Monday, 28 May 2012

Desi Barbie

As the child grows up, I finally have time to sort of step back and think. About her. Me. Her as a child. Me as a parent. About choices we have made. About thought I have paid to choices I have made. About rules, and opinions, and objectivity and most recently, about this whole boy-girl stereotype business.

The trigger was simple. The child needed a haircut. Her hair had grown out in ungainly manner and even the father was starting to complain about it! She swam for eons and then her hair was wet and it was impossible to dry it out. Plus with all the chlorine and ick it looked in bad shape.

So I resolved to take her and, as I have been saying the past few sessions or so, said, I am going to get it cut short. NO. She said. Okayy... She wanted it to be cut REALLY SHORT like a boy. I tried various tactics to dissuade her. But I was outnumbered. So I caved in and now she looks completely like a boy wearing gold rings in his ear.

I was reading some of my old posts and also glancing through photos and remembering the pink phase. It really didn't last long, but that was bothering me as well, I find, as I read myself. In that phase, she was the opposite of me, wanting to wear pink and purple, and bangles, and occasionally, sporting lots of colourful clips in her hair.

I did knuckle down and enjoy that phase though, on hind-sight. I made all those hair things for her - something I have never allowed myself to do. I selected bangles and sorted them and packed them when we went on trips. Again, something I have never done for myself. Suddenly, I found, I was enjoying this stuff!

Through my own childhood, I resisted the pulls of what I thought of as 'frippancies.' No make-up. No jewelry. No flouncy frocks with frills and so on. No fancy footwear. I dressed in simple cottons, wore brown Bata sandals, kept my hair short. I wore running shorts under my school uniform skirt, all the time, and even went through a phase where I smothered my hair in oil with the explicit intention of looking nasty.

And no, I wasn't a teenager necessarily through all that. Y'know. When your body is changing and you don't know how to deal with it. I was like that through that period as well, but also before and after. Even in grad school, heck, even recently. I don't even look at my face in the mirror, really. I don't really think I am hideous, just that I don't allow myself to do 'all that fashion stuff' (whatever that entails).

So on the other hand, here I am, as a parent. Trying to tell the child that its awesome to be a girl. And that, we, as women, can really do anything we damn well please. Hopefully, considering my abject faith in role-model parenting, I am not just saying that to her. Not just empty words.

Then I have a child who insists she 'wants to look  like a boy.' I thought it was a phase. That its that damned Georgina. Surely she influenced me as a child as well. But it is a long phase. She says she genuinely dislikes 'fussy clothes' as she calls them. Things she cannot play comfortably in (even if she doesn't play so much, sitting around reading piles of books). Hates hair-clips. Likes bangles and bindis but for about 10 minutes at a time, only. Loves to play with colourful beads and buttons and bells and so on, but not to wear them. Favourite colour? Blue. Most hated colour? Pink. Poisonous pink, she calls it. Vomit-inducing, she says. bothers me. I resist it. I fight it. I work on her from various angles about this. I react by finally, FINALLY, embracing my gender a little more (in a manner). I wear pink now. I line my eyes, and like how they look when I do that. I wear long ear-rings (only the wooden Fab-India kinds), and love them. I wear my saris often. I am wearing my hair long. I am even considering if I should pin back stray strands of hair (this is something I have never done, if you can believe it!).

I still won't go so far as to colour my hair. I don't paint my nails or wear lipstick or touch anything other than Oil of Olay/Pure Vaseline to my face. But the reasons for some of those at least are related to how sensitive my skin is in general, and my dislike of chemicals (despite day job). The worst part though is? I am enjoying it. I am even feeling occasional pangs of regret that I didn't learn stuff about clothes and fit and hair and accessorising when I was younger...

So, as I was saying vaguely on facebook... I think I am rebelling against my child. Who knows? Next I might purchase that thing called 'Desi Barbie' in the wedding finery or something and start playing with it. Oh wait. That would be totally weird... :)

Friday, 25 May 2012

This doesn't count...

Right now I am on an exercise high. My husband doesn't believe in all the weird things that runners say. Y'know. The Runner's High. Second Wind. ITB. PF. LSD. Like the time he ran the Auroville trail, and all of us were gushing about the forest and how beautiful and all that. "Sucked" he said when we asked him how his run was.

