Reflections At The Gym

If you thought that was a pun, guess what? You’re bang on! The gym I occasionally frequent (inching towards an oxymoron here folks) has mirrors all along one side of a wall and that really helps while you’re checking out your form or lack thereof. It frequently helps me bemoan the state my body’s in although am far from the age where any kind of remedial action is off the table.

The gym also has a couple of tvs on another wall, conveniently lined up with the treadmills and people prefer to watch Bollywood videos while they work out. I usually don’t; audios are fine but videos often throw me off my stride. Either it’s too inane or it just assaults your senses and sensibilities at 6 am. I prefer my sensibilities to be assaulted after breakfast thank you very much, not before.

Even the biopics or more realistic movie plots show relationships in a more theatrical way- the college days, the bike rides (usually an uber expensive muscle bike no matter how un-wealthy the family) and the ability to cross the time barrier multiple times in the course of one three-minute song while hop, skipping and jumping across continents. They may be cinematically aesthetic and appealing but darn it if it doesn’t make you think, “That’s not how it happens at all!!

Take for example two kids from “good” middle class Indian families who would like to spend some time on their own. Managing the logistics is hard enough without some hawk-eyed auntie staring at you while you make your way out of the house so imagine a scenario where you get me-time with your crush let alone have him hoist you up in the air and spin you around in glee. That my friend, is a challenge and a half! And one that remains a daydream for most young adults.

Take it from someone who has had one or two of those magical theatrical moments; it’s all too fleeting and it takes so much doing that at the end of the day you’d rather have the opportunity to hold hands under the table or walk along side by side with an occasional touching of the hands. Way more romantic and definitely more feasible especially when you run into someone you know out of the blue. And you *always* run into someone out of the blue when you’re dating and haven’t yet disclosed it to anyone.

Dating in India is a different kettle of fish or used to be when I had first ventured into it. We were awkward to the hilt and anything that was remotely romantic was blown up to assume epic proportions in one’s mind. Imagine a rainy street, two 20 somethings cuddled up on a bike and cruising along when the bike stops and the guy gets off, kisses the girl and they ride off again- why did he stop? Because he’d read it in a book (Chicken Soup For the Couples’ Soul) and thought it would be a memory worth creating. No matter how jaded you are, you can’t help but smile a tiny bit at the whole thing. It’s sweet. Very sweet. And for those you are saying, “CORNY!” Well…you had to be there.

Dating in any small town or a place with a small town mindset also means those extremely “well-meaning” aunties who watch out for you out of the goodness of their heart and an overwhelming desire to provide the latest dirt during their veggie buying outings.

With their heads on swivel for every boy and girl who walk by, they would put the intelligence agencies to shame with their ability to predict who is going to come to a sticky end, be up to no good or what’s happening behind closed doors in which home. Sadly this level of clairvoyance doesn’t hold good for their own homes. They have the other neighbourhood ladies picking up the slack for them there though so it’s all good.

When I think of the few dates I’d been on in my younger days, it was more of the thrill of doing something, going somewhere or the anticipation of something coming together that makes me smile with nostalgia. Whether it was sitting in a hole-in-the-wall eatery while the date spoke about how he used to have his morning breakfast there before heading to college or trudging through heavy rains while on a scooter and struggling to hold onto camera bags and keep the glasses from fogging over.

It was never about being hoisted into air during a song to feel special. And while that did happen, the guy had to take the day off from work the next day because hoisting buxom Indian girls wasn’t as easy as the movies made it look. Not by half!

The Pandemic: A Timeline of Delayed Gratification

Most people I know have dealt with the fallout of the pandemic to the best of their ability. Some have been lucky to not contract the virus at all or recover quickly if they have and thankfully not too many have faced any irreplaceable losses. But we’ve ALL been touched by the effects of it fairly deeply in our psyche.

My erstwhile largely happy and manageable child gets down in the dumps at the slightest hint of any change. It might not even be a significant event but just the prospect of having to do without something gets him reacting like never before.

The concept of delayed gratification whether it’s being able to step outside the house, socialise, go to the grocery store, run an errand at the mall, attend in-person school, travel on a whim or not be able to play because it’s raining outside; leads to so much mental preparation needed to adjust and adapt these days just to weather the disappointment of yet another compromise being made.

When I think of how this phase has impacted me, I can honestly say I’ve become more withdrawn. Ask Red and he mayn’t agree since he thinks I’m still the loudest person in the house but given an option I’d rather not do anything but just read a book and possibly stay bundled up somewhere cozy. Call it a start of a myopic personality trait or just a reaction to the times we live it.

