Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Samadhi Dog

This is Moshie practicing meditation. Note his most excellent posture, his nice long spine, the relaxation he brings to the endeavor...

I leave for India tomorrow morning. I leave Lavonia at 5 am, fly our of Atlanta at 8:30 am. I meet Anne in Dallas and fly to Zurich 1:55pm. The flight to Zurich is roughly 9 1/2 hours. Then a mere 11 1/2 hours to Mumbai. We have a hotel in Mumbai where we will sleep for aas long as we can and then a taxi to Pune. Classes start on July 1. I should be quite delirious by then.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Views from The Lake

This is my Mom and Dad out working in Mom's garden this morning. Mom has quite the green thumb and has become a very enthusiastic gardener over the years. In these pictures the two of them are moving an entire bed of hastas that were growing under a big tree until a recent storm knocked the tree over. Now the shade-loving plants are without the shade that they love and are beginning to look kind of sad.

This is me and my dog, Spirit, at the end of a walk. She likes to wade into the lake, have a drink and cool off! She is a greyhound and due to her low body fat she cannot swim. Today she walked out all the way up to her neck and just stood there. Very cute indeed.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Namaste, Ya'll

Kelly and I are spending a few weeks in Lavonia, Georgia (where my parents live) before I go to India. (10 days until departure!) Once my visa finally arrived, Kelly and I packed a minivan with two greyhounds, four cats, ourselves and our belongings and drove 17 1/2 hours to Lavonia. Kelly is actually going to stay here while I am away and help my parents with some "honey-do's".

A typical day here at "The Lake" (My parents live on a big lake and a few years ago bought a house a few houses down where we stay when we visit.) so far involves sleeping, meditating, breakfast, a long dog walk in the state park across the lake, lunch, errands/chores, yoga practice and dinner all together at the end of the day. Sometimes we swim, sometimes we kayak.

So far, we have had quite a lovely time although at this writing Kelly is feeling a bit shell shocked from watching two hours of dramatic TV with Mom and Dad. He is not really used to anything much more intense than Frasier, King of the Hill or Scrubs. Bloody murders being solved, abusive husbands beating wives and so on- not really soothing impressions, if you know what I mean.

This weekend I am teaching a yoga workshop in Toccoa, Georgia. An Anusara Yoga friend of mine has classes there and invited me to teach while I am in the neighborhood. Sherrie is a lovely yogini and sister of Jaye Martin who is a former Geoffrey ballet dancer and certified Anusara Yoga teacher in Sarasota. It should be a fun day.

That's about all for now. I'll post some pics and reflections in a few days. Mostly we have just been settling in. Anne was here this weekend for a Father's Day visit. All in all, a good time was had by all.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


I am holding my visa and passport in my hot little hand.

Praise the lord.
Om Namah Shivaya.
Jai Ganesh.
Hare Krishna.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Still Blue

No visa, no passport

Monday, June 11, 2007

No-Visa-Having Blues

Okay- maybe there is some blues song that could be written about the no-visa-having blues... Let's see...(this will be better if you imaging some harmonica and slide guitar involved and a raspy, Janice Joplin-like vocalist...)

"I woke up this morning.... looked around for my shoes....
walked out to the mailbox...I got the no-visa-having blues...
Called up the Visa Lady... left messages and an email...
I haven't heard a thing...

Okay- I guess I should stick to teaching yoga and not song writing, I cannot think of a rhyme for email that makes sense... fail, bale, kale, hail, gale, jail, sail, trail, tale, oh- maybe that is good "thanks for listening to my no-visa-having tale...

Friday, June 8, 2007

More Delays

So even though I faxed my form to the Embassy on Wednesday morning, they called me today (Friday) and left me a message saying that they have not received it yet and if they do not get my application today then they will just mail my passport back to me. And of course, I cannot get in contact with anyone at the Embassy becasue "this mailbox is full". (it must be because I left so many long, depserate messages...)

Unbelievable. I am thinking that I am just going to fax the aplication to them every hour on the hour.

Maybe there is something in the stars.

Anyway. Pray for me.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Almost Happy Ending

I got a phone call this morning at 8:00 am.

Embassy Lady: "Good Morning. this is the Indian Embassy calling."

Me: "Good."

Embassy Lady: "I need to tell you that we cannot grant you a student visa because The Iyengar Institute is not registered with the Indian Government."

Me: "Uh-huh..."

Embassy Lady: "But we can issue you a tourist visa..."

Me: "Great..."

Embassy Lady: "But I need you to know that if something happens to you there we are not responsible for you..."

Me, still not worried about human trafficking: "That's fine..."

Embassy Lady: "And if you are caught doing anything other than being a tourist we cannot help you..."

Me thinking, What might I possibly be doing that I could get caught at?: "That is fine."

Embassy Lady: "You are willing to accept that responsibility?

Me: "Yes."

Embassy Lady: "You will need to fill out a new application from and fax it to me. This time fill it out as a tourist visa."

Me, thinking that is what I did in the first place: "Yes, ma'am."

Embassy Lady: "If you fax it to me before noon then I can process it today."

Me: Great.

So I say almost a happy ending because I do not actually have said visa yet. But I am hopeful. Quite hopeful.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Visa Saga, Continued

On Monday night at 10:30 I received a message from the Visa Office of the Indian Embassy in Washington, D.C. telling me that they have not been able to find records that the Iyengar Institute is registered with the government. In order to grant my visa, they will need me to get the Iyengar Institute to fax them a copy of their registration. I called the Iyengar Institute.

