Sunday, May 25, 2014

Saturday night emo

Everyone has shitty relatives.

Mine are even more so.

I have legit reasons to dislike (to put it mildly, because I don't really want to say hate because really, they don't quite deserve even the hatred) them, mostly because they are so hurtful and hateful and generally vicious.

I have always avoided confrontations of any sort. Have always lived in a shadow of an elder sibling who is known to have spoken her mind, and thus not widely loved in the family.  She's lovely, but if she doesn't like people (and she doesn't), she will kind of let it known. I, on the other hand, have mostly kept an air of indifference.  And a lot of times, genuinely liked some people I am related to at different points in time. (over time, I kind of start developing indifference even to them, but that's because they defy all laws of common sense)

Oh, and have I told you I'm kinda fluffy? Technically, overweight (ok, not technically because I have not even weighed myself in forever so, just assuming I fall in overweight range, and not morbidly obese or something) 

So, you see, all these years, the only thing that has defined my has been my weight.  Which is fine, as long as you also acknowledge other qualities I have (even though I am overly generous to myself and I kick humility out of window by ackowledging I have qualities). 

But even then, I was never recipient of mean comments from family mostly because their vanity never reached me.  You see, I was never the competition.  The competition of vanity was between elder sibling, one insanely stupid elder cousin and few aunts.  I was not even considered because, well, I have always been fluffy.  Who finds fluffy attractive anyway?

Now, I have managed to gain exponential weight in last one decade. It was perhaps one of the shittiest decade of my life. Not that I've had many.  But still.  A lot of personal and professional shit happening.  Too much to get into detail now.  (also, considering I've always eaten my feelings, I'd not bet on talking about it even now when I stopped doing it - I may need loads of coaxing and maybe few incentives (like the deathly hallows metal symbol for my harry potter theme keychain collection) to get me to speak up).

Now, this post is mostly to let the steam off.  Because one particular aunt has pissed me off to no extent.

And because mom wouldn't let me answer back (plus, I don't think I can really answer back - remember the confrontation issues? yea, I couldn't quite defend myself without breaking into tears).

This aunt has been particularly cruel.  Oh, and not to tell insanely vain who competes with her own daughter (who's 32 - and epitome of stupidity) and is basically pretty much messed up.

So last year, as I have said before, I started my journey to reclaim the life I had let go.  It sounds dramatic, and it is to some extent. It was that one moment when I decided to be little selfish and love myself more than I loved others. 

Anyway, first step was to reclaim my health. A time when I could not walk 2 kms in 30 minutes without going out of breath.  Yea, pretty bad.  January 2013 it was.  And for no other reason but to be able to do things I want to.  Travel across Europe - see the world - eat the food I want to eat - (yes, Pizza in Naples - just tomato sauce and cheese and that's it) live in New York - go to all the places I have only seen in romantic comedies - and why not? You only live once, right?

Coming back - it was in January that I started - by March, it was too hot to go for evening walks, and I started walking in mornings.  So, vicious aunt gets to know that I have started morning walks.  She calls up my mom and asks, "oh, does she want to get bariatric surgery done?" We have no idea where that came from.

Few things.

1.  You never asked me before why I let myself go this far.  If you were so concerned, why didn't you ask? Why didn't you intervene? Ever wondered what was eating me up?

2.  I have finally - on my own - started taking steps to better health - why the fuck would you suggest the extreme option?

Now, it may not seem like much to you, as a reader, but as someone who had just started out taking care of her life after 27 years, it sounded like a major blow - am I that much of a failure that I need surgical help to get healthy? Not helping. Not helping at all.

Thankfully she asked it to my Mom, who was equally hurt by the outrageous suggestion.  Mom told me not to pay much attention because "she is like that only". 

And honestly, I don't believe, "she doesn't mean bad in her heart, she just doesn't know what to say". Bullshit.  I know her well enough to know how much malice she has in her heart.

