Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Over the next 20 days, that is what my travel route will look like.

In a couple of hours, I leave from Amsterdam to Hong Kong for 5 days, then off to Cape Town via Johannesburg for another 5 days, then back to Amsterdam where we take the train to Brussels for another 5 days, then we fly to Ivalo in Lapland, Finland for another 5 days. It's a Rock & Roll travel schedule, minus the sex, drugs and er... Rock & Roll!

I'm excited. And scared. HAHAHA! It'll be a fun but intense shoot.

Because I've had to pack for both African summer and Lapland winter, there is no more room in my bag for a yoga mat. Uh-oh. This doesn't bode well for my practice. I am hoping to report on what practice on bare hotel carpet feels like (ICK!) ...or if I have time, I might make it to a studio and rent a mat from there.

Will try to post pictures when I can!

In the meantime, here's a picture of my new (third) bike. I've got a white milk crate in the front instead of a basket. More functional and less heavy. That spotted thing on the seat is basically like a shower cap for your bike seat - so when it rains or snows, you just take it off and your bum will still be dry. :)

PS. I have now insured this bicycle from BOTH theft and damage. Yes, I have learnt from experience now, you thieving swines! (and recently found out about a government tax rebate on brand new bikes - so I'm able to get some of my money back from the Dutch government from the purchase of this bike. YAY!)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Indian Embassy Part 2 + New Bike

I wrote the following on Tuesday and have been trying to post it from BlogPress on the iPhone but it's having a "Computer Says No" moment. So I have copied and pasted from there:

Tuesday, Nov 23, 11am:
I am sitting in the Indian Embassy in The Hague, quietly seething. I arrived at 9.50am, 10 minutes before they're officially open, and the waiting room was already crowded.

My queue ticket said 87 and the number on the counter was 54. Like... Seriously?!

I am so tempted to just say "SOD OFF, INEFFICIENT BUREAUCRATS!!" and just pick up a tourist visa through a travel agent when I'm back in Singapore over Christmas. Y'know, do it the civilised way - pay someone else who will sort it out for you in 3 days flat with no hassles.

After all the pellava (spelling?), apparently tourist visas are still accepted and are less of a pain in the ass when you arrive in Mysore (coz with a student visa, you have to go register at the police station on arrival and on departure too. WTF?)

So I had a short practice this morning, knowing I wanted to get here early. Just standing sequence, a forward bend, and the closing sequence. Thank goodness I did coz I currently feel like blowing someone's brains out. If I hadn't practiced, I would've probably wanted to machine-gun down every single person in here.

Tuesday, Nov 23, 11.30am:
I am finally called up by the lady behind the counter (only ONE lady serving something like 100 people). I explain my case and say "You said you'd call me in 1 - 2 weeks and that I shouldn't call you coz you'd call me. It's been 1.5 months and you haven't called, neither have you picked up the phone any time I have called in the past few weeks. So... I am here now to find out what's going on."

She just smiled, took my passport and papers to a back room and said "You wait."

So I waited. And waited. And waited.

By this time, everyone crammed in the waiting room was best friends with each other. "Old timers" who had been there from 10am, like me, were telling people who'd just arrived what the "system" was and where they should go to fill in which forms. There's such a lack of a system or signs that tell you what the process is that we all just had to figure it out and ask other people around us. Like... ?!?

Because the Embassy Lady was sat behind a counter with a perspex/ glass panel shielding her from the rest of us, it was difficult to hear her talk. So she had a microphone. Any time anyone spoke to her in a hushed tone coz they didn't want to announce to the whole room why they were going to India, where they work and what they do for a living... the lady would repeat back to the person OVER THE MICROPHONE everything that he or she had just said to her. So EVERYONE could hear exactly what each other's stories were.

I mean... Seriously?! ZERO PRIVACY. The Embassy Lady even said at one point OVER THE MICROPHONE "What do you do? ...You're a what?! A HAIRDRESSER? But... You have NO HAIR!!"

Of course the whole room cracked up at that point. The poor, hairless hairdresser.

Tuesday, Nov 23, 1.30pm:
I am starving and thirsty. There is no vending machine in sight. There are lots of water cooler bottle holders stacked up, but no water cooler in sight.

I am still waiting. Waiting for WHAT, I have no idea. But since the person before and after me in the queue from this morning are both ALSO waiting, I feel vaguely comforted. Commisery.

Tuesday, Nov 23, 2pm:
Someone says "The interviews have begun".

