Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12:12:12

Its that day of the century which wont happen again for a long long time, i didnt come here to mark it, but my intended title for this post was tired 24/7

its midweek already and when today ends, I hope I wont feel like the dead dog I have been feeling since the last 4-5days.

Admittedly, it has been hectic.... on Saturday, after a killer workout that set the pace for the day, which was hectic in its own way, around 7 p.m found me sitting alone on a wall of the makeshift parking lot of a graveyard. Not anyone, but the magnificent Quli Qutub Shahi Tombs. I admit, I am ashamed I have not been there before despite it being a major tourist draw in Hyderabad. I was there for a concert, the gifted singer Shafqat Amanat Ali Khan, the one who has sung many chartbusters was to perform and I was waiting for a friend to arrive because she had the entry passes. I waited impatiently for about 45 minutes before she came, we went in to find no seating and perched again on the parapet of a fountain. The concert was brilliant. I love the singer's voice and was not disappointed. My heart stopped beating at one point, because Shafqat walked through the crowds, and I had to vacate my spot so he could stand there and sing. I could hear the raspiness of his voice! yes, that close... i told you i have thrills now and then in my life!

I got home past 10.30, but managed to wind down that night only past midnight.

All my days begin at 5.30, sometimes with a 10 minute grace time from the resident pooch. Sunday I was hosting my in laws for lunch. They are very fussy about their food and it always makes me nervous to cook for them. there is no telling what they will like, also equally, what they will dislike. I cooked up quite a spread. Palak paneer, Aloo Mattar, Vegetable Ishtu (kerala style) and idiappam, pudina pulav and rotis to go with it. If all else fails, I had a big batch of curdrice ready. They ate. They arent a very vocal lot, they also do not belive in verbalising everything. So there is no telling if they enjoyed the food or not. I think they did, because we had very few leftovers.

Dessert was a huge hit I can tell you safely, because we had no leftovers there! I made a tropical sundae. Chooped fruit, layered with pineapple jelly, custard, two flavours of icecream - pista and strawberry and sprinkles. Served in tall juice glasses. Everyone had seconds and we finished two bricks of icecream.

I was quite dead by the time they left at 6. I needed a nap quite badly and got one only at 7 pm. Too late for a nap, but i couldnt function without it. We had a dinner engagement. My friend B was turning a year older and we had to be there.

HEaded out a little after 9.30 pm to what was supposed to be one of the most exclusive Asian restaurants in Hyderabad. The food was great, but the service sucked and it was as alive as a graveyeard. So after a round of drinks, we left to another place. The party wound up at 3 a.m and after walking the dog, I crashed into bed.

Monday is usually the day that I try and recover if we have had a tough weekend. But it was as busy as ever! I hardly got a chance to catch my breath. By 8 p.m i was ready to drop dead and i think by now, K is quite tired of me saying i am tired

Tuesday was a whirlwind of nothingness again. A cousin dropped by and proceeded to stay the whole day. I was so tired, I wanted to be a bitch and leave him to the tv and sleep. but i am not a bitch... i plodded on and sat and talked and made chai and took him to lunch and spoke some more! again ready to drop dead by 8 pm.

So today, I took the day off. Ably aided by the fact that the cook didnt turn up and now that K is taking his dabba to office, we have to be ready to go by 8.15 a.m. I skipped the gym. Mostly because of mental fatigue. Then I had a brilliant plan, I dug out some voucher's we had, called up my current favourite hotel and booked a massage for myself. I was feeling a bit selfish. What with being unemployed and feeling all ungrateful for the world and sorry for myself. Whats with a woman and guilt? is she pre programmed with unending supplies of it or what? Anyway. When I walked in to the spa, I decided I would make the most of it and i did. 60 minutes of someone gently rubbing warmed oil on your body. A few hot minutes in the steam room. a shower and some herbal tea later, I felt like a goddess with silky skin.

its amazing what a little down time can do to a person. I came home happy and refreshed. I even managed 30 minutes of badminton to compensate for skipping the gym!

Whats more, when K came home at the normal hour of 11.30 pm, i still had the energy to speak to him like a loving wife!


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Fitness update!

A few months ago, I began what was to be my last ditch attempt (or first) to get some fitness routine going in my life. I enrolled for what is called 'bootcamp' its a mild version of circuit training. We worked out barefoot in a small but airy gym and under the eagle eye of a size zero 7% body fat trainer. I loved waking up and working out. the routine changed almost everyday and I was very happy. A few of my friends too joined in and then dropped out. I needed the company. I felt a little more confident when they were around. But surprisingly, even when they stopped coming, I kept at it. 

The first month was great, I lost considerable inches everywhere, I was feeling great and everyone said I was losing weight. I was happy. Then I overate. At every meal. And I was ravenous.... I hid under the umbrella that I walked the dog 5-6 times a day and that I was burning calories in the gym, and that was a licence to eat...didn't help that my mother was in residence and would cook and feed me all sorts of things. 

I actually began to put on weight and increase fat. I was depressed. I also developed a knee strain, ignored it a bit and went to the doctor when i could barely walk. The verdict of the doctor "no more jumping and knee impacting exercise, total rest till the knee healed, he couldn't find anything else that was wrong cos I didn't have the usual symptoms of knee injury and oh, i had to lose a lot of weight"

I was depressed and moping for 4 days exactly. I assume I was quite horrid to live with. But K does not do pity (that pisses me off... but that's another post).

So i spoke to my trainer and signed up for personal training. For the first month, we did nothing, just some less intense workouts and slow and steady was the word. I am impatient and hey, I had given this thing almost 5 months of my life. 

Everyone in my life had a mantra "the gym routine is not working - quit" the more i heard that or versions of it, the more adamant i became. I don't give up easy... no sir...

So, I set a deadline for me and the trainer, decided on a fitness goal, told him no matter what he made me do, i wont whine or complain. and started a tough diet. the diet is in direct contrast to what most people are used to eating. The first meal of the day is to be had 12-13 hrs after your last one.. which is ok... since i eat dinner at around 8, i can hold on till 10 a.m the next day, i do have coffee first thing in the morning tho.... lunch is moderate and dinner is the largest and heaviest meal of the day with a huge salad, protein element and a load of carbs. I freaked out when i saw the diet... just goes against the grain of regular meals. but I had nothing to lose... after a month of doing it, not very strictly tho, I have some success to show for it.

My metabolic rate has increased (which is what the diet does), fat has decreased, muscle mass has increased and I've had inch loss baby! yeah! all that hard work is finally paying off....

the thing is... when you build muscle and lose fat, weight actually increases....cos a pound of fat weighs less than a pound of muscle... so i know the weighing scale wont go down. 

however, it is the measuring tape and the other numbers that tell another picture. 

I had to have some clothes altered by an inch cos they were too loose. I wore a 7 yr old dress (why yes, I am a hoarder... how did you know?) and people are telling me that i look thinner... not the "oh my god what are you doing?" but "hey, you have really lost weight"

so, that's a good thing right? 

I'm going to be very strict and clean in my diet for the next 3 weeks. Because I cheated quite a bit this past month. Wish me luck

The thing is, I am happy I am doing this for myself... I used to pant like a dog to do 30 seconds of skipping, my endurance has increased so much now... I can skip, do push ups, squats and am super proud of the weights am lifting. So all is not measured on the weighing scales right? I thought so too....

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Waiting

I spend a good part of my life waiting.

Waiting.....

