Thursday, January 29, 2009


Good God there's a lot of yoga going on out here in Costa Rica right now. It's all great, but we are certainly packing in the material. Every day is identical, so I'll just spell out one for you.

Alarm clock goes off at 6, Jordan hits snooze twice, I'm glad it finally went off because I've been tossing and turning since 4:30 or so anyhow because this whole ultra-structured situation has not really sunk in with me yet. But, I'm trying to let it go and just keep on plowing. 6:30 - tea or coffee in silence with the other 34 people. 6:45 - in circle, meditation for 30 minutes. Then 2 hour yoga practice. Then breakfast. Oatmeal and local fruits and coffee. Then 3 hour class. In class we review all the sanskrit we've learned thus far, talk about yogic philosophy, people volunteer to read the essays on whatever topic was assigned the previous night, discuss discuss. Then we learn more poses and how to teach them, we practice. Then lunch. 2 hour break - nap, beach, pool, study, something like that. Then 3 hour anatomy class. Then dinner, then I', so darn tired I cannot even think about emailing everyone and blogging although I want to, but I have homework to do and it's late, so this is my first blog post from here yet. I thought I'd have tons of them!

Twice a week we get the afternoon off. That was today. Went zip-lining through the jungle, saw a couple sloths, it was awesome. Exhilarating.

The food here is fantastic and mostly vegan. The instruction is great. Meditation is a huge challenge for me, my mind likes to race, well, I guess everyone's does, and that's why it's such a challenge for us westerners to meditate. We are in a beautiful place though, howler monkeys in the trees, lots of nice people. It feels like we've been here forever already though. Man are we going to be cooked in yoga by the time we are out of here.

Off to dinner. Tonight's homework: write essay on aparigraha - the fifth yama, and learn the sanskrit for all the new poses, and learn like a thousand muscles it seems.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The preservation of knotweed

One crucial omission on my "things wrong with my car" list. I don't know how I forgot this one, it's great.

14) You have to sit on the back trunk to close it. Slam as hard as you want, to no avail. Sitting on it is the only way to close the back trunk.

For some reason in my old age, I'm getting picky with Cambridge businesses and swearing them off one by one. At ZuZu the other night, after we had had a drink and got there early enough to avoid the line and the cover charge, which has gone up to $5, the bouncer comes around collecting money from us if we wanted to stay. We got that place going back in the day, now they charge us once already inside. No good. India Palace the other night didn't know what the word 'vegan' meant. Then Indian food in Inman Square suckered us into paying for a henna tattoo. The quote from the waitress was something like "we have someone doing henna now, and it's free". The way she said it implied to all of us that it would cost nothing. Turns out she meant, "there's no one getting a henna right now" OF COURSE NOT, who wants a henna while enjoying dinner? I was excited for Indian food as a vegan, but I have to make it myself because it's too painful trying to make sure whatever you get is vegan. More on that in a few...

There have been at least 3 more restaurants/bars I've sworn off but I can't remember them. Old age again :). But, one place that has a solid A+ right now, and so I'm recommending it to all, is Amelia's in Kendall Sq. Nice people, chef who actually makes you feel fine about ordering vegan, and great food and great bar. Plus, it's off the beaten path and so it's a cool find.

Regarding making my own Indina food, so far so good. Coconut curry veggie stew the other night rocked. All supplies easily obtained at Shalimar in Central (although very hard to get the store staff enthused about white man cooking Indian food. So far, zero success on getting a smile, let alone a 'how 'bout that!'). Coconut milk - a food of the Gods, a creamy delicious vegan sauce.

Play last night, The Corn is Green, at Huntington BU theatre, fantastic. The last decent play I saw was Seafarers in NY. There have been a lot of duds out there, so it was a pleasant surprise. I am still crossing my fingers for the new central square theatre, but really, they gotta get some better programming in there. Just do Chekhov for a while, everyone's happy. Or Tennessee Williams, or Eugene O'Neill. Are the rights on those plays significantly more money or something? I have no idea.

I have my cell phone back, and a word of advice to anyone who loses their cell phone: figure out the insurance policies rules before you go blabbing about what happened. In my case, I lost the phone on the slopes because I was wearing a ridiculous old man's suit outfit and it popped right zipper pockets on that ski outfit. But, I felt like that was too dumb, so instead I told them (truthfully) that my phone had been shutting off all the time in the cold weather and so (untruthfully) I got so annoyed the final time I just upped and threw it out. They read it back to me to confirm, and hit enter. Then they told me they don't cover thrown out phones. But they do cover lost phones. So I stuck my tail between my legs, called back the next day, and told the truth, all with levity of course. Got nowhere. Instead, received two letters in the mail - not sure why two, they were duplicates - highlighting that my phone could not be replaced via insurance because the client (me) misrepresented the facts of the case. So, the lesson learned is either 1) tell the truth, but, that's too much of a Latter Day Saint's type of lesson, and it won't necessarily always work, so I prefer 2) Figure out what story will get you a new phone, tell that one.

The weather is very cold right now. So, let's turn our thoughts to Spring. One of the first plants out in abundance around here for foraging is Japanese Knotweed. Check it out online. It's only around for good eating for about the first 3 weeks of its growth, so it goes fast, but there's tons of it. I'll be sponsoring a contest this year, the best recipe for it and the best way to preserve it. Sort of...The Iron Chef of urban wild edibles. Start brainstorming. It tastes a bit like rhubarb.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Early virtues of the vegan diet

As of January first, myself and a couple friends have gone to the vegan side. This of course comes with some risks. I hope not to become intolerable to go out to dinner with, asking about each and every item. This was worse enough as a vegetarian. I also hope to continue to love food and eating. So far, so good.

The first two days were the hardest. Maybe it was psychological, but I really felt empty and hungry all the time. I was panicking a little. But things smoothed out. Now I am thinking that vegan has some extra benefits that I hadn't considered up front. 1) I get to eat more often -- I love eating and preparing food so this is a good thing. 2) I get more creative - I force myself to so I continue enjoying food. I used to tout this as a virtue of the vegetarian diet, how I always found myself cooking more creatively since I couldn't rely on things that automatically taste good, like, oh, i don't know, sausages. You gotta work a little harder to make those veggies and grains pop. And now without cheese, eggs, and butter you really gotta work. Luckily, have had some early success already. Ribolitta from Mario Batali's cook book was excellent. I prefer normal cookbooks to vegan ones, since vegan ones are full of recipes for things like "Ground bulgar and lentil loaf". Mmmm. On the other hand, normal cookbooks with some tweaks offer fine vegan cuisine.

Making yoga free at the gallery has brought people out of their caves, which I'm happy about. I gotta get cracking on reading the yoga books for costa rica. Last night and this morning, I was reading a play by Eugene O'Neill called The Emperor Jones. I bought a book of three of his plays, published by Dover (book called Three Great Plays - only after I got home with it did i realize, wow, that's a clever publisher's title that literally got me to buy the book), hoping that one might work as a movie script for Rob. Unfortunately, The Emperor Jones is set in the West Indies and involves mainly a large black man running terrified through the woods. Not exactly what we are looking for regarding 'filmability'. Maybe one of the others in the book, 'The Hairy Ape', is more suitable.

Panicking is a weird word, having to add the 'k' before adding the 'ing'.