Sunday, 29 January 2012

& I am back

I know my English teacher would have cringed if I put in an ampersand in the title. And if I started with an ampersand. And so on. But! I have had my PMS-ed outing for anon and feel all super liberated and free as a consequence and anyhow its not like you come here for lessons in grammar or whatever, right?

So, I sat down and thought about a lot of things. I slept extra. I always sleep extra when I am depressed. I vow to keep my mouth shut. I think its my parents who said this sometime. And I started believing it. That I just talk too much, and thats why I get in trouble. It sort of doesn't ring true. I love words, for sure. I use a lot of words all the time, also true. But I am just not sure...

To some extent, we are all a little messed up by our parents. I mean there is obvious relationship strife between parents and grown children that I see. You know, like the mutual lack of respect built over  years of being each other's road blocks. I think mum & I grew out of that one now. We love each other and are amazed by each other and think of each other as role models for generations of women to come. So thats sort of cool. But there are all these statements from them - growing up year statements - that still haunt me often.

Dad was sort of easy to love. He was very laid back in approach. Rarely lost his temper. Was pretty zoned out all the time. Was game about his surgeries and illnesses and discomforts. He had a sense of humour, that guy. Used to make all these awful jokes related to whatever he was going through at that time in terms of his health. "No more a visionary" he would say on the days his eye sight was blurry and he couldn't see well. It was only gently he would say that he was frustrated at not being able to read. And he would burst out laughing and ask us to stop if we read out the newspaper or anything to him (just trying to be helpful, old man), claiming we paused in all the wrong places and anyhow he cannot bear listening to female voices really. (He would only really listen to male singers, annoyingly, except for Gangoo Bai Hangal who sounds like a male anyhow so same thing there).

But in the midst of all that love and the "benign neglect" style of parenting practiced by him, some twenty-thirty odd years after he said all these things to me, I remember a lot of things. Coloured, of course, by my perceptions and various hues given by me as I grow up. Quite a few of them surely shattered an adolescent confidence and it has taken years of hard work to build back. For example, to this day, I have issues with my voice, how it sounds when recorded, or amplified by microphone. I would like to blame a couple other people also for that, one is my husband. Who back in early 1992 made some quips about how I sounded announcing something for Mardi Gras (no, not that one, never been, this was what our college festival used to be called). And a little tiny friend of mine who used to buzz every single time I tried to say something in JAM and say "I hear a squeak" But hey! Free from all these things and happy and liberated and so on, I tell you this - Its alright.

All this stuff was long ago. And that silly period of 6 months when I tried to learn to smoke so my voice would deepen (didn't work. I gave it up as useless as it made my hair stink and seriously, I hated it. I crave it sometimes though. Usually, very contradictorily, after an awesome round of exercise, feeling lungs fresh and heart pumping well). Well, that was just silly of me. The smell did remind me of dad, before we discovered all those things that were wrong with his heart. And now its out of my system, pretty much. At any rate? Ridiculous.

I hate speaking on the phone for about the same reason. I have to be really really really comfortable with you to just chat on the phone with you. I know choxbox 'Yaks away to glory' as she would say on the phone. I..cannot. I call a few people regularly. Very few. One is mum of course. When we were long distance, okay, I am going to name my husband something here - Lets say POTUS cause he sometimes acts like he is - generally so very important and busy and sure he loves that Harrison Ford movie in which Mr. President lands Air Force One or something. Anyway POTUS & I used to talk a lot when we lived apart. "Now we do not even say hello" 'cause we grunt at each other and stuff. You dissect a fifteen year old marriage and surely you will find them grunting at each other (and finishing each other's sentences and falling asleep in the middle of a serious discussion about Kareena Kapoor's eye make-up).

I have tried very hard to be the 'strong, silent' type. Its just as ridiculous as some of the other things I try. I am not that person. Sure, I don't do well on the phone. But I do this, here. Chatty blogs. I have my 'class voice' - the one I used to shout over the voices of hundreds of young people I teach (they are, thankfully, not so young. I am incapable of shouting over pip-squeak voices such as my daughter's friends. In an idealistic dream world, I wanted to teach in a school. Last year I discovered that thats not possible. I am fine with my twenty-something year old bacchas, thank you very much!). I can deepen my voice when I want. I can talk to you in whispers. I can yell at passing runners in out and back loops in races and make them smile. I am occasionally the only female voice in a meeting, and everyone looks up when I start to speak, but I don't care. I don't make excuses.

