Run, Forrest, Run

I started running last month, exactly on the 17th of July, says my phone. I say like it is a new thing, because it is. So yes, I have run in the past, mostly on the treadmill; and for a brief period in Pune, on a track. But this is a new thing because all my earlier ‘runs’ were 1) More of a run-walk-run-walk-try to run- walk 2) Done solely for the purpose of burning calories. My best continuous run was on 31st December 2012, when I ran for 20 minutes on the treadmill at a speed of around 7.5 kmph. This was also the day I decided I would register for a 10K. And I did. Last week.

Yeah, so it took me 5+ years to garner the courage and enthusiasm for it. And no, it hasn’t happened yet, but atleast I am in now, and there is no looking back, because the money’s gone. But what has happened is that I have started running. The main features of this proclamation being 1) I run outside under the blue-blue sky 2) I run for most part of the run and try not to walk at all  3) My firm belief that this isn’t easy has been hence proved.

I think I have always romanticized the idea of running. It’s the way it has always been presented in popular culture. Can you imagine it? Tall, long legged girl, in a fitted tank top and leggings (or shorts, ok, make it shorts), hair up in a high pony tail. Running on a beautiful track amidst tall trees, music in her ears, a smile on her face, her steps synchronized with the rhythm of the track she is listening to (this is an assumption, have some imagination), sweat glistening on her neck. Glamorous sweat, and an equally glamorous picture.

Cut to reality. I will ignore the runner’s description here, because some of you might fit the bill, and I have a bit of an ego to protect. Talking only about the logistics, how many of us have easily accessible parks and tracks around us? And even if we do, how many of us have the inclination to step out for a run before the sun rises (because we are talking of the omnipotent Indian sun here, you don’t want to mess with it). Anyhow, say you have conquered the sleep-monster and you are clear as to where you want to run, now comes the actual beast that needs to be tackled. Running.

Maybe it’s because I have never bothered to run before, especially in my adult-life, or maybe because the body tends to tire faster when you are 35, fact is, it is not easy. And you don’t know it till you have done it. You might have seen people run and though how easy they make it seem, but you just, don’t know. You see, it is just science really. You are strolling around, chatting with a friend, when this person whooshes past you. You technically have just 2 seconds to notice the runner. In those 2 seconds, you only notice the coolness of running.

What you don’t notice is the huge gusts of air the runner is trying to fill her lungs with, for the fear of them exploding otherwise. You don’t see the sweat dripping off their forehead into the eyes, annoying as shit. You don’t see the stupid hair flying around the face and eventually sticking to the horribly sticky forehead. You don’t know that at that moment, the runner is actually questioning every decision she’s ever made in her life, including this one. That her GPS keeps dropping, causing less distance to be recorded, which is technically annoying. That her music stopped working mid-way but she can’t stop to fix it because pace-pace-pace. That this, is not easy. And it’s definitely not cool.

But the end of the run is always worth it. That’s the point when the sweat seems sweet, the thumping heart feels accomplished, and I finally feel awesome. In the last 4 weeks, I have moved on from stopping to catch my breath after every 1 km to running continuously for 6. Some days are better than others. Sometimes you are driven mentally but your body refuses to budge, and sometimes all you want to do is sleep, but your body surprises you by recording your personal best. Everyday is a different day, but still, no days are easy.

Which makes me wonder, why do I do it at all? I have stopped reading people talking about how exhilarating the ‘feeling of running’ is. It isn’t for me, yet. It is a push, it is an exercise, it feels great, but only when it ends. But there’s got to be something, because it does make me want to go back and do it again.

So yes, I am running. I am trying hard, to improve my stamina, my pace, the distance I cover. I track, I analyse, I dissect and discuss. Read articles about it, buy better shoes and other gear. Even casually mention ‘breathing-techniques’ as if I know what that is. Maybe it is a good thing. May be it’s mid-life crisis. Maybe it’s a passing phase, and I will get over it.

But till something else strikes my fancy, this will do.

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It’s been a while since we have gone to a multiplex for a movie. I feel it’s lost its charm. Or we have grown older and lazier. Actually, it has to be a bit of both, and Hyderabad is quite lousy when it comes to ticket availability, especially since there are way too many movies releasing across Hindi, English and Telugu each week, for the screens to have the same one running for more than 2 weeks. Which means, you either book your weekend movie on Wednesday morning, when it lists, or forget about it. We have been opting for the latter.

