Run

*I wrote this a couple of weeks ago. I still haven’t been able to get back to any decent exercise routine yet and on top of that, have been binging majorly cos of travel, baby S’s ayush homam and what not*

2 months and 6 days later, I ran today. Now, I know what was missing all these days. A lot has happened these last few months. Life altering things, some trivial stuff, everyday happenings that we pay no attention to. It’s not like I didn’t feel the urge to wear my shoes and head out for a run. Every day when I went to bed, I made plans to run the next day. See, that’s how it works for me. I can’t wake up in the morning and decide to run. The morning run has to be my last thought before I sleep so that when I wake up, I have no time to be indecisive.

The lack of my morning run has made falling asleep pretty hard. My body doesn’t seem to think that running behind my son is a valid form of exercise. Since my sleep is already governed by the son’s, adding insomnia to the mix keeps me in the zombie zone on most days. More than my sleep and exercise, I miss the “my time” running gave me. I’ve tried running in the past and never really took to it. I just assumed that it maybe wasn’t my thing. But after baby S, running seemed to be the only form of exercise I could get since everything else required me to commit to certain timings and I, obviously, couldn’t do that. So these morning runs became “my time”. It was just mine. I didn’t think about the baby or breastfeeding or nighttime feeds or diaper changes. In fact, I didn’t really think about anything. It’s hard to think when I am huffing and puffing. The first time I was able to run for 5 whole minutes without stopping, I felt invincible. Music makes my runs even more special. There are days when the right songs would just play, one after another. My playlist, predictably, is filled with a lot of Raaja. That man is the best running companion, ever! I feel wonderful even on lousy run days cos of him. I look forward to wearing my shoes, plugging in my earphones and just shutting myself out. I recharge and gear up for the new day. Running has helped me regain my confidence. I’m addicted to junk and sweets. In spite of that, I feel like I’m in a good shape. The flab and stretch marks are still there but I feel better than I did pre pregnancy.

Today, when I stepped out for my run and put on my headphones, the perfect song played. I was creaking and panting, my pace was lousy, I thought I was going to pass out before I could even finish a km but when I finished my run, I had the biggest grin on my face. Now, I know what I was missing all these days.

There is such a thing as a free lunch…

…a bad substandard one.

I was an NCC cadet in college. My dad was one too. He told us of stories in engineering colleges where hostel students enrolled themselves in NCC for the free and sumptuous breakfast after the Saturday parade. In my college, Saturday breakfasts came from our own canteen which was pretty good. So for a whole year, we had no real complaints about the food.

2nd year meant that we had to start going for camps where cadets would be selected and groomed to take part in the Republic Day Parade at New Delhi. That is the one thing every cadet aims for. Our first camp was held in the month of May at Wallajahpet, not far from Madras. We were supposed to stay at the government arts college there for 10 days (or was it 2 weeks? I forget). Accommodation for girls was arranged at the girls hostel there since the college was empty during the summer holidays. 25 girls from my college were given 2 tiny rooms to stay in. But the true horror was the state of the rooms and bathrooms there. We were told that it was a functional hostel where girls lived during the semester. But it was filthy, dusty and full of cobwebs. It took us about 2 hours to clean up both the rooms just to make them habitable. Of course, there were massive arguments about who got to sleep under the fan! I just decided to sleep in the corridor and stay away from a fan that only circulated the heat and body odour around the room.

Then came the horror of the toilets. Like all dormitories, the toilets were shared. I could be wrong but I think we were about a 100 odd girls sharing about 5-7 toilets and about the same number of bathrooms. There used to be fights over using them every morning. One had to always make sure that the person using the toilet/bathroom after them was someone from their own college so as to not relinquish control.

After these startling and exhausting adjustments, we sat down for our first lunch at the camp. After so many years, I distinctly remember how bad the food was. The rice was not clean & finding a worm was not surprising. Asking for it to be tasty was just too much. It was unappetizing and made us sick. I had carried a bunch of snacks from home. My staples were Marie biscuits and a few squeezy tubes of milkmaid. Many days, I would eat just that for lunch. There was a small shop inside the campus with a telephone. Their most attractive product was warm maaza. I used to down at least 2 a day. But nothing makes up for proper solid food especially when you’re involved in physical drill from 6 in the morning to 4 in the evening (again, it was a long time ago, so I don’t remember the exact schedule). One day, out of sheer exhaustion, I asked my parents to drive down to the camp with food from home, lots of it. My entire contingent sat in a circle, salivating in anticipation when the food was being opened. You had to be there to understand the meaning of the phrase, inhaled the food. I have never before or never again seen food disappear that fast. On the last day of camp, as a treat, we were served suspicious looking boiled eggs. The girls who ate them ended up with upset tummies.

In addition to the starvation, a lot of us ended up with acute urinary infection due to the poor sanitary conditions. When we complained about it to the camp commander, she ordered the toilets to be cleaned once at night too. I figured the cleaners came around 2 am to clean the toilet. So I’d set an alarm to wake up and use the toilets right after they were cleaned. I’d try not to use it again unless I really really had to.

