Room with a View

28 January, 2006

I spent the first two night of the week in Niagara Falls at company retreat/education event called Blue Horizon. Everything at my company is either ‘Blue Something’ or ‘Something Blue’. We have an internship program (Future Blue), a company directory (Blue Pages), powerful supercomputers (Deep Blue and Blue Gene) – get the drift? This is naturally Niagara’s slow season and we were pretty much the only game in town – the Town even honoured us by lighting the Falls Blue for 15 minutes on Monday night.

My room had a decent view (see picture) of the ‘US’ falls from the balcony. Unfortunately, being on the 5th floor, we couldn’t see more than the rising mist of the more spectacular ‘Horseshoe’ Falls. Not that we had much time to enjoy the view – a few minutes in the morning before heading down to a working breakfast was pretty much it. These are fun but tiring events – workshops, working lunches, working breakfasts…and then when you finally get up to your room at 11:00 pm you’re online checking email or meeting with colleagues to manage issues; Monday night five of us pow-wowed on an issue until 11:30 pm in my Architect’s room before tuning in to the CBC to watch the Election results – you should have seen the view he had from the 18th floor!

My room was big enough for me to put down the mat for a full practice – and I dutifully got up at 5:30 to practice. Waiting to check in on Sunday night at the lobby I had my yoga bag on one shoulder; what a great conversation starter it is. At work, I am now known for 3 things (apart from my reputation as a rising star and the stellar quality of my work 😉 ); 1. Being vegetarian, 2. Practicing Yoga, and 3. My fanatic support of Arsenal Football Club.

I missed the girls though. Just two nights an hour from home. Imagine 2 months halfway around the world!

Mourning In Canada

26 January, 2006

OK, so maybe that’s a bit over the top. The truth is I’m pleasantly surprised at the resilience of the liberal core; become jaded, careless, a bit arrogant after 12 years in power, run a hopelessly inept campaign in front of voters ready for any kind of change…and still after all that, come back with 105 seats – just 17 fewer than the Tories. It says something about what the Liberals accomplished in power and it is a very strong base with which to rebuild.

Also heartening is that together, the progressive parties took 67% of the popular vote and hold 60% of the seats in the house. That will give the Tories something to think about if they’re looking to put forward a conservative agenda.

Honestly, I wish the new government luck. May they govern well. When all’s said and done this is still Canada after all. How conservative can they really be eh?

Timeout Please

19 January, 2006

A common theme is science fiction is that magical stopwatch that stops time. I need one of those. I’d just like to make everything stand still for a couple of days so that I can sleep, chill, meditate, and collect myself before starting things back up.

Time is at a premium these days for me and while I’ve got a dozen things I want to get down into this blog, it’s the sheer lack of time that keeps me from doing it. It’s the sheer business of my job, being a dad and a husband and a responsible householder that keeps me fully occupied. I wouldn’t trade any of it. No. I just want a brief timeout.

It’s occurred to me that going to Mysore would be such a timeout. I’d be stopping the clock on my life as I know it. If I have doubts about whether Mysore will happen they’re all to do with just that though…can I live without the ‘stuff’ that makes up my life for such a long time? I don’t mean all the mod cons of course. I mean the girls. Everything else I could manage. India’s no big deal. I spent over year in there in the 80s – so 2 months in 00s would be a cinch. Could I manage that kind of solitude?

The thought would not have occurred to me a decade ago. There was a time when I was my own favourite company and I could (and did spend) days at a time in virtual solitude meditating, reading, thinking. Now, after 8 years of being a dad and a husband I’ve gotten used to the bustle of it all.

Everything else is sorted. The money’s there, I’ve got my manager’s buy-in to take the 2 months off, my family’s ok with it. The only thing in my way is me. Apart from all of the above, I wonder if it’s even worth it. Is it really all that? Know what I mean. For a bit more than the four grand I reckon I need for Mysore, Neera and I could do a great 3-week tour of India with these guys, never mind all the other things I could do with that kind of money like put a fantastic natural water feature in my backyard or finally ‘do’ my home office. I could have these things and keep on practicing my asanas everyday.

