Monday, 20 December 2010


Christmas! Its Christmas! I used love and hate the holidays when I lived in the West. It hardly made sense to me, I have never done the gifts or the turkey or whatever (still staunchly vegetarian, yo!). No cake either. Not that excited by cake. Likewise in Mumbai. It was just a time to chill out at home and get 'recharged' for semester two. And to plan an evening of fun for New Year's Eve, which, hopefully did not involve just the two of us sitting on the floor of our flat and bemoaning the fact that we had no friends and nobody loved us, etc.

Somehow, I am very excited by it this year, here in Chennai. I don't think I mean the exact day of the birth of Jesus Christ, but just the time of the year. I want to buy gifts. I want to plan a party. I am super excited that so many people are visiting and want to see every single one of them. I want to go out. I want to have them home (though that involves figuring out what on earth happened at the homestead. Why there are so many things lying around. What are those things? Who dragged that stuff in, really? Who?). I want to wear red clothes and green earrings. Or green clothes and red earrings. I want to find the reindeer horns and wear them. I have been trying to make the monster wear her green skirt that has snow flakes on them (she has refused point blank and worn her white bunny ears for two days in a row). Yeah! Excitement! New Year! Christmas! Fun! Frolic! Snow!

What is going on, kenny? What is it?

I went to a karaoke party on Friday night. It was so fun. Even if I could not drag husband away. I had to make two trips home. First I brought the monster back and deposited her in bed and told her to read and that would chase away monsters. Then I went back for the husband. I was a bit upset then this song came into my head "What would you do if I sang out of tune, would you stand up and walk out on me?" Of course I won't. I couldn't. I managed to handle that well, I thought.

Next morning I woke up early, heard the snores and took myself downstairs to my beloved kitchen where I proceeded to launch into some rice and idli and so on. I packed up dabbas of puliodarai and curd rice and idli and so on - the cook came in soon enough and threw me out and finished up the tasks for me while I showered and packed. We got in the car and drove non-stop and screeched our tires at mum's place. I climbed into my bright sparkly diwali salwar kameez and we went to my high school reunion. It was about the most fun thing that has happened to me. Teachers came too. So lovely. One of the ladies looks so beautiful, I was afraid to touch her. Like a doll she is, at 65. And they said the cutest things. Yes, this one is a separate post. And the guys & gals, my fellow conspirators for ten years. I love you all!

Next morning we went into a bit of a funk because of losing the monster's glasses at the party (she fell asleep). She was super hopping mad at us, of course, deservedly so. Anyway we got in the car and she slept almost the entire way, cause, hello, she couldn't see. I told her about Lord Emsworth losing his glasses and tried to make a joke of it. Imagine having a rose garden and a yew alley and the Empress of Blandings, and not being able to see them! Imagine! Again a non-stop drive back to base, spare glasses, dinner, and a welcoming (if creaky) bed.

I am trying to sort out my office boxes now. I had a most entertaining breakfast, and a good 'networking' coffee already. And miles of things to do. My to-do list has grown like a weed. But still, I am very excited! Christmas! New Year! Mumbai Marathon! Macbook Pro! Here I come. Here... I... Come...

Friday, 17 December 2010


There are these movies my husband watches. These guys get off a plane and get in a car and are whisked off some place in like Siberia or Oregon or something. Then they get off and its Christmas everywhere and they are shining and have finished their adventure and are just-glad-to-get-home-to-their-child who is blissfully unaware and sleeping.

Well, thats what the past few days felt like for me. Minus the adventure and the intrigue and the actual doing something useful (as opposed to just talking) and, of course looking crisp and cool getting off the said plane at the end of it all (i looked like a rat).

I was in FurryDaBad. Or something like that. There were some mountains. I don't know, you guys, Somewhere. North-ish from here. I spent the entire time locked up in the hotel (which had Christmas decorations and Christmas music in the elevator and I was really tempted to eat the Ginger Bread House). It was super nice, the place. Like someone polishing the floor and furniture every second of the day. Tech support that knew what LCD stood for and that could tell you the toggle key on your ratty vaio apart from, say, the finger sensor thingie that I have not even set up, really. I wore what passes off as formal clothes in Kenny Land. Namely, button down shirt and pants and a belt. I bought a new belt so I was happy with that shiny buckle for once. Some of the shirts are new as well (as in, I got them sometime in 2010) and I have not worn them all that much. I was dismayed to find that one of them was that cutesy three quarter sleeve thing. Oh well. It was blue, so that was okay. And yes before you say it, all very masculine, down to my dark coloured dress socks (from last century), and black shoes. And a black jacket that I could not really wear because of sweating.

I spent half a night cranking out a presentation. Some minutes presenting it the next morning. I drank coffee and walked down the hall to pee. I went back in the room and listened to the others. I dug out my (newly printed!) wad of cards (the kind with my name and affiliation on it) and handed it to all and sundry, urging them to read it and dispel for themselves the notion that I am a student (or worse yet, a post-doc, whatever, its okay if you dont know what that is, its something stupid, really). No, my white hair is not helping much. "You need to wear starched cotton saris" sure, yeah, I will do that. Soon. Sometime.

Then I came back. She was asleep. I squished her a bit in a bear hug (though I was stinking). He was awake. I asked him whats up. YAWN. Next morning I found myself on the treadmill to nowheresville again. I am not sure I went. I am definitely not sure about where I was. I have some memories of the hotel room and a bunch of folks I met for the first time and all sorts of conversations, and yes, that ginger bread house thing. But, still, its all weird.

This morning, again, in a sort of disconnected manner, I found myself running on Marina beach in the rain, worrying about the warning-less tsunami, looking apprehensively at the water (very far away today). I found myself running with two people I met at the conference. Super nice guys. One of them told me something. He is older. Maybe fifty? Not sure. Looks slim and fit without looking ill as only white people can. He said he runs with his son. In two races a year, and not more. He said he will do that for as long as he can keep up with him. The son is not all that into running, he is a soccer kid. But runs in these two races with his dad without cribs. He said he made the mistake of being too eager too early to run with his other children and well, it never happened. So, yes. Hear me now.

I am training now so when she is ready to, I can run with her in a race or two, and keep up, somewhat. Out with all the other goals.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Early Morning

Early in the morning. The sky is dark. Yes, winter is here in Chennai! The sun, which is usually up and blazing by this time, is far away. I have been up for a while now. For a run that got rained out. Actually, I kitted out and stepped out. I hadn't cycled 200 m when it started pouring cats and dogs. Yes, I have run before in this type of rain in Chennai. But not today. The spirit might well be willing, but the flesh, well, just not so much, I am afraid. I got drenched even as I locked my cycle.

No regrets, however. It is amazing how its human nature to overdo everything. At least, its mine. I used to joke saying "I have an addictive personality, its in my genes" - but this is true. Lets sift the facts (at least some of them).

Mum is obsessed with cleanliness. It makes her anxious to be in a place that is messy (dirty is a far cry). Very anxious and crabby. I KNOW she would rather clean than, say, sleep an extra hour. I have known her to be completely exhausted but still doing dishes.

Dad had his own set of irritating idiosyncrasies. Yes, its nice to think about them now and feel all 'OH I miss him' and sad, but frankly, requiring that your towel and undies be ironed at all times is a bit much, isn't it? He would also change his clothes every so often - which is more annoying than it sounds, I don't feel like describing it better though.

Me? Well, I have a set of mind games I play with myself. I feel anxious when I don't exercise for a few days. It took some time to diagnose, but I attribute much of my crabbiness in the initial days of motherhood (by initial I mean of course the first two years!) to an inability to exercise (enough). Not so much about appearance or weight, thankfully, but just a love of sweating it out. I dislike losing control over the homestead. In the sense of finding strange items around the house - especially the kitchen. So the day I return from a trip away is a bit traumatic for me. Nothing to do with cleanliness (which would be my mum's thing). Just that loss of control. I used to stock up everything in the kitchen, make miles of lists, give very detailed instructions to cook & maid for a day long trip to, say, Kalpakkam. I have eased up now. I have learned to let go (a little bit). I don't like to miss meetings at work. I mean, some of the silly meetings that people call, and many feel okay to skip, well, I don't like it. Its a control freak thing I guess, mixed in with a healthy dose of perceived gender bias (I hate to think that people think that because of being a woman I cannot work like them, while recognising that not all guys are idiotic like that and that I am answerable to no one, really). I have found it very hard to give the monster the type of independence she deserves. I know this is not entirely my fault. Babies come out of the womb so very dependent on you that its hard to determine when and how much to let go. But still, I think I have consistently erred on the other side.

Clearly, this is not the entire story. But it is, at least in part. But what I wanted to say today is this: A big lesson learned in 2010 has been to LET GO. To STOP FUSSING. I don't mean that everyone should be like that or that it ought to be YOUR life philosophy. But just for me. The advantage I have is that I don't do regret. I rarely mull over what could-have-would-have-should-have and feel the need for a time machine or a do-over. Rarely. I do rarely fuss in that sense of the word. You know, like a person who likes to have everything just-so. No. I am not like that. But clearly, I have control issues over my own life. But I think I have made progress this year. I am not saying that I have totally given up worrying about all those silly things that constitute my normal package of thoughts (and cause me stress). Its just that somehow my mind feels freer this year, more able to come up with solutions to problems rather than just wallow in them. Also, more willing to accept my own mistakes (the first step to solving a problem is to recognise that you caused it, Kenny).

Its not just the obvious differences between us - tall vs. short; consultant vs. academic; etc., at least for me, he is the balance that is vital to my survival. Whenever I look at those people in really awful shape you see on the streets occasionally - don't know if just starving or drugged out or drunk or just plain sick and no one to look after them (have you heard the song 'He was a friend of mine' by Dylan, if so, like that) - I think thats what would happen to me if I did not have my husband with me, to help me not make mountains out of mole hills....