Interviews? What interviews? What?!

An Indian dude wearing a suit appears from behind a door and starts calling out a name. The said person disappears behind the door with him. There's a big glass window peering right into this interview room, in full view of everyone, so we can all see what's going on inside. It's the most bizarre process!!

Tuesday, Nov 23, 2.30pm:
My name is called and I enter the room. The hairless hairdresser, who's the one right after me in the queue wishes me "Good luck. And hurry up!"

The Embassy Dude-in-a-suit sits there with my case file. All the documents I had given them from a month and a half ago are with him: a letter from KPJAYI requesting a student or yoga visa from whom it may concern, letter from my company confirming my employment in The Netherlands, visa forms stating my intention of why I want to go to India.

Of course he says "So... why you want to go to India?" (thick heavy Indian accent)

I explain why. It is everything that has been painstakingly prepared and written up for him, but still I explain why in the nicest possible way.

Then he starts flipping through all my paperwork. You know when someone is just going through the motions but not really processing anything upstairs? Yup, that was this guy. He made a a big show of rubbing his chin as he looked at my papers (yes, he was LOOKING at them, not READING them).


He takes off his glasses and proceeds to use the arm of his glasses to dig out his ear canal.


I was sooooooooo horrified and in complete disbelief I had to stifle a gasp of shock AND hold back the laughter. Good thing I wasn't facing the window that looked out into the waiting room coz if I had caught anyone else's eye at that point, I would have just been in complete stitches!!

This Dude-in-a-suit was completely for real!! He was asking me questions about yoga while he was still digging at his ear like there was no tomorrow! I didn't know where to look! If I looked at him, I'd be distracted and start staring at his ear (you can imagine the glasses were waving about in the air as the arm was sticking into his ear canal), but I had to maintain eye contact with him in order not to be rude so he could give me my bloody visa! And then he starts asking questions like "What religion are you? ...No religion? Good, good... Your parents? What religion are they? Christian. I see."

Erm... You see the ridiculousness of this situation? All these banal questions as he was nonchalently digging his ear with gusto... You see why I had to stifle my laughter so hard?

And it was at this point YOU KNOW WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?!? ...He stopped digging his ear. I had to stop my jaw from dropping when I began to think "Oh shit. What is he going to do with those glasses now? Wear them?"


No, he did something even better.

He proceeded to wipe the arm of the glasses, yes the one he had been using to dig away at with gusto, he casually wiped the edge of the glasses arm off WITH HIS FINGERS!! I have no idea what he did with his hands/ fingers after that, coz I couldn't bear it anymore and had to look away. ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

When I turned back, he had put his glasses back on his face.


Then he proceeds to say "Yoga visa? What is this yoga visa this school is asking for?"


If even the Embassy Dude has no idea then it's Game Over. Since I've been hearing that this yoga or student visa is more pain than it's worth, I then proceeded to plant the idea with him that it's probably easier if he just gave me a tourist visa. I said "the school has no registration number yet and they said if you need it in order to give me a student visa, just give me a tourist visa instead because they're still accepting that". This is the god-honest-truth, exactly what KPJAYI had told me when I asked for their school registration number, and this is exactly what I've heard through various other sources too.

Keystone cop aka Embassy Dude-in-a-suit says "Really? Who told you that?"

And I had to repeat myself. I really couldn't believe I was living through this unbelievable process.

Finally, he says "OK. You can go now. Come back at 4pm for your visa." But what visa is this?! I ask the lady behind the counter... and she says "You'll get a tourist visa."

And so there it is guys. I'm getting a tourist visa to go to Mysore. Because nobody knows their arse from their elbow, not even me, and because I told the Dude-in-a-suit "gimme a tourist visa", he gave me a tourist visa. I hope I won't live to regret this! HAHAHA!



And so I did. Of all the visas sitting in my passport (and I've collected quite a few along the way!)... This one definitely rates pretty highly in memorable experiences (so memorable I never want to go through it again).

The one highlight of my week this week: The new bike arrived! This is what it looks like, fresh out of the giant box it came in:

Yup, it's the same old brand new bike as before. I'm adding the carrier in the front, like before. Except I don't think I'm going for the white wicker basket again. It's pretty, but it's just too heavy. So I'm going for a white plastic milk crate. I figured I might as well conform a little bit to what the Dutchies do. They pretty much all have a plastic milk crate in front of their bikes. :)

In 5 days, I'll be leaving on my whirlwind shoot around the world. I'm thinking of what to pack - we'll be in climates on the opposite ends of the scale: African summer in Cape Town, and butt-cold freezing in Ivalo, Finland (seriously, we googled the temperature at 4.30pm yesterday, and it was already -24 degrees Celsius, that's something like -50 Farenheit or something ridiculous like that).