I missed dad immensely this past week. I also missed a cousin of mine - a person I consider my true brother. I felt sad for myself. I slept a few extra hours. I weighed everything in a virtual balance in my head. I solved a problem - after I overcame the emotional angle, the solution was super easy. I made my logistics plan for the upcoming week - which has its share of challenges but I am EAGER to see how I meet them. I met some friends and we drank beers and chatted. & I bounced back to my usual form. My usual enthusiasm. Today, if I had to work as an RJ for a day, I would. I would train myself but I wouldn't start with the assumption that my voice sucks. 'Cause thats so yesterday. 

Friday, 27 January 2012

Face the facts...

A friend of mine told me yesterday that facebook is his blog. I nodded sagely as if I knew what he was talking about. But then seriously, that shit makes no sense to me. I have a facebook account, I mean its there. I am using it mostly to figure out what my friends are up to and to write messages to them once in a while about this and that. I am subscribed to a billion various versions of running groups on it. There are photos which are occasionally interesting there. I post once in about 3 months. Something that I consider is harmless enough that I don't mind it being viewed by the total melting pot of friends, relatives, acquaintances, students, passersby, people who take the bus from near my house, and so on. But my blog, is, well, this one. Where I talk about my feelings and shit. And rarely post photos. And heck you don't even know my name (sort of). Can't imagine marrying these two... To each his own, I guess!

So, what am I feeling now you ask? Let me avoid the question and tell you a story instead.

YMCA Republic Day Half Marathon

I woke up 3:45 am. I snoozed for a bit. Then got worried about getting late. So I swung out of bed at 3:47. Brushed. Found that we had no bananas (except for one small black nasty looking one), no bread. I ate a nutri grain biscuit (which I hate) with my coffee. I went back upstairs and changed into clothes I had helpfully placed on the chair.

I pulled the car out even as I cursed the fact that I had my period, raging, as it were. I gritted my teeth and told myself that that would be my challenge for the day. My ankle felt tender and funny. Another challenge. It was all piled on all together for Republic day.

As I was driving to IIT to pick up three young people who were all super excited about the race, I spoke to my running partner on the phone, getting some much needed motivation, albeit long distance. "How are you feeling?" he said. "I am 70%", I said, exaggerating, to say the least.

Reaching the venue and parking the car were less troublesome than I had anticipated (pulling the car out was another problem though!). I found all my Chennai Runner buddies in full form and spirits and plastered a smile as I walked over.

I had a job to do after all. I was Krishna's pacer. I had hopefully told him my quirks. I start too fast. I always do. I fade at 18 km, I always do. And I was super frustrated already with my various set of cribs. At least I didn't think of post-Mumbai Marathon recovery as an issue...

Our first 5 miles were great. We hit it in 42-43 - a couple minutes ahead of target. We were soon joined by various people either running with us or over-taking us, making a joke, and moving on. I had vowed to run this race with concentration, especially given that my pacing goes off otherwise, and the concentrating had been helpful in Mumbai. But I couldn't help participating in the event with comments and quips and such like things.

The second 5 miles were off target by a bit. I think it was quite a bit off target actually - maybe 3 minutes - but thanks to the savings in the first 5, I was not overly concerned. But by this time my body was beginning to revolt. I had a Gu in my amphipod but I was avoiding eating it. I still hate Gu a little bit after SCMM - not having forgotten its taste. But I had to have a small bite of it.

I did my three long breaths-three short breaths routine. And the Gu took effect. And I analysed the situation and realised that my period seemed to have receded into the background. Calves felt a bit bad. I could feel several blisters (black socks - don't ask me why). My core felt tight and strong... But mostly, I was mentally pissed.

The last 5k were to be done in 27 mins. I upped my pace a bit. Krishna took off meanwhile, meeting his wife at a water spot seemed to give him extra mojo. Or maybe he was just doing comfortable pace with me. I feel that it would have been comfortable pace for me as well, if not for the various. Anyway, I had him in my sight. And I really concentrated then on, avoiding talking, and eye contact with people.