I am not sure if its a true chemical high or whatever. But I do feel pretty good after I exercise. I usually exercise in the early mornings. Wee hours, if it was up to me. A little less wee, at times, due to various. (Such as sharp elbows poking me in the nose - thank you, child of mine, for that episode last night).

So, if I write a post in that state, I feel like it shouldn't count. I come across as much more positive natured than actual. Its a false sense of it. Dutch courage, of sorts. Dutch courage reminds me of all the things that have ticked me off in the past several weeks.

My passport still lies, with the Netherlands consulate folks. Who did not reject my visa application, per se, but haven't returned my passport yet, and the meetings I was supposed to attend are already done with. We saw the guys on skype and they said "Oh the weather is awesome here" while we sweated smellily all over the place. Despite air-conditioning in the video studio where we did the skype.

A general lethargy that sets in unless I am super spectacularly busy. You have to count my posts per month to judge this. I have had responsibilities, but things have slowed down now, in this half of the month of May. So I feel a bit blah. Like my place in the universe is not so important any more so I can just, you know, slink into obscurity. Which I think I'll like, but am not too sure about.

Obscurity sounds good in principle, especially now, because I am feeling a bit asocial. I don't want to deal with people. Seriously. I don't want to make polite conversation. I don't want to be nice and smiling and engaging and listening and commenting and helping. I want to be crabby and well, alone. I want a cool dark room and a bit of music.

"Schizophrenic" say the kids to me sometimes. They mean neither to be politically incorrect nor outright mean. They say my speaking volume varies rapidly and that I mumble. I hate mumblers. I hope I am not mumbling in class. Oh I bet I am mumbling in class. DAMMIT. Hate that mumbling. Need to fix it. Like that thing I hate most of all. When people tell you their phone number. And eat up the last digit as if it matters not at all.

Yeah so there you go. Its been about three hours since I finished with my exercise. I started this post soon after but abandoned it 'cause I managed to convince the child to practice her music for a bit, and she needed some help with that. This counts now. I am back down after the exercise high and feel sufficiently irritated, mumbly, disgruntled, lethargic, frowny, etc. to be able to tell you that, truly, life sucks. 

Thursday, 24 May 2012

"My Eyes Ya"

One of my friends used to say that. She was the classic "Soda Buddi" Of course this was the nineties so those of us that had glasses had giant ones. She had giant glasses which were also of gargantuan thickness. It was amazing for me to look through them. Me, who had perfect vision (oh how I hated that!).

You look at all the IIT boys photos in the newspaper and you imagine the class to be homogeneously filled with reed-thin geeky boys wearing large maroon glasses. And possibly, white sneakers with dress pants tailored at neighbouring tailor, "EverStyle Tailors", perhaps.

This friend of mine and I, we were not that boy. She is a super beautiful girl who clobbered the JEE and then spent her four years hiding behind those glasses, lying down in her corner hostel room, with her ear stuck to a radio playing Vividh Bharathi. She will come down and kick my ass if I tell any more things about her because "Preeti don't you dare make up stories about me when we leave hostel" is what her parting words were, in 1995.

I am not that boy either. I desperately wanted to wear glasses, thought I would look 'cool' I had no problems at all with my eyes till some day another not-typical-IITian-boy classmate of mine wagged a welding torch in my general direction, and I now have a eclipse-scar-of-sorts in my left eye. Of course mommyhood brought with it two continuous years of headaches and I wear glasses since then.

Yesterday we were at this thread ceremony. I wanted to go. The kid is the child of my husband's cousin. She is a dear girl who is always smiling and pleasant and we have of course been thrown together a lot in the past fifteen years that I have known her. And the "threadee" is a car-crazy, near-teenaged boy who apparently asked my father in law yesterday "How is the ride" about our beamer.

So I climbed into Sari and proceeded there. I was really bored out of my mind though because I felt a bit asocial, with the smoke, and the naadaswaram, and that shoulders and back workout early am, and waking up super early am, and general blah-ness. We stuck to it though I admit that I spent some time solving The Hindu crossword clutching a bit of yellow rice in my hand, which I had forgotten to throw at the boy.