You know what I'm also crapping my pants about now? I've been so flat-out busy I haven't had a regular ashtanga practice going. I will be making my virgin Mysore trip the most out-of-shape I have ever been.

ACK! (And sorry for the long post. Just feels like I have so much to catch up on, on here!)


Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Yogini On Beauty

OK, so not too long ago, I took a Mysore class with KM in London. You can read about that post here. In it, I blabbed my internal dialogue about "Wow, she's wearing make-up".

Stupid little detail I picked up on, and perhaps a part of me was also judging her. But... Who am I to judge? And judge her for what? Wearing make-up while teaching? Seriously?! (What kind of bitchy cow am I?!)

I might not connect with her teaching adjustments, but I've always connected with the articles she writes and the truth that she speaks. And once again, I have been put back in my place. A friend sent me this video of KM on beauty and the body. And she's 100% right (KM, that is). Thanks for the link, Yoga Mama!
(Also... She shaved her head?! RESPECT.)

(Oh yeah... put aside all judgment of that cheezy piano track in the intro and outro. And... is that REALLY a gauzy/ diffused effect used towards the end?) (Sorry, occupational hazard that I notice these things... the people who made this video should've just kept it simple!)

Speaking of which, I went for a facial and pedicure today. HAHAHA! It was a lovely ME, MYSELF AND I day. And yes, I did it because I wanted to treat myself (and paschimottanasana drishti was getting distracting with my manky toes). :)


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Post-Burglary & Amsterdam Autumn

I'm back!

That was probably one of the longest blog breaks I've taken... Was also off Twitter for a while. I think I was just a little bit freaked by the burglary and was beating a hasty retreat into my little cave (y'know, in "FUCK OFF, WORLD!" mode).

Thank you all for your well wishes and comments on the last post, you are all very sweet. Apologies if I didn't reply. I was just in a different head space and er... forgot my manners.

This is what I have learnt:

Doh. I've got a self-locking door, so usually when I leave the house I double-lock it by turning the key round and round in the lock. But... when I'm home, I don't. Or rather, I didn't. I figured... Hello? I'm home, right? What could possibly happen?!

The cops suspect the burglar came through the front door coz there was no sign of forced entry. I had no idea that with a self-locking door, it's extremely easy for someone to stick a credit card through the lock and click it open if it's not also double-locked with the key.

Knowing that this could have been prevented (ie, MY fault), it's much easier to handle... Coz I can actually do something about it. And no, it means I wasn't a walking target. I was just stupidly careless.

That front door is ALWAYS double-locked now.

Doh. I wasn't insured. Even if I had been insured, they probably wouldn't have reimbursed me because I hadn't done point number 1, above. (I calculated that all in, I'd have to fork out about another EUR2,200 replacing all my stuff. And then there's Christmas coming up; the trip back to Singapore and a month in Mysore. Grrr.)


It's just stuff. And it's just money. But it's just such a bloody pain in the ass.

Like, Bloody difficult. Because my bike was stolen (again!) in the burglary (I can't get over the irony of how leaving the bike in the house rather than out in the street coz it's "safer" in the house turned out to be less safe!), I haven't been able to get to the MWF shala in the mornings. I've managed ONE home practice this week, which helped me focus and get through the work day.

Otherwise, what's helped me to feel safe again at home has been short meditation sessions... short sessions that help me "own the space" at home again, with intentions such as:

Inhale Positivity
Exhale Negativity

Inhale Courage
Exhale Fear

Inhale Peace
Exhale Nervousness (I kinda trip up over this one coz it's too many syllables when you're trying to concentrate. HAHAHA!)

If nothing else, at least all that deep breathing helps to reset the sympathetic nervous system, letting go of that post-burglary-stress.

Funny enough, I've had better sleep in the past couple of weeks since the burglary. I think I've only had one insomniac night since. Go figure.

Oh... the other thing I've been doing too is burning Sage Oil. That helps to clear the energy in a space, right? So even if it's bordering on the Woo-Woo, if nothing else at least it gives me some peace of mind (short of hiring a fengshui consultant to assess the energy in this place).