With 2k to go, I was quite a bit miserable. I had a bit more Gu and sipped water. I checked my watch and realised that we were truly on target. So I clung on. My legs would slow but I pulled them back up. Meanwhile Karthik was run:walking and I was seeing him around and that made me happy. Because it meant he was also on target for a PB and excellent finish.

I upped it a bit and sprinted to the arch when I found it, although I was a bit confused with the fact that my garmin was still quite a bit off (0.7 km) from a half marathon distance. I avoided the temptation to continue running for the sake of the garmin reading as the enthu organisers were yelling out my number and clapping and giving me a finisher medal and the guys who were ahead had also stopped. So it read 1:55:34 when I gave my 'finished' smile. I feel confident of a sub-2 hour finish even with the distance issue.

I don't know if Krishna needed my pacing to get him his PB. I am not sure that I did a great job of it - I haven't trained that much with him yet. But I know that I ran my heart out yesterday. There were few enough women but still I cherish the trophy they gave me for coming in first. Its a sub-2 HM any which way I look at it and that is nothing to be ashamed of.

However, all the endorphins from running and the trophy and all the runner-camaraderie associated with the event later, I still feel it. In the pit of my stomach. A sadness. A cloud. Memories of sad things and people long gone. I breathe deep, I sigh, I tell myself to attack my list of tasks...

How does one say all these things on facebook? This is for my blog readers, not facebook friends. For them I should upload a photo of my trophy, and watch from the sidelines as they tell me various things. To them, I would never admit that at this point of time, I am a little girl who wants to curl up somewhere cozy, or that I am feeling very un-loved and sad. I know this will pass, it has to. But I know I have to go deeper to find the strength for it. I will do it in a day or two... 

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Mud on your face...

Almost literally.

In keeping with my resolutions for the year (the word is Procrastination. Preceded by a giant big NO), I have had a productive morning ticking things off my list. I have taught my class and feel justified in a bit of time off for 'creative pursuits' as I call them. I have so many blogs to give blog-love to now that this one gets short-changed. Damn!

Here is a story.

This weekend the husband & I ran 10k together recently. We all woke up super early when it was still dark. I woke up before they both did, of course, I am nervy, I am not going to fight these things any more. This is what I do. Who I am. We set off sort of all bleary-eyed (you know thats untrue. I was chirpy!). Dropped child off at the pool for her lesson. We took off - me clutching this awesome yellow bottle my boy MSB has given me for such purposes. It has a little sleeve for keys and gu. We stopped the car the stadium and stepped out.

This is one sphere of life (there are many, its a matter of accepting them) that I know a lot about. I think I can do a mean job of pacing you. You want to be a runner and have some talent? I could totally take you to the next level. Assuming its still all in the 'recreational runner' phase of course. I am quite unabashed to admit this. So I was checking with the alpha male husband if he would like to discuss strategy. It wasn't a big deal run for me - just 10 km - but for a person without a great number of miles on their feet it can be a bit of a challenge. And there are goals. Like no walking. Or time goals. I didn't get the right responses (think grunts), so I set us a broad time target (and therefore, pace), and we set off.

We did well I think. I hold myself responsible for him besting his previous timing by several minutes. I turned a deaf ear to all the calculations he did after using his heart-rate-monitor-german-watch. I have no patience anymore for any other way of measuring distance than le Garmin. So call me an idiot. Just don't tell me - if its not GPS satellite-based - it doesn't count for me. I am not bad at dealing with people that want to talk pace/speed in different units: mins/km & mins/mile are what I use - I switch between these. But if you want km/hr I am okay with that, I can deal. I might need a piece of paper for miles/hr though. But still, don't come and compare your ittybitty watch things with my Tomahawk of a Garmin. Please. Be that as it may.