  • for the alarm to ring even tho I am awake
  • for the milk man to drop the milk
  • for the filter to do its magic and my coffee to be ready
  • for the pressure cooker to hiss
  • for the timer in the gym to go off when i am doing something unbelievably tough 
  • for the husband to come home
  • for the dog to finish playing so he will agree to walk back home
  • for it to be december so my best friend will come to india
  • for the summer to eat mangoes
  • for me to lose weight / inches or whatever

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Prettify your home for the Festive Season


I'm doing a blogging marathon on the cooking blog. Today i tool a detour from all the festive cooking and wanted to share a few simple ideas about adding a little bling and cheer for the festival. I am a list maker, I try to be organised, I try my best to finish stuff on time. Most times I succeed, sometimes I fail. I don't sweat the small stuff. In an earlier life (read - a few years ago) I wanted everything to be perfect ~ the house, the table, kitchen, food, life in general.
Almost having a breakdown over it Good sense prevailed and I live to tell the tale. The house is never perfect, but these days, when we have unexpected guests, I don't scramble around to make it appear like something out of a magazine (which by the way is impossible, because they have teams of people to do that). Living with a domestically challenged K and now a really crazy dog which thinks he owns all the cushions in the house has further drilled down that story!
Last year for Christmas, I did not, for the first time in 8 yrs, put up my tree. Only because we had a young pup in the house and I was paranoid he would swallow the ornaments. yet, I didn't think it was the end of the world, because hey! it isn't. its an artificial tree with baubles....  That said, I almost always use my favourite accessories, dim lights and candles to make everything look pretty.
More than anything, it is friends and family and a warm welcoming home that is of importance. No amount of decor can make up for a home that is not welcoming to people. Our doors are always open for family and friends, we love having people over and sharing food and fellowship with them. Over the years, I have found, the more comfortable you are with yourself, the more comfortable and inviting your home is.
here are some things I do.

Bring out the serial lights and put them up where you can, doorpost, balcony, over the mantel or behind the TV. I put them amongst my plants in the balcony.
Rangoli and oil wicks in earthen lamps. I bought these inexpensive ones from a craft bazar and have been reusing them for 5 years now.
Flowers - even the ones that you grow in a tiny pot. use this as a centerpiece on your table .
Put your shot glasses to use and float a single flower in them. Here I used flowers that I found growing in the yard next to where I live
diyas
Use T-lights to avoid messes on your table tops. A Glass jar makes for a beautiful decor addition
diyas
Line up a row of diyas on your side tables - please make sure they are not at a level which can cause harm to your children or pets.
Serial Lights again ~ this time inside a glass jar which lights up the bar beautifully

Monday, November 5, 2012

in the next gear

its been a good five months that i began a fitness regimen. it started with going to a gym which you may recall i wrote about here... and being more conscious about what i eat and just being regular with exercise.

the first month, my mother was here... i was eating enough for two including rice at two meals, ghee and a lot of rubbish. amazingly, inches peeled off. i lost enough in that first month to keep me motivated and for people to take notice. I was happy.

Alas that wasnt enough! five months down, am at the same place. yes, people i meet still comment that i have lost weight or slimmed down as they put it... but i dont feel like the five months have borne fruit.

to be fair, i have had a bum knee... some stiffness which made me take a 15 day break and go back to a less intense routine. so there is no more jumping and skipping but a lot of core strength building exercises. and so with the workouts being less intense and the changed time, i have not been as enthused as i was earlier.

for one, the changed timing is just messing my entire day's schedule. i cant eat before the gym, and by the time i am done, am so famished, it takes me an hour to recover. I havent been sleeping enough. no day do i sleep more than 5.5 hours... which is simply not enough.... am writing a food diary and i am so conscious of every morsel of food now... that has'nt really helped.

did the assessment today at the gym. marginally lost a kilo and less than an inch on my waist.

this is simply not enough for me. I need to see better progress. I need better RoI for me to stay focussed and committed. I had a pow wow  with my trainer on this. I gave him (and myself) an ultimatum of 8 weeks, the end of this year...

i want to have visible changes in my appearance, of the good kinds...

so today we kickstarted an intense regimen and a very very strict diet plan which is similar to the paleo. no grains, flour or sugar of any kind, no milk, restricted dairy. carbs from vegetables lots of protein. the diet... is scary... but at this point, its the only thing that i think will work.

cheer me on... 8 weeks is all i have!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

i miss being young (er)

its depressing when i read this quote "today is the oldest you have ever been and the youngest you will ever be again"

downright depressing.

i know i said that i am enjoying my thirties and that i have come into my own and all.... but today on a lazy sunday afternoon, as K and I sipped chilled beer and waited for the cooker to release the steam so we could attack my special chettinadu biryani, we watched Aayatha Ezhuthu.

the first time we watched it was at its release in 2004, when K and i were married for less than 6 months. i remember, we went to prasad's imax and were with another couple. i wore a white kurta, jeans, kolhapuris, jhumkis and dark kaajal and when i saw kareena kapoor, i was like, dude, that is my signature look!

why do i remember what i wore so vividly? because i still dress pretty much like that, but that damn kurta far from fits me anymore. middle age girth and all. also that in those days, K and i would be pretty happy to hand around theatres or loll about at home the entire weekend. not bothering about pantry supplies, vegetables, emails, presentations and other mundane stuff like proving your worth to the world.

today kind of felt weird, like a scene from gangs of wasseypur, when each period of time is marked by a movie of significance. i felt far from young... just saying... 

Monday, October 15, 2012

a story that needs to be told

i wrote this many months ago when the guwahati molesting happened... i have not had the courage to post it till now... but here it is
_________________________________________________________________________________

I'm reading an outpouring of blog posts which are reactions to the molestation of the 17 year old girl in Guwahati. My blood boiled when i saw the pictures and tho i clicked on the video, I did not have the courage to watch it. I cannot even imagine what it must have been like to be in the middle of that fucking depraved mob, to be groped and molested and to listen to yourself being spoken about in the utmost vulgar manner. The girl, no more than a child, will have to live with the scars of that evening forever. It will change the course of her life, and no matter how much anyone reassures her that she will forget, she will not. 

Sexual assault is nothing like anything you have ever experienced. I know for a fact that every woman, no matter where she comes from, has had to deal with some form of it through her lifetime. some more vulnerable than the others.

my own life has been a maze of protecting myself from the hands (at worst) and stares (at best) of men who prey on you, regardless of the situation and the place. it has changed so much in me, that i feel compelled to tell the story here. 

my mother and i were at a sweet shop one day when i was about 11. While she was talking to the shopkeeper, i noticed from the corner of my eye, a man on my left was shifting funnily and rocking himself. i turned to look and realised, he had his penis out, was looking at me and rubbing it against the display shelf of the shop masturbating. I called out to my mother and pointed at him. she yelled at him and took her slipper off, threatening to slipper him. I was traumatised for weeks and couldnt even step out of the house on my own except to go to school. 

I grew up realising quite quickly that the uncle who came home to teach me math on weekends, chose to come when my parents were taking a nap so that he could touch my breasts and rub himself against me. I dreaded those tution classes and within a few weeks, I realised that when i struggled to free myself from his clutches, it got worse, I told him I would tell my parents if he doesnt back off. my parents trusted him immensely and so he had free access to our house. he stopped teaching me, and since he was family, whenever I met him socially, my hair would stand up on end even if i was within 10 feet of him. 