When I read about children dying due to contaminated midday meals, I could truly imagine how deplorable their state was. We, students from good urban colleges, after endlessly protesting about the food and sanitation issues, just like our seniors did during their time, were able to change nothing. Nobody gave a damn. It was thought of as a part of roughing it out.

My heart bleeds for those children cos nothing is about to change. People are not going to stop sending their children to government schools. For many, it might be their only means to one meal a day.

I decided to quit NCC after that camp cos in spite of everyone saying that the camps got better after the first one, I was thoroughly disgusted and nothing was going to make me go back.

My heart bleeds cos I know that luxury may not be an option for these kids. No one is going to bat an eyelid at the sight of stones or worms in the rice. You simply throw them away and carry on eating.

I wore this today

If you’re on Instagram, you would definitely have heard of @fatmumslim and her photo a day challenge that she runs every month. I’ve started doing her challenge a few times earlier but have given up half way through for no good reason at all. I’ve again started it this month and I resolve to see it through to the end. If you aren’t familiar with her challenge, this is how it works. At the beginning of every month, she posts a list of topics, one for each day and you’re supposed to post on it.

Yesterday’s topic was, I wore this today and this is what I posted

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See how I had to blur out even my feet? I was never a trendy, fashion obsessed person. But I do like to wear clean clothes and not look like a homeless person. But after the baby, it’s definitely not on my priority list. Especially yesterday with a sick baby, a doctor’s appointment that ran late by 3 hrs and a cranky hungry me, it was not a day to be making public what I wore.

So here are a list of things that I miss being able to do on a daily basis.

*Bathe- I get to do this if I have a super early bath before the husband leaves for the day. Else, I’m done. When my son was younger, I could leave him in the crib for a quick one but now, he screams the place down if he can’t see me even for a second. Which leads me to my second one.

*Bathroom break without an audience- again, can’t see mommy for 2 mins has to mean that she has decided to take off and must scream the place down.

*Take a minute to look in the mirror-I go days without even taking a peek at the mirror. It could also be cos I can’t bear to look at myself. And then I take my son to the playground in the evenings only to be greeted by gorgeous, svelte moms dressed perfectly with kids to match them. How they do it, I’ll never know!

*read a book- I haven’t read a page in months. Kills me but I don’t have the strength to battle my son who wants to rip my book apart and read it at the same time. Also, it’s not possible to read in the dark when he’s asleep. So I watch something instead. Now, I prefer the laziness of watching a series to the effort of reading a book.

Of course, motherhood is joyous!

RIP..

..Google is suspending its Google reader as of today. When I found out about this a few months ago, I was shocked like everyone what cos not only is this one of my favorite Google products but also something I use on a daily basis in addition to Gmail and search. I’ve moved to feedly and have been using it for a couple of months now. I’ve said my goodbyes and made my peace but it still hurts.

Here’s a list of products that Google has retired in the past. (Image courtesy Mashable)

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Here are some of the retired Google products that I personally miss:

Google Notebook
I always wondered why this didn’t get more famous. It was my favorite bookmarking tool. When it was discontinued, I remember copying tons of links and notes that I had accumulated there into docs on Google docs. Note to self: must check those docs soon. Never know what I might find.

Google labs:
I used to spend hours on Google labs trying to make practical sense of products that seemed all out there. It helped that I was doing this on high speed office internet and of course, office time. I was just going to call this my 20% project.

Picnik:
When picnik was still a part of Flickr, it was my go to image editing software. It was in the initial days of my photography and I was still trying to figure my way around image editing. Made me feel awesome when I could make my pictures look even marginally better. I must admit though that when picnik was taken off Flickr, it motivated me to look for a better and slightly more advanced editing software and that’s when I found Lightroom. Start of another love affair.

What are some of your favorite Google products that have been retired now?

Checking in

It’s that time of the year when I get all pensive and serious about life. My birthday’s around the corner and every year I start thinking about all the new things I want to do in life and the number of things that are still pending in my to do list.

If there’s one thing that 2013 has taught me, it is that life is unpredictable. All it takes is one moment for your life to turn upside down. The price I’ve paid to learn that lesson has been very high. While it scares me to think about tomorrow, it’s given me the clarity to not shy away from challenges. Sometimes the biggest challenge I face in my life is just myself. I’ve opened this page to write something so many times. I write 5 sentences and exit without saving anything cos I’m convinced that a. It’s not worth going through with b. No one’s really going to read this c. It’s not as flowery, insightful, interesting or beautiful as xyz’s blog. I always ignore that tiny inner voice that says that unless I go through with it and work on it, I’ll never know.

I need to push myself to make that tiny inner be heard louder and learn to trust it. I’m beginning to see that being a parent is one of the hardest things anyone can ever do. I don’t know how the previous generations did it. My mom managed 2 kids and a job. My grandmother managed 4 of her own kids, about 10 of her nieces and nephews, a big joint family, a husband with a big ego and much more on limited resources. I have a maid, a cook and a doting husband. All I do is take care of my son and yet I’m exhausted on most days by 6. I realise that the exhaustion is more mental than physical. I know I’m never going to be as wonderful as my grandmother but I’m going to try. I’m going to stop being my own obstacle. One tiny step towards making myself happy. One tiny step towards being happy with myself.