But it isn’t as tough with Amazon Prime, Hotstar and Netflix ensuring the movies release not too late in the day.  So unless it is an Avengers – Infinity War kind of movie, or a movie by Nolan, which one has to watch on a big screen, we don’t.

Of late, I have taken to watching movies in my solo-TV time, which are short time slots of 15-20 minutes mostly. So I watch them like a series. I even watch a couple of series in my solo-TV time, split into further mini shows, because most of them last for 40 minutes or longer. But this isn’t about the shows, it’s about the movies I have watched recently. Alone, which means they cannot be highly rated Hollywood movies, or thrillers, or artsy (non-drama) stuff, because those I watch with the Dude.

I first watched Pari – a bad, bad choice. First of all, I don’t like horror movies. And God knows why I chose a terrible Bollywood horror movie to initiate myself into the genre. And I even did full justice to it too, sitting in a quiet, darkened room all by myself, and watched it in one sitting, but nah. It didn’t work. Some sounds and effects were creepy, but Bollywood did the unbelievable of getting sentiment even into an evil spirit and ruined it for me. I would have rather watched Tashan again, if self-torture was my eventual motive. I had a headache that evening.

Then, I watched October. I knew it was a cry-fest so I stepped well prepared into it. And Shoojit Sircar is a dependable man. So, while I finished it in several sittings, it was a good movie. A moving, emotional drama, where I have to say, Varun Dhawan was phenomenal. I love movies with well etched-out characters and limited speaking, and this was one. Ofcourse, it leaves you heartbroken at the unfairness of it all, but it is not a movie that will shock or surprise you. You  see it coming and yet, when it does, you are left all misty eyed. Total thumbs up.

The next movie was The Only living boy in New York. I watched this one in maybe two sittings. Maintaining my streak of watching offbeat movies with dysfunctional characters and dysfunctional relationships, this one atleast left me smiling. It had biggies like Kate Beckinsale and Pierce Brosnan, who played their supporting but important roles very convincingly. So yes, I would recommend this to people.

Then, on reading recommendations for the Edge of seventeen by more than 2 people, I watched this movie as well, though I’m pretty much off teenage and high school dramas. I was most pleasantly surprised, and it wasn’t one of those usual glossy teenage movies which I have enjoyed aplenty until some years ago, but have grown out of now. It had a decent storyline, again – dysfunctional characters and set ups, and good actors. Yes, this made me come out smiling too, though there were some parts that were high on emotion.

Which brings me to the most disturbing movie of the lot – Young adult. This is a 2011 movie starring Charlize Theron – and not very highly rated for obvious reasons. The movie wasn’t the greatest, but it had the ability to envelop you in a sense of morbid existence, that the protagonist is going through in the story. I always think that’s the trademark of a good movie, or a book. It’s ability to create an atmosphere of gloom, doom, or happiness in your life, as you watch or read it. This did that, so full points for that. Otherwise, not so much to talk about here.

Now I am watching Phillauri. Another Anushka Sharma starrer, that was’t very highly acclaimed or rated. This one’s a light movie, but I am already bored. However, I don’t leave movies mid-way so rest assured, I will be finishing it. But I am already on the lookout for the next. There just seem to be a lot more options since we have accessible Netflix account now too. So there are a lot of movies, but to pick the ones that I can watch alone, isn’t the easiest.

Anything else I should be watching?

50 shades of Blue

Our vacations are very meticulously planned. May is the chosen month, because schools are closed, and the city is scalding enough for you to want to escape. Which also means that our chosen destinations are always cooler than home. We start thinking of where to go really early, as early as February, especially if there is a Visa involved. Then we get on to the whole flights, hotels, trains bandwagon, and finally when the visa is in hand, there are day-wise plans. Of where to go, what to see, how to travel around, and in my department, what to eat.

This year, we were in Greece for 2 full weeks in the end of May. But of course, it was spectacular. The thing is, we have been to Europe in the past, but more mainland Europe. There was always a lot of history and culture to explore, and also nature, but of a different kind, more of hills and greens, and meadows and mountains. Not so much the sea, well maybe a bit, but this time, since we spent most of our time on islands in the midst of the Mediterranean seas, there was more of that. The sea.