I was 14 and travelling with my parents from bapatla, a town in coastal andhra to hyderabad. the train left bapatla around 11 p.m and we had RAC tickets which meant that our sleeping berths were in different places in the compartment. My father was extremely ill and I was a young independent girl. So i told my mother to sleep closer to my dad's berth and took the one that was the farthest. since it was past 11 p.m most people on the train were already asleep. there was one guy who was leering at me since we got onto the train. He knew i was not near my parents, I was on a middle berth a few seats away from him. he made a big pretense of having to go to the toilet a few times that night, each time to stand near my berth and touch me. At first he scratched the sole of my foot, I opened my eyes, but was so scared to say anything. Yet the feeling of being violated made me kick his hands off. This happened once more and the bastard got bolder. He reached for my chest which was under the sheet. i hit his hand off and sat up. he leered at me. I can still make out his face. I could not get over how angry I was. I was doing nothing, yet a random stranger thought it was ok for him to touch and grope me because he thought i was alone and helpless. He was well over 40, may have had children my age, but that didn't stop him. my heart was pounding and i was too agitated to sleep. I wanted to do something to the bastard but i was too scared. I sat up and walked slowly over to where he was sleeping,  I grabbed both his shoes from under his berth and chucked them out of the window of the moving train. the next morning when we were to get off at Hyderabad, i saw him frantically searching for his footwear, but he couldn't find it. It didn't make a difference to what had happened, but i was pleased that he lost something of value.  I lived out of home for studies and work for 5 years. and so train travel was unavoidable. to this day, i bristle when i have to travel by train. I can never sleep on a train and my senses are at their maximum awareness.

growing up in hyderabad, you learn quite quickly that eve teasing is a way of life and that you will be called out and spoken to in the most vulgar manner. when i moved to coimbatore to study, i dreaded what a town dominated by students, more than half of them being men would be like for a woman. To my utter shock, i was never groped at or touched or even spoken to by random men on the street. I was shocked that a woman can walk on the road or inside the campus without being picked on. I don't know how it is today, but 10 years ago, it was almost a culture shock to me. 

a girl can be molested anywhere. public and private places. a bus when you are trying to get off, a lab where you have gone for an x ray, a tailor's shop when you stand for the tailor to take your measurements, walking on the road, seated on a bus, even standing in line at a movie theatre. 

to this day, I watch closely when random people try to carry babies, small children at places like malls and restaurants. i do not allow anyone i know to hand over their kids to strangers however decent they appear to be. I do not talk to strangers on trains and buses and even auto wallahs will get directions in an aggressive stern voice, to deter them from trying anything funny. 

For most of my life, I thought I was in the wrong and was asking to be touched or commented upon because of the size of my chest. its only later that i realised that women regardless of their size or age are being preyed upon and it makes no difference what your body looks like. I've spent more than 15 years trying to shield myself from this. wearing oversized clothes, a bedsheet like dupatta covering my chest, men's shirts when i wore jeans, a jacket almost through the year if i didnt have a dupatta on....the list of defenses was endless. and i like most girls would find innovative ways to not garner any male attention to my body. holding a file or books against my chest or using my bag to shield myself as i walk through crowded places. if i dont have anything in my hands that i can use to cover my body, I permanently walk with my elbows out, ready to jab anyone who comes close. the sheer stress of having to shield and protect your body is something that only another woman can understand. there are times when my heart beats so quickly when i walk through a crowded place, that once i reach the safety of a car or a house or office or a store, i have to stop to catch my breath. 

and the way men think it is ok to not touch, but pass vulgar comments. It burns my ears, most times i shout back asking "repeat what you said you dog" in such a loud aggressive voice that they shrink off. The thing with these bastards is that they do all of this, knowing that in most cases, the shame that a woman feels is enough to shut her mouth and bear with this shit. when you call their bluff, most of them are too scared to do anything else and will back off. 

most people who know me, tell me that the first encounter had them wonder why i was so aggressive. I cannot explain to each one,that i developed it as a defense to protect myself. better to look like someone who should not be messed with than find out the tough way. It has altered my personality simply because it is years and years of building a wall around yourself which will keep you safe. i look people straight in the eye and give them nasty looks to keep them off if i suspect any misdemeanor. you have to appear tough to ward off lechers. It has made me so protective of my body that i do not trust anyone who comes too close. 

i am always ultra alert especially in places with high body contact. i once walked into a high end store during the afternoon when there were no other customers. A group of sales boys stood about 10 feet away from the entrance and were having a few laughs amongst themselves. I enterred, i felt they'd passed a comment on me, I stared and asked "yes, did you want to say something to me?" they were stunned, one guy said "no maam, nothing." not convinced, i pressed on... "no i think i heard you say something, say it again" by the look on their faces, I knew they weren't saying anything to me, but years of having men pass comments on you makes you like that. I walked past them, keeping up the act of being very annoyed, but i knew i was feeling embarrassed. that's how it changes you... trust no one. 

I walk alone at all times of the day and night in the streets around my house with my dog. I know that only an ass will try to touch me when i have such a large dog with me, but leches are men who are assholes. I walk sometimes even before the sun has risen and it is relatively dark. at night, most streets do not have lights. i shudder to think what may happen. I also feel extremely angry that i have to think of all of this before i step out to let my dog pee - what i am wearing, how much skin is showing, is the tee too tight, is the kurta see through....the list is endless. I find random men, well dressed, returning from an office too, will look and stare more than needed only because a woman is walking with a dog on a street. i could be walking back with shopping bags in both hands, defenseless if someone decides to touch me. i have found it useful to befriend people i encounter daily. the chowkidars will watch out for you if you call them bhaiyya, i smile and talk to the auto walahs at the stand waiting for customers, the man who runs the tea shop, the boy who sells milk. simply to tell any strangers who may see me for the first time, that this is my territory and that i am not to be messed with. sometimes you wish it wasn't so stressful. but when i think of that poor girl in guwahati, i smile another smile at a chowkidaar who may come to my rescue. 


Mind your own business


this happened a few months ago... i had this in drafts... 

I was walking Sage at 6.15 a.m the other day. Not the best time of day to strike up a conversation with a stranger. But having a dog makes you accessible to random people… and this was no different.

The person in question was a fairly elderly gentleman of about 65 yrs of age. He smiled which I reciprocated. Then asked if I was studying to which my answer was no. next he wanted to know if I was working and I said yes. After that, the next question was to check if I was married to which I answered yes. Immediately then, the old gentleman, who about 2 minutes earlier mistook me to be a college student, asked me if I have children. I was appalled. I mean, what gives anyone the right to pry information that is none of their business? Not to say I would have been less irritated if I did have kids. Either way, it is none of anyone’s business to ask so many questions when you have merely met. I decided to not show my irritation, but to pay him back the same way. Instead of answering him, I asked questions of my own…. How old are you? Do you have diabetes? Blood pressure? Heart problem? Are you living with someone in the colony or are you on your own? Are you not worried that something may happen to you when you are alone on the road? He answered the last one with “why are you asking such questions?” to which I said, when you don’t think its not ok to ask me personal questions, why should you mind if I do?

He just shook his head in disgust and walked off. Haven’t see the old bug since!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

break point


As I write this, I am in a way shattered by a few things that have happened (or come to light) in the past few weeks. when I wrote about crumbling marriages, I didn't for the life of me expect to hear of one so close to me disintegrate... it has left me quite devastated. I am trying to be objective and supportive. I believe no one should stay in a relationship when they don't want to, especially when there is no love. Having said that, it’s a different thing when it happens to someone who you know distantly. It’s devastatingly close in this case.... I had a meltdown the other day. Pulled up my car to the side of the road and had a good sob.... it was embarrassing because I was caught in the act... at first I didn’t know why I was feeling so overwhelmed....then I realised... everything I hold dear to me, everything sacred, everything precious... was disintegrating.... yes it was in someone else's life... but it still was terrible.

I pause a moment to think of the people who are actually involved in this... two people who have spent a decade together... two people who shared a lifetime... now are choosing to go separate ways. How terrifying it must be for them, how utterly defeating, how sad. And yet, hopefully, like a phoenix, they will rise from these ashes....they will find themselves, and find love and balance.

I have been thinking over the last few days.... what makes a marriage work? Is it love? It usually takes a back seat after a few years... and besides, love gets tangled with children and chores and home loans... is it children then? And is it safer to have them? So you have something to do? Something to talk about? What about those who don't have kids? By destiny or design? Are they more vulnerable? What then happens when you are just stuck in a rut? In a boring mundane arrangement that drags on for the sake of everything and everyone else. What is a successful marriage then? a couple who have not had significant disagreements, been able to smooth sail through life's arduous journey or a couple who have had difficulties, overcome them and moved on?