I didn't wear my glasses the entire time. Don't know why. Am just bored of them, I guess. I am not wearing them now, either. So the smoke got into my eyes big time. Burned like crazy. We returned home and changed and the child & I went to my (newly air conditioned) office. The office smelled dusty and my nose felt blocky.

We came home and they watched the match while I read and we ate and my eyes still hurting, I went to bed. Woke up super early for swim (child), run (me), and curl up and go back to sleep (husband). I didn't much open my eyes during my run because its the same old, familiar, IIT route. Pfft.

I am remembering my beautiful empress of a friend from college (lasik means she cannot hide behind her glasses anymore, so there). I guess her eyes must have burned. With a combination of academics-induced lethargy, poor sleep quality, and Chennai heat-related blah-ness. "My Eyes Ya" they burn. Still.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Happiness is... Even splits?

My hair is all nice smelling and loose and just washed today. I am feeling the right mixture of happy and tired and sleepy and content. The weather is terrible but I don't really care, not today, not yet. Last night was rocky, with the monster breathing fire onto my face (she has a blocked nose); the ac being switched off (refer blocked nose); and just-not-enough-room despite King Sized Ness of bed. But still.

I woke up to the alarm, rather reluctantly, I admit. I eased myself out from between the snoring Lochans. They look so alike its alarming sometimes. I feel left out. Jealous. But I make jokes. "What are you planning on starting your own species?" I ask them. I crawled out today smiling at that clever joke.

My running buddy for the day (week) reached a few minutes early, making me forego the vaselining (!) of toes. But what the hell. Today was my 'Poisonous Pink Sports Bra' as the child calls it. Purple Nike shirt. The very popular Nike Tempo Track Shorts (Women). Aside from the Vibrams, I was poster Nike ad person in motion.

At any rate thanks to the humidity, all of the above (yes, even the shoes) were soaking wet at the end of the run. This doesn't bode well for the rest of the summer of running, or as good advertisement for Nike's Drifit technology, sure, but what the hell. I feel pretty awesome for having gotten my long run out of the way.

So, the agenda seemed simple, on paper. Earlier in the week, we had run an interval workout together. As we were jogging to the track as warm-up, we were discussing goal paces. "9 minutes per mile average" he said. I was like "Oh Wow" I cannot sustain that for more than 6 miles. Max. I said. "Lets see" said he, ominously.

We parted ways, after I did that interval workout (I did decently, clocking sub-8 min miles throughout), but that doesn't mean much. My main struggle is really after an hour and half of running. I am good (sort of) till that point of time. & This was just 6 total miles of running including warm-up/cool down. So.

Out of kindness of his heart, Mr. Quizzer (lets call him that), said, "lets go for a 2:10 half marathon on Saturday if you want." "I want" I replied. I can manage a 2:10 HM. But my strategy for it would have been very different than the one he had in mind!

We started up the Garmins and head off. He made me slow down almost immediately. I am famous for the stupidity of 'starting too fast' We hit the miles steadily at goal times after that. I was pretty sure that this would come back and bite me later. I tire usually by the tenth mile and find myself slowing down for sure. The way I deal is by having a few minutes in the bank by running faster in the earlier miles.

But this even splits thing was so awesome. I was talking throughout, almost. I shut up once in a while to conserve and concentrate, but not for too long. Before I knew it, we were at Mile 11 with just two more to go. "I can run for twenty minutes" I told myself. "Lets have some fun" said he. "No thanks" I replied, pansying out.

Soon enough we were in my favourite stretch of the campus, a nearly straight one with no traffic, lined on both sides with trees. We found another runner ahead of us, moving slow. "Lets reel him in" I know that guy, and felt a bit bad, but what the hell. Reeled him in.

"Okay Kenny we are done" High fives. 2:08:57 Which means we apparently saved 1 minute and 3 seconds! My garmin is a bit sluggish so it showed the distance as a bit less than the regulation 13.1 miles but the golden rule of social runners insists that we go with his device. (Mine always loses in this rule, idiotic thing from Hongkong).

Seriously, the even splits thing is awesome. If there is one thing I hate, its looking upon my deterioration towards the end of my long runs. Where I seem to just fall apart like a house of cards. In this one, I hit each of the 21 kilometers, from beginning to end, in 6:05-6:20  minutes. And each mile at an average of 10 mins. I might even have a Goal Marathon Pace now!