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Lets talk about her now

I suppose on some levels, I imagine my (not so little) girl growing up and reading my blog. Right now, I don't let her read it. Nope. She is aware of the four letter words. She comments on them if we let fly (I am usually fairly careful when I am around her, I swear our relationship is as if she is my mum-in-law). At any rate I don't want her to read these things know, she hates it when I talk about her to other people. She is perennially convinced that I am out to get her. Although when I harass her about it she admits to knowing that I love her very much. So anyway, part of me hopes that one day, lonely in college or grad school or at work, she will read through my archives and, hopefully, not judge me.

Love is a nice thing. I mean I really love being able to love. Some days, when I close my eyes and think about her, I love her so much. Almost unconditionally. Yes, I get furious with her. We routinely fight. Its strange, my husband calls me on it often. But our relationship is a lot more equal than it ought to be. I mean, I am thirty years older, and presumably know better than her. But all my new-age - What do YOU think about that?; I believe this, others believe that, you can choose one; The important thing is that you learned something from the exercise - all this crap has ensured that I cannot be that School Marm-ish Mom. You know, the one with the glasses and the severe ponytail (or bun), whose word is The Law. When I am angry I blame the husband, he treats me like that, thats why she does too, I insist. Of course the truth is that I ALLOW her to be like that, I enjoy being her friend (somewhat), I am willing to take the fact that she ignores me at times as long as she feels comfortable telling me some ridiculous thing from her school.

One thing that I feel I must insist on is homework. I got into a zone in the past few months where I was happy that the school was not assigning any real work to be done at home. I assumed that this meant that they are teaching things themselves, and doing well with that. I mean, thats my model of teaching as well. I rarely assign homework (the reasons for that are different, however. I rarely assign homework because my uber-smart students cut corners. They copy the solutions. I hate that. But also recognise on some levels that they copy because its boring to do themselves, not because its difficult). Anyhow. I presume that I do a good job 'helping them learn' in the classroom; I assign problems to be solved in class; I walk around and nudge them towards the right way of thinking/answer, etc. But heaven knows how much impact I have. Its completely impossible to measure. But anyway imagine my chagrin when I realise that thats not really how it works in school.

Okay, this deserves its own paragraph. What do I think schools should do? Its very simple (perhaps). They need to ensure that the kids LOVE all that stuff. You know, that math, the science, the stories, new languages and new words, drawing, everything. Is there a place, in my opinion, for routine stuff, you know, such as the reciting of multiplication tables and writing a word that they spelled wrong, four times? Well, yes, as long as its fun for them. I love reciting the tables, I swear I do. I would have loved 'imposition' if my school teachers had given it to me, really. I know that its not always possible to teach things in super creative, innovative ways, without the child even knowing that she is learning. Sometimes its okay to recourse to conventional stuff, especially when you are a conventional school with a teacher:student ratio of 34:1. I think its okay, as a parent, this is a choice I have made and am willing to go with it. In fact, I might even believe in its benefits (unmeasurable as they are), to my child. Again, as long as you make sure that she is having fun and not cribbing about it.

So anyway the school barely assigns any homework. Her normal teacher (the one who does math and science and english), is, in my opinion, very good. She is quite eccentric - which is why I like her. She suddenly throws some idea out and before you know it, some of the kids are making monkey tails and so on. I don't know her well enough (and I don't follow the school activities closely enough) to know which are the things that she does herself, out of her enthu, and which are required by the school, of course, but still. But the tamil part is a LOT more routine. I realised this recently, so now I try to work with her on it regularly (which is a struggle since I am learning as we go along as well; my mum-in-law, you know, the real one who never says anything to me about stuff, she has been helping her as well). The process takes about 10 minutes. Thats all. And I am quite capable of doing crazy things. Like, dictation. She was getting really irritated at having to do that. So I said, okay, I love it, so you give me dictation. So now thats what we do. Of course she feels immensely pleased when I score 12/15 and she draws me a nasty face and shows my book to everybody, but I guess (hope), its just as effective in terms of figuring out the spellings as the other way around.

Which goes to show that despite the following:
14 years of school
4 years of college
5.5 years of grad school
1.5 years of post-doc experience
8.5 years of work experience as a professor
I am nothing but a dork who scored 9/12 on a tamil test (given by my daughter) last week. And a large part of my relationship with my child is based on my being crazy, and a complete lack of a plan.

"So, does she run?" people ask me, you know, because they know how nuts I am about running. Not to mention basketball. And soccer. Cycling. Kick Boxing. Yes, I love (to play) almost all sports (except cricket, golf, and table tennis, I hate those). The father of the child is a hulk of an athlete (in his non-corpo avatar) as well. But you know what? The answer is NO. As in, I don't insist she does. I cannot be assed to run with her. I don't have the patience to coach her in basketball. I have taught her cycling (somewhat) and occasionally give her tips when we are swimming, but I really cannot be bothered about doing these things seriously. Its up to her to ask me, perhaps when she is older! Meanwhile, I am happy enough making monkey masks and sticking sparkly stars on her diwali diya, with her.

(so, Kiran Manral, there.)

Monday, 22 November 2010

Dilli Chalo!

I always end up having to go to Delhi in December. Or thereabouts. In the past, I have not enjoyed this. The Chandigarh trip a few years ago with the family in tow was good fun, but Delhi as such, the conferences, they were not so much fun. I was cold. I was butt-freezing cold. So, when people would talk about the Delhi Half Marathon, I would look away. I am a Mumbai girl, I would say. I specialise in the Mumbai Half, I would insist. One H.M. a year is plenty, I would add, partly to myself. Delhi is just too damn cold for me, I would claim.

I ran in a lot more races this year, for sure. I never thought I would run the Delhi Half Marathon, but this year, I did! I also used it as an excuse to raise funds for a couple of my recent acquaintances Children's Day program.

Like I have lived the past two months, I ran the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon, wrapped up in my world but not completely unaware of surroundings. I have cut fuss out of my life, almost. I did not carry a bag to the venue. I ate paruppu podi saadam and curd rice for dinner. I stayed awake till the household slept - thankfully, not very late. I told the husband to rest and not join me at Delhi. I took the simplest option for getting there. I woke up, ate a banana and drank some coffee. I zipped my old phone, a couple of hundred bucks, and a Gu that my friend (let me call her Atom) gave me, into the pocket. I ate a granola bar and a tiny bit of water. I reached and did the security and the loo (so many people cribbing about the loos, please, you cannot expect anything else, just do that thing you have to in India - and Srilanka too - DONT SIT DOWN - just perch). Met friend. She suggested a strategy. It sounded good. She paced the first 5- 8 km, just awesomely she paced it. We stuck together. I ate a bit of Gu and drank some water at 8 km. at 11 km, the time was 1:00; which was our target per strategy, so that was good. I was waning a bit earlier but when I saw the 12 km, I felt awesome. My head was down somewhat so I don't even really know what road we ran on. I met with the one and only Sivey at some stage, I think it was 8-12 km, he was dressed all in black.

Atom was happy with our pace though she said she was waning a bit at 15 km. I was not. She is an experienced girl, I was sure this is what she would want me to do, so I carried on, reciting multiplication tables in my head. We met only at the end after that. I was at 17 km. I had a bit more Gu some time. I decided to chuck the rest of it; now its between you and your mind, Kenny, I told myself. I did pick up some Lucozade sometime; that was DEFINITELY helpful, and thank you, sensible people, for having it in a cup and not in a giant 0.5 l bottle. Upslope. My strategy for the slope was simple, not think about it. Left and right people were walking. I did not care. This was not a slope as far as I was concerned. That worked (incredibly enough)! At 19 km was a crazy dude out in the middle with a mike, great job ma'am, you are at 19 now, he said, loudly, into the mike. WOOT, I said to him and smiled. When I hooked the U and came back, I found him faltering once and saying, you just have 19 more to go! Ha! funny that! Just before that, one guy missed the water station and was crying 'Water' rather plaintively. I gave him my bottle. So now I am at 19 km and have nothing in my hand except my towel.

A glance at my watch. Cannot do the math. I can only count now. Not even the 1 times table. Guy playing Guzaarish on his phone/musical device. I cannot look at him because that involves turning my head. I sing a few snatches of it and pass him. But I can see in my watch that I have not crossed 2 hours. Wow. This has never happened before. I practice what I will say to the husband when I call him. I search desperately for the 500 m mark - I know its there because I saw it on my way out. I cannot do math at this stage at all, but I figure I should finish within 3 mins now, if I can just find legs enough for a little over a stadium loop. A loop I know I can do in 2 mins in normal circumstances. I accelerate a bit, and am almost surprised to see the 300 m mark. A lady in black that I have been chasing all morning long is just in front. I would LIKE to overtake her but don't want to focus on that and that alone. I decide to just give it my all and sprint, and not look at her, or anyone else. Okay, maybe stride-sprint if not sprint-sprint.

I dip my head (old sprinter habit refuses to go away).

I have finished in 1:58 per my watch, I see. The board above me says 2:03. That makes sense. We were at least 4 mins behind the gun. I am still sensible. Nothing hurts, really. I get my finisher medal. I can walk. I can think. I find lemon lucozade. Awesome. I drink some of it. Of course I am glad its in a bottle. I hold on to that bottle and drink it all day long.

Atom finds me, we think she is a minute behind. I am confident she finished under 2 as well. Which was our goal... I dont even stretch much, really. I just walk around a bit. I pick up the snack pack - awesome pack with one banana and two apples. Nothing nasty in it. I buff the apple and eat it. I have not even sweated too much. The weather and route were just perfect, I realise. I have done my personal best time. And finally met a goal. I bask in that for a bit.

I return back to Gurgaon. The SIL and husband and kid are waiting with a board that says 'You are a champ' I feel embarrassed, chiefly. I am also hungry, and in desperate need of a bath. 'Do you want a hug' I ask them - this is my standard line every morning for the past few months after a sweaty run. 'Eww Amma, go bathe RIGHT NOW' says the monster as I slowly pick up my towel and step onto the cold bathroom tile...

Friday, 12 November 2010

A Race And A Cause

Dear Friends,

I am running in the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon on Nov. 21, 2010. I am doing this partly to support a small cause: Asha Nivas Children's Day and Children's Rights Day 2010, which will be held on Nov. 20, 2010 in Chennai.