This morning while he was sleeping soundly, I ran again. I was not trying to do anything big - just a regular weekday run. Just that I happened to run 10km in about 8 minutes less time than we did on Sunday. I was pretty happy with today's run because this is the fastest 10km I have done this season (I think), though I have done a faster race a little while ago - about 2 years ago - and that is my current Personal Best 10k time. I want to try and beat that one this year so I felt awesome this morning as I felt strong. Like I could do that. Anyway I suppose my own husband cursed me about this.

I was walking calmly to lunch just now - and lo and behold - I twisted my ankle. KP was asking me recently about how I dared to run on Saturday before the Sunday Full Marathon. What if you twist your ankle, he said. I admit that I hadn't thought of that. It was just some routine madness that MSB & I always get up to when we hang out together. But then I think its fine. I tend to ignore ankle twists roundly. It was in 1991 (December of) that my ankle issues started. Thats a long story. But I have never managed to fully recover from that. Now both my ankles are shot. Plus I have flat feet. I shouldn't even be walking, let alone running.

At least I didn't really fall on my face. Yet.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Race day and beyond...

What would it feel like? I wasn't thinking much about it. I guess its a big deal to complete a full marathon. And there were points in my training when I felt like it would be impossible. I still remember the numerous times I have run half marathons and noticed the full marathon kilometer markings - and thought - hell no, girl. That sounds insane! But when it came down to it, it wasn't insane. It was great! I am not saying I wasn't in pain. I was in pain for a good 1.5 hours of my race. But it was pain that gave me strength, oh well, its hard to explain.

Anyway when I hit the mat, I thought I would burst with happiness or do something crazy or something. When I did finish, I did NOTHING. I pulled out my phone (yes, I carried my phone, partly out of laziness to check it in, partly because my fuelbelt is A-awesome and you can carry a Nokia Eseries in it without jiggle, and well, yes, I was just a bit afraid). I called my husband and my mum, in that order. They seemed happy. I just felt...sweaty...and...deflated...a little bit. Happy, but not as happy I thought I would be.

On the previous day I slept in till late morning, and wasn't barely awake when my husband messaged me to say that he ran 10 kilometers in my honour. So big deal, eh? Well. Sift the facts. He hates running. He is an anti-runner. He woke up at 5am, got the child ready, dropped her at swimming, drove himself to the stadium and did TWENTY FIVE stadium loops to get to that. What does he hate the most about running? The boredom, he says. Well, I can just imagine how interesting that must've been. I mean, I would've liked it, I do run stadium loops once in a while, but still...

So that was there in my mind. And my training was in my head as well. I have had an imperceptible bodily change as well. I am now 'tighter' - I think thats the only way to describe it. I haven't lost any weight. I don't look better. I don't look happier or younger or any of that stuff. But I am tighter, no doubt. The marathon training has given me that. Not just the increased mileage, but the discipline. Diet-wise - I have been as erratic as ever so there is nothing from that. Anyhow, I could feel my strength & tightness in my middle even when I was in pain, but definitely for the first 30kms or so when everything was going super well. That felt good, and helped too. I counted. I thought about the child as I always do when I run long. I blanked my mind for quite a bit. I sang a bit when I liked the music. I danced a step or two once in a while...

What did I want most of all from this outing? Aside from meeting my goals. I wanted to be strong at the end. This is important for me. I HATE runs at the end of which I feel wasted. I do think I hold back a bit because of this but I am sure thats not what separates me from the podium folks. Its just that I am *not* that good a runner, and I am past my prime, all things considered. Why am I out there? Because I enjoy it. And it makes me feel good. And I love love love love training. Now, what should that training do for you? Make you be fucking strong. Thats what. Thats what I wanted. Despite the cramps and crappy last 8 km of my race, when I finished, I was strong. Mind & Body. And want to run it again soon - another important thing for me - this is not a bucket list item  - its a lifestyle thing.

I wonder if this was bound to happen? My official timings don't show up on the site. Its not a 'she didn't step on one particular mat' issue. NONE of my mat timings are there which means my timing chip was faulty. THAT.. has been the hardest thing to deal with post-marathon. My legs are mostly recovered. I am feeling a bit fat already (yes, yes, this is normal) because of the sudden reduction in mileage and three extra rest days I have taken this week, but mostly, I am super depressed with the issue of the timing chip. I was pissed off at the bored looking kids at the expo who checked my chip for me - they seem to have checked ludwig's chip correctly - I handed them together - dammit. Now I am not pissed off, just plain depressed. 

