Author Archives: admin

Tai Chi: Stay Tuned

I have a lot of exciting tai chi news coming — stay tuned, more details to follow!

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Abu’s Supermodel GF

As a mom, I’ve always known the day would come when Abu’s dashing good looks would attract supermodels and actresses. And, sure enough, recently a legendary supermodel was seduced by his cuteness and charm — she instantly wanted to hold him and snuggle him close. What can I say — he’s a natural ladies man, a lady killer, all that jazz. Perhaps Abu needs his own Instagram as many have suggested (especially as he’s being discovered by some of the most famous modeling and acting stars!)…

Lauren Hutton
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Kraken in the Kanals

An important public service announcement that I feel compelled to make: the Venice canals are indeed a Kraken Hazard Zone, so please be very careful when strolling their peaceful banks (and keep your doggies close)!

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A Burmese Feast

All year, my Burmese students in war torn Myanmar (as well as Burmese students in my Berkeley class) were urging me to try the Burmese food at Jasmine Market and Cafe in Los Angeles. I had even sent my Burmese students in Myanmar the menu so they could advise me on what dishes to order.

I remember being so surprised in my Burmese language class when I learned that Burmese cuisine has a drink called “falooda” — as I already knew this word from speaking Persian. So of course I had to order that to kick off our Burmese feast.

I ordered the coconut curried chicken noodles which are really out of this world — it was so good that I took home leftovers and savored it for days.

We also got a tea leaf salad (“an eclectic mix of flavors which pickled tea leaves, roasted peanuts, crunchy beans, fried garlic, sesame seeds, dried shrimp, chopped tomato and cabbage”) and pan friend noodles with a special curry sauce (billed on the menu as a dish associated with the Muslim community with ingredients that marry together flavors from Chinese cuisine and Indian cuisine).

As you can see, Abu wanted to eat it all — he was licking the air like mad, tasting all the flavors and loving the unique scents wafting through the air.

Even the drink was enticing to him! As you can see, he was cracking me UP. My Burmese students in Myanmar said they were so happy to see Abu so into their national cuisine.

I highly recommend checking out Jasmine Market and Cafe for a special culinary experience in LA — the atmosphere and dishes made us feel like we had really traveled to Myanmar (and I even got to practice speaking Burmese!).

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Burmese Brunch

I’ve spent the last two years teaching brilliant university students in war-torn Myanmar — where some of my students’ homes have been obliterated in air strikes (while others have had to run for their lives from the new draft). Due to the dangers of living and teaching in Myanmar at this violent time, we have been hold classes online — so it’s always a treat when we get to meet our colleagues and students in person.

I was so happy when my Burmese boss told me he was coming to my neck of woods in California on a fundraising trip, because then we could finally get to meet in person. Wild!! And in just a few weeks, nine of my students will be coming to visit too — it will be so strange to be embodied in the same space together after these two years of just being floating heads on Zoom!

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Beach Baby

Even though globe-trotting Abu was born in China and grew up there (while summering with me in the Himalayas of Tibet), he’s become such a California beach boy — day and night, he loves exploring the shores of California.

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Annual Checkup

Abu recently had his annual checkup (passed with flying colors) but he was a bit out of sorts after being poked and prodded by his doctor — so I took him to the beach to recover, unwind, and rejuvenate!

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Great Spirit

For Indigenous People’s Day, Abu trekked up mountains of Will Rogers State Historic Park after a mighty brunch in the Palisades. On the top of a mountain, we were greeted by this Cherokee Prayer.

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Kabbalah Centre

Through a bizarre series of events (perhaps mystical or fated?), Abu and I ended up one day at the Kabbalah Centre of Los Angeles, which I have been meaning to visit for years.

Abu was the one leading the way — guiding us safely across the street to explore this inviting and beautiful center of mystical Judaism.

I felt a bit silly going inside in my tai chi outfit, but hey it matched the tones of the building and inspired me to be in a calm and spontaneous kind of mood.

Inside, we were warmly welcomed (including Abu) so we took our time exploring the courtyard and bookstore.

As you can see, the bookstore had some entertaining merch in addition to many mystical books — I flipped through a number of them searching for wisdom and landed upon the rather complex mystical concept of “Small Face’ (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeir_Anpin). But after I stumbled upon an autobiography by Satan, I got spooked (and was concerned about COVID-19 since the door was closed) and so our kabbalah adventure came to a close. I’m grateful that I finally had the chance to explore this unique spiritual space and be kindly greeted — every day is a chance for a new adventure!

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Beach Standup

I’ve been enjoying doing weekly standup comedy shows on the beach — so fun to just stroll out of my house and onto the sand to tell jokes at sunset! Feels great to bring my worldwide standup comedy tour that began in China during the COVID-19 pandemic to the shores of California!

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Meet Us at Latte Larry’s

I’m a coffee fiend and my favorite place to power up on caffeine (and meet up with Cheryl for a latte) is, of course, Latte Larry’s! Fortunately, they recently opened up a branch in my neighborhood. It was so great to reunite with Cheryl, as the last time we saw each other was at a special gathering at the Dragon King’s Royal Palace of Paro in Bhutan high up in the Himalayas!

Let me show you around our local Latte Larry’s!

First, some ground rules.

No chat and cuts — seriously, don’t even try.

Also: “If you are a defecator, or planning on defecating anytime soon, don’t come down here. This is not your place.”