Asha Nivas is a voluntary organisation working with nearly 5000 children in Chennai city. They provide basic needs of food, clothing, education etc. and have two shelter homes for children. The children's day event at "All Women's Service Center", Kellys, Chennai - 10, is a celebration involving food, fun, and prizes (for an ongoing event called "Child Parliament").

John and Kumar, who work at Asha Nivas, are acquaintances for the past year. This request for funds for the Children's Day comes through them. I hope to raise about Rs.20000/- through my efforts, which would cover a part of the cost of the food and snacks to be served at the event.

I request your support, if this seems reasonable to you. The monetary contributions are best made in terms of crossed checks in favour of 'Asha Nivas.' The organisation has both 80G and FCRA clearance, which means that you can write foreign currency checks, and receive a 50% IT benefit on your contributed amount if you are in India.

I intend to contribute Rs.2100 personally, which is Rs.100 for every kilometer that I will run next Sunday. Please write in the comments section if you are interested. I will send you the address and so on then.

Thank You!

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

On a more cheerful note...

I was not in the mood earlier, but just now, I am. And have 10 mins to spare. So...

I re-read all my angst-ridden diwali posts over the years. I thought long and hard about festivals and traditions and why I am like that about them. I mean, I am not against them, per se. I thought I was, but actually I find it a lot more convenient and peaceful to not oppose traditions. They are so deeply entwined with people's emotions and nostalgic feelings and, occasionally, fear, that I don't want to get into that. These are people I love, I have to keep sight of that fact, most of all. So now, my take on it right now is that I feel bothered by some aspects of regular tradition. I dislike some aspects, additionally. I struggle (internally) to find meaning in most of it.

The pollution (noise and air), child labour, filth, waste and trash aspects of diwali I have somehow managed to come to terms with. As in, yes, I think they are all causes of serious concern. One ought to work on somehow, slowly, taking care of these things without getting into people's face. And we ought to try and think a little before indulging. I definitely have chats with my monster about these aspects. The schools, and Young World, and Trisha (well, one of those rare days on which I read The Hindu Magazine section), talk about them as well.

I don't want to talk about the less, most subtle reasons I am bothered. Instead I want to talk about an attempt I made this year, to make it better. Simply put, here it is. I spoke to a couple of my friends, deshvaasi, in particular. I called my friend Vimal at Goonj. Vimal and Andrew, who run Goonj's Chennai arm, are friends (of sorts). I met with Anshu Gupta (who founded Goonj) sometime ago, when he visited Chennai. I first heard of Goonj fairly recently actually, like three years ago perhaps, at MadMomma's. I like them.

I spoke about them at home. This is what I do. I talk about things. The monster picked up on it as their school has a poster (and a big, largely empty, box) about whirlpool's Ek Judi Kapda initiative (for Goonj). Parents-in-law picked up on it as they have been thinking of Udavum Karangal for clothes donations, recently. I took a couple of hours out each day the week of Diwali. Some of the time went into shopping (for our and the household help's families). One afternoon I sat with the parents-in-law and we accumulated three large sacks of stuff from their Godrej almirah. Then I sat with the monster and we put her clothes into piles - Keep, Give to Maid's Kid; Give to Flower-Seller's Kid; Give to Gardener's Kid; Goonj. I did the same with mine (Keep; Maid; Goonj). I found a nice sack full of socks. Ideal for Goonj as the winter comes on in non-Chennai parts of our country. The husband showed up few hours before our departure and likewise added his rather large clothes to our pile. Yes, all of these clothes are washed, some even ironed. Most of the clothes can be worn as such. A small portion of it might be better off used in Goonj's rather large effort on making Sanitary Napkins.

Thursday afternoon, post-lunch, monster & I drove to the campus. Deshvaasi, SBZ aka Peace, and her little daughter; and the two of us went to Goonj's wearhouse. We dropped our piles of clothes. Then we talked a bit with Vimal. Then we sat down - the three adults working through a pile of books (Textbooks, Novels, Picture Books, Notebooks/One-side paper; Crap paper); and the kids working through a pile of toys (Soft and Hard). We had seven sorted boxes (or so) at the end of it. If I had not taken the monster, and had gone with a larger army of friends, we could have helped a lot more. But then...

So this is how (and why), I was okay with Diwali and all aspects of it, when it rolled around on Friday. Because I was feeling peaceful, not about my measly two hours of sorting or my drop-in-the-ocean pile of last year's kurtis, but because I saw the potential there is. I saw a wearhouse bursting with clothes (a truck had just arrived two days prior). Two six-year olds giggled over a cockroach roaming amidst the toys. I saw the .ppt again and again had tears in my eyes when I saw the little thatched school that they built for Rs.80. The monster and I spoke all day and next about what we could do - not on a big large scale (I don't believe in that, so much) but small chota things...

Sunday, 7 November 2010

The Ups and Downs

I seem to have promised a post, about diwali and deepavali and all that. I struggle routinely with this festival. The Festival of Excess, I call it. I have some reasonably good memories of it, from childhood. I think I dislike it, nevertheless. In the spirit of, if you can't like it, change it, I had some plans afoot this year to do it differently. I don't fight things. If you tell me its your tradition, I don't reason with you and ask you to change it. Instead, I go undercover and add my own things to your tradition. To ensure I can smile (and not grimace) through it. I think I was partly successful, this year.

The husband's back started acting up. We did what we usually do, and ignored it slightly and threw some Amrutanjan and so on at it. It got worse (not because of, but just, you know). Bravely we plodded through the day, my mother in law and I alternately looking at each other with big eyes and saying 'He looks like he has fever' 'Must be the pain' etc., sort of in a repeat loop. The man in question, meanwhile, slept and harassed us for our big eyes, in sequence. Doctor was visited with extreme trepidation (don't like the breed, cannot see eye to eye with them). Turned out to be a decent fellow. Then the usual MRI (the Xray, it seems, is for wimps. Real men go in for an MRI. Oh well). A gigantic film of bones and discs was promptly procured and compared against previous (five years ago; Mumbai floods, remember that? Trauma squared that was). Anyway business as usual now. Some rest and some sensible behaviour ought to fix it. And I have calmed down now and able to think somewhat straight about life, and times.

In the midst of all this (mostly in my mind) tension, things were going on. Sweet boxes to be given. Saris to be distributed. New clothes to be worn (rather reluctantly, I admit. I hate the idea of wearing new stuff and hanging out at home. I am not a home body. I like to be out of the house. Chop Chop. Plus, there was cooking to do, hate to cook wearing anything other than my trusted old shorts and the Red Tshirt that says "Legends Never Die"). The monster to be dealt with, her excitement about the crackers and flowerpots and sparklers, indulged, somewhat - a task usually outsourced to the man of the household, for several reasons. A mammoth task of cupboard cleaning I had embarked upon, to be completed. In an attempt to keep my distaste to the minimum, I might have added on too many things 'to do' on Diwali, too many things.

I should have chirpily spoken on the phone to friends and family, yes, that would have been a nice touch, but I just did not have the mind-space for it, not even to talk to mum and tell her about my new purple dress. Its been raining insanely out here. Yes, I am dimly aware of some cyclonic activity that is being talked about. Its nice, the rain. But somehow I cannot get enough sleep, because of it. I am sleeping all the time that I am not doing something, it feels like, and its still not enough, like I could lie down now and sleep. Rather strange for me as I am not even known for afternoon naps. I have not run. I am too fatigued. You know those times when you feel like you are on a treadmill and life is moving on and carrying you with it? Well, this is one such. And all I want to really do it get off and sleep.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Black: Rain

Of course you mainly come here to try and see if there is any connection between title and contents of blog post. Of course you do. Let me help you out by quickly providing you this, so that you can move on and read phdcomics, or krishashok, or hhc, or whatever.

It was raining. I wore black. Which, without really consulting a mirror, I think hides wetness well. Mind, I did not consult a mirror, so perhaps I am wrong. Whatever. Who cares? At my age...

This is a blog post that ludwig was supposed to write. Especially given that I specifically asked him to. Since he hasn't, I take the burden upon myself. Always the shoulders, always the burden. Thats Kenny.

Saturday dawned dark and dreary. I clutched my phone as I am wont to in the wee hours, taking care to press on the right and not the left (left switches off the alarm, right snoozes it). The homies were sleeping blissfully, breathing (and snoring, respectively), in harmonized manner. I love them a lot when they are asleep, especially when they have not entangled themselves into me and dug their hands (one smooth and soft, the other very rough) into the small of my back in a knotty knot, are not breathing on my face, and have given me the space I justly deserve, in our bed. The bed which I have covered currently in a navy blue sheet with six-petal-white-flowers drawn on it.

So I jumped out. Sat long run. Bring it. I looked outside the window. All dark. All monsoon-y. But in a nice way. Not like nasty Mumbai - somehow I hated the Mumbai rains except for the first fifteen days of the season. I used to wear a raincoat and carry an umbrella for a large part of those four months of rain. I like the Chennai rains. My indiscretions of the weekend usually catch up with me on Wednesday, hump day, as it were. I am hoping I will not change my mind on this, the day after tomorrow. Anyhow it was not a real long run. Just a short 10 km or thereabouts.

Messages back and forth. A quick call to ludwig. An increasing sense of my own lunacy. I ignored all the nagging thoughts. Slush. Puddles. Water. Soakedness of clothes (after all, modesty, above all! modesty!). Monster's half-day of school. Fuck it. I am going. I wheeled my cycle out. The asics can use a bit of a wash, I remember thinking.

I had many thoughts. I crossed many puddles and pools. I got soaked within seconds of leaving the house, and so I rode my cycle into the puddles with impunity. I used to love to do that in school but mum would kick my ass about it so that would make me hesitate. Now, I am the master of my domain (and do my own laundry, thank you), so ha! I appreciated the dry-fit material of my clothes extensively. I felt encouraged thinking about how I have always been a bit of a mountain goat - I don't fall easily. I especially loved the green fresh look of the campus. And the waterproof-ness of my Timex. Sivey and Ludwig, after giving me those weird looks from inside the car, finally got out after a while and ran. It stopped raining too. I don't remember sweating. I don't remember much, except that it was awesome.