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Walk the talk

It all started back that day in Somerville. July, was it? I ran a small race with MSB that day. It was a great feeling though I was physically in bad shape (jet lag, lack of sleep, alcohol, age, you name it). I was not too concerned about it but that day left me with a feeling of 'slowing down'  Ever since I started running long distance, I have consistently run at the same, or better speeds. I have improved upon my half marathon timings, and in the recent past, hit the mat at 1:58-2:03 with an alarming lack of variation. I was pretty happy with that. Till that day in Somerville...

It was just a month after that that I came up with the plan of upgrading. To a full marathon. I think I was afraid that I would slowly fade away somehow. That my running career would come crashing down. Yes, despite it being not so much a career as a pastime. It felt like it was do or die now. It didn't hurt that my running friends were all poking fun of me for being a pansy with this. Just do it, already, we all know you can, they said. Well, I didn't know I could. But I was sure as hell going to give it a shot!

I signed myself (and as part of our usual deal in these matters, MSB) up for the Mumbai Marathon (full) the day the registrations opened. I did some massive scrounging for timing certificates and stuff like that. I still have that folder full of all sorts of crap I used for registrations. 'What? Are you mad?' said the husband. 'Sure, we can do it. We'll run together' said MSB. 'Soooper! Make a training plan. I am in too!' said Karthik P. 'You will die' said mum (in not so many words, but she was super worried).

I let the whole thing simmer until September rolled around. In September, I ran the Kaveri Trail Half. I finished it strong, coming in third. Then took off down the road for a few more kilometers. Came back on the trail, cut my chip off, and ran back and forth finding my friends on the trail. It was the first time I used my garmin, and I loved it! On the train, on the way back, I felt like shit. I was getting scared. If a half makes me feel this bad, what about a full? For me, its important to give it all at the race. But its more important to recover in springy manner. Back to hitting the ground running...

I dispiritedly ran some long runs with various people. The minute I pushed myself to beyond 21 kms, my body would revolt in some absurd manner. I would feel puky if I drank gatorade. Puky, if I did't. I got my period and it lasted too long. And came back up again too soon. I was pissed off at myself and my body by then. I was convinced that I wouldn't be able to pull this one off. But I was not going to admit that to anybody. I tried to initiate such discussions with my various running partners spread across the world. Everything they had to say sounded wrong, in my head...

With October and November though, some new spirit came into me. I started working out a bit with my husband. I did some core workouts at home with him [no, its not what you think...]. I started lifting weights a bit. I found that if I focussed on core+weights during the week a little bit, my weekend long run was strong (even if a bit too slow for my liking). So, I knew what I had to do. Although I suspected that already I had a bit of Plantar Fascitis going on in my right foot, I knew what I had to do.

November was a very busy month. In the first week was the IIT race that I was helping organise. That took a lot out of me. I remember that shitty half I ran on Nov 5th - the day before the race. I have never felt that under confident ever in my life. My breath was awful. I was hating it. I had issues with my period - although it was in its last stages it was still troubling - these things never happened. I should have been completely demoralised and abandoned my plans of running the full, on that day. I should have.... The second half of October was especially bad anyhow as I was running extra mileage but really suffering...and this one capped everything..

Somewhere along the line, with much soul-searching and thinking and so on, I had a show down with MSB. Basically I wanted him to not run with me at Mumbai. Once that idea lodged in my head, there was no taking it away. We generally have a deal for such matters, involving running together, sure, but I wanted out. I wanted to run this by myself, maybe, not sure. I just didn't want to run with him. I hope that he was just as relieved as I was once that deal was off... Once the meaning of that sunk in...

Then, on the train back from Mysore again, I started making a training plan. This was mid November. I felt that I had exactly enough time to get everything sorted out. I had browsed all the sites, and figured everything out in terms of 'What one has to do for the first full'. I cut off from my various 'social' running activities - meaning ones in which I will run to encourage new runners and so on. My sole focus was my own training. I knew that many things could go wrong, but I was not going to go down without a fight.

