The Whirlwind Slows Down

Ever since setting foot in India, it has been a constant go-go-go!

Most recently, I had to spend a few weeks in Delhi in order to take on a few extra lessons. This gave me the opportunity to spend some time inside of a university classroom; which I really enjoyed! However, this arrangement has ended and now my to-do list is back to normal.

Happy Holi

I was in Jaipur during the holiday known as Holi. This is the holiday where people smear each other with vibrant, colorful powder. There’s a whole lot of dancing in the street and throwing the colorful powder at others and up in the air.

While this by itself fun, the best part was that I fell in love with elephants. And I must say, there was one particular elephant who took a liking to me! LOL

At a certain Holi and Elephant party, the organizers had about 5 or 6 elephants there for the enjoyment of all. People could get elephant rides, feed them bananas, take pics with gentle giants, and stand in awe.

While at the festival, I was getting a bit bored watching the other foreigners take Holi a bit too seriously. I opted to go snooping around and try to get a sneak peak at the elephants. When getting near to the area where the elephants were being prepped for their debut, one of the Indian fellows working there opened up the canvas barrier and gestured to me to approach.

When strangers want me to follow, I always say yes. But children, don’t do as I do. You say no, ok?

I got the sneak peak I was looking for. 30 triumphant minutes with those lovely creatures, behind the scenes while the party raged on just on the other side. This was my first time ever being so close to elephants and so many! We looked at each other eye-to-eye and the little boy in me, buried deep inside, came flourishing out as vibrantly as the colors all over my face. Definitely, the highlight of this trip!

Public Speaking Class: Fluency Friday

Man, it feels awesome to be back in the classroom! At the front of the class as the teacher that is. I’m still avoiding ever becoming a student again! This post might be completely uninteresting to those who aren’t educators, but I’m writing all this down in hopes of getting my ideas for class straight before class starts.

I’m running an experiment of sorts with the Public Speaking class. The goal is to conduct the 1.5 hour class with no-or-little use of technology and with few print-outs or copies. Today is all about the students doing what they should be learning! Learn by doing, the best way to learn anything.

Class will start normally enough by taking roll and simultaneously asking the students to jot down their presentation topics (a presentation previously discussed). During this time, as the sign-up sheet goes around, there will be a quick verbal review of the content from the previous class. The method employed here will be a boys vs. girls Family Feud-style face off.

After the face-off, the students will be instructed to head outside the classroom in to the corridor. There, I’ve taped up along the corridor nine tongue-twisters. The students will have one minute per station to practice the tongue-twisters. Afterwards, once back in the classroom, any eager volunteers will have the chance to show off their verbal prowess.

Next step, the students will engage in a quick Teach-Back. The four teams will receive one worksheet per team, each worksheet containing different information. Their task is to read, understand and discuss within themselves. Then, each team will have one or two students present the information to the rest of the class.

Lastly, if time allows and it should, the students will be paired off and each will receive a fluency prompt for them to practice impromptu speaking. Written on the board are the elements of public speaking that have already been discussed: Eye contact, volume/projection, body language, hand gestures, posture, tone and inflection, and audience engagement. There are plenty of strips (with prompts on them) that they can come to the front to get new ones. After practicing for 10 minutes with a partner, they will be instructed to regroup into their Teach-Backs Group. There, they will have the opportunity to practice the prompts again with a larger audience. Lastly, for five minutes, they will be chosen at random to speak on a random topic in front of the entire class. Building up from partners, to small group, to the classroom as an audience.

It’s time for class to start soon so time to post this and wait for the students to trickle in! Vamos!


5 Month Marker & India Update

Wake up, make coffee, make my bed, we gonna rock today cuz you’re a rockstar baby. Time to conquer the world, one step at a time.

Exit the door. Then it hits me.

Holey moley I’m in India! Still in India!!

I’ve celebrated my 5 month anniversary here in India, yaaaay me! It’s insane to think about all the stuff I’ve done and seen here in this amazing country. It feels much longer than 5 months and there are still so many more fascinating adventures awaiting.

Is India on your bucket list?

