Monday, 31 May 2010

Musing from Madras on a Monday Morning in May

whats up with chennai? someone send something to this city already. like cool winds. or a city-sized air conditioner. it was 10:30 when we landed yesterday. thats a whole story in itself that i feel unwilling to share. horrid nasty flight it was. all of us passengers seemed to bond over stupid things like our indianness and the misery of being loaded on like cattle to a plane that was closed to the atmosphere, hermetically sealed in, with no artificial cooling and ejecting of ether molecules carrying heat to the outside atmosphere, and the spelling of connect with a k, what? did ekta kapoor think that one up?

back, as it were, at home. it was nice to sleep in ones own bed even if the monster(s) did do their utmost to push me down. we still have not removed out the plastic from our new! therapeutic! keep a glass of orange juice here! jump there! see! it does not spill! it adjusts to the contours of your body! wah! wah! mattress. so i was sleeping on plastic by five am. wondering disturbedly about: (a) my passport (new yorker, dude, dont kill me, i will find it in time for the big day, i promise) (b) sundry other things that i have lost in the past fifteen days thanks to my brain. so anyway up with the larks and my ladies, dear old friends, back in the house and cleaning and washing clothes but not yet unpacked the gadzillion bags i seem to have accumulated.

it was wonderful to kick back and hang out with the mater in mysore. i saw all my lovely nieces and nephews. spent lots of time with them. lovely lovely lovely kids they are. growing up so fast though. so far, they do not dislike me. the monster accused me, thanks to Roald Dahl, of not being a 'sparky' parent, however. the husband man was furious with her for that. anyway thats fine. i had fun with the kids. i also met up with a whole lot of my old relatives. like really old folks. my grandmum and her siblings and my dad's friends and so on. i love hanging out with them, usually. we seem to manage to chat about the most wonderful things. i love their reminescences, about their childhood, about mum as a little girl, stuff like that. but this time, as i discovered (rather proudly!) more grey hair in my own head and glanced at their fully white heads of hair, it was not all fun. aging is such a thing you know. fun for a bit but then its all fuzzy brains and repeating the same thing over and over again and failing to recognise anyone and i suppose it feels like you have a film over your retina that has nothing to do with the cataract thing that can be nuked by laser rather easily...

Friday, 14 May 2010

Quick Fast Post

For the times when you HAVE to say something, anything at all, lest the moment passes and you forget that you wanted to say something even if it really is nothing but you want to be able to come back and look and say, "Hey! here I was that day sitting on that bed and typing furiously, words coming out of the void and meaning nothing and anything"

location: mumbai city
actual location: guest house in bandra
dude this is like a spectacular place eh not like my nasty campus guest houses with the previous residents hair and all. all like nice and awesome and the guys giving me coffee and asking 'aap dono kyon aisa bana sakkar ka coffee peetay ho madam?'

next to me? is the book. its a work thing, a boring old thing. i have a silly little chapter in it. and i was thinking royalty will start coming in but they sent me an email instead saying 'thank you for your contribution' oh well. not like anyone is lining up to buy this book, and even amongst those who buy it, who can possibly read it? anyhow.

shopping kiya? yes! can you believe that. after the type of 48 hours i had i cannot believe i actually managed to lug and shop. mother is the necessity of invention i say. the story, as it were, is like this. i am off to a wedding tomorrow. the monster was duly dispatched to wedding venue with its doting grandma. my sister, my own flesh and blood one that is, put that knife in my back by sending her daughter a DRESS to wear to the reception. whats a dress? i asked innocently. don't joke amma, i was admonished. so of course my monster refused to wear the nice blue paavadai i sent. i mean i could have convinced her. her father could have managed it even better. but the doting grandma called me about 1000 times and said 'get her a dress else i am getting one' 'did you buy it already? cause i can go now if you want' 'so what colour is it? should i go anyway and get her a dress?' etc. MOM STOP IT. anyway harassed by women of two generations thus, i went. it was not so bad. bandra has young people in the shop, they are all cute, they want to sell me things, they don't mind my cribs, they are willing to go inside and look for things. so as it transpired i bought her a DRESS and some matching things (apparently called ACCESSORIES! WOAH!) which cost almost as much as the DRESS. (and meanwhile bought myself a much needed belt and of course a book).