And it was beautiful to say the least. I am not going to Travelogue mode here, I cannot revisit our itinerary for each of the 14 days we spent without feel blue. We spent 4 days in Athens, in an apartment we had booked right in the centre of the city, at walking distance from the Acropolis. It was surrounded with places to eat as suggested by Mark Weins and Tripadvisor. So we ensured that we ate everything, literally everything that we had read about or heard about and had no regrets at all.

We also went to pretty Mykonos, with it’s whites and blues and cobbled paths straight out of fairytales. An absolute visual treat, the place had enough windmills to keep me happy through the entire trip, and enough spots to click profile pictures for a life time. We spent 3 days in the more famous Santorini and had our fill of the views and the sea. We did crazy things like walking from Fira (one corner of the island) to Oia (the other end), a good 12 kilometers, and hiking up the Skaros rock, all with Zo. This was 2 and a half weeks ago and we still have tans from the day, mine so amazing that my shoulder resembles an oreo. Zo remains the absolute champ that she is, and trodded along without as much as a whine.

Our last destination was Crete, an island we were told was too big to cover in the 4 days we had scheduled there. We managed to see maybe a quarter, but it fulfilled our need to wade through picturesque small towns, visit faraway monasteries and generally eat brilliant, local food. And ofcourse, there was the brilliant, blue Aegean sea – a sight to behold for life, as an underlying theme to all of these places.

The Greek cuisine went brilliantly well with our large appetite for meat and cheese, and after stuffing myself with the Bougatsas I had been craving from the day I saw a video about it a whole month before we left, I still want more. The gyros, the souvlakis, the cheese pies – all of them were relished, and seemingly are still part of us, the way they show up on the weighing scales.

Ofcourse it was a great vacation, and yes, it wasn’t so much fun when it ended. But as I am growing older (damn!) I do realize that cliches have some reason behind them. So, I really believe that just like all good things must come to an end, so should awesome vacations. So that we can sit back and plan the next one.

Unlike my usual posts, I leave you with some of the blues – that took away all of my blues.

Psst, you can see more on my Instagram page, linked on the right side here!

Athens – and it’s majestic Parthenon and the many hills we climbed for viewsAthensMykonos – and it’s blues and whites and flowers and pathsMykonosSantorini and everything everyone knows about it alreadySantorini    Crete and that road by the sea where Zo and I stood for an hour to let the waves splash us overCrete

You are here

Considering it is 13 years since I started my Corporate journey, it is only obvious that once in a while I stop to take stock of where I am headed. Mostly, this bout of contemplation ends abruptly, because the boss calls about an escalation that needs to be looked into. Or Zo calls about a word she did not understand in the book she’s reading. Or the Dude calls because he has something funny to show. You know, the usual. But quite clearly, I know the real answer. I have known it for a while. Nowhere.

I think I have written about it in the past. The fact that mid-life crisis has hit, and shouldn’t I be doing something I love because life’s so short, or is what I am doing worthwhile at all? So many questions. Nothing new, or different from what all the other people my age and stage in life are going through. Atleast most of them. Accepted, a few of them are thoroughly sorted, and to them, I salute. But most of us, are either in this jittery ‘where’s my life headed’ mode. Or they are in the ‘ignorance is bliss’ mode, which one can also call ‘too busy to notice the crisis’ mode.

I oscillate. The former feeling dominating my life more than the latter. But then, I wonder. Why did it take me so long to come to this realization? Did I really believe at any point that I’d be passionate about the work I do? I mean, I know I have to do it, I prepped for this for a good 7 years. And I do it fairly well (or so I’d like to believe). I definitely don’t mind it. But do I love this?

The culprit here, is this over-exposure to thoughts and ideas and people that we are all subjected to these days, in this world of too much information. Frankly, I always prided myself for being immune to the banes of social media. I mean, there was this point of time when people I knew were quitting Facebook because pictures of others’ vacations where making them depressed, and I laughed. I found it ridiculous. I believed, still do, that they should look at it for the pretti-ness it offered, take it all with a pinch of salt, and eventually just be inspired to plan something for yourself. Like I do. Simple, no? No.

Because, turns out, vacation pictures aren’t the only thing that you can envy. And while I hate to say it, I truly envy people who are able to pursue their passions and make the world pay them for it. Basically people, who love their job. Not like, not be content with, not excel at what they do. But truly, love  it. Like, I do my job because it is just amazing fun to do, and if given a choice I could do it all day. Because it gives me joy. Direct joy, not joy through the lavish lifestyle I can afford because it pays so well. Or joy, because everyone thinks I am amazing at it. Pure, direct happiness that I get from doing the thing I am doing. AND, I get paid for it.