If it is, and yes it should be, I’d recommend you check this one off as soon as possible. Don’t leave the grand Indian adventure for the latter end of your bucket list. They say India is a young person’s game; I’ve come to agree with that!

Luckily, for many tourists who swing by for one to two weeks, the issues should be minor. The rewards immense. Well worth it. Traveler’s diarrhea: easily overcome with some strong antibiotics. Squatty-Potties: see it as a unique cultural experience. No toilet paper, only some water to wash your tush: this is the one that takes time getting used to, I’ll admit. Thankfully, most touristy places will have western-style toilets and amenities. If it is up to your level of expectation is another question.

Whatever you may face in a short trip to India is very well worth it. For those staying longer than a few months, the game changes a bit. I do believe my powers to adapt are strong, however, there have been some surprises along the way!

Not all that glitters is gold

All this adventuring through exotic places does not come without a few hardships. My body has paid the price more than ever before and all truth be told, it was a surprise to me. I just spent the last two days in Delhi sleeping more than 10 hours a day and I’m finally feeling human again! Good enough to start the work week off on the right foot. Currently, my stomach has no issues and allergic reactions to the pollution have also gone away. What I’m left with is this constant feeling of fatigue, or traveler’s malaise as some say.

I’ve also gotten GNARLY headaches with light sensitivity issues; something which is not new for me but has really gotten worse here. In Delhi specifically. I was quite alright in Goa! After a few hours of being out and about in Delhi, I’m straight up ready to murder somebody. Legally, this is rather problematic; in a court of law I wouldn’t understand a thing. How would I mount my defense? Also, logistically: How do you say shovel in Hindi? I’d be giving myself away!

Therefore, I hurry home instead and wear my shades around the apartment and strum one meaningless chord over and over on the guitar until the storm passes by. I’d like to say I’m exaggerating for comedy sake but this is an actual account of what happens.

I’ve also gotten GNARLY headaches with light sensitivity issues; something which is not new for me but has really gotten worse here. In Delhi specifically. I was quite alright in Goa! After a few hours of being out and about in Delhi, I’m straight up ready to murder somebody. Legally, this is rather problematic. Therefore, I hurry home instead and wear my shades around the apartment and strum one meaningless chord over and over on the guitar until the storm passes by. I’d like to say I’m exaggerating for comedy sake but this is an actual account of what happens.

One big Anyways…

All in all, life in Delhi is feeling more like “home”, a little more everyday. I try to build rapport with a small circle of people. To do this, I try to get my haircut at the same place, get Chai on a regular basis with the same old grandma selling it near the apartment from a makeshift tea-stand. Well actually she’s sitting on the ground. I go for veg Momo’s with the same dude near the metro station. Always get the veg option. You can try the non-veg but god only knows what you’re eating. As far as yoga, is concerned, I stick to just one studio for now. Everyone there is super friendly and happy to see me when I make it to class. It’s a nice little community that feels very different to the snobby yoga studios of California.

In this way, a few faces become familiar in what would otherwise be a sprawling metropolis of 20 million and growing.

February will fly by at light speed since I’ve taken on a few extra commitments. March: try to make it to the Kumbh Mela, another wedding invite, and an invitation to visit an Indian homie in his hometown of Hyderbad.

April: Going, going, back to back, to Cali Cali! (for a few weeks, then back to Hindustan!) A much needed re-charging of batteries with that California sunshine, family time, and the puppy-love!

Mexicanos en la India

¿Cómo nos va?

La gente, la comida, el clima, el ritmo de sus ciudades me parecen como si fuera de un sueno maravilloso. A veces hasta me parece que las cuidades tienen un aspecto latino, a veces ciertas cosas me parecen muy mexicanos.

Pero a mis compañeros de la embajada estadunidense dicen que la India es un país muy difícil. ¿Apoco?

Dicen que los indios son muy amigables, pero no los aceptan. Cuentan que los indios tienen un sentido de nacionalismo demasiado fuerte, que los extranjeros son interesantes pero los mantienen a distancia.

