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NGIP “Sits” Down With Saltwater Buddha, Jaimal Yogis

When I “sat” down with Saltwater Buddha author, Jaimal Yogis (yes that’s his real name), I half expected the first words out of his mouth to be something like, “It is what is, dude.” Or “What’s the sound of one surfboard clapping?”

Rather, he was very cool. It was I who was the complete interviewing dork. You’d think I’d have this interviewing thing down, what with my endless experience of one prior sit-down with another author. But no, I guffaw and chortle. I am buffoonery in panties. (Hey, what a great name for a blog! You can have that.)

Take for example my yammering right out of the gate:

NGIP: In your memoir, Saltwater Buddha, you say that your parents, in their “full-fledged hippie phase”, named you after an Indian saint: Baba Jaimal Singh.

JY: Yes.

NGIP: So can I call you Babs?

JY: …

NGIP: I’m going to take that as a YES. So listen, Babs. How …[blah blah blah, etc., and Ad infinitum…]

And my God, the constant interrupting! And by interrupting, I mean yank the reins of a perfectly smooth flowing conversation out of his hands and jerk that horse-drawn wagon hard to the left.

Like when I asked him about his recently published memoir, he was lucky to get in the fact that “It’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance goes surfing”, or “It’s a coming-of-age memoir through the window of surfing”, or “It’s a love affair with the ocean” and then I’m breaking in about his appearance on ABC and Capital Public Radio the day before. He was not allowed to finish a thought. Seriously, I have this all recorded. I should be ashameed of myself.

And my subject wasn’t helping, let me tell you. Since Yogis (that really is his name) has a master’s degree in Journalism from Columbia University, he’d turn the conversation around to me. Or maybe I did that since I’m so dang egotistical – Hey, let’s make this interview about me!

I’d ask him about the documentary that local PBS filmmakers want to make based on his book (who are currently raising money to fund the film so if you or an interested friend have any extra investing dollars lying around, contact his publicist at lisa [at] catalystpublicity [dot] com), but then we veer off onto the topic of this video game for which I wrote content that is coming out soon called Coconut Queen by iWin.com, and see? I can’t help myself. I’m hopeless.

Anyway, that’s when he mentioned hearing what some kids were doing in the gaming industry where “young Chinese kids mine their own gold” in video games. They don’t actually play the game but, “they sell their own gold on Paypal.” So anybody bitching about the unemployment rate just got a good lead on a new job, right here on NGIP. You’re welcome.

We drank iced coffees at Belle Bru Cafe, in the same Sacramento suburban neighborhood where he attended high school (Rio Americano if anybody wants to holla). That is, until he pilfered $900 from his mother’s credit card account and ran away to Hawaii, but then realized he probably shouldn’t be skipping out on his probation officer so soon after a DUI charge, so he returned and finished high school in Yuba City (Yuba City High if anybody wants to holla?….hello? anyone?) but he talks about all that in his book, so I won’t spoil it for you.

Another thing that he talks about in his book that I don’t want to spoil for you is his brief stint in France. In fact, I’ll let Mr. Yogis spoil it:

JY: I found a cheap exchange program, where I had to pay the woman five francs if I had my hands in my pockets. Like that episode of The Simpsons where Bart has to stomp grapes for the Frenchman. They wanted me there for slave labor and they wanted me to teach their son English and that was it.

Now where was I? We were talking about me, right? Oh, yes, me and my inappropriate questions, such as:

NGIP: What the hell kind of a name is Yogis? Are you kidding me?

JY: It’s Lithuanian. When my great grandfather emigrated here, he was a Cossack in the Russian Army and he hated the Russians, so he stole a horse and ran away from the army and got onto a boat and ended up in Brooklyn.

And this gem:

NGIP: I see you have thirty-six 5-star reviews on Amazon.com for your book? Are any of them not your friends?

As it turns out, most of them, as he patiently explained to me, are in fact, not his friends. Well, touché, then.

Jaimal Yogis: 2, NGIP: 0

I asked him if his book had gotten any negative reviews (because, as you can obviously conclude by now, I’m all about suggesting someone’s failure).

JY: I have not gotten one negative review, which has been amazing. I’ve gotten a bunch that have said, “I thought this book was going to suck.”

So there you have it. His book does not suck. To be honest, Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance kind of bored me, but I found Saltwater Buddha to be engaging, funny, and poignant. It has intrigue and adventure. And “surf nazis”. I laughed. I cried. It didn’t suck.

As a matter of fact, his book just went into its 2nd printing, and that, ladies and goats, is no small feat in this industry, where the average book sells a mere 500 copies.

I asked him where he lived.

JY: I was in San Francisco.

NGIP: And now?

JY: I’ve been in the Bay Area since I got out of high school.

NGIP: In other words, you’re homeless.

JY: I was living in Ocean Beach.

NGIP: So, you’re a homeless person.

JY: Yeah.

NGIP: Homeless people read, right? What are you reading right now?

