Thursday, 29 January 2009


of course not in my hair. i swear here and now that i will never ever ever colour my hair any colour. meaning when it turns white i will not colour it black and now that it is black i will not colour it brown or red or rust or burnt sienna (anyone remember what this is? camel water colours!)

skip to highlights:
* frog in the kitchen. twice. seems to like warm cozy spot next to drain pipe. was dealt with summarily. meaning i outsourced dealing with it. not touching any frogs myself. sorry folks.
* washing machine okay so far so good - am kind of obsessed with this device.
* have a phone but it will not allow me to make calls out. screw it. i will use my mobile. you can call me though.
* used up all my curtains. fucking insane number of windows going on here. need more curtains.
* serendipitously sofa cleaner dude's flier came with the paper today. need his help pronto. nasty sofas.
* 35 boxes still to be unpacked. 25 of these are precious. books that is. rest are what no one knows though since i am missing my spare car key one hopes that one of the them has that useful bit of metal.
* bird noises. racket in fact. wakes you up better than an alarm though still too cold (it is cold okay, early in the morning) to leave window open
* child has loped off to educational trip to milk factory today. very excited. narrated story from long ago memory from a wonderful children's encyclopedia that i possessed once upon a time. hope indian fact will agree with american fiction.
* subsisting on: 2 calvin and hobbes, 1 goblin's toy shop (blyton), 1 tehelka, 1 magic pot. need to unpack those boxes.
* summarily dismissed the question of local cable versus tata sky. who cares. not me. something that feeds something to my giant-ass tv is sufficient considering how less useful this fellow is to us.
* monster tantrums. monster co-operated broadly during move. occupied itself with something or the other stopping only occasionally to roll in the filth that collected everywhere. threw the odd tantrum and got the odd punishment for it. we have now kissed and made up through a note which reads "i love you amma hope y do to" (thus oozing cuteness and making me forget many other things of earlier. motherhood kinda sucks. one can never win. i give up. that monkey.).
* all the people who i have not called or messaged or emailed, well, you know me. add on top of it my move and the various parts that are hanging because of it. especially think of the fact that the bloody aquaguard guy has not turned up yet and find it in your hearts to forgive.

mua mua.

Saturday, 24 January 2009


Every time change comes to me, to my life, its associated with loss of sleep, and piles of dust:
* Seven years ago we wallowed in filth one fine day in Cambridge, loaded a truck, bid our precious boxes of books (and pretty little else) goodbye and went our way while the boxes went their way on the transoceanic journey east.
* It was fourteen years ago (maybe thirteen?) that I begged people for help in fixing my big suitcase since my mum had banned me from buying a new one, and somehow, loading my stuff (meaning clothes that I never wore since I lived in jeans) in the luggage van of the train and so on, reached home triumphantly, back from my nasty one-room hostel dwelling - the room was nice, very beautiful with a balcony and so forth, I had lax rules on cleaning though.
* Leaving out the smaller moves here and there, now, today, I am in the midst of a big one. Meaning dust bunnies the size of dogs have emerged from behind the cupboard that StyleSpa dismantled with aplomb. My phone is ringing continuously with people asking for directions. My brain was going to explode as I tried to unravel the connections:
The washing machine has to be locked by Siemens. The door to the backyard has to be broken down my local carpenter (or husband). Washing machine has be packed by Agarwals Packers (& Movers). Washing machine has to be loaded into truck by A P (& M). Unloaded likewise. Set up over there by local electrician. Unlocked by Siemens. Its unique ability to wash for hours without dealing at all with the splotches of dirt on the monsters clothes to be enjoyed, of course, by me... Invariably the local electrician has called me a billion times asking to do his bit. Siemens (which is the first step?) is MIA. A P (&M) should be here any minute now...
If you are in the mood, I can tell the story behind all my other stuff in excrutiating detail as well. Oh wait, here is my phone.
& yes, I am moving about 10 meters from my current residence (okay maybe 3 kms). & the fingers hurt from cleaning the switchboards (which are caked in cement) in my new ground-floor-home-with-a-garden(YEAH!)-but-too-close-to-the-main-road(HONK HONK!). & i am going now to buy me a cycle since ta-daa i can cycle (or walk or better still, run) to work from next week.