I spoke to a friend recently who flip flops. She has bouts of 'I don’t want to be with this man' and calls me when she does. When I asked her how things were after a recent showdown with her significant other, she said 'everything's fine. I am not about to leave him. I said this to him too... that if there is a problem, it has to be fixed. We have invested too much into this to let it go' both seem to be happy about it and I can’t be more glad.

I wish that everyone finds their peace.... but that is like a beauty pageant contestant's wish. I know it doesn't come easy. I still wish upon it for everyone. It’s heartbreaking when something like this happens. No one does it on purpose. But when a situation reaches a point of no return, cutting losses and starting afresh seems to be the only way to go.

I couldn't get over this for days. It has taken me a week to write this.... I don’t know what to think anymore... I just wish we all find our place and peace...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Year in Passing

I turned a year older on the 9th of this month. A milestone year in many ways and a nice reminder that crests and troughs do make our life what it is. I have not had a more peaceful birthday although i am not big on occasions. in the past I have agonised over many things big and small as my birthday approaches. Depending on where I am in my head or what my life comprises of at that time, I have obsessed over (in various degrees of intensity) - my career or the lack of it, ambitions that lay dormant, what other people were doing with their lives and why i wasn't having any of their successes, my hair which is rapidly greying, my weight, the lack of good clothes, why I dont look like someone else, why my house does'nt look like someone else's, the opportunities to travel, various stuff related to family, and this is just a bunch of them.

I visited a friend last evening and I said something very significant to her. I said that much as I love my friends and want to be there for them, help them through a tough time, I am increasingly growing more protective of what I have in life. if someone is very negative about their own life, their negative energy reflects off them and onto the others around them. At some point, it tells on me. I am on such a high these days that I do not want that to be punctured by anyone... and i consciously am making that decision to stay that way. 

I've had such a  full year. The last one year has meant more to me than every other one put together. I am no longer trying to apologise for who i am or am not. I am where i am supposed to be, and any kind of peer / familial pressure to be otherwise is only robbing me of the fulfillment of being in the moment.

i look at friends with trouble in their marriages - serious troubles... and I am thankful for the strong foundations on which mine is built. I am grateful that i found a man i can trust with my life, someone who I've spent 14 years with and am still not fed up! We may not be the most romantic couple, who buys each other expensive gifts, plans surprises or holidays frequently, but what we have is good and i wont trade it for anything. I see friends around me battling to stay together and I am grateful more than ever for a rock solid union. not that anyone plans to have a marriage. but when things are disintegrating, it makes me sad. I believe no one should stay in an unhappy relationship, so I empathise, doesn't take away the sadness tho.

i've put my health and fitness in absolute first priority for the first time. I think it needed to make this journey. I discovered food through foodblogging. became aware of food and nutrition and that's made our lifestyle choices easier to make. I am still not a food nazi and enjoy stuffing my face with a 1500 calorie pizza once in a while. after years of excuses and living on the couch with half hearted attempts at yoga or skipping, I am finally waking up every single day to battle with my sports bra (has to be a better way to begin the day) and getting my ass to the gym. This one hour in the gym is giving me more than the rest of the 23. I feel endorphinised - i know that's not a word, but it means something to me. I see friends in my age group with ailments. spondylosis, lifestyle issues, body aches and pains, frozen shoulders, digestive problems, ailments and surgeries due to bad eating / constant/ eating out, lack of fitness,stress, adult acne, fertility issues... these are the catch words in our lives. the list is endless. And honestly I am scared for myself. I've had a slip disc and worn a neck collar to help my bad neck / arm in the past. I dont want to find myself in a hospital or undergoing treatment for stuff that isnt caused by an accident. If it is a lifestyle issue, i promised myself i would do my best to avoid it. Thats something i owe myself. To be disease free till i can manage. I look at my almost 74 year old mother and learn lessons from her daily. 

I am finally not apologising for what i do / do not do. I spent years envying other people their careers and thinking i was wasting my education, qualifications and experience. I've moved on from being apologetic and am focussed on practicing my skill with my rules. I've taken on work that interests me and I'm so focussed on doing my best that its paying off with clients. 

Foodblogging has added more value to me than i have to it. Who would have thought that a two byte blog would come to mean so much? Its chronicling my life in a lot of ways. Its given me writing assignments, classes teaching baking and chocolate making, i've met people i have so much in common with, made friends and broken myths. Its given me an identity and made me proud of something that i enjoy - cooking... removed it from the behenji list... whats so bad about that i would never know!

As i sat around the dinner table, sipping on my drink, I had amma on my right, K to my left and B and J in front of me. My life, surrounding me at a dinner table... I wish they would allow sage to sit by my side too....

i count my blessings each night... I stay focussed this year on being happy and enjoying the moments that life brings, even if it is mundane and routine... i am thankful for being loved, safe, healthy and precious.

Friday, July 6, 2012

the other part of town

I took amma to the other part of town today formerly known as that part of town where i grew up, went to school and got married not exactly in that order. Amma gets her pension in a bank near our old house... we had to go there for some paperwork. then to the post office because the last time there was a discrepancy in the account balance. This was over a year ago and so I managed to go and get it fixed.

what struck me today... how far removed from that life I now am. Walk into a nationalised bank and there are oceans of people. young, old and relatively poor. they stand in lines, they look forlorn and desperate, they are spoken to rudely and need someone else to fill in their forms. the bank officers treat them like flies, they bark at them and do so much of redundant paper work its not funny. We needed a bank account statement for 4 years for amma. I was sent to 4 different counters before I was pointed to the right place. I realise that my jeans and kurti and relatively young and educated persona got my work done in a fraction of the time it would have otherwise taken. the guy who was printing the statement took 45 minutes to do it. not becuase he didnt want to, but i realised (as i was standing by his side) that he had no clue how to operate the banking software! he kept feeding in the wrong details and making mistakes because he was choosing the wrong options. such is the state of the computer literacy of our banking officials. Having only dealt with citibank before, where things get done in a single window system this was so irritating. If you need to submit an application or get a statement or any other non money transactional work done, you just queue up to a single person who will take care of everything. So the number of papers, vouchers, bank account books and signatures required today boggled me. Ditto at the post office. The lady at the counter asked me to fill in some forms, i couldnt make head or tail of the archaic language that was printed on it.... plus she kept mumbling instructions and i had to ask about 4 times till i was clear.

we had lunch at a friend's place and then came home. Picking up biryani for K on the way. The roads, the people, the shops .... nothing has changed. What has changed is that i have moved... to a newer cleaner more orderly part of town. Ofcourse we pay 45 bucks for a kilo of rice when my friend served me superfine sona masoori rice he gets for Rs. 28! so we do pay a lot of invisible taxes!

I love the feel of the old hyderabad that i grew up in for sure.... am not so certain i could go back and live there tho....

