Sunday, July 25, 2010

Blijburg Beach

Quick practice update: On Thursday last week, I'd finally had it with so many whiny posts of "Can't find my practice mojo. Blah blah blah."

Only one way to fix it. Right?

So I ditched work early on Thursday ("Early" for me means 6.30pm these days), came home and did a quick 45-minute practice. Up to Janu Sirsasana A. And went for another vinyasa class yesterday. After staying up till 4am having drinks with workmates. Yoga on 3 hours sleep is kinda... Trippy. :)

Anyways... this is HOW SMALL Amsterdam is. While out for drinks, I met some of the baristas from Stumptown.

Yesterday afternoon, a bunch of us rode our bikes for FORTY minutes out of the city to Blijburg Beach (the usual city bike commute averages 5 - 10 minutes. FORTY minutes is FAR). It's basically a man-made beach on reclaimed land. Yup, they ship the sand in from somewhere else too!

Guess who I met there? More baristas from Stumptown! And the barista who sold me my coffee beans last week!

We got talking about the "Ethiopia Michelle" (pronounced "mi-kay-ler") roast I got which I don't really like. Apparently I should get the Guatemalan blends since I prefer coffee with more KICK. They said "Ethiopia Michelle" is a "more floral, complex blend". Hahaha, I got lost in the specialty-coffee talk. I thought I liked coffee, but now I realize there's a whole other rabbit-hole of coffee-talk for people who *REALLY* like their coffee. It was awesome to hear all of that even if I didn't get half of what they were saying.

There was a festival by the beach, and I expected HOARDS of people. Thankfully, it was extremely CHILLED. Not packed at all.

Lots of dogs around. This one was hanging out with our party.

There were massages on the beach, graffiti workshops (a "workshop" on graffiti?! HUH?!), milkmaids selling ice cream, cocktails... And even a Bingo game.

Lots of funny characters hanging around. Someone thought this guy looked like the blue people in Avatar. Check out his earlobes (surreptitious photo-taking in action)

And there was a brilliant band from Soweto in South Africa performing, called BCUC. I recognized the lead singer. These guys are ON FIRE! A mix of spoken word, singing, drumming... and songs that go on for 20 minutes in a flowing stream of consciousness (that's 20 minutes for ONE song). Amazing energy... they're performing at the Melkweg next weekend here in Amsterdam and it's definitely worth catching. He got kind of preachy at points, with very politicized/ anti-white views... But hey, that's the complexity of living in South Africa.

One of the songs went on about "You brought billions of dollars with the game [as in: World Cup]. You built roads..." etc. "But what we need is universities! Give us education!" ...I think a lot of people in the audience were dumbfounded. And a bit guilty. He had a point.

This video's a short snippet of their amazing energy. It's not some of the best bits though.

Since the group was staying on till late that night and I'm no longer a night person (plus I was running on 3hrs sleep from the night before), I rode back on my own. Almost got lost and turned off into the underground expressway... but then managed to find 2 other girls biking back into the city and followed them back. The Dutch are so super-friendly.

The ride back was probably about an hour on the bike. Today, my ass, glutes and thighs hurt and my hamstrings are tight. I should do more yoga to help it, but seriously just want to lay on the couch all day!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Mad House

My work schedule is currently MENTAL. Handling 3 global projects and drowning. In Manchester for a shoot next week. In Portland, Oregon to hand over a project the following week. In London on post-production on another job the week after that.


Needless to say, my practice is non-existent right now.

The landlord's currently fixing up the balcony in front of my living room. This is the state it's in right now.

I have been doing 3 sun salutations in the morning, after my shower. But that's not really Ashtanga, is it? Today, I was butt-naked (post-shower), on my mat in downward dog in the living room, when I realized workmen were literally 1 foot away from me. Thank goodness the blinds were drawn but it was kinda WEIRD.

So I had to cut short my already "short practice". (Did I just tell you I was practising naked yoga?! I think I'm really losing my marbles. Firstly - for doing that coz it seemed the "most efficient" use of time. Secondly - for even telling you that in the first place!)

Hey, I'm trying. But it's a universal conspiracy!

Even this post has to be cut short. Outta here and back to work. See you when I next surface.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Busy Weekend But Squeezed in SOME Fun

Seems like last week was "ladies holiday overload" in the cyber shala. Don't worry ladies, I won't out you. Hehe.

This included me too. TMI!!!!!!

So guess what happened after that last post? ...Yup, I don't have to say it. I suppose the Ashtangi-cybershala-ladies' cycles are sync-ing, if that's even possible? I mean, I was about a week early!! ...The universe is conspiring to keep me away from my yoga mat. HAHAHA! (Hey, I've found yet another excuse!)