& Someone CLAPPED for me as I ran countless number of circles around the little park outside here this morning. You know, just to get out my frustrations and get charged up for the day, and since its unlikely I will come all the way here to run anymore. I also climbed up the 24 floors to my roost here, since, you know, ground floor and all from next week, and how cool this is and ooh I am going to miss everything and gawd the bathrooms....)

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Of Lunches and Surprises

One must not actually post anything today. Being busy and all. Parallelly processing so many things. "So many balls in the air" one is trying to juggle just now.

But when a discovery happens, it must be shared, of course?

One likes very much that element of surprise in the three-tier stainless steel dabba lunch. Maybe a pickle? Maybe a nicely fried aloo bhaji? If only the mater were here, she would even do something indulgent like chips, which go so well with the sambar saadam. But the cook, the one who spells hope early in the morning, is sweet too, one must not compare or complain.

Third dabba lunch (of the week) today yielded a favourite beans thing. One smacked ones lips literally and dug in and wound it all up, eco-friendly-ly using a green towel in place of a paper napkin. And body-friendly-ly drinking mucho water.

Edited to add: Dabba no. 5 was not as nice an experience. The surprise related to switching the vertical order of the subji & curd rice was nice. Cabbage was a vegetable that one avoided like the plague in childhood. Adulthood has made one tolerate it vaguely in some forms, but the brownish dry cabbage curry (which, incidentally, the husband loves), is still not a pleasant vision.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Quick Update on the run

I want to write a nice post about it, it was nice, I had so many things I liked. But unfortunately it is the beginning of what promises to be a bad week, responsibilities-wise. So bullet point quick update it is.

* It was great fun. ludwig ran with me.
* I had a 'strong' race. Thats the best way I can describe it. I felt good. Strong. I did better than my usual pace up to 17 kms. Might have lost it a bit after that. But I walked ONLY FIVE STEPS the entire duration of the race.
* Helicopter came too low and tried to kill us since the banners and placards on the side started flying into our running path. In the last 200 m (which is when I would have really liked to sprint and challenge my legs). Bad.
* Folk drum like thing all along the path was great, I paced my steps to match the drums!
* IPOD was fun. Despite the tendency of my shuffle to keep playing Mamma Mia! soundtrack. I was singing once in a while, much to ludwig's irritation (or surprise?)
* One blister. Rest is all fine. No calf cramps. No nail falling off. No recurrence of my December foot injury.
* Time? In the region of 2:10-2:15. Was aiming for sub-2 hours so a bit off that way from goal, but all things considered (like the foot, the lack of uniform training thanks to home situation, busy January thanks to work and home situation, bad sleep thanks to monster again, oh add the humidity too, excuses are aplenty, but who is counting?) I was happy with it.
* Fund-raising effort has gone well. Lots of cute donations. My friends are rock solid I tell you.

I wanted to run again this morning. Perhaps I can manage it tomorrow morning. Really. Not Kidding. Bring it on.

But now I have to change mind-set and do other stuff for the rest of the week and month. I figure if I don't breathe or sleep, I can get to February without incident. Yeah. Its one of those times in Kenny's life...

Friday, 16 January 2009

Am I so far gone?

For the past week I have been wearing two watches on my left hand. The daughter commented on it and suggested I wear one on the right hand. But I don't like to have a watch on my right hand, it feels weird somehow. But two on the left felt fine so I went with it. The logic is v e r y s i m p l e. I repaired my spare watch so I can wear it when I work out. So I have some sense of time generally. But watches don't work if you just keep them in the house, at least not mine (watch that is, not house). They need to feel you, your body, your warmth (I know, really, whats up with that.) So I decided to wear it around till at least the Marathon. But then the regular watch would stop working so I came up with this solution. And I must say its convenient and I have no issues with it.

