Dum aloo

I will tell you something.

Ramu kaka makes this absolutely delicious dum-aloo which I think I have written about before, but I am eating it right now (like right now, typing in between mouthfuls, licking my fingers and typing), and it is so delicious that it totally deserves a mention. On that note, I should stop calling Ramu kaka that because I am pretty sure he is younger than I am. As is, turns out, most of the world around me. It’s almost like I have stepped into a universe full of people who are at a much different stage in life than I am – either numerically, or mentally – making it relatively difficult to hold conversations. Which explains why I am eating in front of my laptop. Yep, I do it everyday.

Last Sunday, I ran my first half-marathon. Going by how I was by the end of it, it might as well be my last too, but who knows? I have another registered 10k coming up next weekend, but other than that, the sun has made it impossible to run outside now. I mean, you can, if you wake up at an ungodly hour of 5 or something, but while I love running, I love my early morning sleep more. So it’s back to being a gym rat for a while again (hopefully) – with the air conditioning and the staring outside the windows into the swimming pool as you workout on the cross-trainer – Spotify’s playlist of the day blaring in your ears. Side note : While I picked atleast 50 artists on Spotify to create a playlist from, Spotify has been only playing music from KJo movies for the past 3 days. Why?

I have diligently watched every episode of Koffee with Karan this season. I like Koffee with Karan. It is frivolous, funny, gossipy and exactly what you need after a day filled with telling people what to do, how to do it, and then explain to bosses why it was not done. It’s a pity it’s over. Now what will I justify my Hotstar subscription with?

I have also taken to listening to audiobooks in a way I could never imagine. I remember – I think in 2009, I was visiting Basel for work – and this guy who was supposed to be my mentor – though our conversations usually circled around how he planned on  proposing to his girlfriend – mentioned how he spent his hour long + drive from Bern to Basel listening to audiobooks. And it did not make any sense to me. Who listens to books, I thought. Now 10 years later, I have the answer. I do. Thanks to a colleague and audible’s free 90 day trial, and quite frankly, my brilliant first experience of listening to a book being read out to me (Becoming, by Michelle Obama) – I am hooked. And how!

You see, the time spent driving in traffic is the most terrible, unproductive, useless, horrible time ever. And however upbeat the music, you can’t help but think how much better you could have utilized this time! Here’s the other thing – if you were to ask me how I would use my time, if I had any extra on hand, my answer usually is – ‘ I don’t know! Maybe read more?’ And, that’s why, this is as good as it gets! I spend about an hour in total driving to and fro each day – and in the past, any increase to this, would be make me simmer with rage. But with a book in the background – I have conveniently started feeling like I am spending all this time reading. Which, going by my original statements, is exactly what I would want to be doing? Oh, and my road rage has gone down dramatically – because apparently, I would rather listen to how the Agricultural revolution hasn’t been the boon to mankind that we make it out to be – than yell at the guy who decides to change lanes right at the end and without an indicator. Win-win I tell you.

So that’s that – and that’s how my week has begun. Naah, not exciting in anyway, but for some reason full of thoughts that seem so disconnected, and so random and so not definitely things one would write about and record for posterity. But again, what’s the point of owing space on the internet if it starts telling you what you should be writing?

There isn’t. Hence this.

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If only

Nostalgia is a double edged sword. On one hand, it reminds of you of all the good things that were, and how lucky you were to have them. On the other, it makes you realise that for everyone, however awesome, time will pass. And all that you will be left with is vague memories, glimpses of events that were, some blog posts if you have been particular about writing back then, some photos – all of them making you all misty-eyed. Misty-eyed and wondering whether you did justice to that awesome time that was presented to you back then? And maybe, just maybe, if you were aware of how much things would change, you would have enjoyed it so much better?

Fact is, I don’t think you would. I think it would have been exactly the same. In fact, I feel, that sometimes we give less credit to ourselves than we deserve – and that we did what we would, or anybody would in the situation when it happened. In retrospect, you might feel that you are much older, wiser, experienced now and that you would react totally differently to the way you did – but I really doubt you would. Retrospective introspection I feel, is no different from a third-party opinion of how someone else is handling something, and how they would do it differently. Because you don’t know how you will act, until you are the one undergoing that experience. And that applies to your opinions on your own past actions too.

I got thinking about this when I was reading my 2004 posts all of a sudden – I do it at times, that’s why I wrote these posts yes? I was 21 then. My problems revolved around exams that were coming up and I wasn’t prepared for, an extremely low balance in my cell phone, the fact that I would not be able to make it to the IIMK-IIMB sports meet because the dates would clash with my presentations. My immediate reaction was to chide myself for not realising just how basic these issues were, and not being grateful enough to have a life where the sole worries were studies and cell-phone recharges. But then I wondered if that was fair at all. I was 21 then. Twenty-fricking-one. And the very expectation from me was to study well, get a job, and value the money that I had. And looks like I was doing just that. So not too off what was expected yes?