JY: The Twilight Books, I’m reading New Moon. I totally love it. It’s just like pure entertainment. Vampires have been symbols for us for hundreds of years, really dark, it’s cool how all of a sudden this typically dark story…it’s kind of like Monsters Inc., where your nightmares are turned into this happy place.

NGIP: Is it true that it’s against Buddhist rules to have sex with skulls?

JY: It’s in the Vinaya. It’s a very long list of rules. The Vinaya came out of the monks and nuns getting into mischief.

[Editor’s note: Nuns too? Sorry, ladies. Apparently this rule applies to you as well.]

And then with two minutes left on the clock, I asked a halfway decent question.

NGIP: All the running around you did, do you think you came full circle, finding yourself with Zen and meditating, which is what your parents were trying to teach you but you just weren’t ready to learn yet?

JY: Accepting the fact that I was a hippie just like my parents? That was what this book was about, understanding my own narrative, my own story. And accepting where I come from, whether you come from a family of investment bankers, or gypsies. That is part of you and there’s no way to escape that. I just want to be myself and honor where I come from. I spent years being afraid of who I am or falling into a fear of who I am. And people don’t really care. They’re more likely to accept you when you’re comfortable with yourself than when you’re trying to be something you’re not. That was a realization in the book.

NGIP: Do you like goats, or do their eyes freak you out?

JY: I love baby goats. Some goats are kind of demonic. Like Dragnet, where they have a big goat. At the end there’s this evil villain who wears a goat head. I love goat milk and goat cheese and they’re so cute. I love their little goatees. And I love the name of your blog too.

[Editor’s Note: Aw, shucks. *blushes*]

Then I got all Zen on his ass:

NGIP: If a chicken and a half can lay an egg and a half in a day and a half how long would it take a caterpillar to sift all the dill seeds out of a pickle?

JY: Wow. I’m gonna take some time to meditate on that koan. That sounds like one that could break my linear thinking in a good way.

Yogis is currently signing books all over the place when he’s not going to schools and talking to kids or getting involved with 826 Valencia, that youth program started by Dave Eggers, that you may have heard of.

Jaimal Yogis’ website
Upcoming Book Signings (The next few appearances include Denver, Santa Cruz, and La Jolla).

Upcoming Lawsuits regarding defamation of character: www.howtosueNGIP.com

frilly panties 76x70

GTOTD 24pt

So there’s this stupid slot machine game on Facebook that my friends have suckered me into playing so they can get their daily tokens whose sole redeeming event is when I get 3 of these:

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39 Comments

  1.  I always prefer the way Edward puts Jacob down in that calm way. You know, that “Do you understand that, mongrel?” and “I will break your jaw for her.”… just download something about that calm anger. This clip just seemed a TAD over the top. And I love how angry Bella is when Jacob kisses her. Download filmes @D0-W-n10@D_F1L R 

  2. Cheri Pryor says:

    He must be really comfortable with his manliness to admit he likes the Twilight books….and he’s pretty easy on the eyes. No wonder you were so nervous. You were all giddy with school girl butterflies. lol!! Or you just really find yourself interesting. Or a little of both. Who can blame you?
    Will be adding this book to the 4,735 others I already have on my list that you have recommended somewhere on this blog.

  3. Where’s the memoir from the family of investment banking hippies? Now THERE is a book I want to read.
    I kid, I kid – this is good stuff, NGIP. An intelligent surfing yogi reading my secret shame, the “Twilight” books? I may have to add him to my harem of imaginary future husbands. It’s ok, the Anonymous Husband is fully aware of (if not delighted with) this plan.

  4. AnnsRants says:

    If you haven’t already, I must now command you to download for .99 This American Life episode “Cringe”
    The whole thing is fantastic, but Ira Glass interviewing the cast of Mash relates directly to your take on your own interview.
    xo

  5. Margo says:

    his book sounds fascinating… not one I’d be immediately drawn to, but it sounds like he takes his subject matter to a place where many can relate- which I think is kind of the key in this genre. The Twilight series is a bit of a disconnect.. but I can see how having Edward Cullen stare you down at your own book signings would eventually get to anybody.

  6. I cant even get sucked into one more silly game on Facebook!

  7. Jen says:

    One of the best interviews I have read in a long time and since it doesn’t suck like Zen and the Art of Motorcycle maintenance I will be sure to go out and buy this one.
    I will say that your interview style reminded me of trying to have a conversation on the phone while my children (daughter) are around. Impossible to get a thought completed but it was good anyway, even if it was all about you.
    My book comes out in November and I would love it if you interviewed me(we could talk only about you).

  8. Rachel says:

    There’s a slot machine app on facebook?!!! What will they think of next.

  9. Beth says:

    Probably the best I could hope for in the way of compliments if I ever wrote a book is, “It didn’t suck.”

  10. Mammatalk says:

    Lovely interview. Whose next?