De hecho, me he dado cuenta que los indios se toman un montón de fotos con la gente güera, o sea con los güeros de ojos azules. Sin embargo, mi experiencia ha sido que los indios se encantan de conocer a un mexicano. Mis compañeros de USA hasta se ponen celosos. Cuando me cuentan de sus experiencias, ni sé qué decir. Me parecen tan extrañas.

¿Hablas español? ¿Qué dicen en la canción Despacito?

Cuando les digo que crecí en California, aun así, les interesa más que soy mexicano. Ah bueno, les cuento de mis experiencias buenas y malas de ser mexicano en el país mas rico y avanzado del mundo. ¿Ah sí?

En las próximas semanas que vienen, me esperan unos acontecimientos tan especiales: una boda, un viaje a pueblitos rurales, y los templos de Khajuraho.

¡Muy pronto les traeré el reporte de cómo me va!

Movie Review of Bohemian Rhapsody from New Delhi, India

My first movie outing in India

Saturday night, for the first time in India, I went to a cinema here in Delhi at the DLF Promenade mall. It was super nice and looked much fancier than the humble $3 cinema I’d go to in Ventura, California. I don’t trust a cinema that doesn’t have sticky floors and diseases on the bathroom floor. Anybody know which one I’m talking about?

Anyway, I was super eager to watch the Queen…ahem…Freddie biopic. Late train, I know. This movie came out a while ago but yeah…

Too Damn High!

Movie tickets in Delhi, like in the US, are ‘too damn high!’ For a Westerner, it’s reasonable. For many local Indians, it’s a formidable expense. Hence, the people in the cinema were of a comfortable social class. And conservative, if you ask me.

Yes, i was The most interesting thing about the movie was watching the reaction of the audience. I’d like to say the crowd loved it. It seemed like a mixed review. On the one hand, people got excited when Freddie’s family mentioned or did anything Hindi related. They laughed when they saw what the family was eating or when Freddie’s white band mates came to his house and met the family. On the other hand, during the gay moments of the movie, people either looked away, scoffed or looked on in dread. There was no singing along to the rocking stadium-anthems we love from Queen. Also, every time someone smoked in the movie, a health advisory notice appeared at the bottom of the screen. Is this new? Well, it was new to me!

And if anybody cares…

My personal review of the movie: I didn’t really care for it. The acting and recreating of the performances was awesome, no doubt. But I was hoping to get a better insight into the lives of the band mates and certainly a better insight into their creative process. Overall, it seemed superficial and Freddie-centric, which makes sense to a point.

Some of the other reviews I’ve read say the movie wasn’t gay enough. But that’s by US standards. It was certainly queer enough for the New Delhi crowd in attendance. I could only imagine how the movie was received in more conservative nations around the globe.

Tibetan Sound Bath @ Anand Yoga Village

Giving Anand Yoga Village a second try

After the first mediocre Hatha Yoga experience at Anand, I decided to give them another try. Why?

Well, I saw they offer a Tibetan Sound Bath. I had no idea what this was and this is why we travel! This is why I do what I do. So, sign me up!

Basically, you lay flat on your back, close your eyes and listen to someone lightly ding around on the metal sound bowls. Simple enough.

I loved it! It was so mentally relaxing. I could easily recognize when I was actively present, that is focusing on my breath and nothing else really. Just enjoying the present moment; without the million interruptions that our hectic monkey-brains love to provide. At times, I had thoughts of either the past or present. But instead of going along with the thought and giving it more energy, I was able to chuck it out and continue focusing on the present.

I’m certain that at some time during the one hour session, I fell asleep. Eventually I woke up again but my leg was the one falling asleep again. I needed to wiggle around a bit and get comfortable. The sound bath continued and the tones vibrated in my body and when two tones sounded on top of each other, the sound seemed to take you to a different place.

When it was all said and done, I was floating on a cloud. I can think of very few things that have hitherto given me a similar feeling of anti-gravity zen. I can’t even say that a super relaxing yoga class has ever made me feel this way; even though I’ve had plenty of zen-inducing classes. This sound bath is different because it was nothing physical at all. We didn’t have to do anything other than lay there on the floor. All the action took place in the mind and from there, the wonderful effects are dispersed throughout the body. The instructor who conducted the class was super friendly and had that positive yogi aura to him. He was very knowledgeable and answered a wide array of questions regarding the background of the sound bath and this tradition.