Which brings me to my point that whatever this retrospection makes you feel, the fact remains that what you felt back then, or did back then, was what you thought was right back then. And this assumption that if you go back, you will handle everything differently, will hold true only if your state of mind remains status quo. That is, if you go back but you hold on to this truckload of experiences and results and life’s many moments that you have already lived through, that you are already aware of. And that, doesn’t happen.

Plus, even if it did, what’s the fun in it?

Excuses, Excuses

I haven’t slept well this week. Partly because circumstances, partly because I tend to go off-track the moment I feel that maybe I am doing enough already. Or when I think ‘I need a break from all the planning because there are too many things happening at the moment’. Like, for example – if I have calls that end at 10:00 PM, it means I still have an hour to sleep before my self defined time to sleep. But, because I have been busy until 10, I feel the need to do things I would have otherwise, say I was not busy till 10 – because come on, I have earned it. Which, of course means that the time stretches to way past 10 and I am not in bed until 12. And that is ok for a day, but not for the whole week.

Now this has a cascading effect. Because I feel psychologically exhausted if I haven’t clocked 7 hours in bed, whether or not I wake up groggy, I decide maybe it’s best not to run that day. So I don’t. This also however, does not translate to me using that time to sleep. I don’t. It just means – I haven’t run, and I am still groggy, plus I am guilty of having done nothing in that hour – which by the way, I realise only when the hour ends. And ofcourse, everytime I skip a workout – my explanation is – come on, aren’t I fit enough already? It’s ok to listen to your body (and heart, and laziness) once in a while.

Then there is other stuff. I told myself very clearly that I would cut down my time on the phone, and use it to read. Thing is, I have in fact cut down my time on phone. But, I now end up watching more TV, which again, is not exactly a suitable replacement to reading. My excuse? I have recently embarked into the world of Audiobooks (refer last post) and my drive of roughly an hour a day is spent listening to a book. And after thorough analysis I have concluded that it counts as reading too. So I am not really cutting down reading, am I? Yep, I am.

I do it with food too. I can’t stress on just how much I love food. I love food, food is glorious. Any food, but in my case, if it’s sweet it’s heaven. I am controlled, most of the time, and definitely over weekdays. But there are days I go overboard, and how!  And my explanations range from 1) I have a cold, you are allowed to eat what you love when you are unwell 2) I am sad, you are allowed to eat what you love when you are sad 3) I anyway run and burn it all, and haven’t people told me I look too thin recently? 4) I will eat today and not eat anything tomorrow (which is the biggest lie in the world) 5) I think I am controlled enough to deserve this. Which is all alright, except, my overboard is  half a kilo of soan papdi followed by a bar of chocolate followed by a granola bar, followed by 6(!) Oreo cookies – after  dinner.  Not alright for anyone, however healthy-fit-awesome, by any standards.

Then, I tell myself that it’s because I am usually particular, and guess what, slip-ups happen. And all I need is a shake-up to get me back on track. Sometimes the shake-ups come early on, like 3 extra kilos on the scales and I will get back to senses – and put on my running shoes the very next morning. Sometimes, they are way too late – like when I end a year having read 9 books (only). So I need a plan – and constant self-counselling to ensure that I don’t completely give in to Joey’s theory of – When you are doing something wrong, do it right (in my case, keep doing it).

Because from where I see it, that already thin line between explanations and excuses is fast disappearing.

Since not everyone is on Instagram

And I think this book deserves a mention everywhere.

View this post on Instagram

This is a dual update post – introducing you to the newest addition to our home, #echospot (because one Alexa wasn't enough apparently!). And also, the thing that's made my drives to and from work so much more enjoyable – this brilliant, brilliant book. Which is also my first foray into audiobooks by the way. #Becomingmichelleobama. I have not read autobiographies – well if you count #KaranJohar 's book, I have, and I also enjoyed it in the way you would a Bollywood movie. But this book, has established the fact that I might in fact really enjoy this genre. Becoming is amazing, in my opinion. Whoever I said this to, said it's obvious, jt's #michelleobama afterall! But I still think it's not just that. I just love the way the book's written. I love the story. I love the flow in it, the detail, the dots being connected, every damn thing. Plus, the author has herself read the book, so it adds to the story in a way. So yeah, I am not sure how long this #audiobook phase will continue because #audible is quite expensive, but I'm definitely looking forward to the world of autobiographies! Any suggestions? Book 2/25 #bibliophile #books #goodreadsreadingchallenge2019 #bookstagram

