchup (in my daughter’s hands it is no longer merely a condiment), Mango Juice and a Tim Horton’s Donut with Sprinkles on top.

When my wife was 27 weeks pregnant with Dhara, a routine ultrasound revealed that one kidney had ballooned – it wasn’t functioning (or at least draining). They had to operate on her in utero. One evening in November 1999 I saw something akin to a miracle at Mount Sinai Hospital downtown Toronto as a Doctor, using the ultrasound as his only guide drained that left kidney. I saw it shrink in grainy black and white as he pulled syringe upon syringe of fluid. All the time we knew that there was a chance that this would induce labour – obviously not something one cares for at 27 weeks. But we had no choice. We just bore witness and prayed. This is why we come to the hospital – to keep tabs on that left kidney.

Fast forward to November 2005. She’s five now. She has two kidneys – one works and the other does not (and happily, one is usually all you ever really need). She’s perfectly healthy and normal (normal that is apart from her precocity – yeah I know I’m her Dad but really she’s a spark). I give thanks every time I look into her big brown eyes.

No Asanas today as it’s moonday and I’ve carried a migraine with me since I woke up. I got fed up with these headaches and started to keep a log to suss out the cause; I’ve had two since I started keeping it. Both on a full moon. The only other commonality was the beer I had the night before – just one bottle of Upper Canada Lager – it’s a quality premium beer (now) made by Sleemans. I tried it at a neighbour’s a couple of months ago for the first time in years and enjoyed it so much I bought some the next time I was at the LCBO (I don’t recall if I suffered a headache that time). So, something in the brew? Or something in the moon? Or maybe both – a case of Brew Moon if you will.

Back to the home practice

12 November, 2005

Last weekend was perfect – my best time in ages. Apart from the workshops, we had family visiting from New Jersey and for the whole weekend the house felt like a bustling B&B – there were 12 of us altogether and plenty of energy, fun, food and drink.

The football was grand as well. Arsenal looked classy beating Sunderland on Saturday – it looks as though they’re finally back in form. And then on Sunday, Manchester United beat Chelsea in one of the best games that I’ve watched as a neutral in many years. Chelsea’s loss 0pens up the race a little. Just as importantly, They were 40 games unbeaten – getting close to Arsenal’s record of 49 games which is now safe again. Nor, obviously, will they go undefeated the entire 38 game season this year – as Arsenal did in 2003/2004 and in the process earning themselves the sobriquet ‘Invincibles’ – the only team to have ever achieved the feat.

As for the week that followed. It’s a time of transition at work. My latest project is ending with the application seemingly stable in Production. The hard work is done and it’s cruise control until Christmas. I spent much of the week completing ‘End of Job’ evaluations for my architect, BAs and developers. I plan to take some time off and squeeze in some education.

Back at home on the mat, with all the rooms taken up with our guests, I didn’t get back to practice until Wednesday. When I did get onto the mat, it was strange – almost as though I had never been to the workshops at all. Gone was the sweat and the intensity. Out of habit, I suppose, I practiced in my usual spot – the ‘bonus room’ and I realise now the soft carpet under my mat and rug soaks up too much of the energy. It’s the ‘bounce’ of a wooden surface reacting to and resisting my vinyasas that I’m hypothesizing makes it the harder practice. Starting tomorrow I’m going to practice on the hard maple flooring of our living room – which for now is bare and perfect to practice on (providing I get up early enough to avoid the household bustle).

My planned Mysore trip came a step nearer this month as I broached the subject with my manager. In truth she was quite taken with the idea and seemed genuinely fascinated and encouraging about it. We considered my options; probably I’ll tack my vacations for 2006 and 2007 together and take another 2 or 3 weeks off unpaid. That will give me the two-three months I’m looking for. At this point I can’t afford to take the 6 month unpaid leave of absence that my company allows – one day I will though.

On the subject of going to India, I’m driving my Mum and Dad to YYZ in about 5 hours. Alitalia takes them to Mumbai and beyond via Milan for a 5-month odyssey.