  11. LiLu says:

    “I laughed. I cried. It didn’t suck.”
    If I ever write a book? That is EXACTLY what I want my reviews to say.

  12. Pseudo says:

    I feel I should have heard of him before. Well, now I have. Lovely fun interview.

  13. interview me! interview me! or at least let me sit in next time. like a laugh track, but live.

  14. ByJane says:

    Fan-fucking-brilliant, Margaret. When I publish a book, you’ll be my first interviewer. Of course, seeing as I’ll be putting you in my Acknowledgments–“thank you to my ever-faithful writer’s group….”, perhaps that would be considered a form of nepotism.

  15. I am jealous that you interviewed someone that could throw a Dragnet “goat skinned pants dance” reference into a conversation.
    I love him to infinity for that!
    And NGIP? Everyone is a Tyra Banks at heart.
    Peace – Rene

  16. Oh, man. Brilliant. I used to have to interview stupid office people for the newsletter I did for their company. I SUCKED at interviewing. I was the nervous one, interrupting, asking stupid questions. But how awesome would I have been if I had only asked this:
    “Is it true that it’s against Buddhist rules to have sex with skulls?”
    Very awesome, that’s how.

  17. linlah says:

    “catalystpublicity” – I read this as catpussity, I know I need my eyes checked.
    And when I still worked in an OFFICE in DPH I think saw him hangin on the BLVD.

  18. That was really enjoyable to read.
    Stopping by to give a little bloggie love.

  19. Janie says:

    I think you should interview me.
    You’d sleep well at night. And probably during the interview, too.

  20. Jessica says:

    I’m laughing and I’m cringing but it could have just as easily been me sitting in your chair. Oy! I know how you feel

  21. MommyTime says:

    I love this interview which has me totally wanting to read the book (as soon as I finish the 777 page thriller I’m currently working on). So, I think you did your job effectively, NGIP. 🙂

  22. Leeuna says:

    Hey, congrats on scoring the interview. I think you did a great job. Oh and I love the Twilight series by-the-way. He has good taste in reading material. 🙂

  23. mannequin says:

    I’m scurrying around like a chicken with it’s head cut off (oops, sorry Budda) looking through my Dragnet episodes to find that trippy goathead.
    Such are the events that make up life’s fuller moments.

  24. If my memory serves me… Rio Americano is the only football team we beat my senior year of high school. Holla! LOL
    Great interview! It reminded me of a poem a friend my freshman year of college (at Hawaii Pacific U.) wrote about “The Church of Surf”. I still wish I could find him or a copy of his poem.
    If you like the surfer’s take on life and spirituality, you might check out the story of Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz in the documentary Surfwise and/or check out Doc’s book Surfing and Health.

  25. I think a caterpillar would crush the pickle, ’cause those big trucks are awfully heavy!

  26. Grand Pooba says:

    Seriously the most interesting intiview I’ve ever heard (read) so who’s next, buddha himself?

  27. So there’s hope yet for my raised-by-hippie-children? Thank you. I needed this.

  28. Rebecca says:

    You never disappoint – I have not idea who this guy is (I live in a small town on the East Coast – forgive me), but I am off to click on your links to learn more!
    Coffee with you (if I drank coffee) would be a great way to spend an afternoon!

  29. I was gonna comment that you did a great job on the interview, but everyone else’s comment were so clever, and I’m really boring. Oh well love the slot machine, how can I get in on it???

  30. Kristina says:

    I don’t know. He’s not wearing a Snuggie. I really can’t trust a man not in a Snuggie.

  31. You could teach Charlie Rose and Larry King a thing or two about interviewing.

  32. deb says:

    i am impressed with you for scoring this interview! nicely done!
    i am bad about interrupting interesting people, which doesn’t bode well for my interview skills. i actually have an idea for a book that involves, well, interviewing people.

  33. Christa says:

    “NGIP: If a chicken and a half could lay an egg and a half in a day and a half how long would it take a caterpillar to sift all the dill seeds out of a pickle?”
    Mags, WHAT are you smoking and where can I get some.
    Giggle Yogini hollaring back (and I AM a hollar back girl).

  34. Dude, he sat down for coffee and got an interview? I sat next to you at DINNER and all I got was a photo op and business card! Tell me you didn’t give him a business card…

  35. Manic Mommy says:

    Well doesn’t he seem like the nicest Cossack surfer hippie I’ve never met!
    and you? deep, really deep…

  36. Scott says:

    I liked this interview, though I felt like sneaking up on Jaimal and garroting him some time when he mentioned liking New Moon.
    As it is, I just shouted SUCKER! and I was fine.
    Thanks for the post, Margaret. 😀

  37. Pricilla says:

    Hey, you want a goat. I goat a goat…call me.

  38. Jan says:

    Oops – sorry, Babs, you lost all credibility with me when you said you’re loving the Twilight series.
    Proof positive, Margaret – he can NOT read.

  39. anne says:

    omg. i want to have coffee with you and do an interview too!
    🙂