I did my weekday runs by myself. I had strict, enforced pace goals for that. I did my long runs with friends. I am grateful to all of them for putting up with me. I am sure I was irritating. Once I put my mind to it, my long runs started being strong. I initially stuck to a Run:Walk - the deal I have when I run with Karthik P. - but then I abandoned that after a point. The one thing though, with Run:Walk, I recover almost instantly, even if my pace is more or less the same. But I was getting a bit frustrated. My sprinter training in the past was making me antsy...

I hate sprint workouts these days because it reminds me how much I have slowed down. Its such an 'in your face' reminder of this fact. Y'all know I don't mind growing old. In fact, I want to stop looking young, I want to look my age. But this part of aging - this takes serious getting used to for me. But I sucked it up and did it anyway. Again, my friend Krishna is instrumental in helping me wrap my mind around a sprint workout. Thankfully, my legs were so toasty all of the past two months from my increased mileage, that I didn't mind a slightly shady sprint workout. It was justified. I couldn't possibly do my high school PR with lead-like legs based on my 60km week [I know thats not much mileage, but its high for me, and I built it up carefully and slowly and really followed rules, so ...]

On Saturday before the race, I ran the last bit of my training schedule. By this point MSB and I had re-united. Despite our comfortable peace at having widely different time goals for the race, we did the last bits of our training together. Which felt super awesome. I am grateful to him for not minding training at my pace. And for waking up whenever I needed to go run, based on my 8 am class or whatever. So that Saturday - a day before the race - run would be the last time we would run together, for a while... It was a beautiful day, and a great 5k to loosen the muscles.

On race day, I was so happy to run into all my buddies. Over the course of the past year, I have really grown close to them and love them like my own family. I was desperate to find SrgntPepper though. I always start the Mumbai Marathon with him. He is awesome! Though he was on injured list this year, he had decided to start the race and figure it out. He always starts at the front of the pack so I wound my way forward. I am good at that. I took MSB along with me, but we were just a minute too late so the gun went off as we neared the mat...

I thought it would be the last I would see of my favourite young running partner (did see his shirtless self twice though! Once just ahead of Milind 'Slurrrp' Soman..)... I know I was running a bit fast. I knew there was a chance of burn out. But I was not worrying about it. I was confident that my training would kick in when it was required. And I was mostly sticking to plan. And the plan involved not knowing what would come to me in the last 10km. I ran with my head down the entire time. I barely looked at the kilometer markers till I came up to 20-21km. I knew I had to take a break soon as I had run non-stop. I don't recall exact details any more. I took a short break at 25, I think. I started feeling a bit bad at 28 km I think.

I felt these massive calf cramps soon after that. My stomach was fine. Breath - awesome. But the cramp was massive. Again, I knew what I had to do. I stopped and got down on the road-side and did the 'downward dog' stretch that I have learnt from Tony Horton. Its the best calf stretch. I could run for a bit after that but had to do that often. Which can be pretty funny if you know what that stretch is. Lets just say I was happy that no one creeped up on my ass which was up high in the air!!

I still had a fair number of kilometers to go - like 8. I was in slightly bad shape, sure. The hill was up next too. What I had to do was, DIG DEEP. Yes, that Shaun T. See, this tells you all the cross training and core and abs I have been doing have other benefits for me!! I found the medical tent and sprayed the heck out of my legs. A bystander on Pedder Road gave me Volini. God bless you, lady! I shifted to a Run:Walk - which I know works when all else fails.

My goal A was still in sight but I sadly saw it pass by around then - in the guise of the 4:30 bus lead by Bruce Hargreaves. But then, that meant I was leading the 4:30 bus all the way up to 35 kms! Good enough! I pushed and pushed and gave it my all - despite all sorts of cramps in my right calf and left quad - I overtook an old looking female (she is the winner of the Super Veteran category, btw) - at the very end and sprint finished my first full marathon in 4 hours 35 minutes (per my Garmin)... Right between Plan A (4:30) and Plan B (4:45) and having eaten Plan C (5:00)....