The past weekend was BORING. I was at work. On BOTH Saturday and Sunday. I've taken on another 2 more projects on top of the one I'm already working on, so feel like I'm juggling everything at my limit right now. (Er... I foresee more difficulty with getting on the mat? Or... would that be another excuse?)

BUT... before going into work on Saturday, I decided to check out Stumptown coffee. Y'know... the famous coffee roaster from the US? My sister and her husband are MAD ABOUT COFFEE. Like... gourmet-connoisseur-have-our-own-professional-expresso-machine-at-home type of MAD. And they went on a coffee blitz in Seattle - visiting all the famous roasters - and declared Stumptown THE BEST. Hands down.

So when I read about them opening up a pop-up shop in Amsterdam and only until the end of this month, I decided I had to go.

No coffee, no prana.

Krishnamacharya allegedly drank 5 cups of coffee a day (according to Mark Whitwell when I was on his workshop). So... if it's good enough for the Big K, it sure as hell is good enough for me!!

It's a got such a hipster vibe - tucked away behind the bustling street of the Albert Cuyp Market.

I had an Americano - and the dude literally dunked one shot of expresso into a hot cup of water. It was cool to watch! Erm... I love my coffee, but I ain't no connoisseur... so all I can say is: GOOD COFFEE! Nice and full... but sorry I can't break out the pretentious words like top notes contain ________ and blahblahblah.

I bought a bag for my french press at home. It's freaking expensive, so it better be worth it. ;p

After work on Saturday, I decided to go check out Casablanca - the film was playing on the big screen at the Film Museum. Can you believe I've never EVER watched it? EVER? ...I was also probably one of the youngest people in the tiny movie theatre. HAHAHA! (On another note, I was bummed to find out that I'd missed the Friday evening sunset outdoor screening of Buster Keaton - with LIVE piano accompaniment! Whaaaaat?! How cool is this place?!)

...So cool that it even had its own cat, chillaxing in the tub of Film Museum Tshirts. (Yes, I can't stand the word "chillaxing" but continue to use it.)

It was another one of those tiny, oldskool theatres, with pretty frescoes on the ceiling.

Check out all the white-haired people in the audience! HAHAHA!

Oh, and... I'm hooked now. Gotta rent me a whole bunch of Humphrey Bogart films now. "To Have and Have Not" with Lauren Bacall is next on my list. As my Twitter-pal Fran calls him: Ugly-Sexy. I concur.

I was at work early and left late again today. I think I'm entitled to some escapism for a bit, no?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Excuses, Excuses... Including the Weather!

I've got a problem. I can't seem to find the motivation to get back into a regular Ashtanga practice.


I have no excuse. The new shala has now got morning Mysore classes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Sunday mornings are self-practice with no teacher around. At least there's a space now for group practice, right? Haven't I been moaning about the difficulty of self-practice alone at home?!

But I just seem to find excuses NOT to wake up early... The World Cup provided a great excuse not to wake up early. But Kevin still found the time to do it. And he's a hardcore football fan. I'm not. (And it's not like I was watching THAT many matches either! Haha!)

The other reason has been my frequent bouts of insomnia - after only getting about 2 - 3 hours sleep a night, the last thing I want to do is roll out of bed at 6am and then roll out my mat. Now, in the past week and a half, I've realized that I've been stressing myself out at night with thoughts of "Got to get to bed early. Need to wake up early to practice tomorrow!"

...This consequently leads to me worrying about being able to fall asleep so that I'll get enough rest in order to make it to the mat the next day. So what happens? I end up NOT BEING ABLE TO FALL ASLEEP! I found that I'd keep looking at the time to ensure I'd still get at least 6 - 7hrs sleep at the minimum.

What an idiot.

I can't function with any less than 6 hours' sleep. The moment it starts looking like I'd only get about 5 hours sleep "if I fall asleep NOW", I'd give up, set the alarm for 2.5 hours later - thinking that I'd just skip practice and go straight to work. For some reason, once this happens, I manage to fall asleep just fine.


It's like I'm subconsciously sabotaging my plans to get back on the mat. I wonder if it's coz I'm just dreading working my way through the Intermediate series?

I had grand plans to make it to the shala this morning. But the above scenario was exactly what happened. Then I thought "OK, I'll just go for the evening Mysore class. At least it's SOME practice." ...and then what happens?