Anyway, I’m getting my passport sorted out (what’s the opposite of a procrastinator? I have 10 months before I’d go). The Canadian one expired back in 2002 or something. I’ll probably even get my UK passport renewed while I’m in the mood for such things as it expires in April. I stopped feeling ‘English’ long ago (and I never really felt British); it’s a ‘flag of convenience’ that eases my way out of Heathrow when I need it. I still like England, and London will always be my hometown – it just feels more foreign everytime I visit.

I talked to my Mum and Dad last weekend. They’re getting set to head south. Nice way to travel; they have a driver chauffering them around the country. When the distance to their next destination is too long, they fly, while the chauffer drives there and picks them up

Dad: Where’s in Mysore is that Yoga place you’re always talking about? We might go visit it.
Me: Why?!
Dad: You’ve talked about it so much that we’re curious. So we might check it out

So if you’re reading this in Mysore and you see this vaguely anglophile-looking bloke in his early 60s loitering outside the Shala looking decidely out of place in his khakis, bush shirt and Tilley hat, smoking a pipe. You know who it is.

Time to vote

14 January, 2006

I’ll be casting my ballot tomorrow in advanced polling as I’m out of town for work on Election day. The governing Liberals are looking set to receive the political equivalent of a game misconduct penalty and maybe it’s just a well. 12 years in power might have had people looking for change anyway but with the taint of scandal and an election campaign of indiscipline, arrogance, ineptitude…and now sheer desparation (with some pretty vicious negative advertising), unless the polls are massively wrong the question now is whether we’re looking at a Conservative majority or minority. To their credit the Tories have run a largely high-minded campaigning. They’ve tacked to the centre and have seemed to have convinced many Canadians that they are moderate and progressive.

Time for the Grits to renew and revitalize…on the opposition benches. For me the question is pretty basic. After briefly considering parking my vote with the Greens, I’ve decided to stay red. Are we better off than we were 12 years ago? The answer for me is unequivocally yes. I’m voting Liberal.

New York?

10 January, 2006

So it appears that the big guy is coming to New York. I am quite tempted to make the trip down but it would put a terminal hole in my embryonic plans to go to Mysore next winter because I’d probably need to take a week off work and the plan is to save all my vacation until the end of the year for the Mysore trip. But then again maybe not – depending on what kind of schedule they keep at the workshops, I could work remotely as it’s a safe bet that we’ve got tons of mobility space down in our New York offices. We’ll see.

Mum and Dad have been in India for almost two months now – it’s been all North so far but they’re now planning to make it down South – on their itenerary, among other places, are Bangalore, Ooty and yes, Mysore. It’s my Dad’s first trip to India in almost 40 years – he says it hasn’t changed much; it’s just dirtier and more crowded. But he says he’s ‘fit right in’ – it feels to him as though he’d never left. They’re spending most of their time with my Dad’s brothers – three of whom have just moved to India from the UK, Kenya and the US to retire in Gujarat. They’ve each bought new ocean front cottages near Valsad in Gujarat. These apparently only put them back a paltry 25K US plus a few grand to make alterations suiting their tastes. Makes me want to get a place – maybe further south though. I’ve told Dad to check it out – I could do with spending my holidays up at ‘my place in Ooty’! Ooty properties are probably already to steep (no pun intended – it’s a ‘Hill Station’) but one can dream.

Back to the here and now. After last week’s chaos, I’ve been back to my asana routine with 4 straight practices. The last two have been remarkable – like some switch got flipped or something. I’m at a loss to explain it. My practices on Friday and Saturday were remarkable only for my having done them at all. But yesterday and today were something else – a few things that are usually impossible have become possible and even easy. Meanwhile the rest has been deeper and better. Maybe it’s just the latest ‘tipping point’. I’ve seen them before. You practice and practice with no perceptible progress and then suddenly one day you make that move up one gear.