Friday, 18 May 2012


My BFSC (biggest fan severest critic) often walks into my office and turns his (rather large) nose up. "You think you are still in graduate school" he scolds. My colleague used to walk in and insist that we go to his office for meetings because mine was too dusty (his was always too warm for my taste but I am shy like that, don't like to complain).

For the past two years, I have slugged it out in this here office. Its large. >150 sq.ft. I bought two book shelves and a filing cabinet (which are full to the brim now of course). There are some built-in cabinets which I don't like to use (they look hateful, I swear). The office has two fans. I turn both of them on the second I step in, impossible otherwise.

I sit with my back to the windows. Which are large and right by a whole bunch of trees so there is the potential for things like fresh air, wind, bird-calls, occasional scares by monkeys, worms, and once, a big giant garden lizard with a long curly tail.

I am not organised with my paperwork. Which means I have exam papers and memos and letters and god knows what else piled everywhere. I made a resolution and try very hard to keep my desk marginally clear of stuff. Periodically putting away piles of things in various corners of the room.

But no one is impressed with my efforts. Its too little, and too less often. So I have continued on in this place always hoping that some little elf would come in and clean the place up during the night. Last month, I finally succumbed.

In my mind, the sequence is like this. Get an air-conditioner. Clean up the surfaces. Wipe the cleaned up surfaces everyday. Simple enough, I guess. I began at the beginning and applied for the stupid gadget. I had cleverly transferred money into the appropriate account in February, so that I could get the ac in summer.

Everything has taken longer than it ought to. But finally! Ecstasy! The unit showed up in my office day before yesterday. I had been frantically calling various agencies to get ready for installing the ac. My suggestions about getting ready a-priori fell on deaf years.

The engineering unit came (after about 10 phone calls) yesterday morning. From 9 am to 6 pm they sawed (with a hack-saw blade), drilled, cut, painted, plastered and left a 19X24in hole in the large window to my left. An antique look is provided by the slightly askew bit of ply painted blue that is next to the hole. Their other achievement has been to cover up my floor with sawdust and cement.

The electrical guys have been staging a dharna outside my office since morning. They came bustling in in the morning and looked at the wooden partition that separates my wall from my neighbours. The same wall they had looked at last week and declared as 'ideal' for required purposes. Today they spent the whole morning cursing at each other and 'getting matrial' from outside. Then they went to lunch.

The engineering crew is Tamil speaking. The electrical guys are Hindi. There is a third agency that has to come in. These seem to the "Cool Dudes" pun not intended. They are the ones that will install the ac. Assuming that the window hole and 20 A plug point are correctly done. I can only presume that these guys will speak a third language - Telugu perhaps?

In the meantime I am sitting in the middle of shit-loads of sawdust and cement, sharing space with a enormously large box inside which, I hope, is the air-conditioner I have paid Rs.25000 for. My fingers are sticking to the keyboard. Sweat is pouring down my back. I am itchy. I am tired. My child calls complaining of fever. I want to go home. But I sit here, in anticipation of a better tomorrow... 

Wednesday, 16 May 2012


Finally, it feels like summer in the household. Up until yesterday I was busy with grading and deadlines and so forth. Now I feel like I am truly looking upon that summer break that we academics well deserve (!). The mind, which is suddenly free from the various tensions related to events of Early May, is exploding with ideas, and thoughts of flowers. It feels familiar.

On the last day of school, a bunch of us got super duper enthu and went around prowling the school grounds like maniacs. We wouldn't let anyone leave for home early. We would grab their cycle bars and make them get down and play. We would run around the whole school, sort of saying goodbye to everything.

We had a beautiful school campus with gnarly old trees and eucalyptus everywhere and this nice rose garden that was maintained by the folks at the college. Dad taught at that college, mum was doing her PhD and I pretty much had license to go everywhere anytime, and used the opportunity well.

My summertime memories are filled with flowers. Mysore fairly explodes with Gulmohar in May. You cannot turn a corner without having to stop and admire the deep red and yellow. In the part of the city where I used to live, every tree-lined road was beautiful beyond words. This is the time of the year I miss being in Mysore the most, really.

