Message from the universe

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Yesterday I asked the universe to send me a message to get me out of bed today and do what I do. There was no message, of course. 

OF COURSE.

Only my determination to not give anyone the satisfaction of seeing me upset and sad. As always, I will let my work do the talking instead of networking or building a personal rapport with anyone. I am not going to beg for what I deserve to be handed on a platter.

In the last 2 years, my reporting managers have provided me with the required emotional support when I have been low. It’s rare but I tend to turn my current colleagues to vent frustrations. It’s difficult to explain to outsiders and won’t be of any interest to them.

Here is some advice I would give corporate slaves:

Be very clear why you are quitting a company. 

Money should be a reason only if you can’t manage within your means. If you like what you do, money will come to you. Career path is a good reason to leave. But only once you are sure every possibility has been exhausted in the current organisation.

A better brand is a very good reason to quit but the learning will be more diverse in a small setup. 

A bad boss can have serious effects on mental health. But every organisation has that one chuth and you may be very unlucky to be in his team.

Quit if your career is going nowhere and you have zero equity. Equity is what matters. The only thing that really matters. 


2018 Resolution No 1

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Read better books

I resolved to read 100 books this year (Ha Ha Ha) and then scaled it down to 50 on Goodreads. These reading challenges put a lot of pressure on reading more and instead of reading well. I am not proud of my reading list this year and wish I was reading better books. But how will I track the quality of books?

So, here is a different kind of resolution.

I will read 25 books in 2018 that I can rate 4 or 5 (out of 5) on Goodreads. This way I will focus more on the quality of a book instead of quantity.

What do you think? Will this work? Do you have better suggestions?


The darkness is back

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I can feel myself getting drawn into the darkness. I spent almost a month on a friend’s bed this year. I was ill, had no place to live or even the will to live. I recovered when I found a house to move into. One day at a time I brought myself out of that hole. But now it’s back. A part of me wants to stay here and let everything go. I will gain weight and hate it. I will cry to sleep and wake up crying. I will spend weeks just trying to get normal. Everything in my life- my work, blogging, running, gym, friendships, marriage will suffer if I do that.

So, am going to get out of bed, change my clothes, take a Crocin, wash my face, put on a big smile and pretend like am ok. Because sometimes when you pretend hard enough, it becomes second nature.


ADHM 2017

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Yesterday’s run was very, very different from all the others. I know I say that after every race but it was.

It was difficult turning up for the half marathon. My training wasn’t as great as I wanted it to be. Sure, I trained for the distance but last year I wanted to complete ADHM 2017 in 2.15 hrs and even getting to last year’s timing was going to be a challenge. Entire 2017 has been about recovering from an injury, then illness and just trying to take one day at a time. Not every year of training is going to be about getting fitter or learning new skills. Sometimes it is about knowing how to pull yourself out of the mess you got yourself into and getting back on track. Trust me, getting back on track after a break is 100 times harder than staying on track.

I wasn’t able to run for 2 weeks due to the massive amount of travel. Basically, I wasn’t in the best frame of mind and shape for ADHM. To add to that, runners were dropping out like flies due to the smog. Even non runners had an opinion on whether I should run or not. I was getting bombarded with unsolicited opinions from all sides. And I didn’t know even one runner who was 100% positive about running ADHM, come what may. So I had to keep myself positive all on my own.

I had a list of 10 reasons why I shouldn’t run ADHM. Most people would have considered it a smart decision. But the commitment that I would run was most important. So, I ran.

I ran without a timing target. I ran to have fun (I can hear my friend saying “You do know that running for fun is not normal”). I ran for my love for Delhi, smog or no smog. I ran because ADHM is special. I ran because am juggling a lot of balls in the air and dropping even one of them will have disastrous effects on my mental equilibrium.