"Are you fucking insane?" asked the husband when I returned home. All pumped up on endorphins, soggy wet, and jubilant and extra-energetic. "I guess so. But it was great fun" I said, as I dried out my hair and showered....

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Decisions! Decisions!

Things are splendid in Kenny land. The weather promises to be good. Had some exciting moments at work, recently. Am sleeping well. I am not thinking much about the fact that the little Fabia got hit again (a motorcycle came and chose to break the brake lights). My hair is very dry, but at least its long (by my standards). We have managed to solve our nasty shoes outside the main door situation reasonably now. Lessons have been learned. Lessons.

1. Cotton is king. I am super proud of the fact that I wore all those saris. It was fun. I came to a few realisations, sari-wise. I always thought people were crazy to worry about the material of the sari because, you know, its all about the blouse and the petticoat, the things that touch your body. Not so! Its virtually impossible to walk or breathe in a non-cotton sari, in these parts. So, must keep that in mind. Also, because it was for work, I sort of pulled everything up and down to show minimum of my tummy. That exposed tummy part is helpful for getting some air, I guess, but modesty, above all! Modesty, and that roll of tummy fat to hide.

2. Sentamizh Something. I tried long ago to learn the Tamil alphabet. It was in Fluid Mechanics class in college. Very boring lectures. Well, thats generically true. I find it hard to listen to lectures... Even my own lectures are boring, which is why I do problem sheets and tutorials and dances and fold my shirt sleeves up mid-way through class. But I digress. The monster gave up on tamil last month and her weekly evaluations (I really don't know what that implies, its some mysterious thing teachers do to kids) were going downhill. We decided to get this stuff back on track. The MIL, who is, of course, quite awesome in Tamil, got into the act, and while at it, I did what I do best. Ergo, started slowly and laboriously reading her text books and the gadzillion Tulika books she owns. Its been fun, this past month. And we have both gotten much better at the language.

3. To each her own. Somewhat peripherally, I was wondering why the kid who eats any book I lay in front of her, was resisting all those Tulikas. She has had them for a while now. She has avoided them. All the mommies and babies are lapping them up and here is my geek refusing a whole set of colourful, superbly illustrated books. I could not figure it out. So I tried to push her to it (which is clearly so stupid, but hey). No way! Even now, while I read it aloud, she just listens periodically while reading one of her other books - although she can read more fluently than I, and lifts her head up to correct me if I say something ridiculous. I think its because she has moved on from that type of story, to a more 'novel-like' form. Of course she is not yet at a skill level that will enable reading a novel in tamil. Anyway I should have done this last year, when she was a year younger, might have been more successful. Who knows.

3. Gym Ahoy! The campus has sprouted a new gym. We are very happy, ecstatic even. Especially on discovering that our Rs.600 per semester gym cards work here too (eat your hearts out, boys). I went one day. I cycled all the way over (20+ mins). Sauntered upstairs. Got stared at balefully by all the men and boys there. I did my thing. Meaning, some bicep & tricep curls, a couple of the leg machines, and push-ups and suryanamaskar. They kept looking daggers at me all the while. Plus I had to walk around everywhere to find small enough sized free weights. But today I went again with the husband, and it was all cool. We had fun. Although on a given machine, I throw the pin out and use it and he maxes out the weight and uses it. I checked myself out though in the conveniently placed mirrors and said 'Not bad Kenny' to myself though the husband reserved comments on my fitness level (appearance-wise) despite my asking. Anyhow, I hope to get back on a once-a-week gym track now. Its super convenient and it has whatever little I seek in a gym.... (no treadmills, but thats cool, I don't like them anyhow).

4. Diwali anyone? I suddenly realised that this is upon us. The monster asked me 'You hate Diwali no Amma?' This is true. The noise, the smoke, the trash. And I always feel bad for denying the kid pleasures of crackers etc. but feel reluctant to give up on my oath (taken in 1993 or '94?) about crackers. Plus I also have duties. Ergo buying clothes, and sweets (for my maid etc.). I am wondering where to go, and when. The likelihood of the husband being willing to enter a Nalli or Chennai Silks being slim. I am sure I can take care of it this weekend. And I might not hate it so much this year. Perhaps goonj will have a special drive and we can go hang out with them and donate some clothes, while at it.

5. Race into your hearts I miss having a race to look forward to. The next 'real' one is Mumbai in Jan 2011 - way too far away. I missed the Kaveri (Sep) and ECR (Oct) already this year, so am reluctant to sign up for one lest I have to miss it. Though I really want to run something. Chennai was my 7th HM and I don't mind closing the year out with #8, if possible. Options are Delhi (Nov 21) and Hyd (Nov 28). Both will be good training for Mumbai (which is always a bit tough for me, frankly, that uphill at Pedder Road still kills me). Don't know. The knees are occasionally a bit painful but like this Saturday, my long run made my knees feel better in fact. I think I can safely blame the basketball for the knee. Or maybe I just need new shoes (I can feel the ground a little bit when I run or play; in all my shoes, without exception).

Tuesday, 19 October 2010


People mill around me, I see them not

They jostle me and make me turn around

But I feel them not

Onward I proceed, intent on my task

The babble of voices that reach me,

From but a few feet away,

Are faint, and without meaning.

Cause my mission is vital

And timing in this case is key.

Finally I reach my destination

I stand strong and silent

At the end of the line

And patiently await my turn

The mirrors on the wall reflect

The anxiousness all around

And the relief when at last its your turn.

Determination and perseverance are but

A few qualities you must possess

To use the ladies room in a bar./

(Did I really write that? I am not so sure anymore. It was in a CD from ten years ago or so. Bars! Ha! What are they?)

Thursday, 14 October 2010

By The Water Cooler

Peoples, good friend and funny gal Parul Sharma has another book to offer us! Its called By The Water Cooler and promises to be a total hoot, even more than her first one, Bringing Up Vasu. Here is a post from her giving you the details.

While at it, she is also holding a contest at Radio Parul for anecdotes and stories related to your (or his, hers, or their) office. With prizes to be won! Yippee!! Here now is one of my office stories, reminiscing, of course, about my graduate school days.

I have always had something against having refrigerators in offices. I mean, whats the need, I say. Its not as if anyone would dare to store beer or white wine in it. And in those days, I never drank cold water so I really felt no need for something small and white in the corner, occupying precious real estate. But then, they convinced me. And as always, I got convinced. We even purchased a coffee maker, and mugs and so on.

I was sharing the office with some three guys, and just easily got brow-beaten by them. They came up with some new craziness every week. One time they brought in a soccer ball and declared the afternoon as 'dribbling practice afternoon.' Many were the days in which they played Warcraft on the LAN, making that 'zup' noise every few minutes, forcing me to invest in a pair of headphones for the sake of my sanity. And one memorable afternoon they played a game involving chasing each other around while sitting on the chairs, having invited this super crazy dude friend of theirs as a special guest. Seriously, I could not wait for the day when I would have my own office. Though now that I have it, its quite boring, I never hang out there. I even schedule meetings in other people's offices, because mine is so boring.

So anyway we were generous, we in Room 239. We invited guests to chair-wars. We routinely made coffee for lots of folks and fed it to them. We even offered them a choice of powdered creamer, milk , or hazelnut flavoured creamer. We always had tons of sugar, too (this was back in the days when I used to drink coffee with sugar, so I needed that for my own personal consumption as well). We also allowed people to use our fridge, if they so desired...

One day this girl from the next door office walked in and asked us in a sweet voice if she could store her dinner left-overs in our fridge. Of course, we said, sure. I was in my corner cubicle, and though I did stand up to see her, I did not see what she put in there (because of my, well, vertical-challenged-ness). It was a bit late in the night anyhow so we locked up soon after and took off for home. Next morning, as the first people in, P.B. and I started asking each other "Dude, did you like not shower this morning?"

P.B., in his usual style, started going on about Indians and curry and so on, while I stepped in to remind him that the French are famous not only for not showering, but also for trying to nastily mask that by using stinky perfume. But I actually bent down and smelled my boots (cheap-ass $10 stuff must have picked up some cowdung, I thought. Though where one could come across cowdung over there?). We went around sniffing the whole room till we reached the fridge in the corner.

Chinese Food. Oil. Cardboard Take-Out Containers. Leaks. Old Fridge. Not exactly air-tight.

"Damn that girl!" we screamed. We fished out the containers and threw them out unceremoniously. We tried desperately to open out the windows, but couldn't. We left the door open the whole morning. But still when the Bear-Man sauntered into office at noon (just in time for lunch, eh?), even he could still smell it. Ugh. And then some time later the girl came back to the office, we had gone to lunch, unable to stand it any longer. It was a number lock so she let herself in and obviously could not find the offensive food of hers. When we came back she started haranguing us, actually having the gall to assume that we had eaten that stuff! The little fridge never really recovered from that, and no amount of baking soda that I put in there, could help....

Monday, 11 October 2010

Vulnerability, or, the Damsel in Distress Mode

I am usually not. The Damsel in Distress types, I mean. We used to make a lot of jokes about that in college. Of course, we all never wanted to be that (I think!). Some of the girls wanted to be Tall Dignified Ladies. And EVERYONE thought there was NO WAY on earth, I could be a TDL, like EVER. So that was a big joke too. We all signed a petition doing away with these medals they had at graduation. The medals were meant especially for girls. We argued that:
1. We wrote the same entrance exam as the guys to get in
2. We were ranked with the guys on the entrance exam, not separately
3. We took classes together; and the same exams
So it made no sense to have a separate medal for women. This is regarding the medal that was given for being the student with the best-est grades of all at the end of the 4 years. But while at it, we argued that the other medal, which was for the student with good grades and good performance in non-academic stuff (sports, lit events, other creative pursuits), ought to also not be separated out. We don't need that condescension, we said.
'But you will never get the medal then' they said.
'Be that as it may' we said.
'We don't care for fake medals, we care for R.E.S.P.E.C.T.' we said.
'Idiots' they muttered, but did away with the medals.
So thats why since the early 90s there is only one set of medals, and your gender is largely ignored - I do say it as a good thing! I give credit to the girls who were three years senior to us, they came up with the idea.