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Things no one tells a freelancer

I've spent the last two hours processing papers. bills, invoices, cheques, writing letters, printing stuff, scanning documents, etc. No one tells you life as a freelancer will be full of 'being your own office boy'

I have no complaints tho. just to clarify incase you think i am ungrateful. I just find this tedious and scary. Scary because i have possibly the world's worst case of "lets lose these important documents". In the past I have lost my class X certificate and voting id which was about the only accepted Id in India a few years ago. Infact, K keeps stuff like my passport etc under lock and key that only he has access to. and when we travel, he's always in charge of travel documents! works for me ~ less headache.

anyways, so life as a freelancer means keeping track of all your assignments, being incharge of your work calendar, tracking payments and the related paperwork, remembering which client wanted what kind of paperwork etc etc. also it means a decent online and HD filing system that allows you to store documents, material and access them when needed. I must admit I am shit at this filing and storing too. I keep far too much junk as it is. I need to get my head around this, but I am building what seems to be a decent system where i am filing documents clientwise. 

on a side note, i cant tell you how kicked i am that i actually have to start filing stuff client wise so that i dont mess up and can track everything. This is a good thing yes? it means i have more than a couple of clients and that work is decent!

between the writing and the training, i think i am doing well enough for now... this year is going to be a good year... am going to get that hot body pretty soon... and will earn enough money to go see my bestie in the US... I'm loving this 2012.... 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Midweek

Dates, i can hardly tell, now even days i am unable to tell without looking at the phone calendar. What is wrong with me? this morning i mentioned to my friend D that it felt like friday... she said... no... its the perfectly midweek kind of day! i have to agree, i was so cranky when i woke up this morning.... rudely pawed by the Dawg and barked at when i took a few minutes to get out of bed!

after yesterday's break, i was back in the gym, finished my workout with some slight routine changes to ensure i didn't go catch something else! i loved the sweating and the routine... what started as a grumpy morning for god only knows what reason, transformed into a lovely day in the company of two of my girlfriends at the gym. The morning was so gorgeous... cool breeze blowing and the sky changing colours ever so gently. the peacocks in the nearby botanical gardens making that squawking kind of noise...

I got home, drank a mug of milk (puke!) then downed some much needed coffee! felt like a human being after that. I cant believe i have almost given up my morning coffee. I wouldn't be human before I had caffeine in my bloodstream. now all I can think of is to walk the dog, eat my fruit snack, drink water and rush off to the gym.

There's stuff to be done however... no basking in the balcony enjoying the morning sunshine and reading the papers.... cooking to be supervised, dog to be fed and then bathed and some random phone calls to attend before i can wolf down some idlis with some tomato chutney.

That done, i have to go buy some sofa upholstery material. I got this expensive sofa from a premium store in hyderabad. they charged me a bomb telling me it will be made of teak, turns out they are bastard cheaters and the whole effing thing is made of plywood. to add insult to injury, the cushion has gotten all squashed up in less than 6 months. I am so mad, but there is little i can do about it. So i did the next best thing, called my upholstery guy and asked him to repair the piece of shit.

So midweek has been a day of taking stock of my stuff..... I need to spring clean again. there are giant mounds of paper in each drawer i opened today. how was your week so far?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Today.......

I skipped the gym today to rest my hip sprain. Am well but for a little soreness. I did miss the gym and my routine, will go back tomorrow. My instructor has said he will change my routine to ensure my back is not under strain. I told you i found the right place.

As I walked Sage this evening, I met a friend / neighbour.... she mentioned that I'd lost some weight. She didnt know (yet) that i was gymming! She said, my cheeks have gone down! oh sweet words!

I finally finished the june photo challenge. I'm posting both on the picture blog and facebook. so check it out. i laboured over it... though i did take pictures on the designated day, i didnt post them and that took a large part of 3 hours today... such a pain! I started the one for july. I plan to do it in instagram this time. so that i can post directly from the phone.

Amma lost a friend today. She was 10 years younger than her, first her student and then became a colleague. They were part of a large retired friends group and they would meet each time Amma was in town for lunch. I drove her to the house to pay our condolences. K and I know her son and his cousin is married to K's closest friend... so 6 degrees of seperation... I felt very sad.... for a life that was taken so suddenly. brings back sad memories and tells you how fickle life is....


Monday, July 2, 2012

Catch

The weather these days is so good, even the afternoons feel great...

this morning, i went off to the gym as usual...finished my routine, and just as i was completing the last set, my body veered off-centre and i had a muscle pull in my hip... i had a sharp pain shooting through my left side and my first thought was i hope i havent effed my prolapsed disc... 

i was made to lie down on a rubber mattress with an exercise ball under my legs. I lay there feeling bad for my friends who were so worried around me and the gym instructor, who i think had his BP shoot up a bit. I assured them i was fine... after about 5 minutes, i forced myself to get up, finished some hand and upper body stretches and drove back home.

Was in a lot of pain. My cook, Renuka is an excellent masseur. She can get a neck sprain out of your system in 5 minutes. So she massaged my back/ hip and i took a hot shower, felt a lot of relief. Rested almost the entire day in bed, without a pillow. its almost 9.40 p.m now, and but for a little soreness, the sprain / pull/ catch whatever it was is gone. I think I will skip the gym tomorrow just to play safe....

Sage somehow knows that I am not 100% ok. He has eaten his meals without bothering me too much and didnt even pull on the leash when i walked him this evening. 

is it just me, or do sunday's leftovers taste better when eaten for lunch on monday? how was your start of the week?

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Loss! am happy about

So, saturday's at the gym are kind of dull.... there are more people in bed or nursing the excesses from the night before than on a weekday and so when i walked into the gym this saturday at 6.30, but for the trainer, there was no one else.... for a while atleast. since it was the end of the month, my trainer decided to do my measurements. Remember this post where i almost cried? well the same horror was to happen again. This time, i embraced my inner zen and went about it nonchalantly. 

i dont have the exact numbers, but i can say that a loss has happened! of inches....off my arms, waist and ribcage....i was ecstatic! because these are the numbers from the 9th, which was just 20 days before... the largest (!) impact has been around my waist... although i haven't lost much weight, less than 600 gms, i have lost a few inches.... that should keep me going for a while...also my trainer tells me that my endurance has increased...he times us when we do squats etc... and i can now hold a posture for about 40 seconds when earlier it was 10-12 seconds...

am happy with my progress...

i treated myself to a new set of gym clothes (which by the way are soooo expensive!). this month, my entire focus will be on eating the required 40% protein and getting 8 hours of sleep. Today's TOI supplement was entirely focused on health, exercise and how the body repairs... it was like someone was trying to validate and encourage me!

yesterday mom took me to our family jeweller and got me diamond studs for my second ear piercing... so far i have been wearing silver... i also gave an order for a diamond nose stud.... did i tell you she bought me a gorgeous saree for my upcoming birthday? its a melange of colours and its gorgeous...

May the good streak continue! Amen!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Mid-week

The rains came down on us yesterday and how! I was stuck in traffic from hell at 7 p.m in the office rush and after taking one wrong turn 200 meters away from my destination, I ended up on the wrong side of town, spending another 40 minutes negotiating ditches, vehicles, people darting across my car and my mother squirming in the passenger seat! At any other time, I would be swearing colorfully and getting completely worked up and pissed off. Not yesterday. I surprised myself with my calm demeanor. Telling myself that I couldn't get anywhere if I was to get all stressed. 

I did the best I could, negotiated the roads and traffic, took a few turns, made a few calls to tell people why we were delayed and reached safely without mishap.

I am liking this new approach. I hope it lasts! Wish me luck

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sunday

Sunday's are getting better. I feel so rested and ready to take on the week ahead. I was up later than my usual in the morning since the gym was closed. Took Sage for a leisurely walk and visited his friends in the next colony who were delirious to see him (and me). They played for an hour. Walked back home to coffee and fruit. bathed Sage which he loves. You should really see the way he loves being soaped and watered!

breakfast was at the in-laws. K had requested for Puttu Kadalai. So we trooped there about 9.30 had a lovely breakfast and sat around talking till noon. Came back home and just rested. Its amazing how much good a little rest can do you. 

K went out at 5 PM, Sage and I walked for an hour... 

The saddest part of the day was the rescue and death of the 5 year old child Mahi who was trapped for over 80 hours in an 80 ft borewell in Manesar in haryana. I watched the last bit, with little hope that she would be brought out alive. How is a child who fell 80 feet and stayed in a tunnel that has most definitely asphyxiated her have any chance of survival? the media circus was as always in bad taste. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

endorphins?