One year in college, I stayed back in hostel, foregoing the pleasures of home for a good solid session of GRE prep. It was hot as hell in Chennai, but that somehow was not such a problem back then (unlike now). I used to wake up in the morning and literally sprint out of my room to that little place between the library and our hostel.

My friend Amutha, who used to stay back summers for various purposes, used to write us letters about this wonderful flowering tree near the library. Physical letters on those blue inland letter things. I was almost spending that GRE summer for the pleasure of staring upon this tree, I think. My mouth in a wide smile, I would stare upon that tree every morning before heading to the mess for breakfast, and then to my room for word-list consumption.

This past week, as my eyes have slowly focussed on outside things, I have discovered so much. This is my home now. No doubt. I was running in Anna University few days ago and found this whole parking lot covered in soft pink flowers. Don't know what they are, but really awesome. I took two loops through the parking lot with a smile on my lips.

I look from the terrace of my new house and what do I see? Those spectacular yellow bunches. Laburnum are they? I don't know. They are the yellowest of yellow flowers I can imagine, hanging down like grape bunches and such a sight for the eyes, I have not seen.

My maid complains incessantly about my other yellow flowering tree. The one thats outside my current house. It spills its soft petals all over the top of my car and the entire compound area. She sweeps up kilo loads of it every morning and tells me 'Amma please cut this off' I am shocked but I smile and tell her I love the flowers and I just could not.

The Gulmohars are late coming to Chennai. Last year I only saw a good concentration of them in June. I was pissed off at that. Its called Mayflower for a reason, I wailed. Not the ship, I said. But this year, I don't mind. There are so many new and wonderful trees to admire in this city, that really, I don't mind.

Summer is surely upon us, and while I cannot avoid thinking about the flower-lined avenues of Mysore, there is much to be enjoyed in my new home, and I fully intend to do that... No, this doesn't extend to clicking pictures of these trees, I am not a good picture-taker. You have to make do with my words. And references to obscure Janis Joplin song titles. 

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Song Sung Blue

I was in the car the other day with some stuff blaring from my ipod. I was super surprised to hear the niece and nephew sing along with it! I mean, my own child (who is years younger than them) also sings some of it, only from listening to it while I drive (and I carefully censor it. Well somewhat carefully at least). But still, that was a big revelation! The kids are growing up.

My New Yorker friend was never into music. So when we hung out we never listened to music. We just chatted. For hours upon hours. And we drove around the city. And we went and each had our favourite drinks. His poison being whiskey and mine being a stout beer. After a point, he was drinking beer as well, but thats not the story here.

Several years later, after we both graduated and moved on, we were chatting and he was telling me about his adventures at Karaoke. And I was most surprised to hear him belt out a Neil Diamond song. Which one was it now? Oh yes, Sweet Caroline. At his wedding they of course played it and he was super happy on joy and whiskey and Neil Diamond! That was pretty awesome!

The husband is quietly twanging out song after song on the guitar now. He was inspired by our friend Bannu to pick up the stringed wonder again. We hauled ass to Mylapore or something and got him a medium grade guitar. And he, his ipad, youtube, and guitar are now forever together and ignoring anything we say. Its pretty nice though I just hope he will let me sing along s'time!

I am not like big time into music or anything but seriously I don't know if I could survive without it. I am super glad for both my ipods, and just wish that all my earphones but one had not disappeared. The one surviving pair has to serve as my running and office thing and its icky and nasty and I am reluctant to buy one more knowing that they are all hiding somewhere in my effects.

And now I am wondering if I should conduct an experiment during my runs with various types of music. I doubt whether I could bear with slokas or anything in sanskrit. I can barely stand it when the shuffle brings up some Hindi. But somehow it might be time for a change. I have heard people talk about listening to one album per run. For sure Murakami does that. And that might well be what I would like to do.

But first to solve the mystery of the missing earphones... 

Monday, 14 May 2012

Bouncin' off walls

This is a typical, ground state situation for me. Excess energy. Talking non-stop. Walking too fast. Running in corridors (yes, even to date, and yes, even in my dotage I get scolded by various people for running in corridors of academic institutions). Sounding like I am high.

But then periodically, my body gives up. And I crash. Its not easy for me to sleep. I don't sleep well. I am not a good napper. I have never been. I recall summer afternoons in childhood, the entire household, parents, aunts, uncles, visiting cousins, surrounding monkeys, neighbour Karthik, all asleep. Me creeping out of the bedroom (afraid of my cousin who would shout if I disturbed her) and indulging in some origami.

