chitta chatter

it’s gettin’ all soylent green up in here

I don’t usually pass this stuff along but I thought this was pretty important as it’s about the future of our food supply. Or lack thereof. If you haven’t seen the movies Food, Inc. or The Future of Food, both do a good job of explaining the situation. (If you only have time to watch one, I recommend the latter, available for free on hulu… just follow the link above. Food Matters comes highly recommended, as well.) In a nutshell, one company—Monsanto—is, right now, quietly taking control of the world’s food supply via tactics that are nearly as staggering as their potential impact on human life.

This petition is more specifically about Monsanto’s plans to spread their genetically modified seeds across the land… alfalfa, in this case. But if they get their way here, it will set a precedent that you can safely bet they’ll take full advantage of. Sure, signing this petition may not do a damned thing to change the course of events… but at least it will send a message that we’re watching them (Monsanto and the US government). And the more of us who know, the harder we can push in the opposite direction: for organic, non-genetically modified food produced by sustainable, independent farms.

End of sermon. Now go eat yer veggies… while you still can. And don’t forget to sign the petition here. (You can repost it on Facebook and Twitter, too!)


right versus might… be wrong

Posted in being human, film, peace by Nancy on May 26, 2010

Last week, D and I took advantage of a rare free Tuesday night to head down to Culver City for our old ritual of a stroll through the farmer’s market followed by dinner at the Krishna temple. But the real reason for going down there was a talk being given by Mark Rudd, former student organizer and anti-Vietnam war activist. We had seen the documentary The Weather Underground a few months ago, so when the invitation to the talk arrived in my email inbox, I immediately recognized Rudd and signed us up for the event.

He was a really affable guy and seemed quite humble. But according to Rudd himself, that wasn’t always so… by the time he joined the Weather Underground, he had become a macho revolutionary who “in the end, just wanted to be Che Guevara”. Fortunately, though, the Weathermen/Weather Underground never killed anyone other than their own people (in a bomb-making accident… read the instructions first, kids). So at least his lust for revolution didn’t leave him with blood on his hands.

Anyway, during the interview, Rudd mentioned that one of the most vital aspects of organizing back in the day was not just handing out flyers, but actually talking—and listening—to the people who took them. Engaging in a dialogue. That was how you got people interested. And involved.

When the interview was over, he fielded questions from the audience. One woman asked if he had any suggestions on how to get people on opposite sides of an issue to talk to each other (rather than shutting down as per usual), especially in light of how polarized our nation has become.

I don’t remember what his actual, verbal answer was, but his open demeanor embodied what seems to be the key: that the only way you can expect people to engage in an honest debate is to go into it fully accepting the fact that, no matter where you stand, no matter how right you know you are, YOU MIGHT BE WRONG.

Aye, there’s the rub.

Actually, I think Rudd unknowingly answered that woman’s question in his response to the question that followed (what advice he would give to start-up, grassroots peace activists… or something). He said:

“The most effective organizer is anonymous.”

True that. If you can get the ego out of the way (or at least make it sit down and behave), you’ll finally be free… to be anonymous, to be wrong and to change the world. Death to the ego! Power to the people!

* NOTE: Everything written here might be wrong.

more dharma gypsys

Posted in film, India, LA, meditation, music, yoga by Nancy on April 11, 2010

Some vids for you:

We shot the footage for Krishna Govinda in Mysore (and by “we” I mean mostly D), then Tommy Stewart (percussion) stitched it all together:

Check out the guy that wanders into my frame and sits down next to D around 2:22… dude didn’t even ask for “currency!” He was probably just curious as to what this white boy was doing playing guitar on the street in his pajamas.

Tommy shot this one himself during recording sessions at the Karma Kitchen in Hollywood:

Dharma Gypsys are:
Katrina Chester (TSO, Luxx, Janis Joplin in “Love, Janis”) – vocals
Tommy Stewart (Godsmack, Fuel, LoPro, Everclear) – percussion
Robert Gamboa (The Deep Eynde) – bass: tracks 1, 3, 4, 9 & 10
Scotland Stephenson (ALSO) – percussion: tracks 8 & 11
Danielle Mays (VAST, Watts Ensemble, Trulio Disgracias) – flute, bassoon: tracks 1 & 5
DJ Soul Junkie – turntables: tracks 6 & 8
Daniel Overberger (The Deep Eynde) – guitar, vocals, bass, shruti box, Rhodes

Dharma Gypsys’ Volume One: Music for Yoga, Meditation and General House Cleaning is available on iTunes, CDBaby, Amazon and pretty much anywhere you download music.

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Well, two of them are anyway. Read Nancy Alder’s review on Elephant Journal here and Brian’s review on Daily Cup of Yoga here.

“i see white people”

Posted in being human, film, India, photos by Nancy on January 31, 2010

In case anyone was still wondering if the movie gig would ever pan out, it finally did yesterday. For me, anyway. D couldn’t go because he had already confirmed with his meditation teacher for his final class. Plus, he’s done some extra work before (in Hollywood, not Bollywood) and found it mind-numbingly boring. 1000 rupees wasn’t going to persuade him otherwise. So off I went—along with our friend, Yishai, from the Mandala—to make my film debut.

We were essentially playing ourselves… white tourists. The shoot was at the Mysore Palace (not Lalitha Mahal) and we just had to walk around in the background of the star’s scenes. Whether we stay off the cutting room floor remains to be seen, but there’s a good chance at least one of our scenes will end up in the film.

