Not so fast and furious

Several things have happened since I last wrote here. Like I started driving. When I say driving, I don’t mean I am learning driving or going to driving classes or that I took the car out for a spin one early morning, when the roads were free of folks who value their lives – because that is stuff I have done before (like two years ago). What I mean is that I now own a car and that I drive it to and from work everyday and on the odd weekends to the mall as well. It has been an oddly exhilarating experience, scary (very scary) in the beginning, moving on to being surprisingly fun once the music and confidence kicked in, and then to frustrating – which was just this Tuesday when I finally inaugurated my ‘stuck in a jam’ account and took 45 minutes to cover the 2.5 kilometers to home.

But it’s good to be able to have ticked one thing off the wish list – more of mom’s and The Dude’s than mine, but still. Because both of them somehow felt it was absolutely essential that I independently handle a freaking metal contraption on 4 wheels that needs your hands, feet, eyes and ears to work in synchronization, while your brain prays that no idiot cuts you from the wrong side or tries to fit in his SUV in the 2 feet wide gap you left between yourself and the divider. And this, in an age when we have Uber (ofcourse I am conveniently forgetting the surge pricing and new-to-the-city drivers).

So having made excuses for a long time, I finally gave in, and we have the unbelievable phenomenon that is the Hyderabad summers to thank for that. The manner in which the sun treats you within 20 minutes of interaction (in my case, that’s how long it would take on my trusted bike) is kind of inhuman. There were times when I was actually convinced that I might have lost a couple of layers of skin on my legs while waiting at traffic signals. And then I would jealously look at the people next to me – chilling in their air conditioned cars, listening to music of their choice, not feeling the brunt of the sun. And while they might reach work much later because we all know just how long it takes to take a u turn on these roads, atleast they wouldn’t be semi-cooked.

And so, I bought myself a car. It met my specifications to the T, which was basically “second hand Hyundai i10 automatic in any color but white”. And after going through quite a few Olx and Quikr ads, I finally got one in our own building complex. It was a smooth negotiation, and except for a minor bump (literally) on the bumper, a day before they handed over the car to us, it was all good.

Once you have the car, you pretty much don’t have an excuse, or rather, you dare not have an excuse, because The Dude doesn’t take excuses when there is a cash outflow. Which meant I embarked upon supervised drives in the morning, which were quite comfortable and useless because we all know that your car doesn’t matter on Indian roads, the cars of the folks around you do. But we waited for a bit so that I could be convinced that we don’t need 3 feet of empty space around the car at all times while driving. And that we don’t need to cruise at a speed of 5 kmph inside the parking lot. And that every turn doesn’t require a complete brake and stop. And that you don’t need to hold the steering like you would hold the edge of a cliff after losing footing.

And finally, once we returned from our big fat German vacation in May, I started driving to work. Again, with supervision for a week, until one fine day, when I had some work, so I decided to take the bike, and it wouldn’t start because who would when you have been ignored and cast aside for a whole week. And The Dude had already left, which meant taking the cab, and that’s what I would have done, but The Dude said “Take the car! You have to, someday!”.

The rest, as they say is history. Only not so much, cos this happened like a month and a half ago. But good news is, I have been driving every day to and from work. I started with driving while chanting shlokas (I’m not kidding), hanuman chalisa to be exact, the whole time while on the wheel. I then cut it to chanting it one whole time, and following it up with music. And I finally graduated to offering a shorter prayer, just before I start, and then getting the music on.Which I still do.

On the whole, I think it was a good move, moving on to the 4 wheeler, because of many reasons. Like the weather – because I was a wee bit late and the terrible summer came to an end before I started, I was on time for the rains. Because I think I am over the ‘riding your bike while it pours’ stage (and age). Also, my hair in it’s current situation can really do without a helmet crushing it so it resembles a black straw hat by the time I am at work. Plus I think I have consumed enough grime from the air for this lifetime. Lastly, music while you battle traffic is a big, big boon, even if it means spending those extra minutes waiting in line behind cars, when all the bikes squirm through the 5 inch gaps. That, by the way, has also made me extremely aware of just how annoying I would have been when on the bike. The next step is to be able to remove the ‘L’ from the windscreens, which would really mean that I have certified myself as a non-newbie driver.