Every once in a while though, I break down. My schedule has been tight. Various things have been going on. Work has been busy. We had that housewarming. Lots of guests at home. Various fights with husband about things. Suddenly remembering that I had to pay the child's school fees, & rushing pell-mell to school with lots of pink forms.

The weather is not the greatest. I don't have air-conditioning in my office (yet). And though we don't have load shedding, our appliances at home are dying an untimely death due to the voltage fluctuations, which are rampant. The sun is fierce. Humidity is magnificent.

Yesterday, I was supposed to meet up with a bunch of folks at 5 am on campus. We were going to mark the route out for our upcoming annual foot-race (Sep 30th! Mark your calendars folks!). I was happy thinking of how much cycling I would get to do, and of course, hanging with KP and the others.

The child's swimming and her situation with the tummy was to be considered though. Lone parent status was also to be considered. I swallowed the bitter pill and cancelled the plan, told them go ahead, hoped that my frantic calls to the security would be enough to prevent hassles at the gate.

I woke up fine enough (4:45am), and went back upstairs and woke up the child. She said her stomach was still bad. We ditched the swimsuit, but got into the car (5:45am) and went to the pool anyway. The idea being to tell her coach that she was not going to swim. I sat around and texted while she convinced him she was sick (he was most disbelieving, same as me with less motherly tugs I guess).

We returned home (7 am), the day was stretching ahead with plenty to do, plenty that could be done. House was (is) an unholy mess, would have benefitted from some early morning doggedness (did it later though). I could have run, legs felt just fine, no ill-effects from the week (anyway it was a pansy long run, not even a HM on Saturday). The car was nasty, needed washing.

The child was fine, deep inside a Malory towers. I was already dressed in my running outfit. But I picked up a Malory towers myself (book 3, if you must know). I lay down. I switched on the ac. I read languidly and was soon asleep dreaming of jamtarts, and fried rice with onion raita (go figure).

It was like 9:30 when I was shaken awake by the child who accused me of being a lazy bum. Lazy! Me! Seriously! I dragged myself down and my cook made some snide-ish remark about sleep. I assured her my body was hurting and I was feeling sick, sick.

I scorfed down some pongal and coffee, still a little bleary. I tried to guilt trip myself about the random nap. I never do stuff like this unless I am sick, I tried to rationalise it as well. After a bit I forgot all about it, and was soon running around the house, cleaning, dusting, wiping, folding, yelling. Back to ground state, in short. 

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Kickin' It

I am training for a marathon again. I mean, its spreadsheet time. Though I haven't yet registered for the race. Though I have ignored emails from friends suggesting travel/acco plans to race venue (Hyderabad, if you must know).

The logic of my marathon training is a simple one. First the left hand side column is populated. How old am I? What historical injuries will I bring to the start line? Is the weather any comfort to humans (or any flora/fauna for that matter)? Excuses, you may say. Most important things in the world, next to guilt, which I consume as a major food group.

Next starts the browsing and analysing of the running folk-lore. The McMillan. The Galloway. The Murakami (useful tips from him that help left hand side column things a lot, especially the aging funda). I obsessively determine my 'expected finish time' and correlate it to last year's race standings. And thus depress myself immensely, at the get go.

Synthesis of all information and excuses and the scheduling of runs is up next. I have a simple excel WS marked out with stuff. This year I am at any rate logging all my runs and workouts and swims. Would use another sheet for the next few months, thats all.

I am aiming to add in a bit of speed-work this time around. Alternate weeks on the track. Yassos or Mile repeats; or at least 100m sprints/Tabata sessions. The latter are much easier for me than the former, but I suppose I could up the intensity and be somewhere in between in terms of difficulty. We'll see. The knees, ankles, and back health will determine that.

The past week was an experiment on what I call 'core tightness.' Might sound super stupid I warn. Of late, I have been running about 3 days a week (2 short, 1 long), swimming 1-2 times a week (crappily), and indulging in some species of core workout (usually p90x) 1-2 times a week. I mix it up fairly haphazardly based on morning mood but on average this is it.