Being the only white folks on set in a country where white skin is so prized that they openly sell and use skin whitening creams, we got special treatment. It got to be a little weird at times. (Yishai summed it up thusly: “We’re like the dwarf in the dream sequence.”) But we did get to meet and talk with the writer/director (who said his last film won 3 awards at some indie film fest in the US), the cinematographer, the script writer, the producer’s wife, the assistant director and many more… all of whom seemed very aware of our presence and concerned that we were having a good time.

On that front, I wouldn’t say it was mindnumbingly boring… it was cool to see the process and all the detail that goes into getting the shot. And I must say this crew rocked it out. They seemed to be having a great time yet they were clearly working their asses off. And they actually got everything done on schedule. We wrapped at 4:30, as promised. Never would’ve happened in Hollywood. Not the efficiency. Not me being hired as an extra. None of it.

Anyway, the film is called Mani Manjari (no one could translate that for us, but the closest we got was that “mani” means pearl and “manjari” is an affectionate slang term for a woman or for femininity). It’s a family drama, so—to our great dismay—there were no splashy Bollywood dance numbers to look forward to. But the writer/director seemed like a serious dude, so maybe it has some depth to it. And the shots I saw on the monitor looked really cool… a few even Amelie-esque.

No word on the release date, but until then, here are some shots of what went on behind the scenes:

the star in her freak-out moment:

star and director discuss the next scene:

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you can take the yogi out of hollywood…

Posted in film, India by Nancy on January 20, 2010

Kumar (the cook from the Mandala) just stopped by. We thought he had forgotten to charge us for some portion of our lunch. Nope. He just came to ask if D & I wanted to be in a movie that’s shooting at the Lalitha Mahal Palace tomorrow. 1000 rupees for each of us for the day (that’s equivalent to about $22 US, but it goes a long way here), plus breakfast, lunch, coffee, transport… and we get to see the Lalitha Mahal, which we had talked about doing anyway.

We have no idea what the movie’s about or what they’ll ask us to do and we didn’t ask. But as we’re fairly certain Kumar wouldn’t get us mixed up in the Indian porn industry, we immediately say yes.

So Kumar the cook/casting agent whips out his cellie and calls his guy to arrange everything. As he was leaving, I told him, “You know, we live in Hollywood. It’s only when we come to India to practice yoga that we wind up in the movies.”

greetings from the subcontinent

Posted in film, food, India, photos, yoga by Nancy on January 3, 2010

Well, we finally made it to Mysore. 22 hours on a plane is sheer hell on the body, but Lufthansa was at least civilized enough to keep us well fed. We didn’t arrive in Bangalore until 2am (Jan. 2nd) and once we made it through passport control and the gauntlet of private guides and “official” cab drivers, it was 3am, so we didn’t have a whole lot of choice in accommodations. We got to Bangalore, the city proper, a little before 4am and ended up staying at a place the cabbie knew of that was about as expensive as a Comfort Inn in the states but really posh by Indian standards, with Beverly Hills-style service and a nice (free) breakfast buffet that was remarkably similar to the buffet at my favorite Indian joint in DC. I do love me some south Indian grub.

The next morning (and by “next” I mean 5 hours later) we had to take the train to Mysore. Getting tickets was a major ordeal, complete with 4 different lines to stand in and forms to fill out. We met some nice fellow travelers (one of whom taught us some Kannada, the language most people speak in Mysore) while waiting for the train, and were even fed on the 2+ hour ride (and given bottled water). We won’t be going hungry this trip, that’s for sure.

Got into Mysore the afternoon of the 2nd and Shanthala (who runs the Mysore Mandala, where Daniel studied last time he was here) had found us a flat next door with everything we asked for (except we never could get the internet to work well, so I’m using the wifi at the Mandala). That night we found out the place had 4 squatters… really fast, well-fed Indian cockroaches. (What do you want for $140 a month? The Ritz Carlton?) Anyway, Daniel dispensed with them quickly and word must’ve spread among the local roach community because we haven’t seen another one since (knock on wood).

We’ve found lots of good (safe) places to eat, most notably Aunty’s. She serves breakfast, lunch and dinner out of her home near where we’re studying yoga. A full meal with chai is only 50 rupees (about a dollar, US) and REALLY tasty. Can’t beat that. Aunty is a character, too, totally wrapped up in TV and Indian popular culture… probably subscribes to whatever their version of the Enquirer is.

After our first dinner at Aunty’s, we went down the street and found the house/shala where BNS Iyengar is teaching now. We registered for classes and started yesterday. Iyengar is crusty but cool. His class is really fast paced and he gives a lot of adjustments, which is pretty impressive considering he’s in his 80s. And he teaches 7 days a week. I’ll probably be skipping once or twice…

We’re going to try to find “the” female tailor in Gokulam who is reputed to be true to her word (apparently a rarity among tailors here) and actually finishes your clothes when she says she will. After clothes shopping, we might take in a movie… some friends from LA have a friend starring in a big Indian blockbuster that’s out right now called “3 Idiots”. We walked by the theatre yesterday and the line was wrapping around the building. Maybe the crowds will be lighter during the week.

That’s all for now… more to come. Happy belated New Year!

Daniel on the balcony of our hotel room in Bangalore:

the train station in Bangalore:

Best. Fruit salad. Ever. (with chai and dosa, a whopping $2)

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