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!

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.

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!

Christmas and New Year’s Vacation

I’m still in the tropical resort get-a-away area of Goa.

If you’ve noticed that there hasn’t been much action on the blog, it’s because I’m on vacation…of sorts.

Yes, I’ve been making a conscious effort to reduce my use of technology for this short break. We can all use some time away from our devices, right? Nonetheless, you can check out the Twitter feed and Instagram to see the latest happenings.

Not only have I been enjoying the blue skies and warm waters of the Arabian Sea, I’m quite happy to have escaped the pollution of Delhi. Around this time, it’s quite simply a disaster. The air quality index is averaging constant “very poor”to “severe”.

I’ve also been using this down time to study a few options of how to best proceed with Beto’s World and also on how make this travel blogging business a self-funding adventure.

Just recently, a certain company here in India decided to invest in my new born baby blog/persona. I’ll be working on this in January and February of 2019. Being that it’s the first of its kind, I’ll have to go BIG or go home!

And for a weirdo like me, there no going home…..

except for a quick visit home in late March because there’s good news in the family! More on this when I receive the green light to flap my yap about it.

Entonces,,, hasta muy muy pronto! I hope everyone has been have a beautiful holiday season, surrounded by all your loved ones. I’ll be ringing in the new year on the shores of Palolem Beach in Goa, India.

May 2019 be full of happiness, health, blessings and nothing but the good stuff for you and yours.

Beto.

Arrivederci, Varanasi! Saturday December 8, 2018

The retreat has finished; at least for me. The two other lovely human beings who were also there will be there until the end of December.

Student-Teacher Bonding

I’m now at an airport restaurant with plenty of time before my flight. After a wonderful cappuccino, pizza and chocolate shake (I was hungry damnit! I was being starved at the retreat with a vegan menu), I can finally begin the task of retrospection.

Driving from Lucknow to Varanasi, I drove passed this same airport. Now that I’m actually sitting here, it makes this adventure feel like it’s come full circle; poetic closure.

Likewise, my impression of Varanasi.

So much happened that I’ll bullet SOME of the highlights:

  • Got super sick from the hotel food and water @ the retreat. Started things off on the wrong foot!
    • Quick recovery, antibiotics rock.
  • Yes: the touristy part of Varanasi by the river Ganges and along all the famous Ghat’s and temples is jam-packed with pedestrians, beggars, pilgrims, vendors of all sorts of things, tourists, cows, dogs, bicyclists, rickshaws, honking cars, honking motorbikes…have I forgotten someone… or something?

    Pretty cow in Varanasi

    • It’s very loud for what seemed all day and night. Don’t be surprised.
    • Yes: the streets are dirty, thrash is everywhere and watch out for the poopoo. Don’t be surprised
    • Yes: the Ganges River is gross and polluted. They put human ashes in there and some people bath there. Oh, some also do their laundry and drink the water! Don’t come to judge, come to observe, reflect and enjoy your life all the more if you like it so much.
    • If this is too much for you, consider visiting a different city ?
  • For those willing to endure some unpleasantness, the rewards are even greater than what your nose will have to endure.
  • The architecture along the Ghats is India pure; magical. Knowing that the city is thousands of years old, your mind is blown.

    Boat ride on the Ganges gives you a perspective on the essence of time itself

    Boat ride to the other side of the river

    • In ancient times it was believed to be world’s end. As a result, nothing was constructed there. The quiet is almost unearthly.
    • Until someone comes up and offers you a horse ride; very persistent those guys.

      Yoga in Davy Jones’ Locker. Any Pirates of the Caribbean fans?
    • And then some people might want selfies. Why not? We are at the outermost limit of the world, might as well capture the moment.

