Day 31 – I’d like to say, we’ll do okay, forever in blue jeans

Dear Blog

When I decided to start this Blogathon, I had every doubt that I would be able to finish it fairly – by which I mean, I was not sure I would actually post before midnight, every single day in January. I knew for a fact there would be cheat posts –  like posts written in a rush just before midnight, and picture posts, and posts talking about how you can’t judge the blogger for doing a cheat post because Oh my God it’s been a tiring day and there’s not one thought that strikes enough to make a post out of it.

But I did it – and as I type this I can hear Dora and Boots singing ‘We did it, we did it’ after finishing their campaign for the episode. It hasn’t been easy, there were  several days I was out of time, or ideas and even willingness, but I managed, we managed to ensure that there was a post, every single day. And quite well, yes? Because, like I already said in my zen post, I wanted to ensure that I did what I loved.

But in this month, I also gave up on something. Like I haven’t read beyond chapter two of Kafka on the shore, the book I started on 1st January? When I talked about just how much I have been reading and how often? Yeah, so one thing I need to do is get back to it so that I don’t start my 2017 blogathon with a post about just how 2016 turned out to be the year of no reading. I am not disillusioned to get into the 100 books or even 50 books a year sort of promises, but zero books in month one is quite pathetic, even if there’s a good excuse, you. So now that I am done with the blogathon, reading needs to be started again.

I have also been sleeping erractically, which is bound to happen when you are stuck to your laptop until almost midnight to ensure a post. Late sleeping and early waking up means the tracker says I have slept for less than 6 hours. And so I took it upon myself to do a round 2 of sleep during my walk time in the morning. And on most days this sleep round 2 time became social media time and hence no walk happened and no sleep happened. So I am hoping that now that there are no deadlines, I will try to hit the sack a wee bit earlier, just about enough to not let me make excuses for skipping a workout the next day.

Other than that, I have had fun with you. I got back to rambling and also reading others and commenting and discussing things with the blog folks, which you know I love. But like I said, it’s good that our daily appointment will no longer be a thing and I will be able to get back to more relaxed (and hopefully more sensible) posting now.

Which is not to say you will be forgotten. You see, over the years I have neglected you for days, even months. But I have always come back and loved spending time with you just as much. In fact, every time I return I wonder why I left at all. And that says it all.

So dear blog, I am glad we did this. And I am sure we will keep at it for a long time to come. Yes, I’d really like to say, that we’ll be absolutely ok.

Day 30 – Tu dhoop hai, chham se bikhar

Today’s been very interesting. Zo had a birthday party to attend at a farm. Now this farm is this special set up, mostly used for school trips, and also let out for birthdays on weekends. The concept was extremely nice. As the name suggests, it’s an open farm, and has a farming area and an animal area. The kids had numerous things to do – like pottery, wading in muddy waters to plant rice, adding manure to plants, watering them with cans, and actually sitting through a mini farming session including, ploughing, sowing etc. They then got to feed all the animals – goats, buffalos, sheep, cows and play with rabbits, guinea pigs and one very friendly beagle named Hyper, who I fell in love with.

Needless to say, she loved it. Zo has still not completely recovered, but when it came to this, she refused to stay put and participated with an amazing enthusiasm, though the sun was being extra generous at the time.  It made me think about (again) how much we exaggerate this whole ‘today’s kids don’t get to enjoy real childhood cliche’. Because, children, quite frankly aren’t choosy at all. They throw tantrums, yes, but left to themselves, they enjoy anything and everything they are provided with. So if your kid is addicted to television and loves that more than anything else, it’s because he has been given the opportunity to get addicted to television. If your kid wants a tab all the time, it’s because when you had to keep him/her busy because you had something else to do, you have been handing over the tab to them by default.

Back when we were kids, yes, we used to play outside more than anything else we did. But that was because that was pretty much the only entertainment we had. TV was limited, and even when we did watch, we ended up watching a lot of grown up stuff like Buniyaad, or Hum log, in my case. And quite honestly, if I found it boring, I would walk away to do my own thing. Now, there is a lot of choice. Zo hasn’t watched anything except for Disney Junior, Nick Junior and Baby TV till date. There are specific movies I have shown her and she has loved them, but she can’t even get herself to watch anything that is not animated. I am not strict, but I do restrict TV time to an hour, which might seem long to some, and nothing at all to others. But I am ok with an hour of TV – her unbelievable command over spoken english is a direct result of these channels. I also, out of personal choice, keep her away from Doraemon and Chota Bheem because I don’t think they are great.

