Tuesday, 30 August 2011


I do these things periodically. Its not a religious whatever. Or maybe its my kind of religion. Who knows?

For the past month, I have been bathing in cold water. No big deal, of course. This is Chennai. Hot as hell. Doing yourself a favour by bathing in cold instead of hot. Everyone does it (I have always used luke warm, all my life). But it was a sudden decision, one that I feel the need to stick to. I remember the exact moment I made it, I was not sure I would be able to go forward with it, but swore I would work hard, try...

Previously, I have tried such experiments. For the most part, I am successful. Several years ago, I gave up shower baths in favour of bucket baths. Except when I don't have a choice - like when I am in a hotel somewhere and don't want to bother to ask for a bucket/mug - I have stuck to this. I periodically go on a 'Junk Food Free Weekdays' deal. Meaning, all the murukkus and other things cannot be eaten on weekdays. This works okay for a bit but I slide often on it. Eating samosas and stuff at work, for example. I gave up earbuds briefly (used a LOT of them in my life, believe me). I avoid driving to get to any form of exercise (this works excepting in a few situs, and has worked exceptionally well after I bought my bicycle). I gave up sugar in my coffee/tea, also, ghee, a long time ago now.

So when I look at my everyday life, there are a lot of these things I try periodically. Some of them last long. Like the sugar thing. Sometimes I get to a place where I have to stop the experiment, give up on it. Earbuds is one such, and really not even for a crazy good reason, just because I wanted to... Nevertheless, I feel the need to keep trying out such things. I don't stress much if I have to give them up though, which tells me that it really is an experiment in my head and also that if it was demanded of me from external sources, I would really fight tooth and nail against it. Besides, I think when I can stick to it also, its because I don't make a big deal of it, but I simply don't give myself the option of failing. Not in an aggressive or obnoxious type goading of self, but just a gentle push, to myself.

My mum gave up wearing silks and jewelry several years ago. I am possibly the only one that supports her in this venture of hers. She is harassed often by several people about it. Grandmum starts in with theories about connections with nerves and how important it all this. Hogwash, I say. She doesn't feel like, its her life. "But she used to love to dress up" they wail. Well, yes, she still does dress neatly. In her cotton saris. I think she herself has doubts sometimes. Like when we attend a wedding (she doesn't want to attend anything either, but sometimes there isn't a choice in the matter) and she feels conscious that she is wearing a non-silk-zari sari while everyone is decked up. I, of course, scream at her 'diffidence' as I call it, but also genuinely feel that its irrelevant what everyone else is wearing and what they think. You do what you feel like. And hold your head high with the confidence that your experiment was successful.

Why deny oneself things, we have only one life

The truth is, its not a big deal denial. I mean, I know people try humongous things with their lives, upheavals they are. I would like to do that too sometime. It just sounds like a fun thing. But I really haven't chanced upon something that comes from within me (which it has to, in order for it to be successful). So I do what I can with small things. Things others may not notice, and things that really, affect no one except myself. Some of them are painful, most are really useless in terms of my health, or the environment's, but I guard them jealously, because they are my experiments, and I love them. And everyday they make me wake up and feel good, about myself, and living another day...

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Eat Cake!

I am an overall crazy enthusiastic person. No doubt. But I have my moments, days too. I am not really known to be 'moody' - you know like many people are cranky at times, and happy at others and you just have to catch them at the right time to see it all. I am not like that. I am generally pretty un-cranky. Though I have my days. This, is one of them.

Been trying to analyse the reasons for.

1. Shoulder pains from workout
2. Was out for dinner last night, veg burger tasted like cutlet (which I absolutely hate)
3. Had to drive myself for dinner out last night
4. Got lost fucking metro construction
5. Had to rely on 'instinct' at 10 pm, on dark Chennai roads
6. Husband accused me of disturbing his sleep because I switched on light and read Lance Armstrong at 10:30pm (irony of that boggles the mind).
7. Child fussy
8. Shoulder still pains from workout, is not nice pain any more
9. Ate left-over rice for breakfast as in hurry
10. Had to carry bag and climb on bus
11. Sweating as usual
12. Homies refused to wake up for swimming this morning
13. Had brought up milk & coffee for them for morning wake-up
14. I went back to sleep myself, forgoing cross training AGAIN

Yes, so that makes sense. I am pissed off. Don't come near me. I might bite. I might have rabies too, possibly gotten from the cutlet like burger.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Breakfast of Champions

August is Blog Month. Oh yes.

This morning, I woke up. Early. My entire being was concentrated on one thing::

Must Buy Oats.

Oats? Yes. Oats. You heard me. What don't you understand now? No, its not euphemism. (Sow your wild oats, anyone?). I do mean the kind you eat, typically at breakfast. I haven't, not in a long while, but thats not the point.

I boiled milk. Threw the curtains into the washing machine. Crossed my fingers and hoped that the orange wouldn't run into the yellow. Cursed my guy for using up my precious machine washing powder for random cleaning round the house. My house looks unclean anyhow, go use the cheaper powder, you. I told him in my mind. I have to catch him this evening and make this sentence out loud.