I do my daily calls to the bestie, often twice a day- no mean feat given that we factor in time differences of 12+ hours and the interruptions that come in when you have kids hovering around. I speak to both my folks often, separately, their schedules and the frequency of our need to communicate with each other being dictated by daily occurrences as well as things happening in the family.

However, till the end of last year I was all about embracing being around people, having someone to hang out with, talk, have a meal with or just interface with; for the most part of 2021, I’ve been craving the quiet.

I haven’t become unsocial per se but a strong thread of being asocial has come in. It may be a coping mechanism or even a sign of something a bit more worrying but am not looking at it under a microscope because despite everything I’m feeling, I haven’t become dysfunctional due to these new tendencies. I do find myself leaning more towards solitary activities and wanting to linger there more than ever before though.

Lest this become a solely whinge-post let me say this: I have a lot to be grateful for. Coming from a country that has well over a billion people, I still got my opportunity to be vaccinated relatively quickly once the vaccines were available on the market. The people closest to me are as safe as I can hope they are from the disease and otherwise of fairly good health given their ages. We as a family are still able to make and utilise many opportunities to laugh, enjoy ourselves in each other’s company and not constantly have to worry about tomorrow.

The biggest change that’s crept in is that I’m unable to plan. And I used to plan things out to the hilt! Not necessarily down to every single brass tack, but planning and the anticipation of something coming about was part of the high.

When I was in college, the university or living away from my folks; going home used to be a cause for a celebration. I’d have my bags packed a month in advance. Any trip that we planned on as a family (Red&I) would have me looking forward to the minute we’d lock the door and step out; weeks in advance! The last international trip I took had an epic amount of planning and preparing going into it and that’s always been part of the overall experience for me in the past. Not so much now.

And while I do miss that overly-enthusiastic part of me who used to want to and couldn’t help but plan for things; it’s been a very solid learning to focus on the here and now and leave the future to unfold as it may happen.

I still can’t entirely let go of the tendency to plan to be honest. For instance, a part of me wants to bookmark this post and look back at it a year from now to see how things are. They may not be much better, it could even be worse than before; but for now the unfailing warmth and comfort from a cup of coffee+a few pages of a British mystery will have to suffice. 2022 will be upon us soon enough.

2020…what’s next?

The easiest answer would be 2021…DUH! But it’s become way more than that. The last time there was a brouhaha over a year or its ending was Y2K but that turned out to be a damp squib in comparison. Heads up! This is an image-heavy post…

While 2019 ended on an interesting note- first international trip with the bestie, getting mugged, realisations about life, yada yada…I also spent time with people I love and look forward to seeing at the end of every year, saw G dance his butt off on stage, spent quality time with my folks (always a highlight in my book); the year ended on a goodish note overall. Which is basically all you can hope for, especially when you have zero clue what lies ahead.

When Bollywood music takes over!

2020 has been the year of the pandemic for sure but it’s also been a year of reaching out to each other for support. It’s been the year of coming closer, hugs and kisses, playing dress up with chubby toddlers, celebrating things on a smaller scale but with more happiness. It’s been a year of dealing with Covid- inside the home and within extended family. It’s been about heading out for open spaces at the first opportunity because one didn’t know when the next opportunity would present itself. It’s also been one about realising how much of an impact we have on our immediate environment because once the cars stopped going out on the roads, the skies became clearer, bluer and wildlife became bolder and more abundant.

Where TO is concerned, it’s become the year when digital media and screen time became a double-edged sword. Homework and projects became buzzwords as did meeting links, breakout rooms and assessments. Red and I had to familiarise ourselves with the intricacies of the IB model and we still have ready reckoners saved here and there to help us understand some concepts which aren’t clear yet.

2020 in a nutshell for me has been the year of becoming more resilient and taking responsibility- for yourself and to some extent, the others who do depend on you for support and succorance. And while it ended up with more dependence on masks, gloves and keeping an eye out for the optimum amount of alcohol in our sanitisers; it’s been a year of massive learning on pretty much all fronts.

Most of us have learnt what and who we can do without. And what we truly hold dear. Milestones and non-milestone birthdays have been celebrated with gusto. And we’ve all hung on with our sanity intact-for the most part.

And while I don’t really like to tempt fate much- became am iffy on karma- I like to think that 2021 can be rocky, tempestuous even but we’ll get by and still find stuff to smile about. I can totally hang my hat on that, any day.