One time back in that time frame, I took the Shatabdi from home, It was a rare treat. I usually took the Rs.200 second class overnight sleeper train. The Rs.800 Shatabdi was something that we always talked about but mum always convinced me was too expensive, convenient or not. So it was that the tall husband was allotted the task of picking me up from the station at 9:30 pm. Much against my mum's wishes, of course. Don't remember how I managed to convince her it was okay and no big deal. So anyway he was there and super easy to identify because of towering over the rest of the populace. I think he was surprised when I refused to let him carry my suitcase. I just wouldn't, in those days. I packed it, its my stuff, I will carry it. If its too heavy, I should have been sensible enough to realise it before I left home, I would argue (in my head). (You know I am the bag lady now. I carry umpteen bags, usually stuffed with books, around. The husband, if around, carries about 90% of the bags though, does bicep curls with them and pretends its his exercise for the day. I let him, because, you know, he needs the exercise more than I do!)

I have changed a bit but not too much. Like last year when I was traveling some place with the B-Boy, he said something which of course I took as a compliment. "With you its just like traveling with a guy" he said. I think he meant good things like not fussing, not whining, not insisting on him carrying my bag, and stuff like that. I assume he did not mean my physical appearance (which is fairly androgynous, as are my clothes, my sari episodes of last week notwithstanding). We waited out in the sun for a while for a bus, and walked around rather aimlessly for a fair bit, and I did not wilt. I am definitely hardy, so that helps. I can hold back hunger. I can do without a lot of things. I am not too particular about many things. I am not sure this makes me be more 'like a guy' though as I know plenty of guys who are whiny and fussy. But I would like to believe that he meant that I don't need any special handling or treatment just because I am a woman. I think this works for me, life would be very frustrating if I was not like this, thats the sense I get.

There is a friend of a friend who always ribs about how I am game for anything that is 'not feminine' as she puts it. Beer, sports, shorts, she cites as examples for and jewelery, chick flicks, and pink things she cites as examples against. She is kidding of course, these are all just broad gender generalisations and anyhow I love chick flicks. Really love chick flicks. Don't get to watch enough of them because the husb. hates them. And I really hate a few things that many guys seem to love. Car racing, for one, cannot stand it. Not a sport in my book. Action movies. Video games. Bleah.

So what have we concluded so far? As Guns would put it 'I notice some deep-rooted superciliousness and unreasonable biases in your head' - or words to that effect. Well, if thats what you got, thats cool, I am not trying to be particularly balanced or anything, just stringing words. If that makes me a bitch in your head, well, thats okay, 'cause at least you got the gender right, yo!

But the thing is, right, sometimes I feel vulnerable. Its not a gender thing perhaps, I don't know. The person I see the most inside of is my husband (despite the traveling and so on), and he is quite different than I am, and he a guy. So I sort of believe that its because, despite all the external bravado and clothes and swigging beer, I have this feminine core. I feel all self-pitying and sad for myself and just wish someone would put an arm around me and say 'There Kenny its going to be okay.' Of course no one thinks of doing that to me. I think pretty much no one feels protective towards me, which works out well most times, it would be stifling to have people be like that, annoying, even. I can wonder about this stuff calmly now because I am not feeling like that right now. When I am feeling like that I just feel (unreasonably of course) its because everyone hates me and I should eat worms or jump off the fly-over. So, upon analysis, I think its my fault. I act like that 99% of the time, like I am all cool and not dying inside. Obviously that 1% misses people's notice quite easily. Its hard to believe that anyone loves me during those times.

Come to think of it, this really has nothing to do with gender. All human beings are like that...I guess...We are all a little shaky at times, and in imagined and real distress at times. I guess the important thing to do as a friend, a mother, a wife, and so on is to try and detect the signs and do the thing I am good at, meaning, moral support. And the next time I get like that myself, well, maybe I should just call someone, plenty people I can take such liberties with, for sure. Yeah. Got it.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Diet Coke, Green Books, etc.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist has been on my book shelf for a while now. I know it well. I have been known to say, 'Oh! the green book!' The husband read it last week when we were in Mysore. He said, 'Kenny, do this, read this.' So I did. I did not expect to like it, really. I know, its supposed to be good and 'in your face' or whatever. I am sure you all thought its fantastic. Well, I did not like it. Not much, at least. I did not like it like I do not like Madhur Bhandarkar movies. I think it lacks subtle-ness. Not that anyone should care, but, just saying.

I read (in translation, I am afraid), a book called The House of Kanooru. Its by Kuvempu, who is an acclaimed Kannada author who featured in our school text books extensively. Girish Karnad wrote the foreword, and I think there is a movie called Kanooru Heggadithi Subbamma or some such, by Karnad. I loved the book. It took me back to my growing up days (its set a little while prior to the 70s, which was when I was born, incidentally, but..). It speaks of this community of landowners, and how they changed and evolved. There were parts which were repetitive and sort of not chronologically sequenced, I thought, but overall the translation seemed to have worked well. Not that I can ever know, being incapable of reading a novel through in Kannada (believe me, I have tried many times).

Yes, Anita Nair. I like her writing, generally. Lessons in Forgetting, this one was called. A nice read for middle aged aunties like myself, if I may say so. What did I get out of it? Well, we rock. We middle aged aunties can be, all at the same time, independent, sexy, excellent parents, daughters, and lovers. Good stuff. I know, that sounds totally like a negative criticism of the book, perhaps it is, I don't know. You know I don't do book reviews. I just say some of the things I think about when I read a book. So, that.

Somehow it has been a fortnight of not liking anything I read, too much. Kafka on the shore. Murakami is definitely a favourite. I would buy up all his books in one fell swoop if I did not think they are too expensive - I mean for the paperback versions in that tiny, ant-like print on that gray paper. There are good moments in the book, for sure. But, overall, a bit too much about cats, for my liking. Perhaps its aimed at cat lovers. I don't know.

Somehow, yesterday at Landmark, despite the fantabulously insane sale thats going on, I was quite restrained. I don't know, perhaps its the irritation with the sheer number of things that are lying around the house. Small things. Things with no specific location for storage. I did not feel like adding several books to that pile (books are anyhow the worst of the lot, most especially the monkey's). But, luckily, the husband chose to have himself an orgy. Which included a good number of things that I would read. Do you know that we both have separate book shelves? He has his books, I have mine. I totally avoid all his, and for the most part, its vice versa as well. For e.g., he does not do LOTR (Oh! The blasphemy!), thinks Rushdie is an idiot, hates Naipaul for his comments about India, etc. We intersect somewhat at Amitav Ghosh, he likes him. We have a bunch of titles that work fine with the both of us (English, August comes to mind), but mostly we are complementary sets. Oh! The best example is that he likes Tintin better, and I, Asterix, any day! So anyway, it was nice of him to pick up a bunch of 'My' books. While I did the same for the child (and hid everything away, for a rainy day).

(And, for some strange reason I cannot fathom, I am drinking a Diet Coke now. My teeth are going to hate me for this, but I occasionally drink a sprite, a coke, a 7-up, of late. The fact that I can do this without breaking into hiccups is a big achievement, really).

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Seriously, this is how its going to be

So, here I am.

This morning, I was the boat club. Now, the boat club is not some hep thing. At least not in this context, it is not. Its a bunch of roads that we run on. A full complete circumnavigation of these roads gives you a distance of 2.5 kilometers. I am not too fond of this route for running because it makes my head spin - too many turns in and out and back and forth. But I go there occasionally, when I have less time on my hands (no, i dont stop at 2.5 kms, I run at least 5 k) and am just plain bored of the other places. I cycle over to a specific road there, park, and run.

In the mornings, these roads are FILLED with walkers. I suffer a pang of sorts when I see couples. Maybe in an alternate universe, the husband and I could have been such walkers. Invariably, he would have climbed into battle gear (complete with cuff links) and headed off to destinations unknown on smelly old airplanes half an hour before I even wake up. Not that even otherwise we are (yet) the sort to go out for morning walks. Then I remember that we have our basketball. I have redefined my Sat morning long run of late, so that I have some amount of legs to play Sat evening basketball with the husband. We don't hold hands or anything when we play Sat evening basketball, of course, but this is Chennai, I don't think its legal to hold hands. In fact, it might be illegal to wear shorts.....

If its a good morning, I see some people running. I do agree with some of my brethren and sistren that a serious runner ought not to wear music-devices-invented-by-apple-inc. in their ears while running. I would LIKE to not wear it. But sometimes it helps distract me and if there is no one to talk to while running, it helps me deal with the weird looks that people invariably give me, with equanimity. Equanimity, in my book, being to start singing loudly or doing the air-guitar mid-stride.

There is a finite possibility that one will encounter a bunch of fit-looking guys. Like army or navy type dudes. I like them. They run in formation, which is kind of fun. I don't feel too tempted to ask to join them in the formation, though. There are two reasons for this:
1. They are not fast enough, in fact, I am sorry to say that they are quite pansy. But they are young. They probably save themselves for other physical activities through the day. They look like they can kick my ass and do a thousand push-ups. I don't want to hold it against them or anything, but whatever, it won't work for me.
2. Last time, at the beach, I was watching with avid interest a boxing class. The guys were fit. It was like boot-campish amount of activity, not just standing around punching air. Dropping down and doing push-ups. Skipping. Boxing exercises. etc. I asked the instructor if I could join. "Women? Bleeaaah (Vomit Sounds)" he said. Again, I am sure he took one look at me and his brain said 'Pansy' I dont' want to blame him. I look like that, for sure.
Nevertheless, I like encountering the fit-looking guys, even though looking at them running in pants makes me sweat more (although, if I sweat any more, I swear I will end up drowning Satyanarayana Avenue, or at least the Petrol Bunk there, or maybe Park Sheraton).