Throughout the run I didn’t look at my timing. I have been training myself to track my pace (not the average pace) while running. I have been trying to read my pace without a watch telling me. There are 2 ways to run a half marathon – either go fast, slow down, go fast again. This is why interval runs help; or run consistently at the same pace. It is easier to get a personal best timing with the former strategy rather than latter. I had trained for the former. But the smog made it difficult to sprint even once. And that has never happened before. I sprint several times on all my runs. I was completely thrown. I hadn’t trained to run in the smog. Then I started running at a consistent pace. Everytime my pace went below 6 mins/km, I had trouble breathing so I kept it between 6 mins/km to 6:30 mins/km. That worked.

At 16 km, I was nauseous. I wanted to puke and considered stopping. But then decided to stop if I actually puked or fainted. I hadn’t fueled well before the run. Both the bananas had overripe parts and I ended up eating less than 1. The Enerzal made me more nauseous and since I don’t eat on training runs, I wasn’t going to take the risk during the race. One step at a time I covered each km.

2 km from the finish line, a kindred soul asked me to keep running when I walked. When I started walking again, she told me to go slow but not to stop. I used her to pace me for another km. 500 m from the finish line, I didn’t care. Or so I thought till I saw the cameras. Going by the great shots they clicked, narcissism does have some positives.

Most runners who dropped out did so because of lack of training and not the smog. Most of the people I know personally, turned up and ran. Training or no training. Those who had trained with coaches in the last 3-4 months met their personal best timing. The smog was just an excuse. Just like life gives us ample reasons to not do something. We just have to latch on to one and get things done.

Has half marathon training added to my fitness this year? No.

Has it made me stronger? No.

Has it added any value to me this year? No.

Have the long hours and effort of training kept me away from trying new things? Yes.

I am retiring (don’t want to call it quitting) from long distance running after 5 years of training consistently. I want to explore more efficient ways of getting fit and strong. Certain parts of my body (left ankle/left foot) feel weak and I don’t want to get injured again. I want to spend my Sunday at treks or cycling or rock climbing instead of running. This doesn’t change my training regime in any way. I will run short distances on weekdays and 10 km on weekends.

Long distance running started me on the fitness path. But you have to close one door to open a new one. There is only so much you can fit into your life.


Precursor to ADHM 2017

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I had planned to write this post a day before ADHM but the thoughts are flooding my head and my heart feels so heavy I want to rip it out with my bare hands.

On Sunday I won’t run with my legs. I will put every inch of my soul, body and heart into it. My life will flash by me in those 3 hours and every success, failure, hurt, disappointment will propel me forward. I will run to make sense of the puzzle that is life. I will run to evade the questions there are no answers to. I will run to feel like am insignificant. I will run to feel alive. My breath will be in sync with my feet. I will try to block out the people around me. I will try to feel part of the crowd. I will stop only when every muscle in my body is hurting.

At the finish line, I would have nothing left to give. Just the empty feeling that the journey is over. And every training hour was worth it. Every missed party/booze session/late night chats with friends were so I could do this. Every early morning wake up call, long hours on the road, lonely Saturday nights in bed, after work hours at the gym were for this madness.

A certain void at the end of it all because it may be my last 21.1 km.


Tiger Safari Vs Jungle Safari

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We were in Kanha national park over the weekend and went to the forest in 3 safaris. After every safari, everyone (hotel staff, resort driver, other residents at the resort) would ask us if we spotted a tiger. We would smile and shake our heads and people would sympathetically say “It’s ok. Maybe on the next safari”.

I didn’t know how to explain to people that I don’t care. I loved being in the forest and driven around for hours. Bandhavgarh is where am going to have a 100% tiger spotting. I wasn’t in Kanha for the tigers specifically.

A jungle safari is very different from a tiger safari. The latter is quite boring and it’s worth it only if you are rewarded with a tiger spotting. Else, it is an absolute waste of time. Last year in Bandhavgarh, we waited for hours in the blazing sun for the tiger to make an appearance. In the summers when the grass is dry, the forest is barren, the visibility is improved and spotting a tiger becomes easier. A water hole is the best place to spot them. But in any other season, it is hard to notice a tiger in the dense forest. It could be standing few steps from you in the bushes and you still wouldn’t know.