I am going to wear a sari of course. I just hope I fit into it. I mean the blouse. And hope the mother-monster does not harass me about my footwear. Ugh. Nasty lady like slim delicate things they all wear. Ugh. 'Those look like car tyres' they are bound to say about mine. Hmph.

Onward we go. Onward.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Pretty Huge Distance

My morning run is 1:20. My watch does not do distance so all I can give you is time. It will suffice. My goals are time goals of late. And its just important to get out and run (injury free). Its amazing how it gets rid of my niggling aches and pains (mental and physical), and irritations of the day and night before.

Which set me thinking, goals are all fine, but really what I want to aim for is to enjoy the process. As I suddenly contemplate my Ph.D., I cannot help think how it was a lot like distance running, but how it could have been more so, if I had only gotten the idea earlier.

Most of the time I was mucking around with codes and reading papers.

Usually, I am just hanging around running at any pace that gets set and any distance I feel like.

At some points, I felt exhilarated with my discoveries.

I have had, despite running only these piddly half marathon distances, enough times of genuine life clarifying moments as I run.

I very rarely followed a coherent path, a path that guaranteed success. Most of the things I did were on impulse and I did a lot of things that had no direct bearing on my thesis.

I have never trained properly, I just seem to do whatever I feel like on a given day, and am strongly influenced by goals my running mates set for themselves...

At one stage, the light was very very hard to spy in the distance. "Will I ever finish?" was the foremost thought on my mind.

That is pretty standard in even a practice run. Even today as I set my goal to run over an hour and to loop back home running, I was glancing at the traffic light at the distance (where I was going to turn right), and thinking, fuck, this is not even getting closer.

When I spied the light, it was like Splentastic (splendid+fantastic) folks, I am done! But it was only my thesis proposal....

I reached the signal finally and the mind realised I still had some distance to go, to reach home, although it was damn near.

I am not going to quit now, even if I have to crawl I will finish the distance.


On the day of my defense, and the day before, everything was surreal. I remember just that I changed out of my suit into my white shirt and jeans, and that I drank a lot.

I always drink a lot (of everything) after a long run. The white shirt is gone though, I know not where.

But all in all, it has been a success (in my mind at least) - and I am coming up to its tenth year anniversary. On average, I enjoyed the process of my Ph.D. just like I enjoy even the middle part of my long runs. If I had my life to live over, I would try to savour the moments a bit more, maybe have a penned down strategy for my thesis. Like I routinely tell myself as my legs pound, look, don't think of it as so much more to run, think of it as so much more to enjoy. And of late, I am vaguely toying with the idea of being a bit more coherent in my training. But in a sense, I do have my life to live over. As in, although not my own thesis, I have all my baccha's thesis to think about in that manner. And of course, I hope I have many more running miles to clock with my rather flat feet....

Tuesday, 4 May 2010


I have been grappling with the usual flux of emotions but a post has not emerged from the chaos. Life has been hectic as ever as I try to juggle variously, I always have that excuse, don't I. So this is just a news item post. Bullet points, for easy handling.