Very rarely, I see some women running. They look away when I try to smile at them. Why? I look that crazy, is it? Whatever, I don't care. On some days, I just focus on my run. On others, I enjoy the music, whatever it is. On rare occasions, I look at every single person I meet on the way and wonder about them. I cannot stop wondering how people wear things like:
Fab India Kurtas
Collared T-Shirts
Pants of any form
for walking. I mean, in Chennai. In Mumbai, there are certain parts of the year when its genuinely cold in the mornings. I would need a sweatshirt at least in the initial few minutes of my run. In Chennai, at 6:30, it is already so hot and so sweaty. Yes, I am jealous of you if you don't sweat so much. I sweat like buckets, really. My dryfit running tee is soaked when I get home, I swear. Its downright annoying.

This segues nicely into my final paragraph. Which is about clothes. Colourful clothes. I don't shy away from colour too much any more. I used to dress fairly monochromatically. Now, not so much. I even have a lime yellow tshirt!! Not to mention some crazy purple stuff. And this week, I have done the unthinkable (for me, that is). To whit:
Monday: Cotton Sari (Traditional Border)
Tuesday: Churidar-Suit with Zari border and light embroidery work
Wednesday: Voil Sari
Thursday: Cotton Sari with some sort of work on it
Yes, all of these things had a common theme of maroon in them. But considering that I did NOT buy any of this, I cannot blame myself. And tomorrow I am planning to make up for it by sporting either a:
Cream and Green Cotton/ZariWork Sari -or- Mum's Old Grey and Black Silk Sari.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I have nearly survived a week in colourful (fairly), traditional clothes. I have sported my usual black dot of a bindi. I have worn my traditional wedding diamond studs. My old old wedding bangles on my right hand. And I am not even cribbing about it! It has been fun.

(What was the occasion, you say? I was organising a special programme, so it was not my usual haunts, the halls were all air-conditioned, mum gave me an earful about how I should stop cribbing that people think I am a student its my own fault for wearing clothes like that and carrying myself like that, etc. I did not carry myself any better, I ran behind a colleague to chase him down and pay him his 200 bucks. I sat up on the desk next to my computer as I was making my presentation. But hey! I wore the sari! I survived in it the ENTIRE long day!)

Friday, 24 September 2010

back on popular demand

sean connery as james bond. i used to like him a whole lot. in fact, when i was in edinburgh back in 2000, i walked around the whole city and stood in front of a door that they claimed was his house and said in a heavy whisper (to myself, was alone) 'sean connery's house' Of course later, i saw the saturday night live segment wherein he is represented saying 'famous titties' in his characteristic slurring speech and laughed my guts out and did not think of him with that awed, half-whispering type tone anymore. human being, after all. not a god. (after watching The Rock so many times - dont blame me, alongside Conair and The hunt for red october, its a favourite of Mr.DeathGripOnRemote also known as my husband).

whats up ladies and gents?
have no idea what i am talking about? thats fine, thats fine, dont worry. its just words, flowing out like endless rain.

one time when dad was ill with some spitting type infection of the throat, the doc said, just have a few cups to spit into so you dont have to get up and go to the (wet) bathroom every single time and tire yourself out. so we asked my cousin, the big hairy bear of a cousin of mine, to go get some paper cups from the little ice cream store nearby (which occasionally had ice cream to sell; but definitely cups in plenty). he came back with about 200 of them, which was fun for me because i was thinking up craft possibilities with paper cups. but mum was damn irritated. what a waste! of money! of paper! she went on for a bit. yeah well, i agree with her now. no one needs 200 paper cups for spitting phlegm. this incident is often referred to in family lore as 'the ice cream paper cup incident'

i have had a lot of phlegm. thankfully, i am not recovering from an open heart surgery (as dad was, at that time of contracting aforementioned infection and sending all of us into a tizzy of worry). so i walk over and pukingly spit into the wash basin in the bathroom. this causes much mirth to the monster. in fact, our leading argument in the past six days has been on the matter of phlegm and spitting. she prefers to make a face and swallow. i spit it out and rinse my mouth with some water. she thinks i am disgusting, i think she is disgusting. and also, incidentally, there is a salty taste in my mouth that has nothing to do with the foods i have been able to eat.

and donald duck. ought to be shot. i mean, i know he is not real. and that he is banned in Finland because he does not wear pants. but please, his voice! i used to like him well enough as a child. a silly sort of duck with cute nephews and that annoying uncle of his. well. and i liked gyro gearloose a lot (what a geek i am!). but the monster has found these clips of the damned duck on youtube some place and insists its super funny and i should watch it. i swear, its the most annoying thing ever. i cannot believe i ever thought chip and dale were cute. squeaky irritants. but better than that damned duck. for sure.

so thats an update of sorts. read a lot of books. mostly, re-read. found many new gems hidden inside the stories that Mr.McCallSmith churns out for me. Wondered if Murakami was going to hit some type of Naipaul-ish big league soon. Considered this and that. Made a bunch of .ppts (black background, white and yellow text). Tracked changes on various students documents and felt proud of myself (!) for my incisive inputs. Got pained with life. Got un-pained with life. Lost, and then gained equilibrium. and now i skip back to my other screen for some text editing.

bye bye for anon, good folk.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

at the fork

trying to decide.

crank a meaningful, soulful, entirely incomprehensible post out for blogger


lie down and (re) read The World According to Bertie


Feck it, I choose the later, bye for now!

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Weekly Round-up

Time hangs heavily in the mornings. I am not running this week. My last run was a fun Marina beach run with the Sudha-Machine. Its a special Chennai Girls (Wimmins) group she has initiated (you are most welcome to join. Sunday mornings at da beach, girls!). So, yes, that was on Sunday. I happened to be feeling light and young that day. I happened to channel a bit of long jump (we used to call it broad jump in school; till someone snigger -ed; Beavis and Butthead style, "Broad. Heh Heh." Anyway I just call it Longg Jump now). I longg jumped over a puddle of rain water. Mounted policemen (Not the Canadian variety, just our local home grown Chennai Police), clapped. I love Chennai Police, not just because of that, but in general, I like them. Chennai Police, if you are reading this, please, can I be your groupie?

"Good Day Gang" the dude on the 8 minute Abs video on Youtube says. I do that routine. I like it. Don't tell me its not effective and all that bull. Its fine. I sleep half an hour extra. Then I check my emails (not that anything earth-shaking has happened overnight, just an obsession). Then abs. Some push-ups. Sometimes, I do nothing, I just loll around, chat with the maid, boil milk on Sim and shocking stuff like that. I know! Whats up with that! Well, circumstances are such that I..Could..Not..Run..This..Week.

No, you silly, its not my period or anything, I totally run through my period, in fact, one can argue that its good for you to do so. Yes, it is, i do argue. I should know. I have done it for years. Played basketball. Check. Run. Check. Longg Jump. Check. More Basketball. Check. Run the Mumbai Half. Double Check. When the last happened two (or was it three) years in a row, my friend remarked, WHAT? You are that regular?

So I am home alone with the monster. This is the reason I cannot run. Mr. Consultant husband is gallivanting, parents-in-law are out visiting their saner children and grandchildren. So its me and her. Which is not as scary as a situation as it used to be in earlier years (not her fault, of course).

We had a reasonably fun week. Tomorrow having been declared a school holiday for Eid.. (yes, yes, Eid Mubaarak; Wishes as appropriate for Ganpati and Vinaayaka Chathurthi and so on).

Monday was the teacher's day thing at school. Much fun was had. Many dreams were dreamed for the country, upon meeting enthusiastic children of the nation. And no, they did not all want to write the JEE. At least not so far.

Tuesday was a regular Blue Uniform School day. Monster attended a work meeting and read Haroun and drank department sponsored Maaza. If I was a bit worried about it all, I hid it well, lets say.

Wednesday was a hectic day with me having an exam to invigilate at 8 am and a show by the monster in the afternoon at her after-school place. She was very cute, but is clearly a geek, no doubt.

Today was a chilled out day where I spent a large fraction of the day walking or driving to and from the coffee place on campus. Monster came to the office in the afternoon but we had to leave soon due to a sudden potty threat.

Tomorrow is, of course another day. As I age, I identify more and more with Ms. O'Hara. Take things a day at a time; I am up for that these days. No more deep planning of the next ten years of my life. In fact, I put all my meetings and stuff on my phone and just wake in the morning and think about things then. The monster is going through a 'boy-phase' as we call it. She is pretending to be a boy. Careful readers of that demi-classic 'Scarlett' will recall that her child is supposed to have somehow morphed into a girl one fine halloween day; a few seconds post-birth. And also that she loves her daughter more than love itself and even good ol' Rhett is second in place to said child. Which may or may not be true in my case.

If I have a vague sense of loneliness, a bit of discomfort, a smidgen of uneasiness at the time I have on my hands because I am not running or cycling to my run or running upstairs post-run to get the child ready for school, and I miss adult company as it were, I manage to keep it at bay. I celebrate it, in fact. And ponder on things with a little less despondency than last week. And wonder how one can:

(a) Find peace amidst noise and chaos (Kumbh Mela, anyone?)
(b) Be lonely in a crowd (I can so do that;

Monday, 6 September 2010

Playing Teacher

Today, I got to play teacher.
I know.
I am that anyway, right.
But I got to play teacher in the monster's school!
I think it was a fantastic idea. For teacher's day.

First, I went to a higher class. I chose the seventh grade. Just so they know a little bit about atoms and molecules and stuff like that. I made them a presentation. Oh! The kids are so enthu! And the duration of the class is so less! Although, it took no time to warm them up. With the surly teenagers that I usually encounter, it takes a while. These pre-teens were awesome! Of course, a few of them tried very hard to ensure that I did not cover any material that would show up on exams; and used age old techniques for time-wasting; the shortest guy in the class chose to sit in the last possible bench, etc. but still, overall fun! I loved it.