But ofcourse, the final certification of being a true driver will arrive only and only when I will be able to curse on the road with the same level of confidence as I used to on the bike. And for that, we have some more time and driving to go.

Detox

Since I have the tendency to get on and off the fitness bandwagon, I keep encountering the concept of detoxes and actually find it useful. Maybe more psychologically than in reality – but somewhere, the thought of letting your body relax and recover from continuously working on processing all that you ingest in the name of food and drinks, makes complete sense. I usually do this on Mondays, after subjecting myself to two days of uncontrolled binge eating over the weekend.

Which brings me to the detox that has been playing on my mind for a while now – a people detox. I am someone who enjoys interacting with fellow human beings quite a bit, and though I have a bit of starting problem, if I do start, it is usually not the easiest thing to make me stop. In my personal life I have my well-defined set of friends and family who I am always ready to talk to. Similarly, at my work place as well, I have always liked talking to people about work and beyond.

My work deals with numbers, and not more than 5 years ago, majority of my time would be spent with earphones plugged in, playing my latest obsession in music, while I churned out graphs and presentations and similar stuff. And when I took tea breaks and lunch breaks, I looked forward to talking to the people around. But of late, this has changed. 11 years in the industry, ensures that eventually, you will have less to do with with getting the numbers out, and more to do with the people who get the numbers out, and also the people who will receive these numbers.

Which means talking, a lot of talking, way too much talking – even though I am still someone who chooses mails over the phone. Talking is tiring. Actually, it is exhausting, and stressful. Meetings, formal an informal, make up 80% of your day, and the rest 20% you spend trying to get folks work on what the meetings were about. There is so much talking because there is a ‘need’ to talk, you almost never ‘want’ to talk. And the worst thing, by the time you are home to talk to the people who matter the most, you are never in a position to, and would choose to stare dumbly at the television. Which is why, detox.

The problem however is that it is not simple at all. While when you are on a food related detox, the only thing you need to have control over is your own cravings, and even if you are constantly thinking of food you can’t eat, your body detox is still working. With the ‘people’ detox – it doesn’t work that way because 1) it is actually tough be away from all people for an extended period of time and even if you do 2) there is no way you will stop thinking about them and things related to them, which in this case makes the whole thing useless, because the very idea is let your head rest for a bit. In fact, if you are holed away somewhere away from mankind, you will have all the more time, and no distractions, to keep thinking about people.

But I think I need to give it a shot anyway. I am not saying anything drastic like going away to Himalayas and meditating till I attain Nirvana (or fall asleep, since the latter has a greater probability of happening). I am just thinking staying home one day when no one is around, switching off my phone, telling the school and bus and day care people to call The Dude instead, stating on my out of office message that I would be absolutely unreachable, not responding to door bells, and not even resorting to the television or movies or the social network for entertainment. I would probably allow myself books (because I want a detox and not death via boredom) at most, and hope that the fictional characters keep me from thinking about the real ones in my life. And then pray that it works at making me feel better.

And in case it doesn’t, I can just break the detox by talking to the downstairs supermarket guy and getting myself a whole bar of chocolate, because that will always work.

As good as it gets – actually slightly better

The reason I have not updated the blog in over a month, is because I am a supremely lazy individual who has absolutely no sense of priorities or persistence to ensure keeping up with one, single, thing consistently, without breaking the rhythm.

That, and that I was on one of the most wonderful vacations the second half of the last month, which obviously meant that I spent the first half planning it, which in my world means shopping so that I and Zo had enough clothes to last us the two weeks and  the various climates that weather.com seemed to suggest we would encounter.

It went well. Of course it went well. It went wonderfully well, and it was so wonderful that it is a week since I returned, and my heart still refuses to get back to routine. And my body refuses to get back to proportions that would fit my formal clothes. But when you are on such a post vacation high, that the hangover hasn’t hit yet, such small things don’t matter. Actually, nothing matters.