Mustn't Forget Oats.

I changed into my running stuff. Trusty Timex. Pink Nike Running Shirt (purple-ish, actually, very comfy and awesome blossom). Cotton Sports Bra (Its a new one from Jockey, works well, I find, though I cannot imagine longer runs in it, thanks to the wetness part. Support-wise, its great. So for normal day exercise, I highly recommend it, girls). The only pair of shorts I could find (Nike, Mens, my 'race' pair, the one I have for years and wear at every race). Vibrams (Ah-Ha What a glorious day, when you are going to run <1.5 hours, and don't need socks). Ratty towel. Red bottle of diluted Gatorade.

Oats, Baby. Take Cash. Rs. 500.

Quick kisses. One stubbly cheek, one soft tiny one. Bye you guys (in my head, I said). I groped in the dark for my bike keys and house keys and let myself out of the house. Still dark outside. Perfect. Hope the guys are there. Of course they will be there. They are rock solid that way. And the nicest guys, really. Most sweet. No hang-ups or airs about them.

So, Oats On My Way Back? Yeah.

We ran the usual Thursday route, which is about 12 kms in length (urk, Distance). I still stumble about - though I think I am finally clear on the directions - today. KP suggested mixing it up. 4 mins slow. 1 min walk. 4 mins fast. 1 min walk. It felt good. I could push on the fast to a reasonable pace, finally a happy pace, comforted that a walk was upcoming. KP would call out 5-4-3-2-1 to stop and walk. Those were most welcome words, I swear. Vibrams made me a quiet runner today (leave only your footprints behind types). The first sight of the Sea at Elliots beach, gosh, its a beautiful thing. Waves breaking. We continued on though, gasping a bit on the fast, catching our breath on the walk, chatting on the slow.

Bye You Guys. I Have To Buy Oats.

Biked over the smelly bridge. Hit upon another idea. Turned left and meandered through the new running route that my new running friend has shown me. ZiggyZagged to the store, which was open, how awesome is that? I have a funny walk in my Vibrams. I am sure if my stubble-cheeked, sleeping giant of a husband sees me walk in them, he will tease me about it. But hey! Guess who was asleep and guess who was in the store. First customer of the day. Oh yeah.

Oats: Rs.125. Not-Cold-Minute-Maid-Orange-Juice: Rs.20

I fixed up everything on my bike thing. The carrier. Yes. Wrapped my sweaty towel and tied it up good. And, narrowly avoiding honking motorists, I made my way back to the house. Fished key out but the door was open anyhow. In I went. All pink (or purple, depending on how you view it). And jubilant. And endorphined. And just a tad hurting - just enough - to remind me that I had a good run.

The Oats? Were boiled to within inches of their life. Which is how my parents-in-law like to consume them. I did good and handled a domestic situation alongside obsessive running, like a true pro. No one in the household knew that I (& the cook) had messed up and not put oats on yesterday's list (We just forgot yaar). And somehow I felt like Batman when I walked up to my bedroom and the monsters were still sleeping...

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Vakkiyatthil Amai

One of my reigning dream/nightmares is having managed to fail the language exam in school. I have not been in school for what? 2-3 decades now. But still, this is a frequent dream. What gives, I say?

I was studying Hindi for the first four years of my schooling. It was appalling, the "Sridhar Ke Ghar Ke Aaangan" type hindi. You know, where a caricatured South Indian person (mis) pronounces every word, pretty much. The pater-mater duo switched me to the 'local' language in fifth standard or so (I am sure based on some idealogical crap discussion over booze with their friends).

I recall being in like seventh standard or so, raising my hand, to ask the meaning of a particular word, as the teacher was reading the text-book out in class. It turned out that it was a super common word, for, uhh, shit. What the heck. How was I supposed to know. Being pseudo-intellectuals, we referred to bodily functions in abstraction, at home. Plus we spoke a tamil of sorts, the kind of tamil that one speaks in Karnataka. I was barely talking in Kannada to anyone. I used to write down names of vegetables in English, only to discover that the vegetable dude was just as confused-tamil as I was and so had no trouble figuring out what I was supposed to get.

I should have been super embarrassed. Boys should have made fun of me for years about that. But thankfully (a) I am a bit thick skinned like that & (2) Boys sniggered gently and let it go because (2a) I was to tiny & (2b) I was anyway going to be first (or second) in the class in the final analysis.

In my last year in school, I had this kannada text-book from hell. This was a board exam, mind you. No amount of being the-daughter-of-my-favourite-chemistry-professor-in-college was going to help me. (Yes, I hated being that, sometimes. Can we talk about me for a change? And not about dad? Or mom? Okay, thank you, dear darling teachers of mine). I worked hard. My eyes would bug out at the sheer ridiculousness of the stories. Some woman in a village. Married at, what, ten? Does this really happen? And of course you cannot honestly talk about sex and stuff. So some abstract references therein. Gak. It all made no sense to me at all. And my 'well rounded' aunty-type teachers, did not help! I mean, they blushed with embarrassment when I asked them the Kannada for shit.