She is also allowed the iPad once in a while, and she usually plays games on it. Zo is a completely girly girl and she chooses princess games and doll dress up games and while I don’t want her tastes to be so one-sided, I do let her make her choice. But in both cases, TV and iPad, she get’s bored as soon as she would with say painting. An hour, and she needs something else to move on to. So this kills the possibility of an addiction. Perhaps the only thing I make a point of trying to get her interested in, is reading. I have always been a reader, and I can’t wait for her to enter the enchanting world of Enid Blyton’s and Russian tales that ruled my childhood.

Eventually, I think when as a parent there is a mix of things we ensure the child is involved in, getting fixated on one is a distant possibility. If in the middle of Max and Ruby, I ask Zo if she wants to go down to the slides, it is always a yes. If in the middle of an iPad game, I ask her if she wants me to read a story (or 4!) to her, she never says no. And neither does she say no when I need a break after an hour of Junior monopoly and ask her she can watch Frozen for a while.

So it all comes down to no, children today are not losing out on the amazing childhood that we got to have. Some children, maybe, but it’s because their parents haven’t had the time to keep them away from the TV. In the past, these kids were the ones creating a ruckus on the roads, because neglect will show, in one way or another. Today’s children in fact, just have a lot more options, and they are making use of it. Add to it the additional effort we as parents put to ensure that they do everything, and they actually end up doing everything. And till they grow up enough to have their own choices, they are good with trying everything out.

I mean, if you think about it, how many of us have had the chance to mix fodder and feed it to the buffalo out of our hands, like Zo did today?

Day 29 – Leave the bourbon on the shelf

Friday night is back and I am doing the unthinkable. I am working. I am not fond of work encroaching my personal space but today there is no choice. And I am pretty fair, if not anything else.

Which means this is yet another day when I will be leaving you with a cheat post. No, I won’t be posting a picture tonight because I am sure you don’t want to see a PowerPoint file. Or a gif alternating between a PowerPoint file and an excel file. Like I said, I am fair.

Instead I will leave you with a thought which has been bothering me. People who work to earn money, aren’t they always supposed to have a passion they want to spend this money on? Travel, luxury, cars, diamonds, anything? Otherwise what explains this need to earn at all?

That’s all I have to say right now. I will be back tomorrow hopefully with a more coherent post. Till then, happy weekend people!

Day 28 – Meelon hai phaili hui tanhai

I have two hours and 11 minutes to write today’s post. But because my Mac’s battery is down to 33% of charge,  that gives me just about an hour to finish, because there is no way I am getting up to get its charger. Plus there is this weird problem with the Mac, when it is plugged in, you can’t keep it on your bare lap because it sort of gives these little shocks, more like the static shocks you might have experienced near plastic chairs at work. Which means I need to use the battery and finish writing before it is drained.

And as is always the case, I am absolutely out of any ideas of what to write about right now. Plus, I lack the enthusiasm to think up of something. So I will just run you through my day today.

The day began alright. Zo wasn’t very well yesterday but she woke up fine, so she was packed off to school. I decided to skip my walk, and instead did 20 sets of Suryanamaskars. I am not sure if I have said this before, but after having tried basic yoga, I have concluded that I like Suryanamaskars the most. One, I have read they are very comprehensive and useful as a workout. Two, i actually can feel my entire body stretch when I do a few rounds. Usually, I do 12, but today I pushed myself to 20, and I was exhausted. I could almost feel my legs shaking. I cannot imagine how people do a 108 and that too without breaks. This stuff needs crazy stamina. I don’t have much of it, but it feels good to give it a shot – and the more sore I end up, the more accomplished I feel.

The day at work was as usual. I always knew that as you climb up the corporate ladder, a big chunk of your time is spent in meetings and discussions, but what I did not know was how big this big chunk was. Turns out, it’s almost all of it. For someone who needs her ‘me’ time to sit at her desk and actually do her work, I have absolutely no time for that, and it is TIRING. And the fact is, sometimes I enjoy it, and perhaps I’m saying this because I have learnt how to do it over the years, but it is physically exhausting. And I really look forward to the time I don’t have to talk to anyone at all.

These days, this is that time. Zo is asleep, and The Dude is yet to arrive. I was able to return a little earlier today because Zo wasn’t well again, and after a lot of cajoling, she finally agree to sleep. And now, here I am, squatting in front of the TV which is showing Lage Raho Munna Bhai and typing out this post. The battery is now down to 25% which means I could have spent a little more time giving the whole post a bit more thought, but now that I am close to done, I will push away such thoughts, click publish, and close the laptop.

And concentrate on this little bit of solitude that I have been granted.

Day 27 – Jaane kya hoga rama re

For a long time, especially in the last decade, I was quite apprehensive about growing up. Not so surprisingly, this apprehension did not exist during childhood, which was a time we all looked forward to being older, more mature and most importantly, to be taken seriously. This worry came in at a later stage in life, when things were more settled, independent decisions were being taken, life was being lived on my own terms and in general, everything seemed way too awesome to change.