In conclusion, after the Sound Bath I went ahead and got the 5 class pass. I’m looking forward to Sunday for the next Sound Bath. Aside from this, I’ll also be checking out some of the other classes that are offered such as: Pranayama Breathing, and Journey to Handstand.

…which I’m still working on the Headstand, probably shouldn’t bite off more than I can chew but it’s worth a try!

Namaste, y’all!

Anand Yoga Village Review

Today’s yoga adventure yielded a delightful find. Tucked away at the Southern part of the beach, you’ll find Anand Village.

Location, location, location

The location itself is perfect. I did one yoga class there and I didn’t hear any traffic, construction noises, people, etc. If you’ve don’t yoga throughout India, you’ll know that you’re always in for a surprise somewhere along the way!

The huts and cabins there looked very clean, well-made and comfortable. They are not over the top fancy like at Kranti Yoga (the Mercedes-Benz of yoga schools) but the accommodations at Anand are decently nice!

The guys chilling in the reception were a little weird and I felt like I was bothering them but whatever, I was there for the yoga.

Onwards to the yoga shala itself, see the pics. What a relief to finally find a yoga shala with clean and flat floors. Mosquitoes weren’t an issue but then again it was 11am. If I do an evening class here, I’ll let you know if the mosquitoes suck me dry. There were quite a few huge ants and other annoying flying bugs but they didn’t really get in the way. A super cute dog decided to visit each participant during the yoga class. He was quite the charmer! Clearly, he feels like the owner of the shala.

The yoga itself was mediocre. 400 Rupees and the class was taught by a very nice young gal, who I think recently must have completed her teacher training. I was hoping for a true, Indian guru or Swami sort of person. The instructor this day was still using her notes and seemed nervous. She did offer good adjustments when I was struggling with one of the twisting-pretzel poses.

It all depends what you want out of your yoga experience.

Anand seems to target the young, cute girlie yogis. It’s a trendy, hip ambience perfect for the young millennial crowd. I’m pretty sure the yogi-gals who go here probably feel safe and at home at Anand. I’ve heard some horror stories about other yoga schools that are run by creepy employees and owners. That’s for another blog post, however.

I’ve never been sexually harassed by a instructor or ogled like a piece of meat so I don’t really care. I’ll go yoga anywhere. Since I’m older than the average at Anand and just a normal dude, I’m going to keep on looking for a more authentically Indian yoga-experience.

Anand does offer quite the variety of styles including a Tibetan sound bath. On account of this, I’ll give Anand one more try.

Namaste, y’all!

Best places for Yoga in Goa, India

On the beach.

Thanks for tuning in, catch you next time!

.

.

.

.

Joking aside, what are some of the best places to practice Yoga in Goa?

I asked myself the same question when I was there and because I’m an old-school foo, there was only one way to find out.

Google Reviews

The obvious place to start. I complied a list. Had it ready. I didn’t even need my mat because most places provide one.

Then I start asking the locals about yoga and it led to me starting a new list. The nice thing is that the locals here are very direct and tell it like it is (provided they don’t have a hidden agenda like recommending only their friend’s yogashala).

The guy who owns the beach huts where I’m staying, upon hearing which yoga school I was going to visit, said “No, don’t go to that one. They are just there to take your money. It’s not for real yoga”

My mouth started to water….omg…is it time to meet the real yoga gurus who live like hermits out in the mountainside, away from all us petty mortals?

No.

He ended up recommending another school. This one is good because the main teacher is from the Himalaya region (historical center of yoga) and is a true practitioner of the yoga philosophy, not just the stretching and poses.

So begins my yoga journey. First place to visit: Aranya Yoga Ashram near Palolem Beach.