I live in Amsterdam and I don't own an umbrella. Nor a raincoat. (yes, yes. It's high time I get one. It probably rains more often here than in London).


Another planned practice thwarted.

As there is no shala practice tomorrow morning, I am going to *attempt* a home practice. I'm telling myself it's not a big deal (otherwise I'm gonna start clock-watching again). How frustrating. What the heck is my problem?!?

On a lighter note... A bunch of us were stuck at the office in the middle of the storm today. As it was letting up a little, we decided to just leg it home with rain-protection fashioned together from garbage bags (we cut holes where the head and arms go through an overturned bag). This is Amsterdam. Nobody gives a toss what they look like. HAHAHA!

At least she tried to look a little more fashionable, with a belt made of duct tape.

I ended up looking like I was ready to scrub up to enter the operating theatre. Yes, that's a scarf-slash-hoodie. I'm saving this "outfit" for another rainy day!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Oranje Homecoming!

The national Dutch football team came home today. And there was a HUUUUUGE homecoming welcome for them! Since there was going to be a celebration in Museumplein (again!), the authorities didn't want people jamming up the streets to get there.

So what did they do?

They held a boat ride through the Amsterdam canals for the National team, so that we could jam up ALL the streets in town instead to get a glimpse of them! HAHAHA.

It was a super AMAZING vibe to be out in the streets. We were fortunate that our office is along one of the canals they passed through, so all we did was step outside and we were right in the action.

2 hours before the canal parade, people were already starting to reserve spots on the canal banks.

Cops on horseback were also making their way into the canal centre.

Lots of silly orange gear in town today!

2 hours later, just before the parade was due to start, it filled up some more.

Our office got into the vibe too, decorating the windows with banners!

We got the speakers out and were playing typical Dutch (cheezy) music. Er... We blew the speakers within the first 10 minutes! I managed to shoot some video while the sound was still going.

I love this shot! Just says it all.

People-watching while waiting for the parade to come our way...

An accordian band!

People were in their boats but they weren't allowed down the canals. So they just chilled in them while parked on the side.

Check out this bewildered duck couple in the middle of the chaos!


We were fortunate to be standing next to these goons, prepping to MOON!! (I reckon we might just make it in tomorrow's papers, on the edge of the frame where their butts are!)

Every once in a while, a loud cheer would come up through the crowds, and everyone would think the parade had come our way. Turns out people were taking turns jumping into the filthy canal!

The crowd was getting bored, so people attempted to start a human-wave. It didn't get too far, about 50 metres and then it would stop. Then people on the other side of the canal started a Dutch cheer, jeering us on the other side. Here's a workmate explaining that they were goading us for being too quiet:

Then there was some commotion up ahead of the canal and about 4 or 5 helicopters circling closer to us... Ooh, the anticipation! Turns out they were police/ coast guard boats, just making sure the coast was clear for the VIPs.

(These rockstar coastguards were having a ball, making spins in the canal, splashing everyone on the canal banks. Then they spotted the mooning-goons and were cracking up, taking out their cameras and taking pictures of them! Dudes... THE COPS WERE TAKING PHOTOS OF THE MOONERS!! Can you believe it?!) (Sorry, I come from Singapore where they would've been arrested!)

More coastguard boats (with more cops with cameras, snapping away at the naked-bum-boys)...

The Dutch National team finally appears! (I like how they're on a touristy canal boat that says "Lovers". HAHAHA!) They were also cracking up at the naked-bum-boys.

They were followed closely by another HUGE boat of... PAPARAZZI!

(For a few seconds, all their cameras were turned our way when they too spotted the naked-bum-boys. HAHA!)

And then a whole convoy of boats followed in hot pursuit...

And a convoy down the streets too...

And then guess who pops up down the canals? The Soccer WAGS! (That's "Wives And Girlfriends") I only knew coz some of them are "famous" and some people around me recognized them.

Interviews in the streets...

It was middle of the afternoon on a work day, but some of us played truant and decided to jump into a workmate's boat and go cruising.

Then we came across another barricade. But our boat was small enough to squeeze through!

And then we came into a massive traffic jam on the canal. Mind you, we were on a TINY boat and at certain points, we had to reach our arms out and push the other big boats out of our way (it was either that or capsize!)

(Orange sofas on a boat?! HAHAHA!)

And then we came across the rockstar coastguards - the first ones down the canal who were spinning around and splashing everyone!

And that pretty much wraps up my super long post with... 98 photos and 3 videos in total. So what if Holland didn't win? They sure know how to keep the party going! (I ended up working late today coz of the afternoon break. But WHO CARES?!)
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