  • My bad luck with roads, Chennai, cars, drivers, and so on continues; fourth episode in the past several months. This time it was major, although, thankfully no one was injured. Four cars one behind the other like a pack of cards. Builds character, it does, for sure. The cops were real sweet (but ineffectual). The only thing is that I was blameless, I am surprised that I did so well in such a situation. My favourite part of the event is to display my hair clip (the plastic thing with teeth) which was smashed to smithereens. My head was apparently saved thanks to the fat hair. And yes, peoples, please wear seat belts. My forehead was saved from hard impact to wheel thanks to dat.
  • Another semester pulls to a close meanwhile. I am involved in the usual amounts of red ink and project reports and tearing my hair out trying to give nice looking grades and wondering why the averages are as low as ever despite my extra slog (as I see it). And as another batch of students goes on to graduate and to graze on greener grass, I set my mind clock to 'Let Go' . Dad used to manage to have good closure with his students, they had a farewell party and they invited him to sing. He loved that. I don't manage closure usually. But then this is the internet age, so I don't really need it so much.
  • Monster and I are swimming. I am enjoying it immensely. I mean, I am learning, had to miss a whole pile of classes due to various reasons, but I am still enjoying it. The pool is not the cleanest water body I have seen - oh wait, compared to the cooum and adyar river and all its pretty good, but.. Nevertheless, fun. But you know, its not as aerobic as I could wish. Meaning, since I am not yet doing infinite number of laps or anything, it feels like if I ran for the same amount of time my lard would reduce more. Anyhow its fun, and its timely as I was just thirsting for some new action on the exercise front. (Thanks to my poor luck on the roads I am avoiding biking for a bit).
  • the seriouslounger and associated family were here over the weekend. It was so much fun. The kids are spectacular. I missed them incredibly once they left. The older ones (his brat is a few months younger than the monster) got along really well and we barely saw them except at meal times. The younger one is like a nice teddy bear and I used every possibly opportunity to squish him. And he did not mind, which is a welcome change from most kids these days who act as if they will wilt if we so much as touch them. Hmph.
  • In commemoration of my generic ill luck and random mood swings that can be attributed to that, I bought and consumed almost single handedly a dabba of milkmaid. Not to mention lot of chocolate given to me by the lounger (Milka, the giant sized bar, a hot fav as its unpolluted by nuts and reminds one of healthy Swiss cows. MOO.). And also a whole lot of murukku and chips and cake and what not. If only the swimming was as efficacious as, say, running in helping me out with these things, I would have been good. But anyway it improved my mood momentarily so thats okay I suppose.
  • I was in Mumbai for a bit. It was all very good. Met up with the lounger again; captured the husband for a watering hole visit, saw ludwig's head emerge huge and mammoth amidst the traffic at Hiranandani, managed to hold my pee from Powai to Bandra in the crazy traffic that city presents to unsuspecting visitors, there I said it, I felt like a visitor there. I had a bit of tearing up in a work situation as I explained that I might continue in Chennai for anon. Mumbai! I love you but I cut you loose now, I have waddled onto to the other shore, accept my apologies.
  • For some unfathomable reason the monster and I read a Hardy Boys called 'Blown Away' yesterday. It is pretty bad. I mean, how did we stand that stuff in our youth? So deprived I guess we were. I always disliked Secret Seven sort of secretly, I felt that it was no big deal, and anyway it was too short for my liking, we used to finish it in half and hour and it hardly felt like it was worth the rental money to the library. But I thought Hardy Boys was good, clean, wholesome stuff involving dreamy sounding American teenaged boys. Naah. Boring.
  • This one deserves a new bullet: I remember the time I started disliking Nancy Drew - the books and the girl. It was because she shampooed her hair multiple times, thinking about the 'case' in one of the books. We used to be forced to use a yellow shampoo called 'Tresco' by a relative (actually by mom, via relative). Logic was unknown to me, possibly it was cheaper or something. Anyway it was most unattractive, and I really hated it, and I was thinking Nancy is such an idiot to go and shampoo multiple times. I was allotted two buckets for hair washing purposes and if I managed to escape the til oil treatment that was just fine, or else I would have oil creeping into my eyes the whole day, and please, Tresco, more than once was just not on. Plus my sis always teased me because I pronounced all the letters in Hannah.
With that we come to the end of the update. I am in the market for a new phone, so please leave a comment with your suggestions, which, of course, I might ignore. I don't email or facebook or anything of that sort on my phone, so I really just need a phone, with a camera. And oh, it has to be Nokia (except if it is an iphone, which it won't be because the husband and primary care giver to Kenny, disses it). And yes, no qwerty keyboard. Mua.