The yoga retreat was awesome

  • I made some good gains in such a short time and learned about what it means to be a true yogi (not saying that I’m there). Actually, the more I learned, the more I realized I didn’t have the slightest iota about yoga at all.
  • What do you mean there are superhuman guru-yoga-monks who live in the Himalayas? How can they hold postures for hours, days and weeks? When do they go potty?
    • I can barely sit cross-legged for 2 minutes without thinking my legs need to be amputated.
    • Last day of class, the yoga teacher sat on my back during a certain pose. It forced me to bring my forehead to rest upon my knees, “slowly slowly” as she would say. Contrary to what she said, this “quickly quickly” approach demonstrated the improvements I made and also left me very sore.
  • Yoga has enough lore in its universe to constitute a religion; some yogis dedicate their entire life to its beliefs and practices.
  • Paid $15 for a one-hour private Sitar & Tabla performance. For me, totally worth it and I’ll do it again.
    • The same guy let me borrow a guitar for $5 for 2 days. We now have a strange friendship of sorts. I got to meet his wife and child and we had tea a couple of times. Foolishly, I promised to visit when I return to Varanasi, not IF I return.

OM and Mantra Chanting

  • Surprisingly not that bad. It felt appropriate in the setting and powerful. The sound reverberated in the colors I saw when I shut my eyes for meditation. Maybe there is something to this meditation stuff?

I need a second trip to Varanasi! There’s still way too much on my list of things to see. Looking forward to it 🙂

Day 1 of Yoga and Meditation retreat in Varanasi

Just roll with it, roll with the punches

For a successful time in India, every visitor needs to relax and just roll with it. You can make a plan as best as you can but there’s always some sort of change, delay, mishap or something is just a bit off the mark. Some say to take your expectations and lower them by 20%.

Dragging my bright blue carry on, I walked through a very crowded market area today. How many tuk-tuk and rickshaw drivers offered me a ride to the airport? Can’t count that high but it’s just as many as the number of feet I rolled over. And no one seemed to care; at least, nobody complained to me. I also knocked over two bikes as well; that was certainly a my-bad moment.

I went from one hotel to the next. The Yoga retreat takes place at a hotel that I’d rather call a motel so you can imagine it better. Check-in was at 11 am, according to my confirmation. Turns out that now it’s at 12. No worries; roll with it.

Give me the wifi password and I’ll wait as long as you want!

12 comes and goes and since I booked a shared accommodation, they can’t let me in the room because my roommate is out buying medicine for his severe stomach illness. Great. That guy’s gonna be my roommate; Mister Butt-Rocketman. He’s going to bomb the toilet!

The staff either read the look of displeasure on my face or knew that Rocketman definitely needed his own room because in the end, we both got private rooms. The room is basic, not sure clean but in no way gross. Huge bed just for me and a tiny tv on the wall that used to be a computer monitor in another life before reincarnating as a tv.

Wifi in the room didn’t work, the phone wasn’t working, no one had seen or heard from the ill Rocketman, the Australian girl turned out to be from Italy, and no one knew when the yoga program would start. So many unanswered questions in the beginning and the hotel staff seemed indifferent.

Usually I’m the one known for my glorious lack of communication but this was beginning to test me; I was imagining the evil Google review I was going to write and giving the company an earful over the phone.

Man, this bed is comfy….

Knocking on the door wakes me up and it’s the yoga instructor and the instructor of yoga philosophy and anatomy. They introduce themselves and finally provide some answers and overall clarification. The first class would start at 2 and end at 7pm.

The first class was a review of the first day.

Wait, what? I thought today was the first day. No, of course not; they started yesterday. From Sunday to Friday, she said.

Wtf, you serious?

I expressed in a diplomatic manner. I was told it runs Monday to Saturday.

She gave me the Indian head nod that indicates “sure, whatevs” and so, just like that, I’ll be here until Saturday but will I be the only one? Just roll with it.

The lecture was a long and winded review of yoga history, its founders, philosophy and some aspect of anatomy according to yogic tradition. All the terms were in Sanskrit and the lecture seemed more like an advanced language lesson of Sanskrit, rather than anything to do with yoga or meditation. After the teacher made her point, she’d always say “right?”

…Why sure, or course!

Meditation was cool. I think that was the second time ever in my life that I’ve actually given it a serious attempt. We were given a cool necklace with 108 beads that looks like a Rosario. After ever full breath, you advance one little bead. I actually felt my brain throb a little; either I was about to embark on a cosmic journey …. or I was dehydrated. Probably dehydrated.

