Adventures with yoga

About a month ago an old friend and I tried out Hot Yoga at Yoga To The People. We were both novices and were a bit intimidated when we walked into the studio and it became clear that most of the other students came to class every week, if not every day.

Everything went fine however, and the funniest part of the entire experience occurred later, when I had this conversation with my father:

Me: C. and I went to Hot Yoga yesterday.
Dad: Not “Hot.” Hatha. Hatha Yoga.
Me: No!!! It’s called Hot Yoga. You do it in this sauna-type room where the minimum temperature is 105 degrees.
Dad: (Incredulous laughter.) And you paid money for this?

Indeed. My adventures with hot yoga ended that day, but I thought of that conversation when I saw this article in the New York Times that prominently mentions YFFP. The piece details how yoga has gotten more and more expensive over the years:

A 2008 poll, commissioned by Yoga Journal, concluded that the number of people doing yoga had declined from 16.5 million in 2004 to 15.8 million almost four years later. But the poll also estimated that the actual spending on yoga classes and products had almost doubled in that same period, from $2.95 billion to $5.7 billion.

“The irony is that yoga, and spiritual ideals for which it stands, have become the ultimate commodity,” Mark Singleton, the author of “Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice,” wrote in an e-mail message this week. “Spirituality is a style, and the ‘rock star’ yoga teachers are the style gurus.”

Ugh. Be sure to read the rest of the article if you want to learn more about $100 dollar yoga mats as well as the less expensive classes now being offered in response to that.

(An aside, but I think it’s funny that the first sentence on eHow’s page on Yoga mats is “Ancient yogis most certainly did not use the modern sticky yoga mat made almost mandatory in today’s yoga studios.)

Would you like salsa with that? Taco Bell comes to India

Via the Global Post, news that Taco Bell has arrived in India:

Like the Desai family who spread themselves across three tables, half of those who came into Bangalore’s only Taco Bell that evening couldn’t tell the difference between a taco and a burrito.

Nearby, groups of teenagers, middle-class families dressed in traditional Indian attire and couples clothed in their weekend best stood in snaking lines to try India’s latest fast-food sensation, pronouncing each syllable phonetically, “tor-til-a” and “fa-jee-ta.”

“It’s kay-suh-dee-ya,” Taco Bell staffer Jagruthi, 19, explained patiently to a bespectacled, bindi-sporting woman in a sari. Then she politely asked, “Do you like cheese?”

The woman shook her head and chose the potato taco instead.

Several other employees scattered across the restaurant were doing the same thing: explaining ingredients and sounding out unfamiliar words.

In addition to the potato taco, there is also a paneer option. I wonder if they have dancing waiters?

Fun with Google Adwords

It is always interesting to see what sort of products and services the little elves at Google Adwords think I would be interested in. For instance, I have no idea what in my email would indicate an interest in the ministry, but this just popped up alongside my inbox:

What’s the most irrelevant ad that you’ve ever seen in your Gmail? And does anyone else remember how most desi Gmail users were bombarded with ads for Asian Eyelid surgery circa 2006?

Kal Penn robbed at gunpoint in DC

I guess our nation’s capital is the wrong city to get the late night munchies:

TMZ has learned Kal Penn — aka Kumar from that “White Castle” movie — was robbed at gunpoint early this morning while walking in a neighborhood in Washington D.C.

Law enforcement sources tell TMZ Penn claims a man carrying a gun approached him around 1:20 AM and took his wallet and other personal property. (The full post is here.)

The news broke earlier this month that Penn is leaving his post at the White House to resume his acting career.

Update: Penn’s agent confirms the mugging to The Hollywood Reporter.

When the Disney Channel met Bollywood

I attended a fabulous panel on Bollywood and Anime in America at the Museum of Natural History yesterday afternoon.  To illustrate how Bollywood has influenced Hollywood in recent years, moderator Aseem Chhabra showed the following adorable clip from the Disney cartoon Phineas and Ferb :

The song is from the episode Unfair Science Fair and first aired last spring.

An ode to Helen, Bollywood’s favorite vixen

I first became familiar with the Bollywood actress Helen when I saw this DVD on the discount rack at one of my local Indian entertainment stores:

This is the exact description on the back of the case:

“Kamini is a prostitute. She had taken up the profession after being raped by a rich man.  One day she met a young man, Amar, the son of a wealthy father, away from her usual haunts, and was quite taken up with him.  Slowly their liking developed into love. When Kamini told him the truth about herself, Amar, stood by her. Even his mother agreed with her son. But when Kamini met Amar’s father, she was in for the shock of her life. He was the very man…

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The Real Freddie Mercury, Deconstructed

I cannot express just how jealous I am of everyone who is attending the EMP Pop Conference in Seattle this weekend. One of yesterday’s panels was a roundtable on the one and only Freddie Mercury.

From the abstract of “Freddie Mercury Deconstructed” (I’ve bolded my favorite parts):

As the lead singer and songwriter of rock group Queen – and famous for songs like “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “Killer Queen”, “Somebody to Love”, “Don”t Stop Me Now”, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”, and “We Are the Champions” – Freddie Mercury is arguably the most gifted and flamboyant of 20th century rock stars. Often neglected in discussions of Mercury”s stardom, however, are his Asian heritage and African roots, his interest and work with black and Asian musicians, and his bisexuality. The multiple (open) closets in which he worked and his subversive musical and visual content should have long ago prompted a total re-examination of the assumed whiteness, Western-ness and straight-ness of the rock front “man” mythology. But the often fraught journeys of contemporary artists like Mika and Adam Lambert and Sam Sparro suggests how far and not so far we’ve come.

This panel proposes to deconstruct Freddie Mercury’s impact on popular music, with a special focus on these hidden aspects of his public image. Among topics for consideration: Freddie Mercury’s early Bollywood and Hendrix influences; Tanzanian pop culture of the 50s; the politics of flamboyancy (Liberace to Elton to Morrissey and Mika); postcolonial superstardom; Mercury’s impact on contemporary artists like Lady Gaga; his influence on glam rock and the ways that his transnational identifications complicate our notions of “white” male rock singing; Queen’s ”70s multitracked vocal excess; Mercury’s buried ”80s records with Michael Jackson; revisiting Queen’s critical reception by the rock press; Mick Rock’s classic photographs of Queen.

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