I really love that I studied the local language in school for so long. That I can still somewhat talk to people in Kannada if push comes to shove. I can proudly write that down as a language I can r-w-t in. I even acted in Kannada plays, with a couple of my teachers no less (Teacher's Pet, anyone??) But, frankly, the school version, the books, the 'old' Kannada, the poetry, it was all very scary.

Now we cut to modern day. Today in the Simba-Cycle-Of-Conventional-Schools, the monster has her tamil test. We have been at it for a couple days now. Her handwriting is horrendous. Her ability to mis-spell words is high. My grasp of grammar, vocabulary, etc., which is poor in Kannada, is non-existent in Tamil. Bloody government has not yet resolved the issue with the fucking text-book. (I usually buy an extra copy of the book and try to slowly practice on my own). My mum-in-law has sat with her a couple of times to figure out the (note) book. Mr. Chennai (thats my husband), has yelled at her a couple of times about it (Leading to me yelling back, scaring the cook, startling the cat, that lay on the sill, eating the malt, right in the house that Jack built).

Now the crux. Finally. Make sentences with a given word. My sister, who was a tad more knowledgeable in Kannada than I was, but couldn't be arsed to do anything constructive with it, would invariably churn out sentences like this :: "Desirable:: I don't know the meaning of the word desirable" She thought it was pretty cool, I thought it highly desirable that that sentence be awarded zero marks. The monster? I am sad to say, takes after me, and not her aunt. Every Single Time she comes up with a new sentence, with scant regard for whether the grammar is right or not. And I cannot help her because I don't fucking know. Gak. I didn't even know that Vakkiyatthil Amai - which I can now somewhat write in Tamil, meant, 'Make sentences with.' And don't even start me on that thing for 'Fill in the blanks' ...

Monday, 15 August 2011

Movie time!

After several years, we managed to catch a movie at the theater. A combination of reasons prevent us from watching movies. The main one is that I suck at it. I fall asleep. I don't like most of the ones that are playing. I don't like kiddie movies. I can't stand tamizh movies, like, at all. I don't like watching movies where I don't like the actors. My husband will not watch a movie that has Priyanka Chopra in it. What do we do with the child? We don't want to take her. She will sleep for sure. Irritate for double sure.

After much contriving, we booked tickets last week (online! Man! what a revelation!). As always in recent times, our crazy social life demanded that we were at a dinner party at 7 pm, and had to skip out of there soon to get to the show on time. Plus we had a Dakshinchitra work brunch type thing next morning to contend with, as well. We are old hands at this jugglery and skulduggery. So we found ourselves in our party best (not!) at the movie place. We acted our age and didn't know which end of the ticket machine was up, and which end down. The helpful guy there muttered 'Oldies' under his breath, I swear.

We had watched Dil Chahta Hai like a hundred times in our youth, and loved it. I distinctly remember one New Year's Eve weekend in Charlotte, NC, circa 2001. Husb. was plonked in a large-ish beanbag. I was sprawled on the floor. Rest of the junta were walking around, demanding various movies. We shouted them all down, and over a bunch of drinks watched DCH again. And still enjoyed it. Now, despite my recent dislike of Aamir Khan (pretentious holier-than-thou attitude, you), I like the movie, somewhat. We also liked Rock On and sing all the songs loudly all the time, so we figured Farhan Akhtar? We can stand. Last time I saw Hrithik Roshan was in Kites, and that was an unmitigated disaster, I swear. We ordered it on Tata Sky and I fell asleep pretty soon, despite Hrithik Roshan. Still, he is undeniably good looking, even if he makes a few ridiculous movies. So, Zindagi, we figured could be fun, somewhat...

Maybe our expectations were set low enough. Maybe it helped that we plonked the monster at home. And no, I did not feel in the least bit guilty about it. So. Tummies were full from the dinner. I was in a slightly bad mood and quite happy to escape into the unreal world of a big screen extravaganza set in Spain. Didn't dislike any of the actors. Farhan Akhtar had the best lines, I was laughing loudly. Hrithik Roshan - well, despite disliking his hair-style and having some cribs about him wearing Raybans (Dude, I wear it too, can you like, upgrade, considering you are some hot shot financial services - whatever that might mean - person) - remains my favourite Bollywood eye-candy. Abhay Deol? I know lots of people don't like him and think he is wooden and after all, he is Sunny Deol's brother. But I like him. There is always DevD. And Aisha. No, I did not watch Aisha with my husband, on the big screen (Am I crazy? He would have walked out, I am sure). I watched it where I watch everything these days - on a flight, with my personal set of head-phones that keep slipping. And? Well, it was cute. Plus I have a weakness for dimples, Pride & Prejudice is a must-read every few years, Sonam Kapoor I think is a wonderful clothes-horse, so that whole movie worked out very well for me.