In Bandhavgarh, on our last safari the tiger was hidden behind the bushes. We waited for 3 hours for it to move out so we could spot it but it didn’t. Instead of enjoying the jungle and spotting other animals, we spent all that time waiting silently.

Compare that to driving around in the jungle in an open gypsy with the mist floating on the water, a deer which decided to exhibit it’s grace by jumping 6 feet high in front of us, a bison which was spotted, a few jackals, an owl, an eagle, a herd of 50 spotted deer running, a barking deer, barasingha.

There is more to a Safari than a tiger spotting and I wish more people understood that.

 


Hormones

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Some days you go to the blog and other days, the blog calls out to you.

Maybe it it the hormones making me feel uneasy. Maybe it is the loneliness. Maybe it is everything. It is hard to differentiate.

Some days you just want to burst into tears for no reason at all. But there is mind numbing work to be done. You will be alone only at 10 pm and by then you will be too tired to even bother.

Do we even have friends anymore or are they people we interact with most frequently because they are least asshole-y? Some days every relationship is evaluated and weighed to the last detail. The most recent ones are expected to end the fastest. And the oldest ones cling on as habits despite the lack of effort.

This post says nothing. It means nothing. But it hurts to write. Maybe it IS the hormones.

One day merging into the next without purpose or meaning. The waiting… hoping… more waiting and hoping.


MAMI 2017

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MAMI was so much fun this year. Especially now that I know how to get movie recommendations, which venues to visit, how to book the movies, spend less time in queues and more time inside theatres.

How MAMI is unique from watching movies in a theatre on a regular day:

  • You are watching the best of the best. These are movies which haven’t released in theatres and are only doing the festival rounds. Many of them may never get a theatre release. These are diverse movies about topics you haven’t even heard or thought about.
  • Movies start on time. Even at PVR. I swear. Who thought that was possible in India? I have watched atleast 20 movies at the fest by now and except for the opening film, ALL of them start exactly on time.
  • I had to stand for the National Anthem 14 times in 4 days. Torture. It makes me want to pick a fight with every troll on Twitter who considers playing of National Anthem in the theatres a sign of patriotism.
  • No intervals. Holding your pee or thirst or hunger till the movie is over is not unusual. Nobody walks out of a good movie to pee.
  • People clap at the end of a good movie. Maybe the director is watching along with us. Maybe he/she isn’t. Doesn’t matter. It is our duty to express our appreciation.
  • There wasn’t one movie where someone’s cellphone rang. Basic etiquette is followed here.
  • There is no time for food. Sustaining on popcorn is the norm. PVR launches a smaller popcorn pack for Rs 70 so students can afford them. On the last day I wanted to have a quick lunch at Kailash Parbat which is across the road from PVR but there was no time. I was running from one movie to the next.
  • Talking to strangers and exchanging notes on the movies watched till now is the common topic of conversation. I didn’t do too much of this because I had booked movies in advance and didn’t spend too much time in queues.
  • 8 am is a crucial time when the bookings for the next day open. Some movies get booked out in 1 min (mother!) so it’s important to be on the bookshow site by 7.55 am. I rescheduled by gym/run around that time.
  • Stalking people on Twitter to check who watched what is considered research.
  • I watched movies at all theatres in Mumbai – Regal, Andheri, Juhu, Kurla, Lower Parel. Thane was too out of the way for me, of course.
  • I would reach home at midnight every night and then wake up at 6 am for a workout. I hardly slept for 4 days but it was worth it.

It is a different experience to watch movies with movie buffs. Regular movies seem so boring and mediocre now.

I am not over MAMI yet and watching the movies screened in 2016. You can check them out on my other blog. Link at the top.


Work… Life… Balance

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The other day I was speaking to someone and we were debating over being passionate about work. The answer would be simple if we were in a creative field where we get to create something original. But as corporate slaves, I don’t understand the concept of being attached to what you do.