Now if you see me sporting two watches, there are several things you can do:
1. Ignore it. Act suave. Go on, you can do it.
2. Say, "Oh! Your manager screwed up and you are signed up by Tommy and Titan simultaneously? You poor dear"
3. Think "Must be a big fan of Amitabh Bacchan"
4. Exclaim "Dah-link what a style statement. Mua. Mua."
These are options, definitely.

Thus far, this is what has happened in reality:
1. "Are you trading stocks on NYSE?" I don't even know what a stock is okay (apart, of course, from vegetable versus chicken stock for soups and such). And WTF is NYSE? And how exactly is this comment relevant?
My response: Asinine smile and got the hell out of there.
2. "Is the other one a countdown watch for the marathon?" I liked this. Good one. Good idea.
My response: Oh dear, what a fantastic idea. But no, both show the same time.
3. "Madam aap do watch pehen chuke ho!" Okay, the presumption being that, I am SO absent-minded that I first wore one watch, forgot about it, fished the other one out from its repository, and wore that too, without noticing that the first one was already there. I swear FOUR people made this comment, no less.
My response: stunned silence in each case.

So now I know what people think of me. I may as well check myself into the asylum while I remember to...

The Bag Lady

Well, it turns out I am the bag lady. To wit: I am frumpy, hair is always a mess, my invariable black pants have foot prints on them from the car ride, my feet are in nasty shape (and the nails have never heard of paint), and just today:
1. Handbag, black, stuffed with: ludwig's pan card. my wallet. mobile. checks from here and there. lists. bills. rubber bands. unknown items.
2. Backpack. Resurrected old Black Jansport belonging to husband. Stuffed with: two notebooks. calculator. current text books. some papers.
3. Marathon Bag. Also Black but with bright blue threads. Shoes. Socks. Towel. Tee. Shorts. For potential evening run in the gymkhana grounds.
4. Colourful Dark Blue bag with beautiful embroidery. Stuffed with my lunch dabbas. Grapes for evening. Water bottle (refilled half liter Bisleri).
5. Grey semi-back pack that I got in my Romania Conference. Stuffed with monster's lunch, water bottle (some funny Mickey Mouse types), change of dress, a snack box. This is her creche bag.
6. Blue Power Puff Girls Back Pack. Bright blue. Like ooh where are my sunglasses now blue. With decal type stuff of the annoying creatures. This is the monster's school bag.
7. Red and yellow hanging water bottle with butterflies on it. This is the monster's school water bottle.

(The last two items are of course forcefully thrust on the girl. Five bags is plenty for me. One bag for each foot of my height).


Last night at the park, I was trying my hardest to read Smoke and Mirrors by Pallavi Aiyar, squinting in the white tube light. It was 6:45 when we hauled ourselves down there. It was real noisy. First was a little cute girl with some device for making bubbles. Like a gun with a big purple light in front that made about a hundred bubbles a minute. Kids (am ashamed to say including mine), would giggle and run after the bubbles trying to burst them. Then the boys. Big boys. Scary looking thugs. They insist on hanging out on the slides and swings which are clearly for younger children (at least I think so. They are easily as big as I am though they are probably only 8-10 years of age). They were up to some game as usual.

One second I am reading about Shaolin monks and Kung-Fu and the next thing I know someone is screaming Bloody Fucker. I was a bit UHH. I mean 10 years of age is surely too young for Bloody Fucker but too old for the small pink slide? I marked my page and was going to get up and Have A Talk With The Boys About This. I had slimily seen that at least my little baby girl was far away chasing bubbles in a girly manner and could not have heard them clearly. But There Are Other Little Girls. I was all chagrin-filled.

But then just as suddenly I gave up. Forget it. Its all good. I mean who am I to comment on them? I generally don't say Bloody Fucker thats true. But thats only because I prefer Fucking Ass over other forms of swearing. And I cannot really be that Aunty types who goes up and berates young people for such things. If they were littering, or hurting dogs, or bullying a little kid, I would go up to them (and have done it, at least a few times) and try to convince them to stop. If they burst crackers too close to me they would get a bit of a scolding from me (and they have). Well, thats good enough for the bag lady.