As did, ZNMD. Not too much sentimental crap. Songs not overdone or anything. The gibs and wise-cracks kept coming through the length of the film. Thankfully, main-man didn't dislike it either. At any rate, it was his choice so I could well have pinned it back on him.

'Kenny, you didn't sleep through'

'I know, I am damn proud of myself. We should do this again'

The monster was safely asleep, lulled I am sure by her grandparent's snoring. We crawled back into the house and upstairs to bed. My head was buzzing a bit with images of tomatinos and bulls and stuff.

'I could totally go on a Guys Only trip like that and be cool, no?'

'You crazy or what? I am so *not* taking you along'

'Okay, but I cannot go on a girly trip involving facials and spas and drinks with little umbrellas on them, you know, right?'

'Okay Kenny, you are one of the guys. We should go check out Spain sometime for sure'

So that - is the plan. Road Tripping. Music. Beer. (No Tequila Shots for us, thank you very much). Who wants to go with us? We promise to be nice, and fun, and flexible, and adventurous (somewhat).

Friday, 12 August 2011


This morning, I was fairly lethargic. I had woken up at 2:30 am for some reason, dead convinced that I was late for school. The monster had done the leg-arm-entwine-choke-amma move. Gak. Ack. Save me. Managed to go back to sleep for a few more hours before the alarm went off... Anyhow today is a day off from school so it was okay. I chilled a bit. Thought about this and that. Toyed with the idea of loudly waking everyone up and dragging them swimming. Gave up on that. Chanced upon what seemed like a good plan, if one considered that the quads were a bit tight.

Going back a bit in time, around this time 11 years ago, I was writing my thesis. My legs stretched out and the Toshiba Satellite (which weighed about the same as my seven year old does), perched on my legs. It was pretty exciting. I watched some TV, got some dinner, and tried to make a phone call to my parents, phone lines were down, returned home (somewhere in Northern Karnataka, where my parents-in-law were living at that time), and went to sleep. I was super high. It was just after my Edinburgh trip. I won an award there, I recall. Rocked my brown skirt suit at the banquet dinner. Ran in Edinburgh. Lovely place, that. Must go back s'time. Rolling mountains of green.

Sometimes I am almost afraid to be very happy. In the karmic cycle of the cosmos it seems that I come crashing down the next minute. Of course, this was an extreme example of it. The year? 2000. Dad. Not that he was not suffering for a while. Not that he was not miserable. I was 26 years old, what did I want? That he live for ever? That I be able to ring every time I had something cool happen, science-wise, to tell him about? That I show off my geek child? Her vocabulary & her smile he would have been completely fida over. Surely.

It took me some time to make sense of it all. To come to the conclusion that, his life, and his death, were nothing to do with me. And to understand that those 26 years I had with him? It was not up to him to make the most of them, it was up to ME. Maybe I did, maybe I didn't. It doesn't matter. I still talk with him. He is younger and stronger and super duper awesome as ever in my head. I talk about me. And him. We think together. We smile. He was 64 years old, that song...

As I was watching grandma in her hospital bed, too short, that month was too short... I couldn't help wonder. So many years of memories in our head. At 37, when I sit down my brain buzzes with all these scenes and impressions and voices and memories. I work hard on trying to hold on to the good ones, of people I love with all my heart, I know those moments are not going to come back, I don't want to lose them. How must it have been for her? 82 years of memories. A veritable crowd in there...

At least with dad, he would tell you. Its like he had his warnings, he was not afraid. He would tell us. He always told us. I completely know what I meant to him. Some of my dreaminess, I get from him. My nose and jaw, totally from him. My ability to live in a world of memories and stories and fictionalised versions of real life, oh yeah... In a parallel life, we are sitting down, him and I, me, I have lost my shyness, I have found my words, we are talking, and being silent as well. And between us is the perfect arrangement for the situation. Guinness. With a four-leaf clover I have drawn for happy memories, 'cause nothing else really matters... or lasts...

(& In this life, I took a long luxurious bike ride to the beach, ran there, alone in a crowd, lost in myself)

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Breathe Easy

One of the things that is bothering me of late is the distinct feeling of having slowed down. I definitely felt out of sorts and crazy tired out when I ran the race in Cambridge (crazy posturing notwithstanding). I start off at a particular pace every morning, and find that I have to ease off, pretty soon. Mostly, this is because my breathing is weird. Breathing has been on my mind anyhow.

Recently, when Grandma (not my own, my husband's) was in the hospital, one of the things that was most painful to see was how she was struggling for breath. Even as we talked intelligently with the doctor about ventilators and breathing support and so on, back of the mind was that odd feeling. Breathing? Such a basic thing that is, how is one to go on when its difficult to do so? In a short month, with things slowly deteriorating, Grandma went away from us. Of course, to a better place.