L’chaim!

Pet Peeves

I have a couple of pet peeves that I have carefully nurtured over the years; hence the word pet. Here they are in no particular order:

  • Wet towels– thanks to Red and TO for making this a near constant in the household. Anyone touching my bed will think a chronic bedwetter lives here. Over time the amount of wetness has increased with sopping wet towels making an appearance every few days.
  • Food left uncovered again…thank you Red for passing on this particular gene onto the offspring. There’s nothing more appetising than knowing that bugs were attracted to the grub we’re about to have and they might’ve partaken of it as well. Oh well..sharing=caring and all that jazz.
  • People who don’t punctuate and get their syntax wrong. C’mon…unless you’re being charged by the punctuation, please..for all our sakes…use a comma, a full stop, a semicolon and even consider capital letters just to break the monotony of the written word.

That’s all for now. I am off to a session that will help me connect with the energies of the cosmos and hopefully not care so much about non-punctuating, wet-towel using, food-uncovering people I share my space it.

Namaste.

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Nostalgia Endures

My father moved around a lot while I was growing up. And it was a good way to live, everything considered. Met new people every few years, or met the same old faces in different cities and towns and had a good time catching up.

India of the late 80s was a vastly different place from what it is now. And while that is a rather DUH kind of statement to make, it’s still very true. In 1988 my father moved to US for a few years. And we were as FOTB as they came. While my folks still knew something about the country and the people, I knew bupkiss. And when the learning began, I was like a sponge. Red still likes to say that I’ve yet to leave the accent and thought process behind although the country was left behind decades ago. With emphasis on the decade. Husbands!

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For me it was a magical place. Imagine if the height of television watching till then had been the weekly mythological serials that the whole family lined up to see on Sundays and then cut to an 8 year old totally having a braingasm in front of a telly with more than 2-3 channels (back then) just for cartoons!

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And there began the journey with music. Till then music was what my folks played on the turntable or what was on the radio or the Bollywood stuff on the t.v. There had been a brief exposure to BoneyM as a tiny tot but that was quickly forgotten as well.

Suddenly there was VH1, and MTV and music videos galore. And it was amazing. It played 24/7 and all you had to do was listen and you’d find something that stuck to your mind. Good or bad it stuck.

Things which kids are exposed to in their formative years always stays with them. And so the 90s with its big poofy, hairsprayed hair (for both men and women) stayed with me. The ripped denim, Gene Simmons’ make-up and guitar smashing and for some reason Slash’s weirdly placed bellybutton…all made an impression. I don’t like B-52 but remember their music. I don’t like any songs from Shakespeares Sister but can listen to Stay on a loop at times.

And that’s why even after all those years, after having spent more time away from that influence rather than time with, I still fall back to that music when I feel restless and fidgety. Listening to Winger (never heard any other song except Miles Away), Skid Row and even Heavy D…all seem very very comforting. Because that’s what music does to you. It transports you to new (and old) experiences, emotions and by the time you descend back to yourself, you’re set. For that moment.

I have a varied playlist on my phone and every now and then when I hit shuffle it comes up with things which really make me stop and listen purely for the nostalgia quotient. And that’s when reality intrudes with a rather jarring sound- that of DJ Snake’s Magenta Riddim because small hands found the phone and thought it would be fun to shake things up a bit from the boring U2’s With Or Without You….kids!

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Lessons In Parenting

Letting your kids win at games may cause tiny faces to erupt into smiles but it doesn’t always teach them how to aspire to win. Even worse, they often begin to expect that everyone who plays against them will also lose. 

When this happy state of affairs doesn’t come about too often, the little face is nothing short of woebegone with signs of tantrums lurking here and there.

So be a good parent and do your kids a solid…beat the pants offa them! Winning isn’t everything but they need to want to win enough to try for it. Everything else, the fun and giggles, is just the icing on the cake.

Nuff said.

Lessons In Parenting

Letting your kids win at games may cause tiny faces to erupt into smiles but it doesn’t always teach them how to aspire to win. Even worse, they often begin to expect that everyone who plays against them will also lose. 

When this happy state of affairs doesn’t come about too often, the little face is nothing short of woebegone with signs of tantrums lurking here and there.

So be a good parent and do your kids a solid…beat the pants offa them! Winning isn’t everything but they need to want to win enough to try for it. Everything else, the fun and giggles, is just the icing on the cake.

Nuff said.