It felt spectacular though I admit that the minute I got off the mat I said "FUCK!" and meandered over per usual to medical tent, took some ice, jostled for space getting into Azad maidan, called the folks, found ludwig and MSB and was glad I didn't break down and cry... 'cause I don't think the boys could have handled it... :-)

Friday, 6 January 2012

Boring Old Fogies

I am bit worried about us becoming boring old fogies, as a couple. Has to happen sometime no? Is it now, 2012? Is it time to hang up the socks?

I remember when we were in grad school, no scratch that, when I was in grad school, we were the cool ones. The couple that people saw 'separately together' as the saying goes. Meaning, we had his friends, my friends, and our friends and the worlds overlapped once in a while and it was all very exotic. No one could predict where our weekends would be spent. "off to new york" I would mime as I passed people trudging home on friday evenings, me in the green bus (ugh, what a nasty thing that was). "off to meet the wife" he would tell his colleagues and one of them said I should slap him if he called me 'the' wife one more time.

"Who wears the pants in this relationship?" they would ask me. I guess I must have been sitting down. Because standing up its clear that whatever pants are there in this relationship, they are too big for me. In fact most pants are too big for me. I have to always alter the length. And the damn tailor can never believe the true height of me and then I have to re-do by hand-hemming once again as I am sort of afraid of tailors and won't dare go back to them.

"Sorry, we are going to the movies" we would chant, refusing an offer of some party or the other (usually involving Chole. Or Rajma. Which my husband said he would never eat again after he spent two years tolerating his own cooking of said seeds on alternate days during his school days in Cambridge). And we watched a lot of nice movies in those days. We were totally up to date on the movie scene. Though we tended to occasionally eat at Taco Bell after... That you can blame on being vegetarian and being over-fond of spices!

"Sorry, we are off to visit our niece" we would sing, once that little child was born to my sister and started treating us like the cool couple to beat all cool couples. She had us both so wrapped up that we forgot everyone else around. And vice versa. Though I strongly suspect she likes my husband more than she likes me. I don't dare ask her anything any more because she is twelve and I know she will be super embarrassed about such things. We still get along well and I just bask in that. I managed to teach her to swim (somewhat) this past summer, so am pretty good there. No need to shake the boat.

"I am off to buy a jacket for my husband's work event" I trilled once. I bought a blue jacket with buttons. I wore it with jeans and a button down. I wore special footwear too. It was brown. I looked pretty much like a child wearing adult dress up clothes for the first time. While biting off the store tag on the jacket, I tore the wool a little bit. I went there and it was an open air event and everyone was in shorts. Pretty much. But it was cold so I was happy to be warm.

"Wow. A Phd. A smart one, are you? Why are you with this guy?" one or two of his friends would invariably say. This was like a big joke of course because of 'this guy' being all MIT and all crazy like that. I would smile and try to tell them how it was a 'conversation stopper.' Seriously, go into a bar and tell someone who is sidling up to you that you are a Chemical Engineer. They just turn and walk away. (Or maybe its just me). Which is why its good when we are together. I can say 'Yeah I am the wife' And I don't tell anyone that I am a Chemical Engineer.

"Are you sure you have a husband? Like a real one?" one my colleagues in Bombay used to ask, for the longest time. I would be suitably angry at this and try to show him photos and stuff. He would just laugh. One time I punched and dragged spouse to one of those dinner parties at work and was all going to show that colleague of mine and so on. But the men got along very well and I was cut out of all the conversation and I still don't think he totally believes that that was my husband because he was cool.

Oh well. Maybe I am just a boring old has-been. Or always-has-been. At least my husband has some chance of being cool. Because he can sing [though I strongly recommend not saying the word 'Karaoke' to him. He is a mike hog to beat all mike hogs in the world]. And in recent times he has expanded his horizon to include conducting long drawn out dance sessions for children at parties. While I quietly hang on the sidelines clutching my head and wishing I could lie down somewhere and sleep....

Pocket Philosophy

One of the things dad used to say was, you got to have your life philosophy all clear. I mean, I felt like he was semi-accusing me of not being philosophical enough about things. But I don't think it was that. He was just trying to pass on some of his ideas to me. I guess. Even though I have followed in his footsteps career-wise and all, when I look back now, I am a very different person than him. The way I lead my life today, the way I think about things tells me I am much more like my mom than dad. Although there are giant differences between her and me, at least now (some of those, I hope to retain, some of those, such as my messiness, I hope to overcome soon).