Under the water, meanwhile, the thing foremost on my mind is breathing. Will I run out? Should I get out right now and gasp it in? If I go swim regularly for a few days, jump in and do what I do, pretty much thrashing about, I managed to fight the fear. And control myself, and just come up when my routine demands it (every three strokes). But its easy to lose that control. And I am clear something is messed up because I am still struggling overall, not as comfortable with the whole thing as I should/could be.

In the air, what is the big deal really? In-Out-In-Out : Its that simple, innit? I know this part. And am yet several years away from having to struggle for it.. But still, I have been watching my breath (you know what I mean) a lot lately. Its not so simple. I am doing a new exercise routine (couple of new ones, actually). The e-coach there insists on a certain pattern of breathing. I get it wrong, as in, instinctively, I inhale when he expects exhalation, and vice versa. I feel it going wrong the second I speed up. Of course, because of trying all these years to be a bare-bones runner, I don't really know my pace, or my heart rate, when I run. I just sort of estimate that my feet are moving faster than usual, or not. Except that its more 'or not' of late, because my breathing, which has to get into a rhythm if I have to continue on, doesn't.

"I have gained a few kilos" someone running alongside me said a few days ago, explaining his slowing down (or perception thereof). Well, I have not (nor lost any). I think I have been doing everything I usually do. Meaning, I don't diet or anything. I eat whatever I feel like, and is available. I do eat several meals a day - this I cannot help because of my crazy ass metabolism and my life long inability to eat large amounts of anything in one sitting. I am regular in my exercise, as recommended. Oh hell. I am VERY regular. Other parameters are good. Heart, Lipids (broadly), Sugar, Hemoglobin - yeah its all good. Of course I can train better - more scientifically, more systematically. But the motivation for that is not happening, so, I am not. I have the choice, thankfully. I am not racing anyone but myself, obviously.

So, what gives? My theory is that its old age. Murakami surely says that he has been slowing down as he grows older. & I? Am doing the same. The paces that felt casual last year, well, they have me gasping. And I don't gasp along for long enough for anything to happen, really. I do push myself, but not really that much. I just ease off. I am not in this for the short haul. I am definitely in this for the long haul. Long distance running. And life.

This past weekend I cut up all the old timing chips from all my shoes... They are all from half marathons. The innumerable ones I have run in the past several years. Its time to move on... Not harder/faster, but surely longer... at least that lets me breathe easy...

Saturday, 6 August 2011

For my files...

Sometimes I wonder, why do I write this blog? One thing I hate about it is that it lacks a theme. An overarching theme of being about Kenny's life seems quite ridiculous. At times. I love my regular readers, mostly, they are my friends. But most times, I think I write for myself. This post, I want to read later, maybe a year or two later, and bask in the feeling of today.

Despite my reprimands to the effect, I do snooze, a little bit, usually. I was not planning on sticking too closely to a time this morning anyhow, as I was going to be alone, running. But its always helpful to start early - as a visitor from Bangalore recently said - in Chennai. Because of the weather, the cars, and generally, because its more bad-ass to start at 5 am when its still dark, than at 6 am when the rest of the walkers/runners are up and at it.

Nevertheless, it was 6 am. I saw a message from MSB saying he is heading for his run as well. Which was pretty cool, considering the number of miles and time-zones that separate us. Ipod, special blue tshirt from RGI (Runner Girls India), basketball shorts that I was wearing since last night, trusted timex, amphipod with a Gu and Rs. 60 (never seem to use either), towel, socks, and the old pair of asics that I bought a few years ago in a cute store in NYC...

I first turned left, for my daily dose of the Adyar river. My legs, they have suffered this week. They have borne the brunt of my increased mileage, not to mention that crazy fucking plyometrics workout with husband. 40 mins later I was back at the home-base. Except that I went on ahead to the university campus. As I was running towards it, dogs barked at me from the police station. So I crossed the road and was running on the median. Two cars filled with men passed by, chose to roll down their windows, and shout "HEYYYY" in my ear. Fucking assholes, scared the crap outta me. Gave them the finger salute. 45 mins.

I entered the campus, as usual there was a political rally or something going on, right bang in my running route. Damn. Turned right and meandered through for a bit, counting off the minutes, and hoping to see the birds (a bright blue kingfisher two days ago) that I often see. Nothing today. Oh well. I got out of the campus and on the road again towards my own campus. 58 mins.

Great. I am close to an hour now. And maybe the homies are awake and driving to the pool. Would be cool to say hi. Take a break. Drink some cold water if they have it. The sun is not bright, but its humid as hell. No luck. No sight of them. I gave myself a walk break, stepping gingerly as I crossed the main intersection at the end of the road. A quick right, and I am inside my verdant campus. 1:13. Legs feel like lead. My pace seems to be completely off, but I am hanging on, not letting go.