Now, I moved on. (no, I've never forgotten that, and never would)

Last Sunday we again had a family gathering.  Now, a day before I had gathered some comparative pictures of me from before my health journey to now.  (my victories have been non-scale - I refuse to get on the scale because I know that would be discouraging, but I've gone down two sizes in jeans, so that's something to be happy about, right?) And another aunt was going through pictures I had recently clicked at the gathering.  She stumbled upon my comparative pictures. (like, really, people should stop going through other people's pictures without permission. Especially when there are chances that the person may not like you)  And she was surprised and happy to see them.  When the vicious aunt comes to the room, this non-vicious aunt showed her my pics. 

Now, first of all, for first 4 minutes, vicious aunt refuses to believe I have lost any weight. Okay, maybe you see me often to not notice the change.

Then she sees the comparative pictures.  And still refuses to believe any changes.  "Must be the angle".

Okay, then. I don't need your validation, but it wouldn't hurt if you say one good thing at least once.

Then she adds, "why don't you lose the weight faster?"

I say, it will take its own pace, because I am not really aiming for that - I am just trying to be healthier, weight loss is an added bonus, which I am very happy about.  I am in a much better mental health than I was last year.

"But then don't you wish you would look nice? So that we can get you married?"

Excuse me?

Took me two seconds to recover from this blow before I said, "I anyway look nice." as I tried very hard not to cry.  Was I just told by someone my mother's age I am not married because I am not thin which makes me unattractive?

So apparently, only reason a 28 year old girl is unmarried is because she is fat.  Because obviously, the fact that I could be kind, sensitive, loving holds nothing in front of my body weight.  The only way to get me married is for me to lose weight.  And I have decided to lose weight is so I can find a good match to marry. Thank you for making my weight as my only identity. 

Fat shaming is one of the cruelest thing a fat person has to undergo.  "You are so funny, smart, intelligent.  If only you'd lose some weight." *proceeds to order a large pizza and eat it at one go*

But you know, despite being overweight, let me point out a few things I can do:

1. walk 5 kms in less than an hour (yes, I'm improving on timing)
2. 20 pushups. (not all the way to the floor, but on my toes - I'm improving on the intensity)
3. 20 burpees/suicide jumps
4. 8 tricep dips (yea, working on improving that too)
5. 30 crunches. (counting only the ones I can do without a break, and not losing form.)

few more things.  Oh, and know what? I plan to take part in the marathon next year for which I plan to start training soon.  Even if I don't run the full marathon, I'm totally running the dream run of 5 kms.  Trust me, I'll finish it in less than 30 minutes.  Why? Because I want to. Not because I have to.

I don't think I will ever be able to forgive her.  I have lost whatever little respect I had for her.

Oh, and yes, I do have stretch marks.  What if a guy finds it gross and doesn't want to marry me? (yes, that was also a concern)

Well, these are like my war wounds - I have fought near clinical depression. On my own. However flawed my coping mechanism was and is, I have fought my own battles without belittling others.  My wars. My wounds. I am proud of the fact that despite reaching the lowest of the low points in my life, I have tried to bounce back. 

And know what? It is okay.  If my being fluffy is a deal breaker for someone to fall in love with me, then so be it.  I am better off on my own, loving the internet. 

But I am willing to hope the world is not full of men whose only criteria for loving someone is how thin she is. And there will be someone who is willing to accept me for who I am. With all my weight.  (physical only, left the emotional baggage far behind - it was travelling Air India)  Though I sometimes wish there was at least someone who cared enough to scan through it.

Anyway, I don't know where this post is heading.

Ah, well, let me get back to internet.  Where no one is judging and everyone is weird and I don't have any hurtful relatives lurking around.

Anyway, gotta wake up early - planning an early morning bike ride. :D

Yay endorphins.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Ruskin Bond: Love among the Bookshelves

As someone who enjoys reading (I wouldn't call myself an avid reader, because I wish I read more), I am ashamed to admit I have never read Ruskin Bond. I know, I know, judge me.  But I picked up reading late.

But so what if I didn't grow up reading Bond? I can always read about what books he grew up reading, right?