At the core of me, I think is hard work. One of the things I do that makes me most irritated with myself, is procrastinate. Of course I have about zero tolerance when others procrastinate on stuff. This is how this one operates:

Mum: Hey can you bring the clothes in please?
Me: Sure, in just a second.

Dum-De-Daa. About 4 seconds pass. Mum brings the clothes in. 4 fucking seconds mom. You couldn't wait that long? Now I feel super bad that I made an aging woman do my work for me. Not that I am a spring chicken myself.

However, I am almost exactly like her, in this matter. I tell the homies about the clothes. They procrastinate for 4 days, I kid you not. They are just terrible like that. I am not a patch on them. Now this is where I differ from mum a bit. I swear like mad in my head when this happens. Sonofabitch. FuckingAhole. Obnoxiousprick. Mum would be appalled to hear me swear (she is still getting over my tendency to casually to sip a beer sitting in front of her. As we know, swearing, drinking, eating non-veg food, going to late night parties, sex, smoking, cleavage, writing on your blog about such things, are all primo evil especially if you are a woman. Guilty except for couple things in that list, of course). Anyway even though I swear like a sailor, at the end of it, I don't mind the work. I am just pissed that they didn't listen to me. I am on my feet a lot from the get go and I don't mind that. I like to work hard. I don't like to sit around and eat. It makes me feel fat to do that.

Around that core then, is care. So, lets say you are my friend. Or husband. Or child. I will gladly ignore you and go about running around the whole day. But then tell me you are feeling bad about something. Or something goes wrong. Shit like that. I stop swearing immediately and go all gooey inside. And I kid you not. I feel a tumble inside. And I will be all over you about that. I don't think my child appreciates this too much currently because she brings me many irrelevant problems while not having: brushedherteeth; packedherbag; finishedherdinner etc. like I asked her to 30 mins ago, so I am not feeling too patient or gooey about her. But when she grows up a bit and stuff like that are not really my problem any more, she will hopefully realise that I do care deep. I can see that she does too. Like when I occasionally am forced to lie down because of that headache that blindsides me, she does come all melty over me. Which is nice, though not very nice because I sort of just want to sleep.

Then there is the other thing that I am. I am a parallel processor. I imagine, if I was fishing, I would have many rods in the water and a net or two to boot as well. It would spoil my focus, I suppose, and I might miss a big'un on line 2, but it makes me happy. It makes me feel productive. And I do think it helps me make more friends. Of different types. Like I have my running buddies and my prof buddies and my mommy friends and the NGO types and so on. Its nice to have that. In recent times though, I have stopped being a good conversationalist, so I am no use in parties, really. I blame it on two things: Not being interested in current events of the world; & running. How so the second one? Well, long massively long runs happen weekend mornings. Parties? Weekend evenings. I am either super tired from massively long run (body not yet used to the additional mileage), or am super pissed thinking about how the upcoming massively long run is getting more and more screwed as the night wears on. But I sort of swore to myself that I wouldn't be a social recluse or stop drinking because of the running [ludwig - remember that? wanting to run WHILE not fore-going our drinking habit?]. So I go. But I lose my energy quickly, and my husband being the person in charge of closing out any party we happen to even casually attend [Kenny we will come back in an hour or two, don't worry. Nothing for me to do there... Yeah Right. I know him for 20 years now. Hour or two? Sure]... I am one pissed daughterofabitch by the end of it all. Well, anyhow, I try to do a lot of contradictory sounding things all at once and that seems to keep me broadly happy in the grand schemelessness of my life. So, there is that.

What was my dad's whole life philosophy, I wonder? What were his pillars? Benign Neglect I think featured there (as a life philosophy & also a parenting one). Perfectionism for sure was there. Eat sweet things and be happy must have been the third one. The man sure loved sweet things! Now none of these three things feature on my list. So, sorry dad! Mum has hard work, worry, and cleanliness above all in her book. At least hard work (with a procrastination clause for myself and a tendency to swear) features in my list. So, sorry dad!