I am talking of growing up of the shallow kind. Like I remember dancing away at a disco, thinking I need to absorb all this as much as I can right now, because I just loved it so much, but in 10 years, general societal norms wouldn’t let me do this as freely. We would go to pubs, drink beer through the night and look at folks nursing their single malts in a corner, and think why anyone would prefer that over this.

Then there were the spontaneous weekends away – wake up and decide to drive away, because that for sure would be impossible once we had a child. Or spending hours outside the house, mall-hopping, generally sitting around at cafes, watching 4 movies back to back, doing everything but coming back home because that’s what made our weekends. And again, through all of this I wondered how I would live a life which was not this? Would the world and people around me want me to change? More importantly, would I succumb?

Turns out, I needn’t have thought so much at all. Growing up apparently is an evolutionary process, not an overnight change. And I realized this when I realized one fine morning, that I was no longer the person I was 10 years ago, in so many ways. And the best part was, I hadn’t realized the change. And not only did the change creep up on me, I have absolutely no issues with the way I am right now. In fact, I think it’s just gotten better.

Like, reflecting on the disco part, I doubt anyone is going to say anything if I do continue as frequently, but I don’t. I choose not to. Somehow, the idea of a night out is now fine-dining, or even a nice bar playing good music that doesn’t damage my ear drums, something over which I can comfortably talk to my company. Beer has given way to scotch, and while I still love my mug of frothy, chilled goodness, I also love my scotch, on the rocks, just as much. I have grown to love relaxed Sunday brunches, with a glass of Sangria or wine to go with it. And unlimited anything doesn’t excite me anymore.

I still love my road trips, but Zo has just mingled into the schedule like she was born to be part of this. Admitted, things aren’t as spontaneous as before and need a bit more planning, but somehow, the planning doesn’t hurt. There might be fewer back to back movies at the multiplexes now, and a lot more sitcom marathons on Saturday night at home, but they don’t make you miss the former. Yes, we still step out every weekend, but staying back home and lazing around doesn’t seem like a waste of time either.

Fact is, everything has a time, and everything is awesome when done at that time. And you don’t need to be prepared, it just happens. It also helps when the folks you spent your younger days with, are also growing older with you. There is a comfort in sharing life’s stages and problems. I would wonder back then if a decade down the line I would look at the younger folks and envy them for the fun they were having. But when it is happening today, I look at them and go ‘been there, done that’ and get back to whatever is keeping me busy at the moment. There is nostalgia, but there is absolutely no regret for having moved ahead. And all of a sudden all that apprehension seems absolutely unnecessary. And I’m back excitedly looking forward to what’s next.

Eventually, while I admit that being drunk on youth was great fun, turns out that being grown up is a different kind of high, and an awesome one at that.

P.S. This post was brought to you by a thought process triggered by a conversation with the seasoned pretender in the comments section.

Day 26 – So I say thank you for the music, the songs I’m singing

I have mentioned quite often just how big a fan of Bollywood and Bollywood music I am. During my childhood, my mother would buy a cassette once in a while – if I think hard, the oldest one I remember is one of Maine Pyaar kiya, with a shot out of Kabootar Ja on the cover. We also had a combination cassette of Deewana and Mashooq. But the first cassette I remember playing on loop was Roja. And thus began my love for Hindi movie music. And for a long time, as long as until 10 years ago, hindi music was perhaps the only genre I was completely aware of and interested in.

Over the years I have continued to be very particular about following the new releases in music. Till school, my access was limited because there was no cable TV at home. But Meerut caught Delhi FM, and my trusty old BPL Two-in-one helped me in staying updated with the tunes. And by the time the cassette era ended, I had almost every hit on tape with me. All those cassettes I bought and recorded still lie at my parents’ place and I cannot get myself to get rid of them

Times evolved, but I am still as particular about knowing the latest Bollywood songs. MP3s are the word, and every month, I go through the releases and update my collection. I have retrospectively caught hold of all the old music I loved at a time as well, on MP3 now. I have to admit I have been a tad lazier in the last two years, but I am definitely not totally unaware of the music doing the rounds.

As expected, I also have my favorites. The old evergreen songs every one is aware of, the latest hits that the TV channels cannot get enough of, the commercial successes and the off-beat tracks. But what I wanted to share were a few songs, which I doubt everyone would have heard of. I might be assuming here, and there might be folks who absolutely know them and love them like I do, but I will still list a few.

Chup Tum raho – Is Raat ki subah nahi (1996)

This was a pretty famous movie and while I found it quite dark when I watched it, I got hooked to this song. By the way, it has Madhavan as an extra – as the random singer at the party singing this song.

