Saturday, June 26, 2010


Interesting day. This weekend, my city is hosting a meeting of International Big Wigs and the security here is unreal. A huge area of the city centre is enclosed within a 10-foot high fence, heavily guarded by police officers. I watched the barrier go up earlier in the week and it’s creepy looking. It reminds me of a war zone.

The soup kitchen I volunteer at is just outside of this ‘security area’ but we were forced to shut down for the entire week. We normally serve 6,000 meals to the hungry. Some of our guests rely on these meals and I wonder where they ate instead. All week, roving bands of riot-police-in-training wandered the streets, familiarizing themselves with our city. They conducted training manoeuvres and randomly shut down intersections to ‘practise’ for the Big Wig motorcades. I’ve never seen so many police officers in my life! They were everywhere.

Many people escaped the city for the weekend in order to avoid this. I didn’t have the option, but I figured that it wouldn’t be a big deal. This morning, I travelled via public transit into the downtown core to teach my Saturday morning class. It was a very fast commute because *nobody* was down there. The streets were literally deserted, clear of parked cars, and many of the shops had boarded up their windows. It reminded me hurricane preparations when I lived in Hawaii as a kid. It seemed a bit like overkill.

I had a bet going with a fellow teacher that I would have a full class this morning, and I won my bet. My students are troopers! I had a full room and one person travelled all the way from the west end of the city to attend. After class, I made it home in record time. The streetcar was filled with protestors. I rode along the northern boundary of ‘the fence’ and it was surreal. The war-zone atmosphere intensified at the subway station. There were 15 officers in partial riot gear crowded near the wickets going in and I counted 20 on the platforms.

I was relieved to get home! I ate lunch and read a book and didn’t pay much attention to what was going on outside my building, though I did notice the unusual number of helicopters.

In the late afternoon, I walked to the health food store to pick up some brown rice protein powder and noticed riot police guarding the intersection to my neighbourhood! That’s when I found out that a band of violent demonstrators were moving through the downtown area, smashing windows and setting cars on fire. “They smashed all the windows of the Starbucks”, the shop clerk told me.

They were headed north. At the peak of the violence, these protests were a mere 1.5km away from my building (southeast). It’s rumoured that the police were using tear gas to disperse them.

I beat a hasty retreat home and stayed put, with the radio on.

Just to give you an idea, here’s the street I walked through on my way to class this morning. At 10:30 a.m., it was quiet and still. By 4:30, it looked like this:

I guess the boarded up windows were not ‘overkill’ after all. The downtown core apparently looks like a war zone, with smashed windows, burning vehicles and vandalism.

My teachers just canceled tomorrow’s Mysore. The Shala is located well outside of the current ‘red zone’ so it’s just a precaution. But it means that I’ll be going to Shala North for my practice again tomorrow morning. Goodness, I’m spending a lot of time up there! I’ll head up as soon as the subway opens. Hopefully, this will give me enough time to do my practice. The adjustments workshop starts a couple of hours after that, so I guess I’ll hang out in that neighbourhood and get some lunch.

It will be a relief to get out of downtown, to be honest. I just took Princess Fur for a walk around our block and even though it feels like a ‘normal’ Saturday, with children playing in the park and people enjoying their barbecues, the city is still filled with the sound of sirens and helicopters are buzzing overhead. There’s a pall of smoke over the downtown core. It’s a weird scene.


I more-or-less honoured the rest day/Moon Day and just did a little bit of Hatha to stretch a few things out.

My upper ribs and my hip flexors are aching today. On Thursday, I launched my new ‘secret project’. It will span a month and I’m hoping it will lead to great things, but for now, it’s just making me very, very sore. Ug. I thought I was using most of the muscles in my body, but apparently there are a number of them that have been sitting on the shelf until now.

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