The park is not of course what its made out to be. And I really hated that soap bubble making gun more than the thug looking boys swearing at each other...

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Willy Willie

(see this from the amazon giants if you desire).

In revision mode, I did Half a life by Naipaul again this week. My husband hates Naipaul. Not sure why. I suppose he is a crusty old whatchammaycallit. But I like his books. You know trying to not judge a book based on the fact that the author is annoying (or at least many people find him annoying, I don't presume to know him at all so why be annoyed?). Although I have not read it recently, Mystic Masseur I did really like. In a way its a Gerald Durrell, only of people and not animals. At least thats the way I look at it.

Willie Chandran. I am glad to meet you again. I understand your choices. I understand how you felt in the presence of 'greatness' in London, and how it at the same time gave you a sense of your own smallness, and your potential. I understand your brief, unsustained urge to write and your ability to churn out stories, in a way, your lack of ability to stem the stories that burst out of you. Yes. I like the bougainvilla-lined African house you describe as filled with ancient furniture not your own. I especially like your fear of the walking Africans!

If you try to read it like a textbook, where you will find answers, of course, the book leaves you completely unsatisfied. It resolves nothing. Should Willie's father have semi-married that girl that at once repulsed and attracted him so? Should they have had the audacity to produce not one, but two children given their shaky situation? Is Sarojini the better? Is Willie a weak and meek dumbass? I think no statement is made on these. Its there for you to take as it is. I like that.

That is what got me thinking about traditions and my own upbringing if you will and so on. Willie's fathers predicament and disillusionment and his half-baked way of protesting. The way he thought that he must stand up against discrimination because of the coolness factor and some notion of what Gandhi said, but he was not genuine. It is an introspective piece, at least it was for me, and I liked it, and am glad it graces my bookshelf, and I do not regret that I read it again.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Mumbai Marathon Stuff

(this is cross-posted at Indiahelps)

It is January. The beginning of the year. This is a particularly special year for all of us as we look ahead, eyes shining with hope. Hope that we have put the worst behind us, hope that the events of 2008 will make us stronger, hope that we will not forget, and hope most of all that we will continue to believe in ourselves.

Befittingly, the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon is around the corner, and will be held on Sunday, January 18th, 2009. This marathon is one of the most wonderful events of our city. The sheer positive energy that is seen on the streets during the marathon is remarkable. I hope that many of you will have the chance to experience it.

Much of the effort of runners and other participants in the Mumbai Marathon is directed toward fund-raising for various causes. The event, in addition to being a satisfying exhibition of fitness levels and meeting of personal physical goals, has become remarkably efficacious at promoting myriad noble causes.

We at Indiahelps have a very modest goal for the Mumbai Marathon this year - we want to tell people about ourselves. We have a number of our team members participating in the event. You will find the young and energetic Nihas; and the veteran of four SCMMs, kbpm, running themselves sore at the Half-Marathon. The brilliant ladies Parul and Orangejammies are participating in the Dream Run. Along the way, the enthusiastic team consisting of Sayantani, Aparna, Priyanka, Bala, and Rohini will not only pass on information about Indiahelps but also inspire and cheer our runners. Watch for us near the CST main stage and around Nariman point; look out for our tag-line "Who did YOU help today?"

Wish us luck! Watch for us! Come chat with us!

Friday, 9 January 2009

This friday is for my feet

So as everyone and their aunt knows my foot was bothering me. It still is. I mean I am okay enough to run and walk and jump and all as I am wont to, but the foot is not 100%. In fact both feet. I feel funny things in them. Maybe it is in my mind. Highly possible. At any rate, I requested my maid to help me by wiping an old pair of chappals that suddenly surfaced from somewhere this morning while I bathed and battled the child. She did it with poor grace (why? what is her problem? has been giving me lip since last week and then acting all innocent and wide-eyed in surprise if I call her on it) and I wore it to work. It looked nice and flat and comfy. I had brought lunch in a dabba (yes, a good old fashioned multi-story stainless steel creation) and fully intended to stay here till evening working away at this and that. But then at 10:45 I felt something funny in my feet. I was sure it was my foot speaking again. Blast it. But it was the damn chappal on the left. Its strap had weasled out. I had to pee. I hobbled barefoot to the bathroom holding chappal in hand, with the idea that I would just wear it in its broken state while in the bathroom (hello! cannot possibly enter that den of bacteria barefoot!) and then figure out what to do about it. Phutuk. The strap on the right one broke as well. Incredible! Both chappals within 15 minutes of each other!

