Monday, 17 December 2012

Slip Sliding

The thing is, this year has been really very strange. I feel like nothing has gone to plan and this is very difficult for me. One of my friends jokes that I am very resistant to changes in plans, and she can see on my face that it upsets me. I guess its true (also my face is very transparent like that - don't ever make me play poker!), though I have gotten much better about it. Perhaps too much better.... 

One of the things that has been bothering me is my work schedule. I am completely unable to get into a proper flow of work. I blame a lot of things and lots of people for this. Of course, knowing that it was up to me to set expectations about when people can meet me, up front, at t=0, and I didn't. I have barely stayed with my neck above the water for my class. And I this whole semester. Super annoying.

My mum's voice is constantly in my head. I mean, especially when I screw up, but otherwise as well. She gets real worried about me when I don't call her for days, little knowing that I am having all these conversations with her anyhow so I am all set. She just needs to learn to tune in to this frequency? (Yes, I said that. But so did Rushdie, so there).

Anyway the voice mum tells me I :
* Am trying to be Jack of all trades => Master of none
* Have bitten off more than I can chew 
* Have low stamina, low immunity 
* Have a delicate stomach
* Need to learn to relax and take it easy once in a while
* Am short tempered

It is really irritating because its so critical of me. But I know it means well. So I analyse it constantly and try to see which one of those things is my current problem. The thing with immunity is that it is what you believe it is, so I am really trying to get that out of my head (so STOP IT MOM!). The rest are true - except that I don't think I am that short with my temper any more; and of course I have plenty stamina (except for shopping. yuck). 

I woke up this morning feeling quite happy - despite the Monday-ness of the day. I made my Evernote task list and zipped over to my office. Everything went South after that. I couldn't complete a single task on the list successfully or satisfactorily. Phone call - sucked; Formal meetings  - so-so; Informal meetings - cut short; Overall efficiency - virtually nil. 

I rushed back home, picked up some food and a dress and rushed to school. The child was late. I bundled her in, harassed her into eating the chapati, and rushed to the music class (changing out of uniform in car). We got in a tiff about the dress. When she went up to sing, I rushed back home to bring her chappals; and some milk. And a chocolate. I might have felt a bit guilty about my role in the tiff, guilt I couldn't explain away to myself.

She was late returning from the music class - looking absurd in her dress and the school white shoes. I bundled her in again, apologised for my role in the tiff, felt very bad about it for about a second. The next second she was shouting about how much she hates Plum Cake (which I had brought in addition to above) and I didn't feel as bad. We drove to the concert. Which had already begun. 

All the seats in my ticket class were full. We went to the plastic chairs and sat down. Sanjay Subramaniam was in full flow and super awesome. I breathed a sigh of relief and tried to forget everything. Especially the really stiff neck I seem to have acquired. I had about half an hour of enjoyment, mingled with tiredness. 

She started fussing soon after. First she had to use the loo. Which was fine. Then she was bored. Which was not ok. My mobile died promptly, making me worried about all those things all over again. My various responsibilities - all those tasks I didn't manage to do through the day. The fussing increased. We got into a couple of minor skirmishes at this juncture. I yelled a bit into her ear, banshee like. 

When the Thani started, I reluctantly got up and walked out. In a huff, but still holding that monkey's hand as we hit the main road. We got in the car and I delivered my patented lecture about behavior and so forth. I hardly had an appetite for dinner but we somehow managed to shove it down the gullet and now, shortly, after I get Aunt and Uncle who are visiting me, to have their dinner, I will put an end to this miserable day and go sleep... 

Friday, 14 December 2012

In which I resurface

In December, I really try very hard to slow down and think about things. Of course, also train for the Mumbai Marathon, and go through whatever evaluations need to be gone through for work. Some years, I end up traveling - at least in the early part of the month - and sometimes that works out well and sometimes it doesn't.

This time, December crept up on me, I didn't even realise it. I was so completely engulfed by the Wipro Chennai marathon. And then I woke up and saw that my grades submission date was on my head. I barely managed to finish that before I had to go to away to Pan IIT. I guess on the heads of a reasonably intense semester, it was a bit much.

My body shut down. I woke up on Monday with the intention of a Core workout. But I just couldn't. Twenty four hours in which I scared the family by barely waking to eat a couple of mouthfuls of curd rice (I slept through a power cut). A couple of very low energy days spent subsisting on curd rice and battling that ever present headache. And finally I feel like myself again now.

The core workout this morning was less intense than I intended - as usual I ran out of time. I have a last pile of books that I am working through - using bookcollectorz to catalogue (that has been a fun experience - despite the frustrations possibly due to my iffy wireless). I have a few evaluations and a paper to read. And a bunch of grocery shopping to attend to.