Remember the post i wrote about how upbeat i was feeling with the working out etc? Well looks like that isn't a flash in the pan. Nothing else explains the high I've been on for the last few weeks. Everything else remains the same around me. The chaos at home, the demands of the dog and man on my time, the routine, the food... then what explains that I am ready to jump out of be at the stroke of 5 a.m? and stay energetic the whole day?must be the exercise. I checked my weight, haven't lost much... but I know for sure that I am feeling better, sleeping better and am getting more satisfaction from each day. Also, I can now do up to 45 wall push ups where on the first day i couldn't get through 5 without feeling dead.... So, pat on the back~

yesterday was a milestone for me professionally. I overcame some personal hurdles and surprised myself at what i am capable of. I know the best is yet to come... I know that this is the beginning of a good thing... the Universe is working with me on this. 

today amma and i are going shopping to secunderabad. I am hoping to pick up some stuff for myself and indulge a bit for having been so good to myself. 


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

just so i don't take too long a gap


I have nothing specific to say although I came here to post something. Just so I don’t take another hiatus and disappear for a long period of time. This disappearance has been a pattern with me.

I’ve had a pretty good month so far. The biggest change has been going to the gym and as always, when there is something new in my life, I obsess about it for a while. It consumes me and that’s all I can think of until I have a new love interest! So currently, as in the past with mad men, or actor Simbu (yes…. Go ahead and judge me!), my terrace garden, colour blocking trend or even the dog, I am obsessed with circuit training and every waking hour online is used for this. I watch videos, read articles and am generally overdosing.

The rains have arrived and it has made me and Sage very happy. He for one has quit panting too much and is sleeping like a hibernating bear.

Yesterday I received something by courier and used my fingers to rip through the parcel, only to have an open staple pin tear ½ a centimeter of my finger. It is making typing this very painful.

This is the fourth day running when I put off going to the parlor… scanning my face everyday and loathing the fact that my eyebrows need grooming doesn’t help. Do you also do that? Imagine you look like a bear with unthreaded brows?

We are having ragda patties for dinner tonight. Hopefully my first time experiment will be successful.

I shall stop here…. Here’s a picture I clicked with my Iphone a few weeks ago.


This is the St George’s Church in Abids, Hyderabad. I went after more than a year… all because my mom is here!


Monday, June 18, 2012

Reconnecting

It will be a decade since I lost my dad this year.... Its been a paradigm shift in my life...also the lives of my mother and brother. In these ten years, we have reconstructed our broken lives, shut out a period so bad no one wants to even acknowledge it and had nothing but gratitude for the life we built back. My Dad had 8 sisters. Most of them treated him like a cash cow as long as he lived and as soon as they couldn't milk him anymore, refused to even come or see him. Especially in his last days. I have always been bitter towards them for this, the way my dad was used and discarded when he ceased to be able to dole out money...

I've spent the last 10 years avoiding them. Its also a blessing that to begin with we we'rent very close with the rest of the family. So when we got a call a few weeks ago inviting us to the engagement of a cousin (my father's brother's son) I was in a bit of a situation about whether or not I should attend. The prospect of seeing these people I carefully avoid was unpleasant to say the least. Anyways, with Amma here at Hyderabad, that was hardly an option. She likes the boy, she gets along well with my Dad's cousins and she couldn't care less about everyone else. Sometimes I wish I had her attitude. 

So we went for the engagement, and the wedding two weeks later. I was forced to confront my uneasiness. I  would always feel apologetic for how we moved on, not this time. This was the biggest learning for me. That I had the strength to not be bitter anymore. And that is a huge weight off of me. I even extended an invitation to an aunt of mine ( I will admit she is my favourite of my father's sisters) and when she came home, I was able to host her and the family with grace. 

I have moved on and am thankful for it.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Huffing and Puffing



I seem to have finally found a gym I like. It is small, it has wide open windows and there is no residual smell that makes you sick in a regular gym. I also found a trainer who actually has a well toned body and not one of those protein shake fed bulging muscles. In my (very limited I will admit) experience with gyms and instructors, I will tell you that the overly built ones rarely have any real knowledge of fitness and will have little or no flexibility or skill themselves. So for the longest time, I detested going to gyms because I knew more about fitness and nutrition than those instructors, and I couldn’t suffer their presence or worse still their advice. 

I digress. Its been about 2 weeks. I haven’t gone everyday but this week my target is to go all 6 days of the week. I’ve joined what is called boot camp, its like circuit training. The guy who runs the gym is the one I am quite impressed with. He knows his stuff, is very observant which automatically means that he will watch and then correct you if posture etc is wrong, can improvise exercises on the spot to accommodate your specific needs or level of fitness and knows when to encourage, insist and let go. In short, I should just sing hallelujah!

Yet, last Saturday had me terribly depressed and on the verge of tears coming on so strong that I almost couldn’t finish my routine. No, it was not the sight of me huffing and puffing about in the mirrors, the lack of trendy gym clothes or the fact that I am sleeping an average of 5 hrs a day and not really minding it. I thought I was doing just fine and for the first time, my focus is only on being regular. I have no ambitious plans... in fact I keep telling myself that any activity is better than nothing at all. 

They did a body analysis at the gym. You know, they take your vital statistics and tell you how much muscle (or the lack of it in my case) is in your body and what are the areas that contain adipose. How much is your basal metabolism etc and the most difficult part for me, what is the physical age of your body. It was 2 decades more than my chronological age. If that doesn't get you depressed, then you must be Deepak Chopra!

I couldn't continue my routine without telling myself that I needed to finish the workout. All the time picturing a 50 yr old me. And it wasn't pretty.... I came home and told K and he immediately said that unless the trainer messed (he used the f word) with my head, he couldn’t control it and hence wouldn’t be able to get to me. If he couldn’t do that, he wouldn’t be able to make me go to the gym day after day…. This in turn would come in the way of any fitness goals that were set up. It made sense. But sometimes you just need to wallow in self pity to be able to shrug it all off. 

I just told myself that I cannot begin to judge myself and act all cranky. I will focus on small goals which will end weekly. For this week, my goal was to workout all 6 days and not alternate days like I did last week. I am on Friday now and I am happy to report that I didn’t have to drag myself. I went willingly and am enjoying it. I am going to reward myself for every weekly goal that I achieve.


I’ve never been very slim, but I have been atleast 10 kilos lesser than what I am today. I used to be fitter when I was younger, but that is the gift of youth and metabolism! Also, I do understand that I will never be able to look like I was at 24, and who am I trying to cheat? I looked like shit then. I realise now that fitness is the goal and not weight loss. And it is about time I committed to treating my body better. Food is actually not a pain point as we have that mostly sorted. Most meals are freshly made, with choicest of ingredients, less oil and spices. binge eating is non existent, we practically have no snacks other than fruit lying around and we try and keep the consumption of heavy meals to the afternoons about once or twice a month. K's   amazing weightloss last year, taught me all of this anyway. it was just the question of being regular... i have the 3 day syndrome... i usually give up after 3 days of anything!

How to I feel after 2 weeks?
Actually quite happy that I found a routine I like.
Happy that I found a gym partner who is a woman. I have nothing against working out with a male gym buddy, but somehow, a woman gets you better….
Amazingly, I feel more energized and don’t want to drop dead at 9 P.M like I used to. I used to scoff at every one who pedaled exercise when they said they feel energetic and active. I admit I am eating humble pie.
I had a pain free period for the first time in 5 years and I worked out through it with no problems. I am usually like this, debilated with pain and cramps and want to only stay in bed with a hot water bottle. To have a period without swallowing a painkiller has been amazing! If only for this reason, I hope I don’t give this up.

Figuring out that if I don’t care for my body it will stop caring for me, and then that isn’t a nice thing to live with is the key for me. I must say that Sage had a huge part to play in this whole thing. Before we got him, I loathed waking up before 7 a.m. now that is a non issue, and so following a morning routine isn’t so difficult anymore….