I had to mutter about petrol pump closure, thank heavens that I have a semi-full tank and I had sent away my driver (ever since I discovered that he has been using my car to teach driving to some people here but could not prove it, I am tenterhooks about leaving my car with him, so today I sent him back home after he brought us here), and listening to some funny music I went home and came back wearing another pair (thank heavens I have another pair, it is not assured. I have several pairs of sports shoes but very very few normal things to wear in my feet. Plus I lost a pair two weeks ago long painful story).

I think I have to be more careful of my feet now. I have a longer run scheduled tomorrow morning. I have been very adventurous in wearing new and very old stuff in the recent past. But now I will stop. I will stick to tried and tested footwear alone, which gives me (a)my running shoes which are super muddy from last week and (b)my Bata hawai chappal which has tire treads on it.

Meanwhile I ate lunch reading blogs. It was good and fulfilling all around, and I thank my dear cook immensely as she packed my dabba exactly right although I had told her I would do it once I finished dealing with Ms.SmartyPants bathing and breakfast needs.

I resolve yet again to pay attention to my talking feet this week (It is true. It talks in a clickety voice, like an olden day mechanical device).

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Sunny Side Up

We ate eggs like no ones business last week. Yes, we were on vacation. Usually, Mr.Important (I like the sound of that, might stick to it henceforth) takes time off between Christmas and New Year every year. I have decided that instead of trying to manage and massage things otherwise, and considering Miss Smarty Pants (hmm. Interesting) also has school vacation that time, that this will be family vacation time at Kennys. This year was headed the usual way, meaning, zero planning on location and dates and flights going crazy and accomodation getting booked up the wazoo and what not. In addition our good friends returned from Sunny California to Burning Chennai assured us that they wanted nothing more than to spend vacation time with us (rather surprising, what?). So the lady in question and I went back and forth and back again while the guys did what they do on their blackberrys (i.e. work and ignore us). Finally it all came together about a week before. I sat one afternoon and charged up Mr.Important's credit card all over, and flitted across million web-sites and finally had bookings made everywhere. Oh, yes, acco needed a wire transfer and that is the only thing I asked Mr.I to do and that he could not because miraculously his money had disappeared from his bank account. I had to fill a Blue Chalan in my PSU bank for this purpose (and keep my fingers crossed that it would work. But hey. This stuff is MORE reliable than fancy online transfers, so there you have it. Granddad was right).

Goa was chosen. It was quite empty. The men asked everyone about business and asked them to estimate how much less this years was as compared to usual. And felt really smug or happy or unhappy (I could not tell) at the numbers that were bandied about. We stayed in some species of villa, which was nice especially with the washing machine and tea kettle and the snacks I took along (including several packets of nuts and dry-fruits that we get at Diwali routinely and I have to work hard to finish before the next set shows up).

I (we) won a bottle of Port Wine for my innovation involving jumping up and down and down and up again (both feet off the ground) for the entire duration of the song Sajanajivari from Honeymoon T.P.L. But I had to pee immediatly after, which was annoying. And Port Wine. Bleah.

We rented Honda Activas and zoomed all over Goa and found all the beaches and planned to shop for several things (and never did finally) and got in the water and ran till my shoes gave up the fight, and dug crabs in Baga Beach and marvelled at the various middle-aged and paunchy men walking around in VIP undies with family jewels on display (that is when they lifted up their overhanging paunches). Mr.I has taken photos of this annoying group of men sitting in the sand near the water drinking fosters from cans. They were photographing all the foreign women in bikinis and somehow a lot of them showed up within photo distance that time. They also flung their finished cans into the water. My friend & I pointedly collected them and stuck them in the sand next to them, as a hint. I wanted better closure and was going to go up and talk to them. But the VIP undies... I chickened out, wiped sand off my child and we left. I have the photo of the creep on my mobile though (YUCK).