Now this is a call I had been dreading. The last thing I want to do is single myself out as the stupid, American girl coming in July who cannot even fill out a visa application appropriately. But I figure, even though it is going to be the first time I get yelled at by someone at the Institute, it certainly won't be the last. So I take big breath, act like a grown up and call the office.

"Hello," in an Indian accent.
"Hello, is this The Iyengar Institute?"
"Hello... Hello...Hello...Are you there Madam? Hello? Madam, will you please call back in 15 minutes?"

So I take a shower, say my prayers and call again. Kelly falls asleep. (Asleep? Nice support there, big guy. Oh well, he was tired. Me, I was a bit wired being that two years of planning may just be hinging on this phone call.) Now it is actually hard to explain the difficulty of communicating on the phone with the very nice man who is speaking rapidly with an accent I cannot really understand coupled with the cross-continental delay of a few seconds after each phrase that either one of us utters, making it pretty much impossible for either one of us to know what the other is saying for several minutes.

It went something like this:
Pandu: "But you do not want a student visa... you should not have applied for a student visa... student visas are so hard to get, you want a tourist visa..." (yeah, I am picking that up, believe me...this, I have figured out...)

Me: "But, I didn't mean to...I made a mistake... and now they need a registration form from you to show that you are registered with the government."

Pandu: "But madam, we are not registered with the government... We have no such form... You tell them we are a private institution and make them give you a tourist visa."

Me, thinking: "Yes, make them. Yes, I think that sounds great. I will make the people at The Embassy who I cannot even get in contact with, give me a tourist visa. Yes, that will work." Right.

So I thank the nice man and get off the phone and then I send an email to the embassy pleading my case again, begging them to allow me to get a tourist visa as I am really a tourist, not a scholar wishing to go to the university and so on.

Later today I call and finally after a few tried I get a live person on the phone. (Miracles of miracles.) She knows my case and was just listening to the messages I sent.

Embassy Lady: "I got your message that The Iyengar Institute is not registered with the government."

Me: "Yes, they told me that they are a private organization and that I should ask for a tourist visa.." (Okay, this is not making them by any means but merely an attempt to subliminally impress upon them the solution to the dilemma we are in.)

Embassy Lady: "Do you really think it is safe for you to go to a place that is not registered with the government?"

Me, not worried at all about being sold into the human slave trade and not worried at all that the Iyengar Institute may be a front for human trafficking: "Absolutely. I will be travelling with my sister and another companion who has made the trip several time and I know many people who have made a trip to study there and no harm has come to them. In fact this particular organization as been teaching foreign students for almost, well, 60 years. Really, they have an impeccable reputation."

Embassy Lady, after a long confusing discussion about my travel plans pre-India , tells me that she will have an answer for me tomorrow, that either I will get a visa or they will send me my passport back.

So, that is where it stands tonight. I hope to conclude this chapter tomorrow with a happy ending.

Monday, June 4, 2007

The labyrinth

My spiritual teacher, Lee Lozowick, always talks about how most paths have a labyrinth of some sort, some means by which payment is extracted from the aspirant, some kind of test to prove worthiness, capacity, seriousness. In the tantric traditions this is called adhikara- which means "to make oneself ready" (adhi-ready, preparation /kara- to make)

I have decided to look at my current Visa complications as a labyrinth.

What visa complications you ask?

I applied for my visa with plenty of time for it to clear Indian channels of bureaucracy. Of course in the first mailing, I forgot to include my passport. So then I mailed them that.

On the visa application form you have to list two references for your stay in India. Well, I made the mistake of listing The Iyengar Institute as a reference. The nice lady from the Indian Embassy calls my house and Kelly answers the phone since I am not home. She asks him if I will be studying yoga while I am in India. He tells them yes. So then they decide that I have to apply for a student visa. They will need more money and an official letter of acceptance from the school.

So I get Anne (my sister who invited me on this trip) to fax me a copy of our sacred blue letter that is the only letter of acceptance we have received from said institute. I send them the copy of the letter and more money. Well, the lady in the visa department says the letter is not official enough and without a formal letter she cannot grant my visa. But this particular information is left on my voice mail with no number to return her call.

Anyway- long story short, I leave about a dozen semi-frantic messages on some machine at the Indian Embassy and send of a couple of emails to the visa application department explaining that I am not really a student- just a tourist who will be taking some yoga classes and oh, I have made a mistake and please do not hold my ignorance regarding my application against me, I have so been wanting to go to India and the letter I sent is the only acceptance letter the institute gives and so on.

After two days of this- and no small amount of worry, mind you- I get an email back saying that my case will go to the head visa officer and I should hear back on Monday, which is today. So that was mildly reassuring because at least I knew that my messages had actually been received by a person and even if they decline the application I can at least get my passport back and try to reapply through other channels. It is a bit nerve wracking to not have my passport and to not really know how to get a hold of the people who do have it.

I have decided it is simply a test. A labyrinth. Just a small price to pay up front for the trip. (Although $2000 plane fare, the cost of the being unable to earn money for the duration of the rip and so on is a reasonable price in my mind, but I am not in charge of the labyrinth! That much is abundantly clear.)
So I sit home today, glued to the computer in case word comes via email and right next to both of my phones in case they call me with news.

It would after all be a bit silly to have a blog about a trip to India if I cannot go because I cannot convince the Indian Consulate that I am worthy of a visa. That would suck.
Anyway- I am hopeful and I have dutifully asked Ganesh for help- being that he is not only in charge of removing obstacles but for beginning new endeavors, learning and travel., I figure this is right up his alley. ( Although someone once told me that sometimes he can gives obstacles so we can learn to overcome them...which takes us right back to the labyrinth idea.)

Anyway- that is the first story of the trip and I haven't even left home. Pray for me.