Ruskin Bond's Love among the Bookshelves talks about the books he grew up reading, when he spent his childhood in India.  Here also I must admit I had not read the books he talks about.  The ones he fell in love with.  But that made reading the book more interesting. There is so much nostalgia about the books he picked up, where he picked up and the early days and how. "A week I spent in a forest rest house, in what is now the Rajaji sanctuary between Haridwar and Dehradun". 

He goes on to tell about his favourite books and how he discovered P. G. Wodehouse (here too I must admit I have never read Wodehouse and now I am keen to read - any suggestions on what I should start with are more than welcome) followed by Agatha Christie.

It has anecdotes and excerpts of the books and that makes it a delightful read.

I never thought I would enjoy reading a non-fiction, but then I wish other non-fiction books were equally interesting.

Ruskin Bond's Love among the Bookshelves is a light, breezy read - wonderful for a light weekend reading - and really, I am nowhere close to someone who should be reviewing books written by Bond. Like, really. I sat on this post for a few days before posting, mostly because I don't consider myself worthy enough to write a 'review' on Bond.

So go for it. :)

Book name: Love among the Bookshelves
MRP: Rs. 299 (hardcover)
Courtesy: Flipkart

Sunday, May 11, 2014

500 Rupees

My mother is an architect. She worked with the Gujarat Government before she took voluntary retirement some ten years back.

Today morning she received a call.

One Haseenaben had passed away.  Haseenaben was the office peon. (I'm not sure of a more polite word)  Haseenaben's daughter in law called to inform my mom of her passing.  She was remembering my mom on her deathbed.  She wanted to thank her for her kafan.

Back in 1995/96, Haseenaben was going on the Hajj, the pilgrimage.  She wanted to take her burial shroud with her.  She said that in their customs, the shroud is provided by the deceased woman's parents' side of the family.  She had no family. (she possibly came from Pakistan during partition or lost her family during the partition, grew up as an orphan)

She was disheartened that she will not be able to keep the tradition alive.

My mom had then given her Rs. 500 to buy her shroud, "I am like your younger sister. Please take this money for your shroud and think that someone from your parents' side gave it to you."

Haseenaben called upon my mom twice after my mom quit.  Mom had offered her financial and other kind of help she may require during 2002 riots too.  She was safe, thankfully.

Few days back when she passed away, she died peacefully. 

"Ammi often talked of you.  Of how you gave her money for the shroud.  Thank you for fulfilling her last wish." her daughter in law told my mother today.

Her last wish, to be covered in a shroud she got back from Mecca was fulfilled.

Happy Mothers' Day, Mom. You have touched lives of many, many people than you give yourself the credit for. I wish I could be even half as selfless as you are.

Thank you for teaching me an important lesson today.

Friday, May 2, 2014

The one where I vote

I have closely followed politics since 2004 General Elections.  I did not have much of an opinion back then, except that Sonia Gandhi has an antaratma ki awaaz, which stopped her from becoming a Prime Minister back then.  Oh, and the India Shining campaign.  And the Congress Ka Haath, Aam Aadmi Ke Saath.  Of course, now Aam Aadmi has a totally different meaning.  In fact, thanks to AAP, the word aam aadmi is often used to make fun of gullible and delusional people.  At least I do.  You're such an aam aadmi is my favourite retort when I couldn't come up with anything better. I know I am lame.

Anyway, as usual, I digress (as I will on many more occasions in this blog post).

The first time I was eligible to vote was in 2007 Gujarat Legislative Assembly elections.  I was the first time voter.  I was excited.  It was not as dramatic as I had hoped it would be.  I was disappointed.  Despite five years of 2002 riots, I still hadn't formed an opinion on Modi.

It was not until 2009 General Elections that I read up on riots (thank you, unlimited broadband internet, I shall always be grateful to you).  I realised I belong to the constituency which is represented by Lal Krishna Advani in the Parliament. Oh, I had never seen him around.  Oh, in Gujarat, the only person we know of is Narendra Modi. Oh. Oh, and Mallika Sarabhai wants to contest against Advani as an independent candidate? Oh, and that Roadies fellow is supporting her? What?