Monday, April 16, 2012

grown up or losing my fangs?

sometimes, i look back and wonder at how i have changed  evolved over the last decade or so. why just this period in time? becuase the most significant chnages have happened in this period. i feel i've mellowed or in other words, lost my fangs. there was a time when i was very upright about my thoughts and views and expressed my opinion on everything big and small freely. when i didnt agree with something, my audience knew it... when i did too they would know it. over the years now....i seem to have developed the habit of picking my battles. when there are things that i dont agree with, i give it a thought and only react based on how important it is to me.

opinions on religion and religious practices, social and regional stereotypes, food habits, especially the digusted tones with which vegetarians talk of people who eat meat, poor vs rich, parenting, attitudes towards wonen in general, working women, the list is long and endless. i can sometimes hear myself scream in my head and sometimes i cant hear my own voice.....

i've come to the conclusion that what i ultimately do and think is more important than fighting a verbal battle with a person of very little consequence.... 

Monday, March 26, 2012

maybe mornings suit me

yeah, i may have just given my naysayers ammunition by admitting that there was some truth perhaps in what they have been carping all along. Our household wasn't an early rising one... My working mother rose around 6.30 ish that too with the help of the alarm....it was early in the house i grew up in if you were up by 7 a.m. infact my dad would be up earlier than everyone else, even the newspaper wouldn't be delivered by then and he would be busily devouring a novel or a magazine on current affairs till everyone decided to stir from their slumber.....

i was terrified of all the early risers at school and college and just to keep up with the jone's i would try and wake up at 5, only to fall asleep by 7 a.m on a day when i had exams.... its some wonder that my parents allowed me to sleep right back... yeah we were cool that way... something to do with my mother being an educator and didnt believe in pushing people around i think....

anyways, pretty soon i realised that all this early rising bullshit was overrated and that i would stay up late if i had to burn the midnight oil. that practice continues... even if i have an important meeting or a training to prepare for, i prefer to stay up all night if needed, than leave things for the early morning because i am not quite so sure i would wake up or be coherent enough to function! having said that, i always wake up naturally by 7 a.m, no matter how late i slept or how much spirit has been ingested the previous night! any earlier than that and i felt positively like the crab i am supposed to be.

so when you encounter K's family who believes that the right time to wake up, in the morning is between 4.30 and 5 a.m, you can imagine my horror! I was perpetually greeted in every single phone call my IL's made to me with a "have you woken up?". when i did mention that i was awake at 7, i would be told that practically half the day was over! i would be left with a very wth expression on my face.....

Sage has changed that in a way... from the early days when i would be so cranky at having been woken up multiple times at night to either feed or clean up after him, to waking up by 5.45 a.m to be able to take him down for his walk by 6 a.m, I'm awake and bouncing out of bed even before the alarm rings... bouncing people... not cribbing and wanting to get the hell back to sleep....

its just an hour or so... but considering bedtime or the normal daily routine hasn't changed, nor does it include a nap, i am shocked myself.... because i get that quiet morning walk, and the silence of the household till the maids arrive and the general routine begins, i am much calmer during the day too.... 

i've written about my quiet mornings earlier too... and this one seems similar in content..... but what can i say? its been on my mind... 

really pointless post this is if you ask me!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

the truth about having a dog

Warning - this is a really long post

its been 7 months since we got Sage home. He's gone from this....
to this

there are a lot of things he's brought into our life. Apart from endless unconditional love there is also an unending amount of dog hair on every possible thing at home, from the furniture to the vessels in the kitchen. I meet different people while i walk him about 5 times a day and invariably someone or the other will gush about how much they want to get a dog too and ask for the how, what, where and how-much details. So there are a few things i want to talk about here.

  • be prepared for a lot of hard-work. combine it with patience if you can. a dog, especially when it is a puppy is a lot of hard-work. Most breeders will give you a puppy at about 28 days. trust me, this is too early. mark your choice, pay an advance (if buying one) and wait till the pup is atleast 8 weeks old. they are too young to be separated from the mother and litter at 4 weeks. 
  • the hard-work continues till the puppy is about 4 months old or more. this means that you will be feeding the pup every 4 hours, yes you will set the alarm and wake up in the middle of the night, either to feed it, or clean up its pee and poop, or to soothe a crying / whining pup. 
  • be prepared with a spray can of diluted liquid soap, diluted solution of savlon and a lot of paper towels. I found kitchen towels to be very convenient and better than newspaper, cloth or toilet rolls to clean up after the puppy. 
  • don't take the puppy for a walk till all immunizations are done - about 4 months. they tend to sniff and put anything into their mouths and they are susceptible to infections and worse still, the fatal hepatitis. 
  • your puppy has only you. if you are working full time and leave the house locked for 8 hrs a day or more, your pup will be terribly lonely and get destructive. and remember they are pack animals. if you dont have the time to spend with it in its care and upkeep, no matter how cute the dog is (all puppies regardless of their pedigree are heartmeltingly cute) dont succumb and bring one home. it is insanely cruel to keep a pup locked up and alone that long. the result will be a very cranky, destructive and difficult to control pooch. this means at the end of a tiring day at work, you will really want to tear your hair out and give back the pup. just take my word for this. 
  • be prepared to walk / exercise your dog atleast three times a day. if you dont have the additional 2 hours this is going to take, please dont bring home a dog. dont expect good behaviour from a dog that has been shut in a house the whole day devoid of any channel to drain its pent up energy. they get very destructive. 
  • forget your social life till you have trained your pup to 
    • not jump on people
    • stay home alone for a few hours if you need to go out etc. 
    • this takes atleast 2 months
  • start leaving the pup alone for small periods of time, with water and a few toys starting the week after you get him/her. i did this initially for 10-15 minute intervals the week after we got sage. increasing the time by 30 minutes each time you leave it. At 5 months, i was able to leave Sage home alone for 8 hours without having any kind of mess or destruction at home. this may differ with the breed, i have a golden which is generally easier to train as they love to please their master/mistress. leaving the dog alone is possible only after they are potty trained, either to wait till you get back or use a spare bathroom. whichever you choose, train consistently, reward, praise and be prepared for the occassional unavoidable accident.
  • regardless of what people tell you, getting a dog is akin to getting a baby home. sleepless nights, anxiety, tiredness and equal amounts of joy and love. 
  • its socially more acceptable to take a baby everywhere you go but not a pet, so be prepared to confine your pet for a small period of time when you have guests who aren't comfortable around a pet. Always tell people you have a pet at home and check comfort levels. I always leash Sage up where he can see me for about 15 minutes till everyone has settled, or when we are eating. i then leave him, but have an eye on him at all times, especially if there are children around. if you have to entertain people who are just not comfortable with a pet around, entertain them outside. its punishment for the dog to be chained/ confined for long periods of time for no fault of theirs. 
  • Always have the pet on a leash or have a hand on his collar when kids are interacting with it. if you have an unfriendly dog, tell people. Kids have a way of irritating dogs, either intentionally or unintentionally. Dogs don't like excessive petting and forget about pulling body parts or poking them. they will retaliate, and most people especially people will automatically blame the dog even if he's not at fault. so its better to be safe than sorry.
  • housekeeping wont be the same. you can kiss your impeccably kept house goodbye, unless you have round the clock help who can keep surfaces hair free. also some dogs are slobber fest, so be prepared for wet and dry dog saliva on your upholstery, clothes etc. i have dog hair all over my clothes, bed, sofa, cushions and even on vessels. ofcourse i have a hairy dog, but regardless of what any breeder tells you, there is no such thing as a non shedding dog. be sure to dust everyday, change bedsheets and table cloths often, rinse your washing machine after every cycle so that residual hair doesnt get into other stuff, rinse every vessel/ crockery/cutlery before using and just suck it up and bear if you find hair in stuff like your cosmetics!
  • travel will be hit bigtime. till your dog is atleast 8 months old, you can forget about travelling unless you have someone who can watch/keep him. this someone has to be a person who is competent enough to handle the dog, has the time and energy to do it and most importantly, the dog is comfortable with. i have found a dog hostel and plan to leave sage there for a few hours a week even if i am not going anywhere to get him used to the place so that i can leave him there for a few days when i need to begin travelling again. 
  • its expensive to keep a dog. the food (mine is fed homemade, so account for the time and energy), medical expenses and toys and grooming products are expensive. there is limitless choice for everything, but even the most frugal spending will amount to about 1.5k per month. be prepared. toys are addictive and expensive, but i've found my dog prefers empty bottles and empty coconut shells over anything else. 
a lot of what i have written here i am experiencing for the first time although Sage is not my first dog. i grew up with dogs and cats and hens and chickens. but i lived in an independent house with a lot of space for the multiple dogs we always had to run about. we never had to walk the dog or exercise them as they got it all by playing with the other dogs. We also always had someone to care for the dogs when we traveled. this is the first time i am raising a large dog in an apartment. this means a lot more work for both you and the dog. exercise and walks are non negotiable. if you arent able to drain the energy of the dog, no amount of punishment will stop destructive behaviour.