So now... Life is slowly moving back to normal. I couldn't find another bike that I liked as much as the Snow White 2nd bike I had (for barely a month?) So er... I found it online and ordered another one. It arrives on Monday. Whoop! Whoop!

On the work front, I'll be taking off again in a week's time - will be shooting my next spot in 5 cities over a 19-day period... Heading to Hong Kong, Cape Town, Brussels, Paris and Helsinki. So there'll be some great photos to share.


My camera got taken in the burglary too. HAHAHAHA! You'll have to live with iPhone4 photos instead.

Speaking of which, I've been meaning to share some stunning pictures of Amsterdam in Autumn. And since the past few posts have been all wordswordswords and not enough pictures, I hope you enjoy these (Aarrghhhh! That bike basket shot makes me weep.)


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Burglary Bummer

So bummed right now. I've been burgled. My laptop's gone. My bike's gone (the one I've been anally keeping indoors out of paranoia that it's going to get stolen if parked on the street). My handbag with wallet (credit cards/ IDs, money) is gone. My iPod Mini and computer speakers are gone too (thank goodness the iPhone was charging upstairs next to me in bed and was untouched).


What freaks me out even more is I was asleep in bed upstairs when this all happened. The cops and landlord have just been round. Apparently the next-door neighbour left his house at 6am and saw my front door wide open. He shut it and called my landlord this morning to let him know. This puts the time of theft at somewhere between 2am (when I went to bed) and 6am.

I'm going to curl up in a ball right now. Right after I get over the shock (which I think I'm still in).


Friday, November 5, 2010

Dutch Osteopath

In yesterday morning's home practice, I was feeling COMPLETELY off-kilter. Like, misaligned in the spine. (You can read all about my spine issues and see my X-rays from last year here). It just wasn't working. My left leg felt waaaaaaay shorter than the right, and I suspected my left sacrum was probably stuck again. It was a very short and laboured practice. Blechhhh.

Since living in Amsterdam, I've only been going to a Physiotherapist. But seriously... They don't seem to look at you as holistically as an Osteopath does, and that was getting frustrating for me.

So - I finally found one a couple weeks ago, and since his practice is in the same Physio Centre that treats the Dutch national football team, I figured he had to be good. (Osteopathy is still relatively obscure here, can't seem to find many at all, let alone know who's good). Plus, when I called, the next available appointment was only in 2 weeks' time (yesterday), which is always a good sign right, when someone's fully booked?

Since I've been working with body-practitioners (?) over the past few years... Chiros/ Osteos/ Kineasiologists, I kinda know what my issues are already, which helps set the groundwork for anyone new I go to. But can I just say: WOW. This dude IS good.

First, I had to strip down to my underwear (he had a female intern there with him, whom he was explaining things to in Dutch, so that kinda made the experience a lot less nerve-wracking for me. I mean... hello - you're practically butt-naked standing in a cold room in front of a stranger!) I turned around, closed my eyes and he did what felt like a kungfu pressure-point move on my neck and shoulders. I have no idea what happened, but I immediately felt my body slump over to the left.

Like... WHAAAAAAT? He wasn't even pressing on me that hard, but there was a shift in the entire body. I asked him what this five-point-palm-heart-exploding technique was, and apparently it's a crano-sacral move to test the muscle fascia layer. The fascia's like a rug that holds your muscles together (I think?) and if any part of it is off, it's like how you'd have a bunching in a corner of the rug. And that bunched-up rug that holds the muscles together then also pulls the muscles out of alignment.

My left sacrum was definitely stuck again and in order to see how it moved (or didn't), he then made me turn around, back towards him, and bend down and touch my toes.

Ladies and gents, I was wearing a thong. Like, a G-string.


How embarrassing an experience can this get?! (Erm... On the positive front, thank goodness I was wearing a matching bra?) I basically had my bare butt-naked ass cheeks in the Osteo's face as I was bending over!!! Thank goodness this is Holland and the Dutch are pretty blase about nudity... But... It was too much for my dainty Asian sensibility. I almost started giggling as I was bent over with my arse in his face. Thank goodness the intern was in the room too or I would've felt even more awkward!!

Note to self: When visiting the Osteo, always wear full-bum briefs.

Interestingly, while he was checking out everything from top to tail, he was also checking my insides - HAHAHA! It's not what you're thinking! He was just pressing on my belly/ abdomen while I lay on the table, asking questions about my digestion. He suspects some of my lower back problems could be digestion-related too. OOOH! This is something new to me. Never really saw it from this angle before, but the theory makes sense.