Next, I went to the monster's class. This is II Std. The husband also went; in fact, he went ahead. He played around with some math stuff with them. I bet he was a hoot and a hit. The teacher kept saying 'please don't lift up your hand, I feel the fan blades will cut your fingers' this is a good point. I had a friend, a very tallllll friend who cut his fingers on the blades of a fan in a train, once.

I took a bunch of props into the class. I had with me the following-
1. Empty dabba of Pringles sour cream and onion
2. Empty dabba of Pringles original
3. Cardboard carton of Chocos Planets and Stars
4. Blackcurrent flavour Kissan Jam Squeezee
5. Strawberry flavour Kissan Jam Squeezee
6. Act II Popcorn Sachet.

The inspiration for this is a stray conversation I had with the deshvaasi, recently.

"What do you need to make potato chips?" he asked me.

Well: potatoes, oil, salt.

He was trying to get his kid to stop obsessing on Pringles. Which really has some strange things in it.

csm has been shouting this from the rooftops for a while now.

"Watch the damn ingredients"

The kids in II std. did not know the word ingredients. They surely do not what the heck Monosodium Glutamate or Guanylate or INO320 or Red#2 are. I don't either. Hopefully, they will stop wanting to eat foods that contain wierd things such as potato and onion powder. Recently, perakath was talking about EGG powder. What the hell? I used to laugh at the Banana Milk Shake of McDonalds, you know that thing that has never seen a banana. Bananas are ubiquitous, chiquita. Milk, Banana, Sugar, this is all it takes to make Banana Milk Shake. Instead, you use

A Powder That Smells And Tastes Like Banana
Milk Powder
A Sugar-Like Substance

to make Banana Milk Shake.

The advantage is that when you have a nuclear holocaust, while my backyard banana tree will die an ignominious death, a cup of McDonald's Banana Milk Shake will survive. And feed the surviving cockroaches.

I did not talk about this stuff (practice what you preach or teach what you can practice), just the ingredients on those things listed above. Then we sang the Karadi Rhymes song about Sambar.

"Peel the onions, dice them small
Soak tamarind in water thats warm
Cook some dhal and mash it soft
Add some salt and turmeric strong.
Coconut and red chillies
Roast and grind them ever so fine
Add the paste to the dhal to simmer
Onion sambar ready for dinner!"

It was fun, overall. Hopefully it serves my vested purpose, which is to really get my girl to stop eating Kurkure (its the worst offender, really) and Aloo Bhujia. Its hard, this stuff. I don't want to be too crazy strict with these things either, it creates too much friction and on some levels I need the aversion for crap to come from within her and not be imposed by me. I definitely eat Lays Chips sometimes, my favourite flavour is the Sour Cream thing (it has the max. number of crappy things). It definitely hurts my stomach; and coats my tongue with something nasty enough that I don't overdo it or obsess about it. So I would not be able to PREVENT her from EVER eating these things. But, today, she did come back from school and say 'I don't want to eat stuff that has funny numbers as part of the ingredients list.' Lets see, maybe I did a good thing today!

[The teacher LOVED it. She promised to pick up on this theme later in the class]

[In the seventh std. class, one of the kids said, I wish we had not bothered to figure out how to make petrol. The world would have been a cleaner place then. Though it would have been difficult to get to Mahabalipuram!]

Friday, 3 September 2010

Bike Love

I love my bike, in fact, everyone who uses it loves my bike. I am a good sharer. I invite you to ride it. You will love it. The seat is adjustable in height, so even if you are king kong, you should be able to ride it. And yes, my husband does ride it in a reckless, super fast, crazy manner that is particular, I think, to type-A males of all species.

I don't wear a helmet when I ride it. I don't own one.

I don't ride my bike to work. I cite my laptop as the excuse.

I don't ride my bike when there is crazy traffic on the road.

I don't ride the bike to the store because I cannot bring back grocery and the child without spilling one onto the road.

I just don't ride my bike enough!

I wish we were more kind to bicyclists in our country. I wish people would recognise biking as a legitimate means of transport, in our country. I wish people wouldn't honk at me when I am riding. I wish there were bike racks and bike paths and a real biking mafia. I hope you know that it has been my cross-training of choice these past few months, and there is nothing more fantastic than my post-long-run bike-rides back home. And yes, I love riding in the rain, and splashing through puddles, imagining for a second that I am back in school and Honey and I are together, admiring the trees and splashing around with our bikes (Hers a maroon BSA-SLR; mine a red AVON-SLR; back then).

Last week, she (the bike; she is feminine, brown(ish), strong, sturdy, and most of all, a hard-worker) got a nice spiffy overhaul. Her chain, brakes, gears, were all oiled. The loose mud-guards fixed up. I did not do it. I don't pay as much attention to her maintenance as I should. My friend did this for me. I was so taken aback and happy at that.

I have been salivating at the thought of riding it ever since. I eye it with longing every evening and morning when I leave the homestead.

I (feel I am) strong, sturdy, and most of all a hard-worker. I think I occasionally need a spiffy overhaul. I don't think I pay as much attention to maintenance as I should. But I will.

I lead you away from this weird note of mine, to this cute blog post I read today, and in case you don't really want to go there, write down its message for you:

"You'd look hotter in a helmet"

For sure.

Ride safe, people!

Monday, 30 August 2010

Running Tales

sudha inspired me to write a post I was not intending to.

Chennai Half Marathon 2010.

Unlike her, I was fully intending to run this one. I was hell bent on running it, in fact. I had hydration fears - I was telling my husband that he would HAVE to show up at the half-way point with my gatorade. I took one look at him on Saturday and knew I could not ask him to do that, really. He was exhausted beyond measure. He was out the whole day. I went to watch him play basketball in the evening, and was doing stats on my phone, sitting outside. Assists: 0; Attempts: 10; Baskets: 3 (etc.). I was very tempted to play, but had safely worn my sandals. Did not want to screw things up for Sunday, for sure.

The dinner atmosphere was fun with all the boys making jokes. We cribbed about the lack of safety pins (Mumbai always gives us pins!). My hydration fears increased when I saw this lack of attention to detail. We filled up 2+ liters of gatorade in the fridge. I brewed coffee. Went to bed at around 11 pm. I was sure I wouldn't be able to sleep. I rarely do before Mumbai. I was a bit worried about that. Because I can run on less sleep but I cannot do the other things through the day with enthusiasm then.

But I slept so peacefully! I got a full solid five hours of not-moving-an-inch type of sleep. I had not really set a time goal for myself, other than the usual casual one, of coming in within 10 (I came close, sort of. Placed #11 among the Tamilnadu women, whatever it might mean). I am still a bit wary of the Chennai weather. Especially near the beach; running in IIT has one disadvantage that you forget that there is a world out there and its damn sunny all the time. My right ankle, heel, and knee, well they have a lot of conversation usually, and its always best to be conscious of them. Plus, I was pretty irritated with the concept of starting the women's race later. It is a major problem for me because all my running partners are male. Not that I am incapable of running alone, I am, of course, but that was not the goal for this marathon.

Met lot of women there though, a giant shout out to all of them. Sudha, of course, inspiring as always. Anu, and the long haired girl who set such a wonderful pace. My friend from eons ago, VNN, girl, you look good! And the mother-daughter duo (how cute is that?). And the unnamed bare-footed girls who reminded me that its easy to say 'Its not about the bike' when you are a walking hoarding for asics, adidas, and nike, but to put your bare foot on that hot tarmac and to keep your goals, well, thats something else altogether. My (adidas, black) hat off to you all!

After all, the organisation was pretty good. The men and women started together (joyfully I skipped over to where the guys were standing), and, like I always do, I set the pace at the usual 6mpkm. I did intend to up the pace further along, but was not sure if it would lead to something risky. And while it might be my seventh half marathon (Mumbai: 2006, '07, '08, '09, '10; Auroville '10), and the third this year, you can really never tell what going to happen at km 18. Of course, on hindsight, I feel like I should have done that at km 15. We were both going very strong at that point...

It was a very enthu crowd, school kids in uniform, police people smiling, the Free Hugs gang (no, I did not get one from them, felt shy), cameras, that guy on the bike taking my number down every 10 mins, the fantastic beach. I had my voice (and breath) the entire duration of the run. Guns was there at the end (he was ahead by 25 mins or something crazy like that), as were the deshvaasi and his wife, and upon seeing the balloons thing indicating the finish, I gave it my all and sprinted. I was thinking of Kathrine Switzer's knee injury at the point, I do admit, 'my legs feel like champagne flutes' were what I thought. But heck, it was nothing. It was wonderful. This run, I will remember the rest of my life. Half Marathon #7. The sort of run that helps you die happy. I remember every kilometer; and really, have never had such a wonderful time; and no music even, imagine that! I thought Auroville was fun, it was, but yesterday's was really the best run I have run. And really, I am going to die happy because of it.

What did I think about? So many things. Strength mainly, what is my source of strength? Joy. How to live in the moment and be joyful. Perseverance. Which is obvious. I have always been that person who crawls to the finish. Friendship. Gratitude. Love. Song lyrics. (I believe I can fly. I saw a man, walking on the water. Mary McPherson. This is the End. The End.) Bountiful giver, mother nature (the sea, the sand, the waves, the trees, the sun, the rain). What am I without you? And Kathrine Switzer, inspiring woman, painter of nails. Pam Reed, eater of chocolate for breakfast. My family, my bedrock. Myself, slightly idiotic, the rock, the island, always the one to cheer the women (even when they pass me), smiler of inane smiles at bystanders and cops, blower of kisses to the platoon of college girls, Kenny, mildly delusional, majorly emotional...

I dedicate my run to my young friend VV, who registered for the 7, intended to run 12, and ended up sprinting to the finish of the 21. Good job, kid!

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Teach me how to dance...

It has been a musical few weeks now. Ever since we opened the box on the new ipod. We are ages behind everyone else in the world, yes, I agree. When I went to the US this time, I brought back a nano for the husband. No, not the car, silly. I don't think he would fit in that one. Its sleek and black and looked lovely in this box for a week or two. Finally we opened it out and fingered the nice apple ear-phones and wondered about it all. It took a nice bout of nagging (from him) for me to finally hook up the ipod onto my laptop, find the iTunes and put some of our CDs in. While at it, I finally also updated the music on my shuffle. I have been listening to the same 100 songs for so many years now (I only use it when I have a solitary long run to contend with, really. Or sometimes at work when my laptop sound thingie acts funny and the UPS from next door is doing its irritating beeping thing).