108 beads in a Meditation Mala

Yoga class was awesome and kicked my ass. Hours later, I’m still sore and this gives me a bit of pause for what to expect for the rest of week. The Italian lady teaches Acro-yoga already and is now dabbling with this old school version of yoga just for kicks. So she’s very advanced, meanwhile I’m lamenting that we didn’t end in my favorite posture of Savasana; because I really needed to lay there for a while and recoup.

Back in my room, I wolfed down a protein bar and some cereal as I waited for dinner. I fell asleep and woke up at 9pm when they knocked on my door with that dinner I had been waiting for. Normally, I’d be worried that it’s going to be a long and sleepless night due to that prolonged Siesta-asana session, but my body,,,my body is telling me I’m gonna sleep like a baby.

I’m looking forward to day two; which will start at 7am with cleansing practices using a cool Netti pot, followed by breathing practices and a morning yoga routine.

Jala Neti Kriya

Let’s do this!

Dec. 1st: The Road to Varanasi

Dec. 1st

Holy cow! It’s already December and it neither feels like it or looks like it!

The Road to Varanasi

It was long and very bumpy.

The road went from highways as we know them quickly on down to rural country roads that passes through neighborhoods that has houses into which you can peer into their kitchens and living rooms as you drive by. I went from buying a coffee at a very regular looking gas station near Lucknow to getting a refill directly from someone’s kitchen as we got stuck in traffic in a random village. Cows…sheep…lots of them.

Once finally in town, the traffic was crazy and the route we needed to take was closed off by police barricades. The driver parked his car in an jam-packed underground parking. There were so many cars and motorbikes in there, I’m not sure how the oxygen we breath had room to circulate!

“Yada, yada, yada…Bas!” Those were the sounds I heard from the staff attempting to guide our driver into his spot.

Having found the hotel, I freshened up and unpack my backpack and packed it again so it’s city-walking ready. In retrospect, bad idea.

For a short walk, it may be better to just take a stroll without a bag, backpack or anything you fear could be pick-pocketed. The crowds were so think that every time my backpack rubbed against something or someone, I hoped that I wasn’t voluntary donating to the community…

Back to the hotel, a quick nap and dinner then off to the ghats to see the ceremonies.

I liked the enthusiasm of several Western tourists during the clapping and singing along. I’d participate but I’d much rather like to know what’s being said first; what does all this mean? Pesky little questions the mind asks…

I did, however, see Jesus.

Truly, I saw him so many times. Always with tattoos and the man-bun; clearly I didn’t get the memo that male tourists have to don their best Jesus Halloween-costume. What’s with not showering either?

Anyways, I did my best to pay attention during the ceremonies but my attention kept being diverted by a million things; all of which deduct from any sense of holiness. After growing fed up with swatting mosquitos and simultaneously firmly shutting down street vendor, I thought I’d go back to my room see if and how dinner had destroyed my insides.

All good, I’m writing down these thoughts here and others and prepping the plan for tomorrow. Then, a stroll thru alley ways at night in search of trouble will be the best way to end the night.

…I’ve researched and have given up on finding a bar near the hotel. Hence, ice cream will do. Don’t you dare deny me this, Benares!

Nov. 28th: The Residency in Lucknow, Varanasi around the corner

Finally feeling better. I’d say 80%.
Good enough for me, let’s hit the road, Jack!
Booked the hotel and transportation to Varanasi. Considering all the factors, turns out that a private cab is the best way to go. And it’s only $50 bucks! I’ll have to sit in a car for 7 hours but no worries: I got some books and work I can always do, but I’ll probably just end up sleeping for half of the trip.
Currently, I’m in an uber ride on the way to “The Residency “which is an important site here in Lucknow. I’ll upload this later when I reconnect on the Internets, as I like to say in remembrance of our dear former president GWB. Miss him yet?
Back to the Varanasi trip coming up, I’m super stoked. What intrigues me is the belief amongst Hindu’s that if you die in this city, your soul will achieve liberation from the constant birth and rebirth cycle. This makes the ancient city of Benares an important religious city for those seeking their life’s end.
Anyways…
We are fast approaching our destination, I’m sure the uber driver would like to get paid. So, I gotta go for now but be back muy pero muy pronto! Beto 😊