Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Pipe lights

I'm developing some new ways to get vegan food at a restaurant without being totally annoying and pretentious. Here's how I go: 'Do you have anything vegetarian?' (start them off gently). Then maybe they rattle something off something vegan in which case I'm good to go. Otherwise I say, that sounds good, but can you leave off the (cheese, milk, whatever), and everyone's happy. This might sound simple but it took some time to polish it so the whole vegan thing doesn't become mount vesuvius every time it comes out while out. I've been having much success with the technique here in Stockholm. I think it helps that I go to nice looking places, under the assumption that they have good chefs who are also hopefully decent people. Last night at a restaurant called the blue door (blo dorren or something) I got rice and ratatouille with asparagus, capers (HUGE capers, had to ask what they were), mushrooms, and spinach. It was fantastic. Also started off with some snaps. Their English spelling. They meant schnapps. They had some crazy flavors, including sweet gale, which I felt like I'd heard of. Back on the internet, I looked it up and it's similar to bayberry. Then I looked up schnapps recipes on the web, and it turns out that you can throw vodka over just about anything and make schnapps. Some examples - I'm not making these up: oak branches, pussy willow puffs (technically, "catkins", linden flowers and leaves, dandelion buds, and mountain ash berries). Foraging meets getting hammered Swedish style.

My days here, similar to in Costa Rica, have fallen into a nice workable pattern. Up at 7 or so for hotel breakfast, which is a great shmorgasborg of options that honestly tests my vegan will power every morning (all that cold herring and salmon, mmm) but I've passed thus far since they have lots of bread, fruit and veggies and mustard and nuts. I'll tell you though, the food that people waste kills me. Here I am not eating a slice of cheese and people are tossing out slices left and right. Hrrmph.

Found two great yoga classes thus far (much more impressive than Rekjavik, where I couldn't find a single yoga studio). Will go back to the first place tonight for a vinyasa class. I'm sort of going about this without the best yogi attitude. I'm essentially totally proud of all the yoga I've been doing and I know that I'm kicking butt in there. Oh well, one thing at a time, the yoga mindset is harder to instill than vriksasana (tree pose).

Stockholm is a great city and people should bump it up on their lists of places to visit. I keep finding new parts, which is a nice side benefit of searching out yoga studios. Last night's yoga,, was in such a beautiful part of town I stood for a few minutes at an overlook just gazing at the city below. Then I saw some person far below on a path and it appeared that he was lighting his newspaper on fire. Turns out he was just lighting his pipe, it took a while and the flame looked bigger than that. After yoga I strolled around some more, and walked by tons of art galleries. The quality of the art in most of the galleries was poor. Makes me feel good, of course. I wonder what fraction of art galleries across the world are similar to all those Brooklyn boutiques you see: something besides sales keeping them afloat. I bet it's high.

Dark chocolate is a vegan life raft. I'm always on the prowl for it now...even the 7-11's here have it! And more than one type! Actually, the CVS at Charles/MGH also has a strangely good selection of dark chocolate.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

From paripurna navasana to enlightment in 8 steps

I'm back from the three week intensive yoga trip to Costa Rica, in body if not quite in action. In action, I've been going to bed early, like costa rica, waking up early, and hitting some yoga. I had to buy myself a new yoga pad (a lotuspad, made in cambridge!) because after 3 weeks of sweating mine up in the rainforest, that guy did not smell good at all. And doing yoga on a nasty yoga mat really detracts from the experience.

Some pics from the trip are up at snapfish. Supposedly everyone from the class (34 of us) are to post there, but everyone else must be stick in bird of paradise or something because no one it moving on it.

If I ever get bored, all I need to do is get a book of tropical edible and medicinal plants and head down to the tropics. It was like starting over down there, I didn't know what to forage. Luckily, I didn't need to, they fed us well, and we ate a ton. After hours of yoga, meal time, and when you know the next meal isn't for 3+ hours, you pack it in. Especially when it's vegan.

Lorena and Adam had Henry, who seems like a decent enough individual. Corina had much success keeping him settled. I didn't. I usually think I have a certain touch with kids, but I failed.

Here's a neat fact regarding yoga. Over the past 1000s of years, the yogis have laid out a path to enlightenment (which I'm just throwing out there as a word...not saying I know what it means). Anyhow, in the yogic view, the steps are basically as follows.

1) become a decent person to yourself and others.

2) practice your poses.

3) turn inward, removing your senses from the outside world and turning them on yourself.

4) but, lose yourself. meditate, detach from and eventually lose the thoughts that scamper across your brain.

5) after meditation practice, where you see firsthand that you are the same as the Oneness of the universe, the sense of self being an illusion (we didn't really talk about why this illusion persists or why on earth the whole shebang is set up this way, which dismayed me, but these types of why why why questions always pop up to me, and I got sick of hearing myself ask them while everyone else was just throwing around words like 'pure consciousness' and 'we are all one' with no problem).

So, anyhow, the interesting thing is, to real-deal yogis, the poses (yoga class here in the states) are only meant to train the body to be able to sit still and comfortably in meditation.

Thoreau called the original yogic texts some of the heaviest most worthwhile things to consume that the world has put forward...far more impressive and substantial than anything similar put out by the West. Of course then, this makes me want to read them. Add them to the every growing list. Also added to the 'to read' list this trip: The Road, some Nietszche, some book that brittany just finished that the teacher gave her, called orynx and crake or something.