Not a big deal of a day up ahead - except later tonight when my aunt and uncle arrive. I didn't go drop the child off at school today since husband person had a meeting that side of town. The house feels very quiet after they left. Kitchen knives I hear in the background. A broom being ineffectively used on the floor. A bucket dragged around. No words.

The best thing of all is that I know that right below where I am sitting (at the dining table - my favourite spot in the house). Directly below. I have wall-lined shelves filled (to the brim, almost) with my precious books. All sorted out. Women authors sit together. Rushdie, Ghosh and Naipaul hang in the other corner. Well thumbed Wodehouses are there. Ah the words accumulated there.

What else does a girl need? 

Monday, 10 December 2012

My Super Painful Trip (So Glad To Be Back)

I don't know. I didn't think it would be so bad. I go away all the time all over the place, right? I am not too fussed about stuff. I love traveling. I don't even mind flights so much. I fit neatly into the seats, can fall asleep usually fairly happily, and as long as there is veggie food or some sort, and I can run for a bit, I don't need much else.

Kolkata, is where I went - I was looking forward to it. I have some pleasant memories of the place from the early 90s which was when I went last. Pleasant in a vague kind of way. We were there in Kharagpur for the InterIIT. I rocked the tournament despite being a complete light weight (literal) and the baby of the team and was really really exhausted on our train trip to Cal.

I fell asleep in the movie. ("Twins" which I have watched several times afterwards and stayed sort-of awake). We were in a large group but a few of us broke away for the movie. I don't remember much else from the trip.

I wanted to run somewhere there. Walk around in all those places one reads about in Vikram Seth or similar. Enjoy the famed Coffee/Conversation thing. But of course I had to do that thing I was sent there for. And I hadn't figured out where I was going to stay, how I was going to get there, how far everything was from everything else, etc., assuming it would all be fine and sorted out.

On hindsight, it was my fault. I should have figured this stuff out, made proper plans. It took forever to get from everywhere to everywhere, I spent a lot of time waiting for others and then for the transport to show up, things were unclear to everybody, the driver got lost, food sucked, and the promised wireless from airtel was a big joke, and I was completely exhausted by the end of the day.

I was supposed to meet Dipali. As the day unfolded, that looked impossible. I had to attend sessions till 8pm or something and we all know I don't function for much beyond that. I promised to call her. When I travel abroad even, I obsessively buy calling cards or that Matrix sim. Because I HAVE TO TALK TO PEOPLE. Like, top of the list, my baby child.

My phone chose this opportune moment to start dying on me. I had forgotten the charger. I borrowed someone's charger. Its a nokia, for heaven's sake. Everyone and their dog has a nokia charger. My phone rejected the someone's charger. And started accusing me "Battery Low" it kept saying. I was sitting in our exhibition booth for a bit, and the ambient noise was of all sorts and not very high but well.

My head chose that moment to acquire one of those headaches that are so frequent now that even my husband (who is well trained in ignoring mild maladies; and me in general) is getting concerned about them. Right side of head, I hate you. I have stopped eating a painkiller for this thing now, because it doesn't work and in fact makes me feel worse.

I returned on Saturday night and thankfully was able to send one message to my husband who kindly picked me in the airport - I was miserable enough to not want to deal with taxi lines. I was very happy to return back home to the questionable comfort of my upside down home. I ran yesterday morning, a nice long run which made me happy, and momentarily rid me of the headache.

But this morning the memory of my trip is back. I had a neck crick even when I boarded the onward flight and sitting around in various places and riding in the back of a decrepit van did not help much. My stomach has rebelled against the various injustices done to it (sandwich on the flight; weird Chinese food at the conference; weird bread-jam at the Guest House; etc.).

I have retired hurt now. Hope to back on track in a day...or two.. And Kolkata - I owe you a proper visit now. With a clear plan and directions and a list. This time I will bring the child, and a phone charger, and my own damn internet.

(PS: Bodily discomforts and ailments notwithstanding, I went running in a park near my guest house on Saturday. I couldn't sleep after 5:30am or so because of all the cars that seemed to be passing by my window and particularly honking in my ear, and the headache was a few hours away anyhow. It was awesome to see half of the dusty park given to footballers and the other half to cricketers. But it was annoying that people wouldn't follow the unwritten rule about walking in anti-clockwise direction and I had to keep running into them.)

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Reflecting Back

I am at a loose end. The semester is done and dusted. I finished correcting my final exam papers today and will upload the grades tomorrow. The marathon is done with. I have a couple of loose ends to tie up in the campus, but otherwise its well and truly behind us. We were working for a while on a couple of abstracts for an upcoming conference and they are submitted (and accepted! yeah!) as well.