And there are those folks who have a very high tolerance for risk. The ones that quit their Corporate job to start farming. The ones who moved to the mountains and are living the minimalist life and finding it wonderful. The ones who have decided they have had enough of the future and they would rather live in the present. Unfortunately, I am not one of those too. My heavily conservative, middle-class upbringing has always explained to me the relevance of being ‘financially independent’, planning for the future and being the ant in the story of the ant and the grasshopper. And it was all fine until the grasshoppers of the world started sharing amazing photographs from the wonderful places they were in week after week.

But like I said, these thoughts are relatively recent. Yes, agreed,  I have spent the last 3 years wondering whether I was where I wanted to be, whether I was doing what I wanted to do, whether I even knew what I wanted from life, but slowly, acceptance has been settling in. I have started to wonder ( I know, so much time to wonder I seem to have!) if it is even worth thinking so much about things that are so unclear. I mean, shouldn’t I first atleast know what I want to do with my life? Is the fact that this thing that I am doing right now might not be giving me the joy I look forward to, reason enough for me to stop doing it? Because what if I never find the thing I love doing?

So yes, I am choosing the easy way out. Of not making a choice, until it presents itself to me. Of not sitting and wondering if it ever will, maybe it won’t. Or maybe it will. Of not bothering that though I know that I’m not really headed anywhere,  there’s nothing much I can do about it.

Because maybe I don’t want to. Maybe, this is as good as it gets.

5113 days

I have mentally given up blogging. I cannot keep up with it, I realise. I still love writing, and I do, but on Instagram. While the 140 character limit of Twitter was too suffocating, the colorful world of Instagram with it’s rose-tinted filters and short stories about things  works just fine for me.

But it’s not the same, and I know it. I mean, here, I could write about 20 things in one post with absolutely no relation to one another and get away with it. There, first, there’s got to be a picture. Second, it should be a nice picture. Third, it should be a picture that you can write a story about. And how many stories can you write about chocolate and desserts and alcohol and pretty corners of your home? Yeah, there’s books, and there are places, but they don’t happen all the time do they? So you’re back to the the beer mugs before you realise it.

Basically, I think that I have destroyed the very purpose of Instagram. I have made it about the stories I want to write, and then hope that there’s a picture I can take that it will go with – rather than the other way round. But it’s working alright for me, and definitely for the world whose collective attention span has gone down to a 100th of what it used to be. And when you are on Social media, you might as well be putting out something that doesn’t put the reader to sleep.

Anyhow. This was not the point of this post. The point of waking up and writing on the blog today was it is 14 years since I started this blog. Fourteen years is a long time. And no, I have not churned out enough posts to justify the 14 years online but anything is something, right? Also the page isn’t fully dead, it is only dead-ish, I think. Or I tell myself.

This also means that I have been reminiscing quite a bit, and one thing I did was go through the April posts of the past, to see if I remembered the Blog’s anniversary. Turns out, I didn’t, especially the first one was promptly forgotten because there were bigger problems in life like being posted in Hyderabad ‘for 12-18 months’, which apparently was so hard-hitting that I forgot to give title to the post. I actually feel like walking over to my 22 year old self, and giving a tiny whack to my 22 year old head and tell that I am pretty much going to be there forever and that I should suck it up. And skip those chocolates I am sure I was hogging.

My second year’s post seems much nicer and actually happy, but by the time I read it (and a couple of posts after it, one which was about a trip to Jim Corbet that I loved), I was done reminiscing. So there are no more links and tidbits for you.

Ok there is one, just because I went and checked the 2007 post, and guess what, there is no post! There is one in that month, and it is about my first encounter with Grey’s anatomy. Turns out, I started watching it in London, where I went for my first International work trip, actually first International trip in general. And mainly because there were not enough English channels to watch. Who knew I would grow to love it so much and then love it some more, before I pretty much got bored because they killed or sent away everyone I loved. Who knew.

I really should stop now. See, this is the thing. I would never do this on Instagram, just go on and on without rhyme or reason. Talk about this and that. And then suddenly, decide I have had enough and stop. Just like that.

But then that’s the thing I guess. That’s why this blog has it’s own charm. And maybe that’s why I have not really given up blogging. And maybe I won’t. We’ll see.