Why am i painting such a grim picture?
Its not a grim picture, its the truth. I am always amused by people who want to bring home a dog because the pup is cute. remember they will look like a little teddy bear for just 3-4 weeks. when the hardwork and effort of keeping a pet is realised, most people turn angry and frustrated. Its unfair on the dog.

the bright side?
the brightest part of everything is the dog which will love you like no other living thing on this earth can - not even your spouse or significant other. 

the welcome you get when you walk through the door, even if you have left for 5 mins only is unlike anything else. that in itself is enough incentive to get one.

you will be forced to keep a schedule for feed and walk times, this helps if you are a lazy ass like me. i've lost 4 kilos over the last 7 months doing nothing more than walking sage and playing with him. i think i eat a lot more than i did before.

you make friends with people. my friends are as young as 7 month old babies who gurgle in delight when they spot Sage to 70+ people who stop to pet him and talk to me.

pets are an amazing stress buster. ask K he will tell you. they take away your tiredness and irritation at the end of the day.

it makes you less selfish and more conscious of other's needs. because regardless of how tired or stressed you are, you are greeted and treated with so much love, sometimes it makes you want to cry. it also means that you are forced to care for the upkeep of another living thing, share your living space with it and realize that the most expensive things you posses are just that - things... sometimes they get chewed!

I'm more in love with dogs than people.... i would love for everyone to have atleast one in their lifetime... but make no mistake, with great unconditional love of the dog comes great commitment and responsibility too. so choose wisely and know love like you've never experienced it ever. 


and here's a video of Sage, full grown and playing with Gangaram, our maintenance incharge at the apartment. 

Sage sends his woofs!


Friday, February 3, 2012

the things i see

there was a time when i wouldn't step out of the house for 10 whole days... like literally not even out onto the corridor because i didn't need to step out and i am not one of those people who feels claustrophobic in their house... i love my house and i can stay in for weeks...

that was before Sage .... now with a dog to walk at least 5 times a day, i am compelled to go out... so i meet different people... see things i would not have otherwise...and even stop to chat....

the stuff so far....

scenes from the mornings.....
  • some women are well dressed even at 7 a.m when i think of my spit stained tracks, scraggly hair and sometimes torn tees, i shudder
  • 99% of the time, kids are dropped to their school buses by their mothers
  • some of the younger children cry copiously as they beg not to be sent to school... my heart melts each time i see one like that
  • almost everyone who walks alone is fiddling with the phone
  • old ladies and men in the morning steal flowers from gardens of the apartments they do not live in
  • there are atleast 80 maids who arrive to work in the homes.... the men (cooks mostly) come by cycles, but the maids always walk... some of them talking on phones as they rush to work... they begin to arrive at 6 a.m
  • people still carry drinking water... there are two open plots where two families live... i know now that they do not have the luxury of running water
  • the boys who deliver our milk and newspaper are all under 15
  • i have never seen a lady maid/cook in a sweater, at best a flimsy shawl but never in a sweater
scenes from the afternoon
  • not many people on the street except the chowkidars... they have their own gangs....
  • the uniformed ones have their own group... they are mostly north indian / non locals
  • the ones without uniform are local guys (directly employed and not through the agencies i was told) they hang out together
  • flipkart is doing very well... their delivery guy comes everyday and stops at atleast 3 apartments
  • courier delivery guys are friends with all the chowkidars
Scenes from the evening
  • there are a LOT of young people who live in the 8 apartment buildings of our colony... (read young, slim, pretty and very fashionable young girls... and some random boys who's low hanging jeans would be a public obscenity case in the making if they did a survey)
  • some of the young girls call me aunty (and i hate it... i mean c'mon how old are you? 20?) (actually on some days i want to cry)
  • in the evenings, i see many couples / lovers reluctant to leave each other's presence for the day - reminds me of K dropping me home after work.... they hold hands, caress each other's faces and sadly say bye
  • i overhear very emotional arguments... people walking up and down in agitation, arguing or fighting with whoever it is on the other end of the phone
  • the wine shop nearby has HUGE clientele
  • most of the bachelors walk home with a beer bottle in hand... especially on the weekend
  • the transparent shopping bags of most single people contain combinations of the following:
    • bread, eggs, milk packets, butter, onions, tomatoes, pudina and kotmir, potatoes, soap/ shampoo/washing powder, maggi, tomato sauce bottles, dvds
  • i saw a guy rolling a joint and smoking it. ofcourse he thought he was being very discreet.... i had half a mind to go up and ask him where he scored!
  • i saw a man running out of his house and trying to hit his wife with a chappal
  • home delivery guys are in brisk business between 9-11 pm on weekends, it doubles
  • men still stare at a woman walking on the colony road after 7 p.m, even if accompanied by a really large (if completely friendly) dog

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

almost perfect

So K went off to his cousin's wedding on Kolkatta. i am not admitting to any arm twisting here... he hates that city and the smells and the food not particularly in that order. So some (not) irritation was expected.. what i didnt expect, was the day he came back on tuesday, as he left for work, he told me he would be back early and take me out shopping.... now if like me you have known K half your life, you will know not to take him too seriously... at 7.30 pm he calls to say he was on his way and that i should meet him downstairs....

we went to a mall, he shopped for a few things himself... then patiently (then impatiently) walked with me and my shopping cart as i did the grocery shopping... even spotting the right aisles and bringing me packets of stuff asking if it was the right one... when he got tired of this game, he went off to stock the bar....there was a serpentine queue for the billing and he picked up a pack of sunflower seeds to munch while he sat on the floor... yes, he sits on the floor... like a tantrum throwing child...only he isnt throwing a tantrum, but just comments on everything around him... he is quite hilarious... except for the time when he told me i am looking old and that age is showing on me... then i wanted to ambush him with my loaded shopping trolley.

We then headed to the basement parking lot to load the car. At that point, K asked me about dinner... i said whatever...( had not so secretly eaten a dosa at home)...he said to me... not so much to eat, but we're out and i want to spend time with you... sit and talk.....my heart skipped a beat...We traipsed to our (current) favourite newscafe and ordered drinks and a salad... spent an hour and a half talking, laughing, i think i held his hand a couple of times...  like the young lovers we once were.... we had such a good time... just being together... i apologised for sending him to kolkata, i know he doesn't like that place... he told me not to think about it again... 

why am i calling such an evening almost perfect? because reality hit us as soon as we reached home... Sage messed our bed up and even peed on it... he's never done that in the 6 months that we've had him... i was tired... but i had to change the sheets and turn the bed over... i still wouldnt change anything of that evening