I ran the length of the main road, and into the stadium. There were gazillion kids in there of all ages. Some tournament. I ran three loops, ran into the customary student while at it (Please, can you go ahead, I cannot keep up with you today, I am 1:27 into my run for the day). Gave up the idea of stadium loops and went off to the back to the roads. Nothing fancy, just one foot in front of the other. The shirt holding up pretty good, lack of sleeves a goddamn blessing, thank you Sudha Mani. But I am soaking wet. Just soaking.

Have I miscalculated? Why am I hitting close to 2 hours and still so far from the gate? Oh well. Now there is no choice. Left foot, right foot, left foot. Walk break, please, Kenny, pretty please. Okay, at the gym, not now. Here we are, at the gym. Just a bit more, at the circle. The few sips of gatorade (very very dilute) are nevertheless sloshing. I am beyond tired. The Gu does NOT sound attractive. I have forgotten to eat this morning. My stomach has been cramping since.. oh.. since I woke up (that time of month). Hell. Soldier on, Kenny, soldier on.

I run into a friend, flash him a smile. 2:02. 'Dude, are you crazy?' 'Nah, just training. If its any consolation, I am DYING right now' I tell him. 'You don't look like you are dying, you are looking robust' he tells me. Gives me josh. In basketball, we often say, the important thing is body language. You know, shoulders straight. Eyes hungry for the win. That sort of thing. So Hells Yeah Baby. I got this. I have lost track of time now.

Important points of pain, I count. Arches of my feet/ankles (that went away though, in a couple of minutes). Knees feeling a bit delicate ('Champagne Flutes' I was reminded of Kathrine Switzer on her training run in the woods... Just before she fucked up the knee... Nah, not today, Kenny). The bloody sloshing is driving me a bit crazy, especially since I can hear it in addition to feeling it (since the ipod has died an ignominious death, again!). The stomach cramps are there. I am reminded of a game that Steffi Graf, apparently was suffering from them, in. Gosh, a memory from so long ago (clearly, I need no pen-sieve or vials). I used to love her, and hate her. She had breast reduction surgery, I remember reading, and laugh to myself.

2:20. I give myself a walk break and look around for a 'well deserved tender coconut' as I have been calling it since few weeks ago. Nope. No luck. I start running again at the signal. I am very close to home now, and I think of KP. Should I incorporate a bit of KP and do a Run:Walk Galloway? Nope. Too late for that. Just run straight home. The road to our new place... the bank... the clinic... my friend's store... the baby-products store... the tree... oh yes, baby, thats my left turn. And before I know it, I am home and its 2:30.

Sure, I took walk breaks, for the sake of dogs, to cross the road, and a couple of times for my own sake. I have no idea how much I have run. I figure its more than a half marathon, for sure, based on how the body felt. And since that was the aim, I don't worry any more about it... This week, my legs (and the rest of the body, and mind), have managed the increased mileage well. The hour long nap in the afternoon has me pretty much re-charged, and ready to take on the world. Tomorrow? I let my legs rest, in fact, I might even wash my shoes - all of them...

Friday, 5 August 2011

Headache Zone

I think spacebar would know about this.. how it feels..

At first, it is a slight discomfort. I blink my eyes a lot. I feel like I have pulled my hair back a little too severely today. I try to loosen it then remember that its hardly nice to have hair all over your face in curly nasty strands, at work, and pull it back. I squint at the sunlight. Its not super strong outside sun, its filtered through the tinted glass in my car windows, and my very black sunglasses, still, it hurts to look at it. The left side - that place just between the eyebrows and the eyelids - I massage it a bit. It feels like there is some lumpy hurting thing in there. The lids start to droop.

Then it spreads. To the right. Pretty soon, I am massaging both eyes pretty hard. Its hurts and helps at the same time. At least its better than when it hurts in the base of the head, I think. That one is different, this one is in the front of my face, in my forehead and eye region and I feel like I must tear out my eyebrows to make it better.

I usually know why it happens, in an afterthought. Yesterday, for example, I ran in the morning. I was a bit sleepy when I woke up, and my legs were stiff. But DISCIPLINE, above all, I told myself, and I went, slightly bleary, to run with the group. It was a chatty run so I did not think much about the various discomforts of body. Or the blister. I returned home to find the homies asleep still. I ran around for getting the monster up and at it for school. Breakfast. I had just started to make idlis when the cook came. I ran up the stairs again. I was almost ready, but still semi-naked when the maid knocked loudly on the door saying that the milk lady wanted her money. I ran down again (after pulling on clothes) to find that she had disappeared. Cursed a bit, gave the money to the maid to pass on to milk lady and ran back up. I had to comb out my hair - thats when I realised that I was on a slippery slope. My hair was super wet (YUCK), and I had forgotten to dry it out.

Ok, Headache 101 says that sweaty hair squished into a pony-tail is a complete no-no. Oh well. I was rushing. Which isn't helpful either. All the zen I acquire by running in the early mornings, I lose in the half hour of getting ready for school, I swear. And with the zen gone, whats to prevent the pain? Plus I was in argument mode. Which is again not helpful. I have had about a billion imaginary conversations. Some of them have gone better than others. All of them have stirred up the brain immensely, pulling in to stop, in their own unique way at Headache Central.