Kay tumne yeh keh diya – Saaz (1997)

Another arty movie, this one had Zaakir Hussain. I fell in love with the song and watched the movie years later and was depressed for quite a while. Shabana Azmi was awesome (when is she not?) and the song, still as amazing.

Tere liye – Title track (2001)

I cannot find the original video to this song, which I guess tells a lot about how famous the movie was. But the song was, plus – Sonu Nigam. Those were the times he could breathe life into anything he sang. He still can, but we get to hear him lesser.

Dil me kuch ho raha hai – Freaky Chakra (2003)

Umm, this is getting repetitive, but I can’t find the original video to this song as well. Now this one is still one of favorites to listen to on loop. It’s from a movie called Freaky Chakra, which had a random actor and Deepti Naval as the older woman he falls for. I don’t remember how it ends and I don’t care as long as I have the song to listen to.

Dil jo bhi kahe maane – Title track (2005)

This movie had a famous ‘producer ka beta’ actor and a firang chick as the leads. It had Amitabh Bachchan and Revathi for the star power and was ridiculous. But this song has a very upbeat tone to it, and I find myself quite happy whenever I listen to it. Caution : there are force-fitted english lyrics in between, so if you are allergic to those, skip.

So that’s my contribution for today. If you haven’t heard these songs, give them a listen, and if you have, tell me if you like them too! Also, if there are songs you think aren’t as well known but deserve to be, I’m all ears, always.

Day 25 – Yeh safar bahut hai kathin magar, na udaas ho mere humsafar

Long ago, I used to live 25 kilometers from my work place. I used to take the bus to work. And the route, was unfortunately decided by the transport coordinators (and not me), and hence the bus refused to take the 25 km road. It instead, took a roundabout, dropping me 2 kms ahead of my home – making the total distance around 30 kilometers. It was a hard life. The day used to begin at 7:15 AM in the morning, and end at 7:30 PM in the evening – on the good days. And this was in a company which had an 8 hour day. Which means (I know you can do basic math but I am helpful) that I spent 4 hours and 15 minutes on road.

Now I live 2 kilometers from work – door to door. This state technically should be bliss. If you look at it mathematically –

60 kilometers in 255 minutes

Means

1 kilometer in 4.25 minutes

Which means

2 kilometers in 8.5 minutes

However, traffic at 6 PM is much higher than traffic at 8 PM (which is when I leave). And we will build in an additional assumption that states that the same distance would take 20% less time at 8 PM.

So if we can cover 2 kilometers in 8.5 minutes at 6 PM

At 8 PM it would be 8.5*.8 = 6.8 minutes

Lastly, my base travel was by bus, a big Volvo bus, and now it is on a bike. We all know how buses move in traffic vs two wheelers in our country. Additionally, buses stop to drop of folks, a bike doesn’t. So even if I look at another 20% saving here (which is very conservative), we should take

6.8*.8 = 5.44 minutes

But.

There is always a but. Turns out that this equation doesn’t work. Because of this amazing, frequent phenomena on the the roads – we call it U turn.

I don’t understand U turns. I mean, I know we need U turns because when you have dividers, it means there has to be some point where you turn around and go to the place you left behind, just because it was on the other side of the road, but the number of u turns in this world, and the length of road you have to cover to make it to a U turn, are getting close to unbelievable these days. I have spent some time getting frustrated over the traffic, and signals and U turns, and then traffic on signals near U turns now, but my final conclusion has been that U turns were made to make us healthier.

Picture this

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To give some persepective, the green lines are the shortest routes to and from work, and add to 1.8 kilometers, rounded to 2. But, because the authorities take some pleasure in blocking turns and gaps in dividers, I was first promoted to the blue route, and now, take the red. This one, by the way, has a signal. Which means I get to gawk at my office from the other side of the road for a good 10 minutes. All in all, I spend nearly 20 minutes on the road, on good days.

Also, on the way back, I have to take a God forsaken U turn at the other end of the city. This is ok, because the traffic is manageable. But, some how, after the turn is taken, and all that remains is a left to gain freedom, the folks going straight refuse to give way. The just stick around, enjoying their time on the road, while idiots with their left indicator on, wait for them finish their city tour, so that they can go home.

Which brings me to my theory of how U turns promote good health. You see, I realized that instead of all these turns and signals and waiting for imbeciles to move, if I just walked to office on the said green route, I would reach in 25 minutes flat. Tried and tested.

And so I manage. Walk at times, ride at times and sometimes just wonder why there couldn’t be a zipline connecting my home to my office. But most of the time, I whack myself on the head really hard for whining about what is the most perfect and comfortable travel to work I have ever had. Touchwood.