New Years Eve party was already paid for so with typical middle class mentality ness we went there. My stomach was out after an untimely Chilli Cheest Toast so I just sat there till the organising dude bugged me about dancing. Some American whale-like ladies tried to come up and kiss us all but I managed to escape it while the others were slobbered over. There were some fireworks (dangerously close to us, had to hug the child and try to cover her from all sides with my large being) and so on, and finally at a bit after midnight, we left the men to their beer and took off back to the villa to chill and sleep.

The gym in the resort was a major disappointment. It felt like they had stuck a treadmill from the 1970s in that space under the stair-case that Harry Potter lived in. It was very claustrophobic. The bright coloured shirts that were manning the place did not wake up till 7 am and only then I could get hold of the key to the gym, which was annoying. I of course did not dare run outside alone (and anyway it was only one day, the rest of the days Guns and I ran together on some really fun routes).

The flights were as nightmarish as expected. On the way out first of all I had to dig deep into my patience-pocket and be really zen about the fact that our flight was about 6 hours late. Mr.I went ballistic and got us a refund on that one and got us booked on another one and that we were wait-listed on and finally we reached there at 8 pm as opposed to 1 pm. On the way back the airport was a zoo and people were cutting the security line left right and center and my zen state was gone by then and I exchanged caustic words with this young rich looking couple who shamelessly cut the line. I mean there were old people and people with small children and people with not-so-small children (i.e. ourselves) waiting patiently as really, the airport is small and under-staffed and too many flights taking off at same time, and what not, and here these people think nothing of being uncouth. If there is one thing that is very clear, it is that on average we lack civic sense. Paan-spitting. Chips packets. Gutka packets. Cutting lines. Shouting. Shoving. (& befittingly, I saw Shakti Kapoor in the airport, he looks like a carpet).

But hey! We saw dolphins! Crabs! Seagulls! Got sun-burned (at least I did, despite the sun block. Its still itchy). Ms.Smarty Pants had a ton of fun! I made a crossword (for the other child). It was fun! It charged me up for the year. And though we are friends from a long time ago, we had the best time together in a long time (the last time was when we were single - i.e. no children - and we hung out at their beautiful house in California), and I am really really happy to have found them again, and the child, oh that girl is just too wonderful for words. I love her immensely (and her metabolic rate exactly matches mine, how cool is that?). It was relaxing for Mr.I (which was critical considering this schedule in 2008), great for me of course, but very perfect a thing for mine child, with child-company, and loving adults, and the beach and of course parents in vacation mode. I think we will all treasure these memories for a while...

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

I am so cool!

so dipali thinks. and since she is way up there on cool scale, I am mighty kicked. woo hoo! thank you! thank you!

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Growing up with a well

I grew up with an aunt. You could say she was a big influence. Mum worked, dad was a workoholic, my grandfather lacked the energy to deal with me beyond a point, my school was for short hours and I had plenty of time to hang around at home. I kept myself completely busy doing this and that (craft, gardening, reading, whatever) but also had enough time to watch at close quarters the working of the woman who ruled our kitchen and pretty much our lives for many years.

We had a well. Water from the well was used to re-wash things that the maid washed. The whole pulley arrangement and drawing water from the well was big fun, especially during that brief age when it was just then a sanctioned activity and had not yet turned into a chore. We had all of those things associated with the kitchen - that stone grinder thing, that long metal-covered wooden stick for beating, a small stone for working on the skins of the groundnuts, a cutter for breaking arecanuts into small pieces, and many other things besides. None of the modern appliances. Many of my early memories are of the elaborate making of sweets and savouries for various festivals; and that smoky smell that pervaded the house after death ceremonies. It did not take long to learn the rules of the game - no touching; no salivating over foodstuffs till they are offered to god; no eating up of too many pieces at a time (this last one from my mum, always on the watch out for my health, and possessing two eyes in the back of her head in addition to the two eagle-like ones in the front).