As the day progressed and I had to walk around from meeting to meeting and talk to a billion people, the pounding got more insistent. I know NOTHING, really, nothing, could help me now. Just hang in there, Kenny. I attended a presentation, and immediately regretted it. Flashing neon colours from a LCD projector - oh heavens - make that orange go away, please. I ate lunch at my desk as I couldn't bear to see the sun. Even that was not very relaxing as students kept pouring in and eyeing my curd rice dabba (back off, you kids). When I went home at 6, it was writ large on my face. But still, had to go to the grocery store, start the monster off on various evening things, make marginal polite conversations.. and yes, have a bit of a yell-fest with husband, I would like to believe, not just because my head was hurting. It was justified. I was at least partly right. Gulp. I hope. Else I hope he has forgiven me - based on the ashen look I was sporting all evening.

I am in my bed now, but the relief is uneven. I rub in some smelly oils into my forehead. I try to nap (I know, ridiculous at 7:45 pm, but what do I do?). I force myself to eat some dinner. The rest of the household has finished up, its 9:30, everyone is ready for bed. I crawl back in to bed, pop some pain-killers (useless they are, really), push away the monster who wants to scratch my biceps - the one further away from her - yell at her - she yells back - someone switches off the light - and its over and out. The shows not done with yet, I know. Headaches like this? They last a couple of days at least. And the sun, my hormones, my sweaty hair, crowded campus, swelteringly hot office, bright computer screen, sadness, self-pity, these don't help. At all.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Taking the edge off things

Over the years, my opinions about things have gotten milder and milder. Really, I cannot be bothered to react strongly to many things these days. I don't know, maybe it was really teenage angst and it has just gone out of my system. Like I grew out of it.

If I was fighting about some point, or debating it, lets say, in polite fashion (to start with), I would get really worked up earlier and be very vocal and use a lot of words. Well, this happens rarely, these days. I can be occasionally combative and cutting and I sometimes yell incoherently at the monster in anger, but generally, I don't indulge much in this.

At work, after beating my head about it for a bit, I sort of just let it go. I thought one important thing about me is that I am passionate about a lot of things. Now, its more like I am enthusiastic about a lot of things. Not really that passionate, any more.

Of course, of late, many of the fights and arguments I have are fairly innocuous ones. I am not even angry for the most part (which makes a big difference, really). But if I feel upset and I don't understand whats going on in a fight/argument, another thing I find is that my coping mechanism is very weak. I experience a lassitude, a general disinterest in putting foot in front of another, in eating, in reading, in about anything. And even the most ridiculous of them render me quite..I don't know..tired.

I lose my anger fairly easily. My misery? Take some time to process. But I usually get over it. In time, I forget. But the most painful part of it all is a realisation that there are many things that cannot be resolved. Even my little child, she doesn't fully forgive me when I say something I shouldn't have said, to her. Arguments once made, cannot be pulled back. Every time I feel the lassitude creeping upon me, I hope for some crazy out-of-whack situation, that makes us all spontaneously forget the basis of the fight. It doesn't happen, and nothing gets resolved, just that time flows over everything. Me, I am a fool. I wallow, sometimes with reason, most times without, in misery, and blame myself for everything. I understood my passionate, angry, angst-ridden gig better, at least it did not give me head-aches...

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Meandering through life

I think a young (ish) mommy is well described as a juggler. All those balls in the air all the time, this is what we are doing, juggling them. Thankfully, I have sort of forgotten those things like wet-wipes, diapers, onesies, burping, and things like that. I used to make sort of tough choices in those days, this I recall. And I look wistfully at confident new mothers and hit myself for being so damn stupid about things. Like my child did not look at a TV screen till she was three years old (pretty much). I wouldn't even watch TV as I nursed her, because I said the rays are still falling on her brain, even if her eyes are turned away. I did choose disposable diapers, but that I have a good rationalisation for, not important here. I read to her from the time she was three months old (bad idea, on hind-sight). Mum and I made from scratch the first solid food she consumed, and sprouting and drying things during Mumbai monsoons was such a pain. Especially when I look at her eating Kurkure now, I feel really stupid. I used to carry so many things in my bag when I travelled. And we travelled everywhere, all the time. Refused to carry a 'diaper' bag though, everything went in my blue backpack.

One day, when she was nearly 2 years old, I sat down and cried (not the first time, of course), because you know what? I had not slept for more than 3 hours at a stretch for a very long time. There was always something. And I did not nap through the day. I am not a good napper, though recently, I have gotten better at it. Plus there was work. Now it seems like its not a big deal, actually. But back then, with a headache that lasted about a year and half in total, my skin doing absolutely crazy things, hair fall (that got worse, much worse, a few years later, but I had no way of knowing that, then), and what seemed like the whole world (but mainly, my husband) working against me, it was ridiculous, I swear. I sleep like a baby nowadays. I wake up early. I do my own thang now, like my crazy amounts of running. But at that time? It was ridiculous.