So now I am in that time of the year - no particularly insane deadlines. I am reviewing a few papers tomorrow - they are due back end of day - but its not very stressful I don't think. I have no classes to prepare for in the immediate future. I don't even have a race coming up in the near future to train for. Of course there is Mumbai - its about 40 days away now - but I am not worrying as much about it as last year... yet...

I love and hate this time. I love it because it gives me the freedom and time to think about things. To make plans for the future. Oh yes, I make lots and lots of plans. Constantly bombarding my own brain with ideas. So what if many of them come to nothing. I hate it because I miss the structure, the pressure, the insanity of my usual life.

I think I made the best of it today. Legs and back routine. Made the child's lunch dabba. Graded papers in a frenzy. Had a couple of meetings in my office, and caught up with my friend Basa for a quick lunch. Returned home and had the pest control guys do a full thorough sweep of the house including the basement with the cricket infestation. Emails. Catalogued the home library a little bit. Cooked dinner.

There are a number of other things I could have done. Things on my list for a while now - but its fine. I can do them tomorrow. And then on Friday off I go to Kolkatta for a couple of days. I expect that next week - especially if I tie up 2-3 things tomorrow - will be super awesome. I hope that I will have that quiet time to read/write that has been elusive all semester long. Heck, all year long.

Its December. Time for music, resolutions, good weather, and catching up with friends. This blog should also see more love from me this month. After all, its the birth month for the blog formerly known as musings from mumbai. A cause for celebration, for sure. 

Sunday, 2 December 2012

The Wipro Chennai Marathon 2012

There are a million photos on FB already, but I am lazy - so I picked this one. Here is most of us all relieved, exhausted, deflated, a few seconds after the last awesome Full Marathoner coasted in past the finish line.

I barely slept last night. There was confusion. Excitement. Gnawing worry. I kept making mental lists. I woke up once to put up a list on Evernote. Volini Spray featured prominently in my list and was to later create enough trouble and frantic phone calls to indicate that there is a lesson to be learnt there.

Child and husband woke up fairly promptly (though it was 3:15 am) as I rushed around waking them, pulling on my jeans, finding my amphipod (which I found) and looking for a bandana (which didn't surface). The calls started by 3:45 am and prodded us out of home in due course...

Everything is a haze after that. The next thing I know is that we were saying CHEEEESE above (and Krishna was behaving like Rajnikanth and changing his clothes for every camera shot). I ran out of energy at two time instants - I remember that - once I just stood frozen somewhere for 30 seconds and another time I was sitting down and zoned out.

The best moment of the day was a quiet one for me. I had pictured this and imagined I would be noisy. Screaming, cheering, shouting, clapping... When I saw him turn the corner, things went real quiet inside me. I ran the last few meters of the race with my super awesome strong half marathoner husband and, still without a word, ensured that he received his medal from our little spawn in her too-big volunteer tshirt... 2:12. Am too proud for words.

When the child & I stood near the start mats and saw the full marathon flag off ON THE DOT at 5 am, tears welled up in my eyes. There was no time to analyse my emotions as I wanted to take a snap of the 5:15 (SHARP!) flag off of the HM. But I haven't forgotten that moment, the second best one of the day, and featuring Ram, inspiration to all of Chennai (and beyond).

Rocket & I shared a few minutes of that unique mix of joy and sadness for our country, for our women, as we talked about the little lady who won the Full Marathon in some un-imaginable time. She came from nowhere I knew, touched her brother's feet when she finished her race, and offered her thanks to Goddess Earth (as I understood).

My gender made me proud today. I can only imagine the battles they fought to get themselves out there; to finish strong; to smile. My friends came from Bangalore - two of my dear friends from my college days. They ran past the hostel we all, long years ago, shared so many good times in. I met two other women from outside Chennai - their faces familiar to me from facebook. My own campus friends - students and colleagues alike - were there in numbers. Of course, the Chennai Runners, the Dream Runners, and most of all Rocket with her spectacular second place finish....

[Not to mention my little baby daughter, who woke up so ridiculously early this morning; walked everywhere holding my hand;  hung medals on hundreds of sweaty necks; and ate nothing - and more pertinently, did not read anything - till nearly 8 am when her father rescued her from me]

I am thankful, grateful, overwhelmed, sad, happy, and immensely emotional. My physical body is battered. My lower back is spasming, my period (always impeccable timing that one) driving me insane, I am not even thinking about my right foot. My mind is a whirl of memories, snapshots, thoughts. Overall, all I want to now is run for a long while and sort everything out the only way I know how to. But perhaps some sleep might first be in order...