I have been eating fairly badly. Mostly fried stuff like Murukku and Beetroot chips from Chennai Chips. I don't overeat so thats not a problem. I eat lot of veggies, so thats not an issue either. But the Murukku, Thattai, Chips, Boondi type stuff are still an enemy. Somehow I am reluctant to totally clean up my act here. I rationalise saying its 'not too much'

So the experiment this week was to run my 'pants off' as the case might be. Avoid any 'mat work' - no core synergistics, no insanity, no swimming even (which is just as well as the pool is ridiculously crowded). I ran everyday Sun-Thu. I was supposed to get out and run a bit on Friday as well, and then test behavior in long run today.

The experiment failed. I had to take yesterday off, first of all. My tempo run on Thursday (a long tempo - 6 miles - tough) was not great. The weather kicked my ass. Work and other commitments kicked my ass. I slept in. Never mind, I told myself. Rest is good. Lets bend the long run over.

I woke up this morning with a start, 2 snoozes later. Did my thang & woke up child (for her swim lesson). Child went to the bathroom and we discovered she has loose motion. I KNOW its not a big deal okay? But its 5:15 am. I am alone. I am a mommy. I am an idiot. I told her to go back to sleep, switched on the ac.

I took off. Mind disturbed. Legs were not great. Never mind, I told myself. They will heat up. I pulled out a 9:20 first mile, then coaxed out a 8:53 mile 2. Then I let it all flow. I took to the track for a bit - about 3 miles - and had the satisfaction of overtaking all the old people there. I was pushing myself though. Never mind, I told myself.

The core felt bloated, not in the least bit tight. At any rate I got my period yesterday so the experiment has to be repeated again for sure. Everything is all bloaty and weird at this time anyhow, run or coresyn, hardly matters, I would think.

I got out of the track and to the road. Lost in the ipod. The garmin died an ignominious death. Two dogs barked at me. Thankfully I was faster than them plus threatened to punch them. So they held back. On and on I went. Weather. Child. Legs. Back. Thirst. Blood blister. Oh well. I turned back.

Guess I did okay. No idea if my pace was good (it was decently good the first 10k, this I know). But I hung in there for nearly 2 hours. A few ticks more than last weeks long run. It has been a reasonably high mileage week. My left column is ready (add blood blister). New shoes! New worksheet! New everything! Hyderabad, here we go. 

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Red Ink

I have been putting off grading my papers for a while now. Now the deadline is upon my head and I have to get this out of the way. Always, when I open out the packets, I find that I have misplaced the red pen. Else the red pens are all dry. I have to make do. The best thing I find, as an alternative, is to use a blue and a black pen. Kids that write in blue get the black, and vice versa. This year, I did okay though. Half way through the exercise, I still have my sanity, and my red pen (new one), handy.

The office is super warm. I sometimes carry the stuff home in a big bag, spread out on my bed, switch on the airconditioning, and aggressively finish the job. I do mean the grading. This time, I have avoided this. Choosing, instead, to embrace further my masochism. The sweat is mostly localised in the base of the palm, and my moustache area (not that I have a moustache. Ugh. One of my mum's aunts does, a luxurious caterpillar). I think I can survive it.

The mind is in one of its whirls. I am neither happy nor sad. I am content, for the most part, except when I am not, and I pity myself for various things. And people that I miss constantly. Some of which at least it ought to be possible to fix, but I am reluctant to make the effort. I embrace the sadness then, and tell myself strictly that I must learn to let go of things, and people, and to find that inner peace. Considering how old I am and all that.

I was browsing last week through my home computer. I was searching for a photograph of my maternal grandfather. Who passed away in 2003, and is very badly missed. We wanted a photograph of him (and my dad, and my husband's grandparents), to sit on our windowsill as we did the housewarming. I saw his photo, scowling, and took it to the printer. As I flipped through the folder though I glimpsed that set of photos of my cousin, my brother.

I have not spoken about him ever I think. Its just too sad. It has been sad like that for years now. And in a way that has not changed much since he passed away two years ago. I felt a familiar lurch in my stomach and my eyes welled up with tears. Him, I cannot avoid missing. He is gone, completely. I recall all our fun times together, and I can only sit and wallow, nothing else to be done. His son writes poetry, they say. I hope to read it someday.