Tuesday evening thoughts

Google Chrome wants me to go to Kuala Lumpur – or maybe it’s the reader I am using. Just for 6999/-, it says. Either way, I cannot go. I am here, at my work desk – waiting to tick off the last of my to-dos for today. That might happen, or might not. Because my checklist, it needs me to talk to others, tell them all that has happened, or what I think about all that’s happening. All that needs to be done. By them, and by me.

But others won’t always be around – like right now, they are away – maybe ticking off their own to-dos. Their checklists would be long too, I presume, all checklists are. It’s just the content that differs, slightly. And for all you know, I do not feature anywhere on them. Which is why I will wait, atleast for a while. Till the urgency of the issue passes by. Till the time that thing that’s kept me awake, that thing I wanted to say, is just one of the may things that happen to you in a day. And eventually, I will give up, shut down my laptop, call it a day.

My to-do list – it will stay. On the right hand corner of my screen. Flagged red.Waiting for that tick, that will help it go away. Somewhat like me. Almost like me. Atleast like that part of me, that wants to click on that screaming red banner that says – ‘Fly to Kuala Lumpur. Just for 6999/-‘.

Actually, maybe not to Kuala Lumpur. But somewhere. Some day.

Ready, set, Go(a)!

2018 officially started for me only yesterday. Which means that all the things people resolve to do (and I hope to) from the 1st of January, I pushed by a whole week. And funnily enough, the reason was this blog.

How you ask? Ok, even if you don’t, I’m here to tell you. So listen up.

One of the nicest side effects of entering the blogging world was the people I met – through comments yes, but mainly through our shared love for writing. And I met a lo-ot of people of course, over the years. When 2009 was ending, I moved my blog from Livejournal, where there URL was basically my name, to WordPress, to be relatively anonymous, if that was a thing. And then the big blogging boom happened.

All of a sudden, I was in midst of so many bloggers, so many comments and conversations, that if I think back, I wonder how I got anything else done at all. Maybe I didn’t. Maybe I didn’t have anything else to do in fact. Posts would be published and then the comments would be checked every few minutes and responded to. Then the blogs of the commentators would be visited and the favor reciprocated. Basically, there was time, and we were spending it all on this new found world of like-minded people.

Ofcourse, some more like-minded than the others. And this is where I come to finally telling you the crux of the story. Of these many, many people that came and went – some stayed back for longer. They moved on from WordPress to being Facebook friends, to whatsapp friends, to friends who rushed over the day after Zo was born to see her in the hospital. To friends whose virtual Baby shower was planned and carried out with so much enthusiasm, that I am pretty sure no work was done in office on that day. To friends who you never met, but freely discussed parenting, working and life in general without the slightest hesitation.

Until last year, one of them said that we just had to meet up. There were excuses and there was un-sureness, and family holidays and kids to manage and companies to run, but somehow, after a number of dates getting vetoed – we finally managed to decide on weekend that worked for all. And again, after a lot of discussions about where we would meet up – a highly dependable and always-in-holiday-mode destination was finalized.

So in the first weekend of 2018 – Nu, Nuttie, Saga and I – put our respective lives on hold (well almost, yes Saga? ) and flew in from our respective cities to Goa, to spend an amazingly relaxing and refreshing 2 days. The time we spent together was full of eating and drinking and lounging and reading and massages and playing Taboo (this deserves a separate post), and mainly, a lot of talking. Which was both a surprise and a relief – because the number of times I had met each of them before, ranged between 0 and 3. But turns out that reading someone tells you a lot more about them than meeting them in person, or talking to them.

Because the year started on Monday, and we were leaving on Friday, much of my week was spent preparing for the trip and closing loose ends before I took a day off immediately after the official holiday season (Ahem. Not cool in the corporate world). There was hardly anytime to start anything, because everything could be done ‘after I came back from Goa’. And only when I came back to work on Monday morning this week, did reality finally hit.

Which is why I am extremely thankful and grateful to this blog. I might not be writing as often – heck the other three are not writing at all (cue to feel guilty and restart) – but this place brought me in touch with folks who I would have never met, never known otherwise. And I think that would have been a pretty big thing to miss out on. Plus, it helped me extend my new year high by one whole week.

So finally, Happy New Year folks. If the first week is anything to go by, I think I have a lot to look forward to.