It feels like a different world now. And I am still not fully updated. I have really very few albums on, so far. As a first step, I put in things that we both like and are likely to listen to, often. Yes, I slipped in the single Janis Joplin album I possess; and hoped he wouldn't notice (and was mildly shocked to hear him say Hey BobbyMcGee to me, in passing when I was humming it). No, you don't want to know what old stuff we listen to. Suffice to say it strongly falls under the category of 'Classic Rock.' Although he did ask me gently enough, I had a good excuse to avoid all the Tamizh - we simply don't own any of the Rajini-Kamal movie songs. The classical (carnatic) I said I would do 'later' - maybe around December, when the concert season in Chennai is enough to send anyone, even me, into raptures about the pureness of the sound of Mohanam and so on. The hindi movie songs, which I might occasionally like to listen to, just to be equitable and fair, I left out as well. See, thats how nice I am.

Anyway that is how I am all over our CD collection now, CDs that we painstakingly collected during our grad school days, penurious as we were. CDs that have, some of them, never seen the light of day. Music that is now hopefully a bit less mortal than before...

And while at it, we hooked up the AppleTV & the ipod connection in the car, so that at all points of time, we are connected. The monster has been found, therefore, asking more unanswerable questions than ever as the lyrics seep into her, slowly.

The best part of it all has been that now we message or email each other bits and pieces of songs which are all extremely familiar of course and it puts our minds back to those days, those long ago, nearly forgotten days, when we first discovered our common music, and then, quick on the heels of that, love and all that jazz.... (No, not jazz, blues maybe, at best).

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Virtues and vices

I am not known for my patience. You can start with the way I constantly shake my legs when I am sitting down. "It feels like being on a train" people who have had the misfortune to sit next to me on a couch have commented. "Its a sign of nervousness" my father used to say (and go on to ask me to calm down and also provide me with handy mental and physical strength side-notes for future reference). My fingers also are always twisting pieces of paper, hand me a paper napkin and I will hand you back a mangled ball of something. Give me anything resembling string and I will braid it. I especially like braiding the funny honeycomb like ends of dupattas and sari pallus (yes, not just mine, but yours as well). And of course I am constantly thinking of a lot of things, most of them useless, of course. "Its exhausting just to hear your talk" people have said, because I am not patient enough to wait to finish Thought # 1 before going on to Thoughts # 2,3,4 and 5; not necessarily connected to each other.

Yes, I am a nervy person.

I am impatient.

I parallel process as if its a disease (it possibly is).

I have at least fifteen windows open at a time on my laptop, and its up to it to figure out how to manage its RAM.

I get pissed off easily. Sometimes I have a flare of a temper (which I am working hard to control, of course), which is like a fuse that goes off in my head. At other times, I have a simmering anger, which is more of a boiling/bubbling of blood in my gut region. I don't like being angry. I don't like feeling all persecuted. I know I should try more active methods to make each day start off (and go on) well, despite the various vicissitudes and so forth (passive methods rarely work for me, obviously). So I,

Listen to some familiar (not necessarily soft and soothing) music.

Close my eyes and think about the monster (for whom I am feeling a love mixed with a lot of pain now; ever since she got glasses).

Close my eyes and think about the husband (who is half the time the reason I lose it so this is not necessarily helpful always).

Read (currently, this delish Gerald Durrell that I am reading is good that way).

Browse (silly things)

Scroll through the photos in my new phone (this is my favourite thing to do of late).

Write angry words so I can let of them after that.

And you know the best feeling? When I let go of my anger and angst. It happens, usually, in a flash. One minute I am seething, the next, its like a board wiped clean, and my brain smiles. And I think in my head "You know what? I was pissed off (at you). But now I am not. I have let it go. I am happy again. I think it was silly, my anger" I love that feeling. It feels like a big achievement. Like an orgasmic mood change it is.

Let me go smoke a cigarette now. :-)

Friday, 6 August 2010

Tip Tap Tip Tap

Some mornings, all I want to do is put fingers to keyboard and just type type type away. Whatever comes to mind. I do have blogger's block often, but I also have the opposite of blogger's block, which is this tendency of rambling on somewhat incoherently for a bit, and then hoping some structure, some shape is miraculously acquired by the post. Many things come to mind at the same time, I guess that is the problem with the inverse-blogger-block thing.

I met up with an old friend this morning (no ludwig, don't say anything). It was really good. We used to play basketball together. Things I remember about my innumerable friends is the slightly off-beat, slightly insane things we have done together. In this case, the one thing that comes to mind is that we used to go together and play pick-up basketball games at a local high school in Amherst. Directionally, it was between his place and mine. I used to bring all my stuff to the office, and change in the bathroom and we would go over, play, sweat. It was fun though my body hurt when I went back to my all-in-one apartment and set up the rice cooker with whatever I could lay my hands on in my mini-fridge. By the time that got done my hunger and enthu to eat would both be gone. But it was a life. And it is still a happy memory. What a wonderful basketball court that one was! Soft wooden floor. Super fiber-glass boards. Expressly fast full court game. And a tall friend, and a ride to and fro in his Subaru. Wah! Wah!

It has been a busy week, as weeks go. I feel like I am in the quest for some quiet time. I need to sort through this surfeit of ideas buzzing in my brain. I am excited by them, but also, a bit worried about them. Actually I am worried about not being able to do anything with those ideas. I will be bothered if I find myself, next year, not having ticked anything off that list of ideas. But thats for later. For now I need to make that list, before all the ideas fly away and explode in the void. And prioritize the ideas list above the mundane tasks list (which reminds me, I have to order the gas cylinder for home else crisis will ensue).

Have a wonderful Friday, my friends. Look upon the weekend starry-eyed, grab it by its horns, go on.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Hark Back At An Old Post

It was a long time ago

But I can (sort of) do the backstroke. Not well. Not in a coherent manner. Maybe I will get there! And I definitely am where I intended to with the whole backstroke statement back in 2007.

And I climbed a tree - in Germany - in front of a most statuesque looking palace, no less.

We played soccer this year. I wore my ankle braces. I did not die. I did not touch the ball much, but it was a match! It was fun! And then I played another game after just because we all had so much energy. I can play again next year!

no beedis yet. no purple autos yet (now even the Mumbai autos are back to their boring black anyway).

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Philosophical Grandstanding

First up I will admit that I am sort of mulling over this as we speak. So I still have not fully formed my thoughts. But why should that stop me from talking about them, right? Right.

I had a lot of opportunity for conversation in Germany. In one instance, two of us were badgering a third; we were telling her that she ought to take a particular decision (an administrative one, actually) because it was the right philosophical position to take. She was trying to convince us, mostly unsuccessfully, that philosophy be damned, practically, on the ground, her people would be really peeved if she took that particular decision, and her role was to keep them happy. Although I disagreed with her and insisted that if you took the twenty year picture it would be a wrong decision, and pretty irreversible as well, I have been ruminating since then. If thats her philosophy pertaining to her current position, whether the decision is ultimately right or wrong, she really is not violating any personal mental thing..

I have been reading McCall Smith again. The Right Attitude To Rain. (May I say, what a wonderful title! Think I should do a tribute to Smith based in Chennai, called The Right Attitude To Sweat). Of course I love Ms.Dalhousie. I thought I like Mme.Ramotswe better just last year, but now this one is a proclaimed philosopher and that just is perfect for how I am feeling about my life right now so I love Ms.Dalhousie. I love how she ponders on things and how Smith goes off on tangents in her mind even as the story moves forward, almost imperceptibly.

Many times, as I go through all these things that constitute this mortal life, I am at crossroads. Crossroads are such a challenge. There is the practical aspect, always. Maybe the easy downhill? (Watch the knees, girl!). There is the moral high ground. (Is it worth the effort? And besides me, none of my near and dear ones may care for this hill. But thanks to me, they have to puff up it as well). There is the middle path, usually, this is what I choose. I figure it gels with my philosophy of life (not that that is all formed and set in concrete, its a work in progress, obviously, as it ought to be). I am fiercely independent but I care sufficiently about other people. I am flexible and as long as I am that path, I know I can be happy 11 months out of 12, one way or the other. I don't do regret that much, I don't carry personal baggage around too much. But then I am very sentimental and emotional so there is definitely some mental gymnastics I indulge in due to that.

You can philosophise away anything, right. It works for me. As I grow older, it seems to take longer to get over some (usually minor) annoyance. The modus operandi (at least in principle) is like this. I have angry thoughts. I bite and yell. I regret the bites and yells. I get angry at myself. I calm down. I try to apologise. No one cares for apologies, I realise. Thankfully this is not such a bad thing, as I usually bite and yell at people with whom I have strong bonds, bonds which are not particularly shaken by minor things like temper tantrums or subsequent attempts at reconciliation. I spend a few days wallowing in self-pity and expecting the world to come and apologise to me and kicking myself for trying to apologise for things which are clearly the world's fault, and not mine. I think and analyse. My thoughts therefore enter a distillation column. They spend a good bit of time getting heated and swirling around there. Finally realisation dawns. And I am back. Spin-doctoring away everything.

As my body is aging, it is taking me longer to recover from injuries (and excesses). In some ways I treat it as a sign from within (yes, that is the other thing, all the stuff is from within, as far as I am concerned. I don't think its conceit. Or even supreme confidence. I don't know, its something). Sometimes I slow down, at others I accelerate, at the sign. Both seem to make sense. And recoveries from mental annoyances are also taking longer as I age. Same as the body thing. But somehow when I recover, I feel stronger, and better. My body perhaps just does not heal like my mind does, or maybe it just cannot. Or maybe its all an illusion created by my current mood of indulging in philosophical grandstanding... I am looking forward to my forties. Doodh Ka Doodh Paani Ka Paani ho jaayega, I think....