See what I mean by they look at you holistically?

So he gave me some manipulation in the places that were stuck - and his adjustments were much gentler than any other experience I've had, but still just as effective. It just felt like the body didn't need to go through that much stress/ physical manipulation in order to get a tension release.

He assessed my neck first, noticed where some points were more tender than the others, then moved onto my sacrum. After releasing the sacrum, he came back to the neck to check, and the tension in the neck was gone. Wow! The body is a pretty amazing hive of interconnectedness, innit?

What's cool about this guy is - he said: "I think you need to come back another 2 or 3 times, but that's all. You should be OK after that, you don't need to keep coming back." So he's not just after my money either. Haha. The next time, he says we'll work on my digestion and where he thinks I may have issues.

I was pretty wiped out after that. 2 hours later at my work desk, I pretty much couldn't think anymore. Apparently this means things are shifting. Was so wiped out, I got into bed at 9pm. But then... I woke up at 10pm and felt super energized and recharged... then stayed up all the way till 3am before falling asleep again. I'm so over these weird sleep patterns I'm having. It's screwing up everything and now it feels like I'm coming down with something.

BUT... Today while walking to work, it felt like I was walking straight and in balance again.

Pretty cool stuff.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Arty Farty

This past weekend, I went to the Affordable Art Fair. It's basically modelled after the same one in New York and London.

Simple premise: every single art piece there is between €100 - €5,000. Not cheap, but still... it's "affordable" (or more within the reach of mere mortals).

The day before I got there, I wandered into a spectacular art gallery (Amsterdam is littered with sooooooo many different galleries). This place was basically a jewellery art gallery and had so many beautiful pieces (and seriously, this stuff's not for daily wear!) The gallery owner informed me of a scheme the government here has where they want to make art available to EVERYBODY. Essentially - all you need to do is pay for 10% of the artpiece, and the remainder can be paid in monthly installments over 3 years, INTEREST-FREE.

Wow! The more I learn about this country, the more impressed by how progressive it is. :)

I had ZERO intention of buying anything at the art fair however, I was just interested to see what's out there and what people are creating. Also, I really appreciate anything that's hand-made and crafted well.

The exhibition space itself was an artpiece in itself. I think it used to be a gas station or some kind of industrial something-or-the-other. It was pretty awe-inducing (great space for a rave party. HAHA!)

I realized this weekend that I'm completely drawn to anything that has an urban feel to it, a little bit subversive or whimsical. I'm interested in the thinking behind the piece too - the story, philosophy or concept that's behind it is almost important as the piece itself.

I liked the gritty, graphical nature of Maayke Schuitema.

What made me laugh was this piece by Mr. Brainwash. If you watched Banksy's documentary, Exit Through the Gift Shop - this is the crazy documentarian-artist-wannabe himself, Terry, aka Mr. Brainwash. Is this a Banksy RIP-OFF or what? (€1,800, if I remembered correctly. The green dot next to the label means someone is thinking about buying this piece.)

A bizarre wall of faces.

I ended up thinking about 2 pieces. I'm still thinking about them. I like this piece titled "Trophybear" by a Dutch artist. It's so cute! And kinda small too, as you can see it in reference to the rest of the other pieces by the same artist.

(I sent a picture of it to my best friend for her opinion, but she wasn't really feeling it. She said "It's one of those conversation pieces for the bathroom." HAHAHAHAHA! Gotta love her.) (I don't agree with her point of view though. I love how ridiculous it is.)

I googled his work and he makes beautiful sculptures - like an edgy fairytale. Brer-Rabbit goes wrong kinda vibe.

And then of course I came across MY FAVOURITE!!! Laser 3.14. See previous posts here and here. I think it's a sign. It's time I take the next step and have a Laser in my home.

I can't decide which piece to get (the one I kinda sorta really liked was already sold at the fair). So... I'm gonna meet the gallery owner again to discuss where to begin. This sounds so very adult... BUT... I'm kind of excited that I'll get to support a street-artist I love. Plus the fact that he's Dutch will also be a nice reminder of the time I've spent here in the years to come.

Practice Update: I still haven't had follow-up visits to the MWF Shala. Long hours at work have started up again, and my insomniac bouts are back. I seem to wake up after 3 - 4 hours sleep and can't get back to bed again. 2.30am seems to be the magic "I'M AWAKE!" hour. This led to a 5.30am home practice one morning. I'll take what I can get.

Related Posts with Thumbnails