Into Love

7 January, 2006

Well I’m back to the mat – Friday was rough after six days off but this morning was much better. Nothing to report in breakthroughs lately except I have the very real feeling that my poses are getting deeper and deeper. I caught my wife gaping at me unbelieving and round-eyed in routine Mari C a couple of weeks ago – “It’s really coming along eh?” She said. I smiled thought to myself “Chill baby, it’s only Mari C”

Moment of Non-Attachement: If you recall I put a big dent in the side of one of our cars a couple of days ago. I’m not as bothered by it as much as I might have been in the past. I cursed when I heard and felt the grind – but I think that was more out of the surprise it gave. But I forgot about it completely and when I came back to my car and saw the dent I actually laughed. I’ve noticed tangible examples like these of non-attachment beginning to take hold. Or then again maybe I’m talking bollocks – it could just be I’m richer and no longer phased at the prospect of dropping a grand or two to fix it. But I don’t think so – I really don’t care about this kind of stuff any more.

I’m taken lately with one of my new CDs – Love’s ‘Forever Changes’. It’s extraordinary and I’m astonished it has taken me so long to discover it. How many other old obscure gems are there out there. The band reminds me of my favourite Stone Roses – surly, rude and reluctant geniuses giving the industry (and to some degree even their fans) the finger (or in the British band’s case two fingers) and both having imploded before realising their massive potential. And there’s more than a passing resemblance between the personalities of Ian Brown and Arthur Lee – the two bands’ front men. Anyway I’m listening to the album now and too distracted by it to continue this blog. Later.

A Rough Start

3 January, 2006

I was reluctant to see the back of 2005 – a stellar year for me at every level. I have to wonder what 2006 holds in store…because it’s off to a bit of a rough start; late nights on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day (4:00 am on both nights) have resulted in late mornings and tiredness, which in turn have kept me from my asanas – I have yet to hit the mat in 2006. And of course because of these late nights my routine’s messed way up – last night of I couldn’t get to sleep. Insomnia’s a novelty for me – something that I experience maybe once every 6 months and which normally involves taking 10 minutes to fall asleep instead of the usual 1 or 2. But yesterday I finally fell asleep around 3:30. My alarm was supposed to go off at 4:00 am for my asanas (and I suppose it must have), but of course in my state I slept straight through it. The baby’s wailing served as a backup wake up call around 6:30 – so no asanas again this morning (that’s 3 days straight now) as I needed to get into the office. Having made it across town in one piece I conspired to screw up parking the car, scraping into a concrete column in the parking garage as I made a routine turn into a space. I had scraped a big dent into the door. Nice.

The rest of my day has been in much the same vein – inept. Fortunately things are still a bit quiet for a couple more days. I just hope my ineptitude does not rub off on my favourite team as they have a big game tonight. As for myself, I’d like a ‘do-over’ – rewind back to 1 January and start again.

The holidays were good though. But exhausting. I’m the sort who needs to cram activity into any spare time that comes up. So a vacation from work is an opportunity to put up new light fixtures, painting the family room and my daughter’s bedroom and start a new indoor garden (producing 2 lbs of fresh produce every week with my new automatic sprouter) – in between all the socializing. Still, I did take the time to kick back and watch some football, take in a few DVDs, and enjoy some ‘new’ additions to my CD collection (new in exclamation marks because the albums I got were – Forever Changes, Astral Weeks, and Led Zeppelin I). I was also on the mat most days – excluding my recent truancy. Between the socializing and the 3-month olds tendency to get up every three hours I didn’t get as much sleep as I would have liked though and I feel a bit tired.

For 2006 I have no new resolutions except to ‘stay the course’…get some sleep and back onto the mat asap.