I have had a really jam-packed couple of months. Productive months even. My procrastination tendency is somewhat at bay, and that part of my changed personality, I am enjoying. The needy part that I am trying to work on now, is going well, on the surface. But still the sadness. I swore I would avoid it, really find constructive ways of channeling all that energy I spend in being lonely, and sad, and feeling unloved. Of course its not meant to be easy. For now, my days go by quickly, with some species of routine, so I avoid thinking too much.

Maybe at the end of the summer, will be time for the real red ink. The self-evaluation. This post should help in that. Because one thing I wanted to do was write more (not necessarily here, but its a beginning). Even if it be rambly ill-structured thoughts.   I should not putz around with blue and black pens then, really go for the red ink. Wonder if I have the mental fortitude to handle my own criticisms! Only one way to find out, eh? Adios. 

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Of dogs, cows, and such like

I am deep in the middle of Malory Towers. I know. I am too old for that. But it is still fun. And answer me this. Four towers (houses). Special designated train from London. Carriages to take you to school from the station. Beautiful sight of school as you turn a corner. Camaraderie. House spirit. Lacrosse contests. Prep. Breakfast rooms. Common rooms. Dormys with eight beds. Sound familiar? All muggles, all girls though, thats the only difference.

Child managed to procure the entire Malory Towers courtesy indulgent aunt. She is in book bazillion. I am in book 1. The books past the 6th one are written by someone else. Not Enid Blyton. Thats fine with us, don't really mind. The cover is all jazzy and modern. "Is Malory Towers older or Harry Potter, Amma?" asks she, innocently. I swallow my indignation, and answer honestly and without malice.

I was quietly running along this morning. Vibrams are in really nasty, smelly shape. But WTH. A dog barked. I jumped a clear half foot into the air but continued on. As I often say, motherhood, and running, have almost cured me of my irrational fear of dogs. Almost. A security guard strolled out from his post and said "Don't run. Just walk" He might have meant it in the context of not irritating barking stray dogs. He might have meant it otherwise, in general, as well. I smiled and crossed the road.

We warmed our new house late last week. It still has a while to go to be habitable. I have a list of disappointments already. I like the front facade though. Its in my favourite colour next to black - grey. We reluctantly convinced a much-mustachioed pehelwan like dude to bring his cow over. With crumpled horns. Which I had to touch with turmeric. Not to mention its rump. It proceeded to pee all over our (unfinished) front porch. Its calf merrily ate a banana after I peeled it for it, meanwhile. "Its all super holy" said everyone as I wrinkled my nose.

We all sweated buckets. Especially the Mysore and Bangalore folk. "Madras ana chumma vaa?"  I told them as they complained. It takes guts, fortitude, perseverance, grit, determination, and a certain streak of masochism to spend the summer in Madras. Chalk them down as my qualities, in my balance sheet, if you will. Especially in light of the dreaded load shedding!

"This has become a tourist destination madam" wails the swimming coach, who is gamely trying to get his platoon of kids ready for a tournament in June. The pool is overflowing with creatures of all shapes and sizes. Women in their full-body armour, protecting their skin from the sun. Every inch of it. Men, on the other hand, in boxer shorts, short shorts, torn shorts, undies, anything they happen to be wearing at that point of time. Unprotected, to say the least. The kids are bearable at least with the exception of those that wear that nasty thing called 'shimmies' which I hate.

"You should conduct a special running event" suggested my uncle. I raised eyebrows query-ingly. Apparently, for women to run in nine yards madisaaru saris. I could do it. Though I might die of heat exhaustion if I tried it in mine. Its my wedding sari. Has severe lines of zari coursing through the entire body. Is constructed of a kancheevaram silk yielded possibly by worms that were fed on steel. In the 15 years since I was awarded this prize, there has been no love lost between us.

Days follow nights follow days follow nights as we edge unerringly towards a distant day when the weather will be cooler and tempers less frayed. There is some good stuff that the household has been hit with in the midst of all else. The child came in second at the Landmark Spelling Bee thing on Sunday. She was lovely, if I may say so myself. And she enjoyed it, most important of all. I am planning a trip of 2-3 days (for work) to cooler climes, visa permitting. My little niece is at home and is super cute. So, I now head home, semi-productive day all wrapped up here in my sweaty office....