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#10yearchallenge

So Facebook and Instagram and I am assuming Twitter too (assuming cos’ I am not on it anymore) had this #10yearchallenge thing going on, where you had to post your picture from 2009 and 2019. If you are on Social Media – which you are, considering you are reading this blog (which again, you might contest is pretty much an ancient, even almost extinct format of social media, but let’s ignore that bit for now) – you should know that these photo challenges are very common. I have mainly come across outfit related challenges – #100daysofsarees, and some random ‘if you stand for the women of the world, post your pic with this caption’ challenges.

But this one was fun – for 2 reasons. 1) I had recently done one on my own, because I ended up going on the exact same road trip in 2018, that I had been on in 2008. And we made the same pit-stop at Gol Gumbaz in Bijapur, this time to show Zo the place. And it just made sense to click a picture or two in the same places we did, 10 years ago. Yeah, so I had already done this and it was super fun. 2) I am considerably proud (if not almost obsessed) of my fitness journey in the last decade, and this was nothing if not that. So I posted a pic. And then I reveled in the adulation.

Anyhow, thousands of people did the same. The others :

  1. Posted pictures of melted glaciers and wrote how that’s the only 10 year challenge we need to worry about
  2. Posted updates on how we had provided enough data for social media conglomerates to develop some facial ageing something recognition software
  3. Spoke about how some introspection and guiding others using the experience would be better than posting the pics

So I thought, why not?

So here goes. I am extremely worried about melting glaciers and global warming and it is sad so I will do my part by planting more trees? That’s a small contribution right? I mean, I live in an apartment on the 14th floor but I have close to 35 plants in my balconies and foyer, so I hope it counts. My biggest worry is not being able to travel and see one of these glaciers live – that’s a serious bucket list item.

About Facebook using my data to develop software – dude, I am all for it! I know we talk of privacy invasion and why are you using my information to profile me but I believe in the inherent niceness of humankind and I accept that they will use this information to better offer what I need! The only pain point? Well, when you show a price drop on something I bought yesterday on my sidebar. That hurts man. Beyond that, if I have put it on social media, I think I have pretty much declared I am ok with the world seeing it. If you find my 10 year evolution useful, um, ok! Atleast you are not mean like those Google surveys that don’t think I am fit to answer anything and get some Playstore credit.

And the introspection – oh well, I am not sure of what I am, if not someone who is forever thinking about how I have changed, and how what has worked, and more often, giving out this unwarranted gyan to all those I am surrounded with. Turns out, a lot of folks I talk to everyday, are where I was 10 years ago, which gives me, the compulsive preacher, the opportunity to talk about everything, in excruciating detail. And I do. A lot. You might have to ask me to shut up sometimes.

So yeah, I have done my part. I have declared my social awareness and the need for environmental conservation. I have understood the maliciousness of social media giants and their constant need to spy on my routine life. I am also ensuring that I have imparted my wisdom and experience to all those around – ok, the ones who are ok listening to it.

But I still want to post my then and now pic because Oh-my-God-I-feel-so-awesome-that-I-am-way-fitter-than-I-ever-was-and-so-superficial-I-know-but-just-look-at-how-I-changed-not-just-how-I-look-but-how-I-feel-like-I-can-do-anything.

Maybe that can inspire someone too?

Little things

I have an affinity for music that forms part of a story. I think this started with Grey’s Anatomy, which had some amazing tracks built into it’s episodes. Now every time I listen to those songs, I am reminded of the story-lines, the characters in a nice way. I feel that those faces and those stories give more meaning to the song. I remember that I fell in love with Chasing Cars during a particular episode, which was rather upsetting otherwise.

Weirdly, I absolutely dislike books which have the pictures of actors who played the characters of the book in it’s movie form, on their covers. What I love about books is the imagination that they let you have, and that includes your picture of the characters. Plus movies tend to over-prettify everything. How else do you explain Emily Blunt playing the Girl on the train? Recently, I bought Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s keeper from Book Chor (where they let you buy as many books as you can fit in a box, you pay for the box), and it had the picture of Cameron Diaz and that kid from Little Miss Sunshine on it. But nowhere while I was reading the book, could I imagine them both as the characters they played. But the cover kept clouding my imagination and sort of annoying me throughout. By the way, this book made me sob like a baby for so long, I thought I would fall physically ill, and I don’t think there is a certificate of awesomeness bigger than that for me, when it comes to books.