Unlike my sister, I had no trouble in following the traditions and sticking to the rules. I found nothing to really object to. It was a big game for me. Every year I learned more of the rules by heart and would recite it parrot-like to anyone who asked (mostly they laughed at me for this). There was a linearity in these things that I liked, or at least found no reason to resent. Like washing your feet after peeing, nothing wrong with it I would think, in fact its kind of hygienic to do that.

Every month, after making a humongous deal of having her period, the same aunt would pack a 'wire basket' with some stuff (clothes I suppose) and head over to the cauvery to bathe. This involved something of a bus-ride, to go from Mysore to Srirangapatna. It could not have been convenient, especially on the way back due to the touching rules she had to follow. But I used to go along with her, for company. Possibly I was chosen because I never cribbed about it. In fact, I enjoyed it. A nice bus-ride, a busy water front, and, that sense of responsibility when she left her basket with me and waded into the shallow water, oh and also possibly love, I did really love her, despite her frequent dark moods.

A lot of fun was made of me for this business. My uncles would tease me to tears by insinuating that I had to go to the river because I had my period (or at least thats what I thought they were saying, I have never been good at figuring out when people are poking fun at me). My sister would smirk and snigger every time I came back. My mum would hide her smiles knowing I would cry. Even today some of my relatives will bring this up and laugh, how I would accompany my aunt every month to the Cauvery (I still don't get it, it is still not funny!).

If you cut to now. I don't do any traditions. I have made absolutely no effort in recent times to follow ANY of the traditions I grew up with. Even if you try to feed me the logic behind it and I can hear my grandmother's voice trying to justify it in various ways (aunt would never bother to justify these things, she steam-rolled over all objections), you will rarely hear me argue but I will not agree (in my mind). I think I must have broken every single rule that I memorised back in my childhood (and that includes cutting my nails at night, sometimes even at midnight).

It was not a drastic change, it was slow in coming, and when it did it had little to do with reading or erudite discussions with friends or my parents (at least my dad had no truck ever with any traditions). It has been, up to this admission here, almost entirely internal. I saw the inequities that even simple traditions breed. That not-so-subtle drawing of lines. The us and them. I saw the true position of widows (it felt as if I was watching a movie). I saw that marriages are not a union of traditions, but rather, the pitting of one set of traditions (unjust in themselves) against another (equally unjust) set. There are many more things. But mostly, over the years, I have seen that there is another way to live. That without particular malice or hatred to anyone I would like to live my life without having to deal with this baggage that I was born with...

Back from the beyond

I am back from there and everywhere else and everything has hit the fan. The New Year 2009 resolution is to be even more positive and to really, not procrastinate (my favourite thing to do). I vaguely toyed with the idea of cleaning my office till some guy came and told me its a sign of genius, so will leave that the well alone. Despite my desperate efforts of yesterday morning to find that notebook. Finally it turned up around 3 pm and really, its a wonderful notebook full of pithy notes in my small handwriting.

It is a year of changes that is for sure. But it is first of all a year of staying focussed on the 18th. My excuses are already accumulating, since my foot injury of last month. But thanks to Guns and Ludwig and JDB and my various other running friends, I don't want to accord any of them to my own self. I have discovered, over the last month, that no matter what, it is a pleasure to run. Even if it was not about losing weight and doing well at the Mumbai half; and despite the vague aches and pains associated with it, it is a pleasure. A pure one of sorts. That is the thought to focus on this year. In the past month I have run in Chennai in the most sylvan of surroundings in the old alma matter; I have run on a treadmill somewhere freezingly cold in Chandigarh; I have walked across watery rocks and run on a sandy beach in Goa (From Aguada to nearly Baga and back); I have given up on the army of dogs and run on a nice winding small town road-side also in Goa; I have run around the park in front of my building - an infinite number of loops; in addition to my usual route. It has all been wonderfully fulfilling, mind-clarifying and just pure oxygen for the lungs enjoyable.

My personal ups and downs and goods and bads of the year 2008 have to unfortunately wait as now its time to go and make Bread Upma for breakfast.