So this time, we spent 9 days at Deutschland, and 4 days amidst the Swiss Alps. In Germany, we stayed in 3 cities – Frankfurt, Berlin and Munich – and covered a new town in the vicinity almost every day. I think we had such a good time in Brughe when we went to Brussels, that we made every day a day trip to somewhere else, especially when in Frankfurt, which doesn’t have as much to see. So there was Cologne on day 1, Heidelberg on day 2 (where I broke my iPhone, yes I did, yes I am upset, yes I want to cry, yes it is unfair, no I haven’t gotten it fixed yet, in fact I dropped it again in Munich and shattered it further). And then from Berlin there was Pottsdam, though Berlin itself is so pretty one can spend more time there and I think 3 days was too less. Plus it helps if you have watched Bridge of Spies because then you associate with the Bridge of spies and Checkpoint Charlie much better.

Then from Munich, there was the trip to Neuschwanstein Castle – which was pretty much the selling point to Zo for the whole trip, other than the pigeons and ducks that caught her fancy everywhere. Otherwise Munich was such a party place, even more than Amsterdam, that it made absolute sense to consume abysmal amounts of brews and meat wherever we went. We sealed the trip with a visit to the famous Hofbrauhaus on an otherwise downer of a day due to the incessant rains.

Over the trip, there was a lot that was learnt. I love that about holidays, especially ones like this, which have us visiting so many new places with so many stories and so much history. I think I can pretty much write a short paper on Hitler and the Nazis now, of course until it recedes to back of my memory. We walked non-stop, ok with some stops because little Zo needed to ‘rest her legs’. This was a long trip, and there was no stroller, and we were pretty worried that she might not be as enthused as she was in Disneyland for obvious reasons, but I have said it before, and I will say it again – she’s a trooper. And what an amazing one. Because it is one thing to go along with things as they happen, and another to be part of it and enjoy it; and enjoy the way she did.

The last 4 days were spent at Engelberg, which is at the foothills of Mt. Titlis. A small scenic town, right out of storybooks, where the shops close by 6, and the views from the windows are of the Alps, and where half the population is from India. Yep. So turns out, that Switzerland still remains the number 1 spot for Indians to holiday in Europe, and it wasn’t just DDLJ that triggered the madness. And it was interesting to see directions written in hindi, and samosas and chai being sold alongside Raclette (which has to be one of the most sinfully delicious thing I have ever had) and Fondue.

We then visited Montreux for a day before coming back home to routine. Two weeks seem like a lot but when it gets over it seems like nothing at all. There are spoils from the visit ofcourse but they don’t last as much, even if it is difficult to enjoy as much when you decide on a much needed detox after two whole weeks of pure indulgence. Also, the drudgery of the routine hasn’t struck, because like I said, the high hasn’t worn off and given way to the hangover, not just as yet. Which helps me take one day at a time.

And which also helps me write down this hurried post, before I forget the good times, or rather, before they turn into bouts of nostalgia that will make me cry.

Z is for Zen

Zen because it’s Saturday – a Saturday with no plans. Which means staying in the air conditioned room eating leftovers from yesterday, playing silly games with Zo, surfing sillier stuff on the internet, and afternoon siestas.

Zen because the vacation is just two weeks away, and all the base work is done. Just a pair of walking shoes need to be bought but that needs a trip to Decathalon, so it can wait.

Zen because dinner tonight is a buffet, which means every taste bud, in whatever mood it is in, will be satisfied. And ofcourse, lots of dessert will be eaten.

Zen because I have had no interaction with any grown up today – and I mean grown ups you have to interact with because of the job and other social obligations. Such days calm the antisocial me down.

Zen because I decided I have to be zen today, and not let anything that usually bothers me bother me at all. Because we all need zen days like that.

Zen because if I had to think even for 5 more minutes about what I could write with Z, I would become all un-zen, and that wouldn’t work well for the post.

Zen because today is the last day of the challenge.  Thank you for sticking around till now!

Y is for Yes!

Yes, it’s been a tough month, I might not do this again;

Yes I know I thought I could, but it’s too much of a pain.

Yes, when you start, you think, “Alphabets? That should be fun!”

But only when you start thinking of words, you’ll find there are none.

Yes, the dictionary has a million words that you might just go and take;

But writing a line about each damn word, does not a blog post make.

Yes, it helps to have a timeline, it makes you have to write,

But have and want are two different things that always tend to fight.

