Checking in on India: Mars, Modi and more

You may have noticed that India’s been in the news this week for a few different reasons, most notably its successful mission to send a spacecraft into orbit around Mars right now:

The much-repeated phrase is that the Mars Orbiter Mission at $74 million cost less than the $100 million budget for the Hollywood space thriller “Gravity.”

At least “Gravity” earned a few Academy Awards.

India’s Mars mission actually cost a lot less than most of this year’s Hollywood summer flops — some of which you probably don’t remember. For example, the budget for Tom Cruise’s flick “Edge of Tomorrow” could have funded two India Mars mission with its whopping $178 million budget.

But the U.S. press also is giving the country’s new prime minister, Narendra Modi, a second look as he preps for his first official visit here. Of note: He’ll be fasting to celebrate Navaratri. From the New York Times:

In the four months since he has taken office, Mr. Modi has disappointed those who were hoping for an Indian Margaret Thatcher, proving to be cautious and incremental in his use of economic policy. Instead, he has set about changing the architecture of the state, diluting the powers of ministries and concentrating them in his office. Mr. Modi is building a machine for governing, one that he intends to operate for a long time.

It is not yet clear whether he can pull it off. To succeed, Mr. Modi must bring about fundamental changes in India’s economy and steer a stable course in a country prone to incendiary conflicts. Observers here, surveying still-unfilled positions in his government, wonder whether Mr. Modi will be able to trust outsiders enough to bring in policy talent. And critics say his concentrated power will make it more difficult for his own officials to question him.

And there’s this from the LA Times:

When President Obama hosts new Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for dinner at the White House next week, the leaders will have a long list of issues to discuss: trade disagreements, China’s rise, nuclear policy and counter-terrorism, among others.

One awkward topic neither is expected to raise is that until recently, Modi was barred from setting foot in the United States.

Less happy news was Al Qaeda’s announcement it would begin targeting India. The prime minister has pushed back:

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said al Qaeda will fail if it seeks to spread its terror network into his country because Muslims there “will die for India.”

Al Qaeda announced plans this month to launch a new branch in the Indian subcontinent, in a video message featuring al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.

So we don’t end on a down note, let’s get back to Mars. Here’s a link to the Indian Space Research Organization’s Facebook page, which has lots of great photos from our nearby, red planet.

Posted by Steve

It is a busy, dynamic month in the skies above

If you’ve been feeling a little ragged, a little slacked, a little wrung out — look to the skies for reasons why. Tim Miller fills you in via his blog post this week:

Mercury ended its three-week retrograde on February 28th. On March 1st, Mars turned retrograde, followed the next day by Saturn. On March 6th, Jupiter turned direct. This represents a lot of changing of directions of planets within a short amount of time. How does this affect us? Well, I can only offer what I have observed over the past 10 days. As a yoga teacher, people come to me all the time with their physical complaints, but I must say, in the past week, I’ve been hearing more complaining about aches and pains and setbacks in other areas of life than usual.

The one thing I know: All those planets continue to conspire against our making it down to the Ashtanga Yoga Center, as we should be (at least once a month). We do have our eyes on this workshop on April 5, though. But we just need a plain, old visit.

On another front, the Ashtanga Yoga Confluence announced two new lectures during the May event: One by Richard Freeman, the other by Dr. Manoj Chalam. Info at the schedule page.

Posted by Steve

A good time to move and a bad time to move

Saturn, so beware, via

We’ve been dropping little hints about various “householder” duties lately — dating back at least to the Kino MacGregor weekend — that have been preoccupying us, but truth finally be told, it’s been more “housebuyer” duties.

Yeah. We’re moving. But just into Los Angeles proper from the pseudo-suburbs. The biggest yoga-related news is there is space available to dedicate exclusively to our practice(s). More on that as we settle in properly.

For now, though, as we struggle through the final move, I couldn’t help but take stock of Tim Miller’s pronouncement about how the skies might be affecting things:

We are currently under the influence of sinister planets. Saturn, the “Great Malefic” stands in direct opposition to Mars, “the Lesser Malefic” at 10:12pmPDT this evening. This is one of the most challenging of all planetary aspects. … The upside of this opposition is that it is a time when we can do work that requires great energy, concentration, and attention to detail. It is a good time to lose oneself in some important project, lay low on the social front, take really good care of ourselves, and practice our yoga diligently. As with any challenging Saturn aspect, one of the best remedies is singing the Hanuman Chalisa.

No doubt we’ve got some work ahead of us requiring great energy and attention to detail. And I think it is fair to say this is an “important project” that will keep us off the social scene for a little.

So I’m going to go with the positive spin on how the move will go, and perhaps add a Hanuman Chalisa in for safety’s sake.

Posted by Steve