I look at my work resume in 2007 or thereabouts, and wonder, damn, where did that come from? Several students graduated. We published a bunch of papers. I even started attending conferences at that point, I remember an awesome trip to LA once, where in addition to work I met up with two of my dear friends from school, and we had so much fun. I pat myself on my back and say, Girl, you had just started sleeping well that year, and see how cool that worked out for you. But then I also remember that it was difficult to carry her, the umbrella, and the doctor's file down the steps when I had to meet the pediatrician (which was often, not that she is a sickly child, just that I am a crazy mum). If I had gotten her (and me) wellies though, we could both have walked, of course. She was always a confident walker. But that was the year there was leptospirosis (or maybe that was not, but I had heard the term and that was enough to imagine the damn thing coming up from wherever and affecting my little baby girl). We were teaching this bunch of kids math in those days, and I really cannot imagine how I did that, then, with all that crazy scary shit going on in my head, and my husband traveling so much, and a baby to raise.

In so many ways it has all gotten much better now. Yesterday, for example, I did not succumb to the emo. blackmail that she specialises in, and I spent an hour doing this absolutely kick ass exercise routine along side my husband. No, I don't mean it like that. Seriously, it was a real exercise routine, not activities-in-bed-that-because-we-are-married-we-can-only-refer-to-parenthetically-with-a-nudge-nudge-wink-wink (Puh-lease. I am not that ridiculous now). I run. I have been awake this morning since 4:30, before even the alarm rang, and have already gotten through a bunch of work and have a few minutes to blog. I get to do a number of things besides work and washing my child's backside after potty. Which may not be that important to some folks, but if I just look back at my 37 years on this earth, this defines me. Doing a gadzillion things all the time. Maybe not all of them as well as I could if I concentrated better, but thats fine with me. I like the experience.

In conclusion, the juggling, it comes naturally to me (as long as it is a seven year old child now, cannot imagine a juggling a seven month old infant now alongside other things. scary stuff, that!). If I didn't have a list consisting of a hundred unconnected things to do through the week, I would probably be miserable. Right now item on agenda is sharpening pencils for school. So let me go do that then.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Keep the feet moving!

The river, I admit, is very attractive. Cross-roads every morning on short runs. Do I turn right and plod through traffic and enter the University campus in 10 minutes time? Or, do I turn left, pass the temple, run over the (smelly) river and loop around watching the commando troops, the canine gang, and the old people (and occasionally, my friend ludwig). Today I chose the river. My smelly neighborhood water body, hatcher of mosquito eggs, receptacle of trash, black as the night.

The bikila blister is a bit, how do I say it, colourful? There is a standard life-cycle of blisters in my feet (& legs & thumb too, one time each, in the recent past). I have tried to break that life-cycle with interventions with dettol, savlon, specialised band-aids, calendula nectar, betadine, and, more recently, gentian violet. I don't think it matters. It goes on to putrid-ness and when I ply myself with anti-biotics, in fear of full-body-sepsis (or whatever other gory denouement), it dries and scabs, and bleeds again one last time, and finally disappears, leaving behind angry scars as a reminder, sometimes.

"Do I feel faster in them?" No, I don't think so. I ran my usual short-run route, stopping myself from 'sprinting home' - which is not on the cards till next week, or thereabouts. They do feel good though. Since I killed my ipod on Sunday's long run, it was just me, my feet, and my vibrams today. As I was getting ready, I remember being excited, 'don't need socks! yes!' They are quiet. None of the heavy clomping. But today I discover that my tread is uneven. Hmm. Revelation.

I try to be as ambidextrous as I can. Does anyone remember a person called Dusty Fog? From way back when I used to read 'Western novels' as they were called. The standard Louis L'Amour and also an author referred to as J.T.Edson, I believe. Dusty Fog was a short guy who had the fastest trigger in all the west, and with both hands at that. So, I try to breathe every three strokes when I swim, coming up on alternate sides. As a rule. Not that I breathe or swim well (yet), but its the idea. I try to write with my left hand, periodically. I did used to take off on my left leg for the long jump, and also, for the sprint starts. But that was then. I even run loops in both clockwise and anti-clockwise directions now when I am in the oval stadium.

But my right foot plods and is more noisy than my left. My heel strike tendency is more on the right. My left foot has the blister so today things were a bit even. Pain and discomfort on both sides! Oh yes! Bring it! Yes, after 7 running miles of them, I am still loving them. My calves are a bit tight. I felt my toes a bit more today than the last time. One time, I stepped on the sharp end of a stone but my first thought was not 'ooh pain' but 'oh! hope that didn't spring a hole in my beautiful blue shoe'

In summary? A quiet neighborhood run, 4 miles (ish), people still giving my nose that intense stare (you crazy woman, types), bounciness at bay, loved the quietness & the philosophical musing possibility thus afforded, smell not too bad yet, fit is fine, loving it...