So yes, while it might be the only way to get some blogging done;

If you’ve done it once, you’ve done enough, the next time you should run.

The good thing about today, however, is that it will finally end,

So what if I cheated a bit, after all  rules are made to be bent.

But I huffed and puffed and trundled along, so I deserve some cheer,

And say it loud, actually shout  – Damn YES! I made it till here!

Y

X is for X

Let me start with an anecdote, one which my fellow blogger Preeks happened to link to in one of her comments recently. So long ago, like really long ago, 12 whole years ago, the letter x on the rickety keyboard of my desktop, stopped working. And then, it started working. Ok, I understand that is not even close to what you would call an interesting story, but, I have a point, I swear I do.

So if you were kind enough to click on that link, you would notice just how angsty I had gotten, because one damn alphabet stopped working. When the truth is that when I had to think of words with X for this post, I could not come up with any! I mean, I could do Xylophone and write about Zo’s ‘performances’ that go ting ting ting, or I could do X-mas, and link you back to my Christmas post which I should have saved for today, but beyond that I could think of nothing. So I wonder why it was that I was so hassled about this key not working back then?

The answer I think is that, we followed the usual theory of ‘rare is valuable’ with this letter.It also helped that the letter looks kinda cute. I mean think of it, it’s the only letter which looks the same from all 4 directions other than O; which is as cute, but one needs to be able to hold their pens a tad more seriously to make it look good. I can say this because you will see multiple versions of O when Zo writes, some favoring one direction and some another. But X, she never gets it wrong. Yeah, so we develop this little letter, that looks nice, is easy to write, and suddenly we realize, what was the point? And then begin the force-fits.

Think of it, can you think of one word which starts with x, or has it, that really needs it? Xylophone is pronounced zylophone and X-ray could have well been eksray, and it wouldn’t make one bit of a difference. All the words – box, ox, toxic, exam – all of them could easily be boks, oks, toksic and egzam. So with a judicious use of ‘ks’ and z, we could have easily written off a whole alphabet.

But we didn’t, we kept it on board. And like a consolation to it, assuming that X knows that we know that it really doesn’t serve any purpose, we gave it 8 points in Scrabble. Yes, that would be similar to Q, but unlike Q, X doesn’t have any baggage it needs to carry around. In fact, all you need is an O or an E and you have words. Which makes us all love it more. So despite it’s uselessness, X has carved its own niche.

Which is reason enough for the letter to deserve a post of its own, without any letters behind it to steal attention.

X

W is for Words

Yes, W has to be for words. But not mine, we have had enough of those. So here we go.

  • We breathe because we need oxygen to go into our hands and legs and make them move. That’s how the technology works.
  • Look at that dirt on the floor! It’s coming towards me! It’s disgusting!
  • Mama look, I matched my hair band to my dress. I am such a fashionista!
  • I like movies, because you just have to sit and watch and eat popcorn. Shopping is so tiring, we keep walking around looking at clothes!
  • Ok, I won’t color in your book, but can I assist you by choosing colors you can use?
  • Why are you angry? I apologized no?
  • Can you ask your boss if I can sit in a room and color while you take interviews?
  • I ate all the food, so now I am strong! Look at my muscles! (complete with a flexed bicep)
  • Is this juice freshly pressed? My teacher said we should not drink packaged juice.
  • I don’t want a burger, I will have a salad instead. That’s healthy food. Burgers are junk food.
  • No, you are the most beautiful. Ok, you be the most beautiful mama, I will be the most beautiful daughter. (on being told that she’s the most beautiful girl in the world)
  • But I want to be Elsa! How can I be Anna? I am a queen! (on doing a puzzle which tells you who you are more like. She turned out to be Anna however much she changed her answers)
  • Can you please wear the outfit I chose for you today? (always polka dots. Always)
  • Oh look, that’s not a CVC word, it’s a CCVC word! (on reading ‘from’ for the first time. C is for consonant and V is for vowel, for those who don’t have 4 year old kids or nieces or nephews in the vicinity)

And that would be the post for yesterday. I know, I took the easy way out, but I’m sure you won’t complain.

Now to think of a post for X.

W