Around then I started forming an opinion on Advani.  Oh, 2002 riots. Oh, those were the karsevaks returning from Ayodhya who were burned down in the train. Oh, Ayodhya, where in 1992 a mob had brought down the Babri Masjid. Because of course, Lord Ram was born there. Of course. And that was followed by riots followed by blasts.

Apparently, polarisation of Indians on the faith they followed is not new.  It has been since time immemorial. But I do sincerely hope it does not last forever. There is too much hatred around already.  I digress again.

Coming back. In 2009 elections, Advani was the Prime Ministerial hopeful.  Because why not? (OMGFacts: When he took out his first Rath Yatra, the Rath was called Noah's Ark.) Anyway, I had formed an opinion of him, and that was not good. And my good opinion once lost is lost forever. (Yes, I love Pride and Prejudice and I love Mr. Darcy, and I hope you got the reference otherwise we could not be friends. Or we could, because I don't have much friends anyway, Hi, mujhse dosti karoge? omg, let me not digress, ok?)

Of course, in 2009, BJP/NDA lost again, and we had 5 more years of UPA.  I was glad at least we will have a bunch of extremely smart people to run the country.  Well, they *are* smart.  Look at the number of scams that emerged in last five/ten years. OMG. The money involved in scams is so high that I could make daily trips to Mars and back and I will still have a couple of zillion crores in the bank when I die)

Last year, when I quit Chartered Accountancy (like, the course literally ruined my jawani) and became a journalist (yea, yea, I belong to the category which I call "underpaid media") I had stronger opinions. Of course, the good opinion lost never returned, but I formed opinions on other leaders.  The one who is pegged to become the next Prime Minister.

The day I went to vote, I was still confused who I should vote for.  Should I make use of NOTA? Is it any good? The one who has highest votes will win anyway.  Should I vote for the random independent candidate and help him get his deposit back? Should I vote for the country over constituency? But then, my vote for the country - will it do any good or any more harm? Does my vote really matter when over 800 million people are eligible to vote? I am 1/800 millionth of the population.

In a hypothetical scenario where my vote is the decisive vote, my one vote will change the course of the country. 

I felt so powerful.  As an individual and collectively as citizens.

I woke up at 6 am (I am a morning person, but I like my sleep too, and these days, reading Game of Thrones (yes, I am late to the party, no I have not seen the series, no, do not even dare to tell me the spoilers - I belong to the land of Gandhi (Mahatma) and Modi (Narendra) - I have ways to deal with people who vex me) keeps me awake till late night, and omg, I love Jon Snow and OMG I LOVE ARYA! AND OMG THE STARKS ARE LOVELY PEOPLE) and at 7:00 am I walked over to the polling booth.  After dodging stray dogs, I reached the booth at 7:10/7:15 and to my surprise, I was the 26th to vote in my booth.  Most others, like me, were morning walkers who decided to cast vote before it gets too hot.

It made me immensely happy.

Few days before, I read that after the Supreme Court recognised the third gender, one Sonam, a transgender, had decided to contest from Amethi.  Against Rahul Gandhi.

It made me immensely happy.

Every one of us has the right to form the government.

Every one of us has the right to be the government.

When I pressed the blue button that day, I felt so empowered. (I know, Rahul Gandhi would be so proud of me)

I know, the country has its flaws.  I know even though we dream of a fair election, it is far from fair.  They don't call politics a dirty game for no reason.

But, there is still hope.

All is not lost.

May be not now.  May be now is not the best time to expect the most satisfying government.

But may be in future.

May be when this current generation of politicians are no longer there, and a newer generation of dynasty-less politicians, and voters, who are aware of what they need, and what is good for the nation as a whole, comes up.

May be a time will come when we will not need to urge people to go out and vote.

May be a time will come when we will not need to tell people that their vote matters.  Because they would know it does. 

That their one finger is so powerful, that it can make or break the government.

That the government will be more responsible towards their citizens, and respect the fact that *they* chose them.

I am hopeful.  I want to be hopeful. 

That better days are going to come.

And without any political affiliations, I want to say, अच्छे दिन आने वाले हैं.


PS: No, really, do not give out AGOT spoilers.