As I said, I did not read as much last year, but I did run a lot. There were several plusses of this of course – like fitness/stamina/weight loss and the other health related jargon. But my favorite thing was my individual branding as a runner. Now, don’t get me wrong, but there is something unbelievably cool about being called a runner. And obviously, you cannot call yourself one unless you actually run. No amount of walking, sprinting in between walking, and for that matter even the treadmill running can establish your runner brand – and I can say this now because I am finally one. Yeah, so my running became such a thing, that older people in the community, who are usually out on their walks while I run, started recognizing me. And so, if I ever bumped into anyone at any other time, they usually said ‘ Oh I know you, you are the one who is always running!’ or ‘Oh you are the fitness-freak we see every day’. Both awesome things to hear.

But last evening was the best. While I was sitting with the Dude in the play area, waiting for my daughter to finish her running around and come home, I met someone from our tower who I hadn’t seen before. We exchanged flat numbers, when we moved and finally moved to names. And, when I told her mine, she said ‘Oh, you are the runner!’ At that moment, I decided that I had arrived.

So those are the things that have kept me going for a while now. There is more, like singing along with the playlist in the car, or running into three green lights in a row(!) on my way home, late night calls getting cancelled just as I reach home and check mails, and of course my little girl who pretty much is the center of everything in my life anyway. If you think about it, not too bad huh?

Oh My Goodness

Going against my usual no-resolution theory, I actually made a resolution this year. I then decided that this was a secret resolution and that I wouldn’t share it with anyone because 1) The tendency of people to say ‘let’s see how long it lasts’ puts me off  2) I am personally inclined to believe in the concept of ‘jinxing it’ 3) The very resolution is something I would have laughed and laughed and laughed at 5 years ago and I am concerned that I will face the same reaction from others.

But – because I did not resolve to keep my mouth shut when I have a reason to, I did not keep it a secret, at all. Infact, on last count I have told it to, let me count, almost everybody? I mean, the ones who bothered to listen atleast. And the reactions ranged from ‘ Is that enough gyan for today?’ to ‘I think that’s enough gyan  for today’. So that made me much more confident about writing about it here – that and also the fact that this whole ‘I will write this year’ thing is closing in on being a bit fat failure if I don’t write something.

So my resolution for 2019 is – Give everyone the benefit of doubt

If that made you laugh cynically, I would request that you stop after 40 seconds because I need to get into further detail here. So I am absolutely aware of the fact that I am by nature a relative opinionated person. As in, in terms of most things I know, I have an opinion about. I am also very, very particular about not making my opinions known, unless I am directly asked. Or, if we have had a lot of beer and the situation demands an aggressive exchange of opinions on topics, usually irrelevant. In any case, sober or not, I definitely steer clear off sharing opinions regarding anyone’s personal matters, which have absolutely no impact on me. Yes, I would rather stay selfish than be tagged a b**ch.

But this doesn’t mean that

1) I don’t have opinions about others’ choices and way of life and manner of speaking and such (I do, I so do)

2) Others will  not share their ‘well-meaning’ thoughts on my personal matters.

And when the two categories coincide, and the no. of folks falling in that overlap area of this Venn diagram seems to be increasing – it can only lead to frustration, annoyance and a general incomprehension of why is this happening to me? And my reaction has always been – ignore the bad sh** and move on.

But somewhere during 2018, I think my ability to ignore went down tremendously. However, I was still sticking to my old – don’t share your opinion theory. Which meant, I was forming way more opinions and sticking to them and not sharing them which meant I was feeling  extremely angsty and all this angst was continuously piling up inside me. And this, we all know, is never a good thing, and it definitely wasn’t for me.

Which is when I decided on my Benefit of doubt resolution. I realised, that now that I seem to be unable to ignore or un-hear, the only thing I can do is assume, positively. Positively assume that whatever annoying thing the person in front is saying or doing, has an absolutely good intent somehow. Or maybe they doesn’t realise that it might be hurting someone. Or, they have a valid, justifiable enough reason to do or say it and that I’m just not aware of it. That while I might have set certain expectations of everyone, I am a nobody eventually, and I do not get to set these benchmarks and then judge people against them, not even inwardly.

Cliched as this might sound, it has worked so far. Turns out, that while ignoring the fact that someone did not meet your expectations is stress-free, it is infinitely more freeing to admonish yourself when you feel the need to pit someone against these expectations – because there might be a genuine reason. So this has meant happier conversations at work, more smiles in elevators and generally a lot less mental cussing.

And ofcourse, hopes of reaching a state of no expectations someday. The chances of which are much lower than me making it to the moon.