Also, none of those annoying, convoluted orders — life is short, so please don’t waste all of our time (precious moments!) with your double mocha theta kappa Splenda BS drinks.

How great is this — they put this folding sign up out front to let us know when they’re open. And as their blue sign on the wall notes, they are serving up hot cups of SPITE!!!

The expression of this customer under the “THIS IS A DEFECATION-FREE STORE” is pure gold. Don’t sit under the sign if you don’t wanna be in a photo with it!

With every latte, you also get a quote card from the owner of the store — and as you can see below, that same quote is painted on the wall.

Check out the special aprons they’ve got — and photos of the owner of the joint on the wall too (my dream man!).

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Oh, it’s also important to note that Latte Larry’s has NO wobbly tables — it’s an explicit company policy. Such a relief…

As you can see, Abu in his Aburrito form, appreciates the warmth vibing off of the latte to warm up on windy, rainy beach days.

Cheryl put us in her IG live when we were like let’s recreate the magic of our selfie in Bhutan at the Royal Palace lol!

Even Susie makes an appearance at Latte Larry’s — so don’t try any funny business!

And yes, the posters all refer to different episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm — such genius!

I also got a scone but they didn’t put it in a Latte Larry’s box like the others (you can see Abu being like omg why didn’t we get a box!?!) — then when I went to catch up with Cheryl outside to take off my mask, my cup got all wet and I accidentally threw it out lol! So I got home with no merch, but at least I got to improv again with Cheryl, the comedic genius of improv. She had Abu and I in stitches…

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Topanga Canyon Adventure

Abu celebrated his 3rd birthday in style in the Santa Monica Mountains of Topanga! He’s come a long way from his earliest days in China and Tibet, where he spent his boyhood hiking the Himalayas!

After accompanying me to my dentist appt in Encino with my Persian dentist from Kerman (so fun to speak Persian!, we headed to Abu’s birthday brunch Cafe on 27 (https://www.cafe-27.com) in Topanga Canyon.

Abu loves eating out in nature, so he was in heaven. I started to come to live with a yummy Moroccan Mocha (espresso, cocao, cardamom, cinnamon, and turmeric).

When I saw a tahdig waffle on the menu, I had to ask the waitress if the owner of the restaurant is Persian — and indeed, he is! Brunch was out of this world — can’t wait to go back! Especially before it slides into the canyon, omg!

We usually don’t leave the beach, so we were in heaven in the mountains and felt like we were on vacation. After brunch, we went for a hike in Topanga, to recreate Abu’s boyhood adventures of hiking of the Himalayas in Tibet.

We also went and played on the stage of the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum to inspire me to finish my latest play (which just premiered in war-torn Myanmar).

A related US history lesson: “In the 1950s, Geer was blacklisted for refusing to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. He had to sell his large Santa Monica home and move his family to a small plot in the canyon. Geer’s friend Woody Guthrie had a small shack on the property. They unintentionally founded what became an artists’ colony…Will Geer combined his acting and botanical careers at the Theatricum, by making sure that every plant mentioned in Shakespeare was grown there.”
[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theatricum_Botanicum]

Abu and I recited some monologues on the stage to get the feel for the place — grateful the groundskeeper let us explore this gorgeous outdoor theatre!

Then we headed to Calabasas for a stroll and window shopping as we had never been up that way.

We ended our birthday adventure with a cheese plate at Blue Table in Agoura HIlls — the perfect day! So very grateful to have Abu as my guru and life coach! ; ) The little guy really knows how to live! ; )

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From Algeria to Sumba

Let’s fly away to Tlemcen and Sumba — come along! I was honored to be invited to speak again in beloved Algeria (at 3 am!) at a travel literature conference in Tlemcen. It had been a dream come true to fly to amazing Algeria from China just two months before the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan emerged to give a keynote at the Black Arts Movement Conference based on my interviews with American civil rights legends who made history at the 1969 Pan-African Cultural Festival in Algiers — so it was a total delight to speak again in Algeria.

I spoke about my research on travel literature related to the island of Sumba in Indonesia. As a fellow at the American Institute of Indonesian Studies, I’d turned my focus to Sumba last year, so in my Algeria talk I critiqued how westerners have exotified Sumba (branded as the new luxury Bali) — with its headhunters, human sacrifices, and murderous ritual jousts — and how the Sumbanese have resisted the tourist gaze and turned it back on itself.  Hoping to return to Algeria again — to film my new screenplay!

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Gaza Monologues in Burma

Since I’ve been teaching the Theatre of the Oppressed in civil war torn Burma, my university students and I joined the global call to perform The Gaza Monologues in solidarity with all the Palestinians suffering genocidal violence in illegally occupied Palestine (for all of us to see with daily and nightly horror on our screens). As you can see from these images, my Burmese students got creative in their performances, with some using avatars and video footage backdrops on Zoom.

Not so long after we performed The Gaza Monologues, a number of my Burmese students had their homes and all their possessions blown up in airstrikes by Myanmar’s military planes. They told me that when their homes were blown up, they remembered performing The Gaza Monologues in our class and that memory gave them strength and perseverance to continue their studies (despite enormous hardships) and to not be completely destroyed by hopelessness and depression. They never imagined that they too would find themselves in similar circumstances.

Miraculously, my students just graduated with their Associate’s Degrees in an in-person ceremony in Thailand (which you can watch here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAb23rJI-wE).

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