The school itself is located behind a popular coffee chain, Café Coffee Day. There’s a small alley to the left of the café, which looks dark and creepy at night. Yoga schools as a whole are very different than in the USA. Don’t expect a fancy building! It’s tempting to think that the schools look sketchy based on their rough exteriors but that’s just how it is here. Generally, the quality of instructors and their instruction make up for it. If it doesn’t, then look for a new yoga school!

I was curious to meet this this guru-master. The next day I walked to the yoga center for the 8 am class.

I went to Aranya for a drop-in class just to check it out and liked it so much I bought the pack of 10 classes. The famous school’s founder taught the first class which was excellent and why I bought the pac of ten. However, in subsequent classes, he taught less and less.

As a result, it’s worth sharing this relevant info that may be useful for others thinking of doing the drop-in classes. I’m saying these things neutrally, as I do enjoy “most” the lessons.

  1. In case you’re looking for a true ashram, Aranya is a yoga school, not an ashram in the true sense of the word.
  2. The drop-in classes are actually part of the Teacher trainings that the school is running at the time. This means that as the teachers-to-be get deeper into their training, they start to conduct the yoga lessons as part of their practical/training.

I don’t mind it as it’s interesting to watch in case that I’d like to do a Teacher Training one day. Also, it’s challenging for me to keep up and I’ve been progressing quite well. It does tend to feel a bit cliquish as the teachers in training naturally get more of the attention and mainly just stick to themselves.

There are a few students who find this less than ideal, as we expected Baba to do most of the teaching. He does chime in but seems aloof at times. Also, it can be pretty intimidating if you’re a beginner or lower intermediate.

As I’m nearing the end of my ten pack of classes, my experience has been pleasant so far. However, the price is a bit high given that the Master Yogi himself hasn’t been leading the majority of the classes. I think I’ll check out some other schools for good comparison. Then I’ll consider whether to sign up again at Aranya.

I hope you found this info helpful! If you have any questions, feel free to email at worldbetos@gmail.com

Namaste, yogis!



New Year, New Perspective

First of all, happy New Year to everyone! I hope 2019 brings you lots of happiness and health.

And speaking of being happy and healthy, I’m a lucky son of a gun! I get to start the new year off with some time in beautiful Goa to work on some personal goals outside the scope of Beto’s World, as well as some projects for Beto’s World.

Currently, in the month of January, India’s capital of New Delhi is facing severe air quality conditions. What a better time to skip out of the big city and enjoy some sunshine and drinks on the beach.

The western state of Goa is home to miles of beautiful beaches and a Portuguese flair due to the history of colonization. Remnants of this colonial past are evident in the many Catholic churches, colorful buildings, and European looking architecture.

Goa is also not so densely populated. This allows pedestrians to actually venture outside for a walk. Imagine that.

Life for those by the beach is very chill. You might as well relax because everyone already is. So if you go to a restaurant here, don’t expect the same at the snap of a finger service you’d expect in the US.

The throngs of Russian tourists and others that were here for Christmas and New Years are no longer here. The beaches are a tad quieter and the nightclubs seem to turn off the music earlier; around 11 pm. This is true at least for the venues nearest to the many resorts or beach villages.

Apparently, there’s a party district called Leopard Valley in the town of Agonda; and the party here don’t stop til the crack of dawn. I haven’t been there yet for the sole reason being that I haven’t been in the mood for Euro-trash music. But I’ll definitely be visiting soon (with ear plugs).

After Goa, I’ll play it by ear and see what’s next. I don’t normally like to make rigid, detailed plans but I do have a general direction of what I want this new phase of life to be like moving forward. I didn’t wait for the new year to come around to start making drastic changes; I’m a firm believer in the present!

From all these travels and talking with other travelers, the picture of what it means to be alive is becoming so much clearer. We were all born free and with the potential for an unlimited amount of awesome. Why do we give that away for peanuts? What have you exchanged your freedom for?

I’m firmly in the “fuck-that” camp. Take a look at my life’s resume and you’ll see that I have been either A) very adventurous or B) Have borderline personality disorder

You needn’t be as crazy as I am but do start to look around you and see what elements of unneeded BS you can cut out of your life. I’m doing my best to let in only the things that I want or need.

If it’s no bueno, well, you know which camp I’m in!