My friend said that he really enjoys what he does, it is constantly on his mind and he would never hire someone who couldn’t work with his head, heart and soul. I almost laughed. The self importance we attach to our trivial jobs is hilarious. I told him maybe he doesn’t have anything better in his life to compare to his work. Can the books I read or movies or plays I watch or the treks I go on or my fitness journey ever compare to my job. Nope. Never. Ever. Because other things in my life are so interesting that work can never compare to it.

Also, you can’t make decisions correctly if feelings are attached to them. What if you have to let someone go? You have to listen to your head exclusively. There is no space for the heart or the soul. They should be left at the door of your workplace. Involving your heart means you can never detach from work. That is dangerous.

Yesterday a popular handle on Twitter asked for advice on joining her first job. Most people advised her to leave work at work and maintain a work life balance. So many people tell me that work life balance is not in their hands. That is absolute crap. I know people in the highest positions who end work on time. You aren’t saving the world. If you can’t sell your bullshit in 8-9 working hours, something is terribly wrong in your life. We are just tiny specks on this planet and nobody cares. It is as simple as that.

While we are on the topic, can people please stop talking about their work? It is the least interesting thing about a person. Why would I care about your career or how much you earn or what you do for a living? You are a whore like everyone else and we are just selling inconsequential stuff nobody gives a shit about.

 


Not to dos…

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Basis the responses received on social media, here is a list of things not to say when someone you know tells you they were raped.

  1. Ask yourself, “Is my reaction and response basis what I have read in books and seen in movies/Tv shows or do I know other women/men in similar situations?” If it is the latter, you probably don’t need to read further. If it is the former, read this post and take tips.
  2. Have they confided in you in person? Then understanding, empathy and sympathy is expected. If it has been shared on social media, neither of the above is expected. Victims only talk about it when they have dealt with the trauma or the lack of one.
  3. Getting raped isn’t ‘brave’. Is it brave if there is theft in my home and I have talked about it? It’s an unfortunate incident that happened and I dealt with in the way I thought feasible.
  4. Rape does not change you as a person. It doesn’t define who you are or what views you hold. It doesn’t have to be this significant event that you can’t move on from. It depends on how brutal it was.
  5. Please don’t say “it happens to a lot of women. It isn’t a big deal”. These are actual words typed by someone on fb chat. Someone who comes across as aware and posts about current affairs.
  6. Don’t use rape as part of a casual conversation. An acquaintance (someone I met through Twitter) casually mentioned a friend and went on to say “R is a friend. She was raped and stuff. It was very sad”. No, doofus. She confided in you. Don’t talk about it to a random stranger. Needless to add, I avoided all contact with him after that meeting.
  7. Talking or writing about it does not always helps in healing. I haven’t come across one person who had the right thing to say about it. And I could write about it only once I had dealt with it. Even then, it took me days to recover. Now it’s like a distant dream and I don’t remember a thing. Which is why the post was shared on social media today. I wrote the post 3 years back.
  8. Parents didn’t believe it. Well, if people of my generation have said all the wrong things, how can I expect my parents to have the correct response? It’s easier to deal with if you refuse to believe it. How are they going to deal with the guilt of their daughter getting raped under their watch and by someone they trusted?
  9. I am not a feminist or vocal about women’s issues because I was raped. I have always been more aware than most women around me. Repression of women does not anger me because I was raped. It’s because am sensitive to these issues. And if you don’t react or care, you are the odd one. Not me.
  10. No. It isn’t possible to file a complaint against the rapist. I don’t want to confront him because am not there yet. Right now I can’t even remember his name or his face and that is the most ideal situation. Last time I heard his name was 3 years back and my reaction was extreme. I don’t want anything to affect me like that again.

If you are still confused about how to react, don’t react at all.

According to statistics, 50% of Indian kids (male and female) have been sexually abused. If they are not talking about it, it’s because of inappropriate responses of people around them.

Thanks for the comments on social media. I know my response to the comments was harsh but I do appreciate the intent.

For any queries, you can contact me on social media.

Good night.