Sunday, October 28, 2012

Lose weight now. Are you asking me how?

I've been obsessed with weight-loss for over 4 years now. Idly, I'd type 'Weight-loss from the face, losing weight from the butts, reducing arm fat, how to tone my legs better' into the Google search bar. It would open up a list of videos, articles, blogger tips, ORDER NOW pop-up windows about some pills that always had a Before-After corner where both the pictures belonged to different people. Anyway, I was obsessed only with the idea of weight-loss online. Once the laptop was turned off, I'd go back into the world of fat, sugar, carbohydrates and the calories would come running in to to hug me.

My history with fat:
Fat and I go back a long time in history; 13.07.88, the day I was born, to be precise. I was born fat. When I went to play school I weighed 3 kgs heavier than the tiny kids and was taller by an inch. Most of my grand parents' friends would visit us every month and ask me the same question: "You've grown so tall and heavy, which class are you in now?" I'd give them the same reply every month. My grand father's friend once asked me: "Which course have you taken up in college?" "College?!" My eyes popped out at that thought. Didn't I tell  him last month that I was in class 9? "Uncle, I'm only in class 9," I smiled and served him a glass of water politely. "Oh, in that case you must lose some weight beta! You look older for your age." I could have either thrown water at his face and asked him to leave or just do something about my weight. Honestly, I did nothing of the two.

There was a time when girls in my class weighed 24 kgs and I weighed 27 kgs, gradually they put on weight and weighed 42 kgs. How could I be left behind, I went on to weigh 72 kgs. And probably 4 inches taller than the rest of them. I reached an all-time high of 80 in class 12. But it was baby fat and it would go, most of my relatives would tell me, okay the only relative who said that to me was my mother.

When I entered college, I stayed in a hostel and learnt how I had to be attractive to make more friends. I'll tell you about how I lost 13 kgs in 8 months without ever going to the gym:

  • My daily diet was the watery daal for lunch and the African continent-shaped rotis. It was the first time I was away from home, so I tried to save money by not buying chips/chocolates/biscuits. Dinner was the same. 
  • My room was on the 4th floor, so I'd climb stairs at least thrice daily.
  • I walked all the way from my PG to my college which was about a kilometer away from my PG. I'd also walk back home from there.
  • There weren't washing machines, there was no mommy to wash my clothes. Every weekend, 2 hours were spent in a battle between dirt on my clothes vs Surf and my hands. I'd be dead tired by the end of that exercise.
One day, I noticed that the space between my jeans and my waist was enough to carry two people my size. Everyday people would ask me how I was losing weight, sadly, I didn't realise what I was doing to lose weight! I'd shrug my shoulders and they thought I was hiding my secret diet from them. Sigh.

It has been 3 years since college and I haven't gained half-a-kilo since then, but I haven't lost weight either despite putting in a lot of effort. I keep reading articles about Yoga, gymming, the correct exercises to lose weight from specific parts of my body, acu-pressure, liposuction, ayurvedic/homeopathic/unani medicines. I've read them all, tried them all and haven't lost more than 10 grams.

 What I haven't done is what I did back in college - Junk food replaced the watery daal/rotis, no climbing stairs, washing clothes only in the machine, but I walk, and I walk a lot, which is why I'm stuck at where I stopped. While writing this down, I realised what works for me and what doesn't. The four bullet points work; Google, although very supportive throughout my obsession, didn't quite work in my favour!

Monday, October 22, 2012

I Came. Saw. Shopped. And Dropped!

"Oye! It's Ramya's birthday in 15 days!" screamed Snigdha. "Venue will be her place only. No more outings on birthdays. That's becoming increasingly boring now!" Phew! I heaved a sigh of relief. We didn't go through any gruelling voting sessions this time. We'd vote, only to vote again and again and then choose the best of 3, followed by best of 5 and then finally giving up on deciding the venue! Sorted.

"You guys, what are we gifting her?!" That damned question. Sigh. We've been friends for 5 years now. The first year we met in college I remember gifting her a photo album. Bad choice plus bad gift. Why? Here's why: 

  1. Nobody really needs photo albums when you have a digital camera and all your photos are already on Facebook. 
  2. I forgot to remove the price tag.
  3. I packed it very nicely and she thought it was a wooden case where she could keep her paint brushes.

Oopsie!

The next year we all got together and gifted her a lot of stationery items since she was so fond of it. The following year we took her shopping and asked her to choose something for herself. (The best year ever!) The next year we decided to gift her clothes. And this year was not very different from the first. The worst part was that we knew her well enough to know exactly what she didn't want, not so much what she did.

Mission find-her-a-gift-or-die-of-shame began the very next weekend. Snigdha, Shoili and I met in CP and quickly rushed to a CCD nearby. Snigdha was the most organised of us all. She took out her notebook and started scribbling: 
  1. Clothes- Done
  2. Chappals/Shoes- Maybe not. If she doesn't like them, nope, we didn't want to be GeorgeBush-ed.
  3. Earrings - She doesn't wear any. But what the hell, we can gift it to her. If we like it, so will she. In case she doesn't, we'll take them back for ourselves.
  4. Stationery - Given her enough already.
  5. Bag - She just bought one last week.
  6. Ganesha idol? - She has way too many of them at home already, moreover it's her 22nd birthday not her 50th!

"That's it guys, there's nothing else that we can gift her," she analysed the list carefully again. "Yes, that's about it. She has all of it, there's nothing we can gift her." 
I looked at Snigdha with a You-Cannot-Be-Serious expression. "What do you mean there's nothing we can gift her?!" She shoved her notebook at me, "Look! Do you see that list?" A cursory glance and I realised that we had indeed put down everything that made 'Ramya' on that piece of paper. You might have heard of dead ends, but this was going to be the dead-end of our friendship and our lives if we didn't find anything!

One cup of cappuccino and we were pumped to go out and raid the Inner Circle! Shoili was Snigdha's junior from her hostel. All she knew about Ramya was her face. "Gift her a dress! Or maybe cool electronic items." We both turned and asked her to just shut up and walk like she was invisible to us. Shoili could have best been used as a hanger for our shopping bags. Juniors are made for that kind of stuff.

In about 45 minutes, we had completed one 'Parikrama' of the Inner Circle. A pleasant September morning turned into a scorching June afternoon in an hour. There we were, back to Block B. We started walking again without speaking a word. Janpath. Obviously. On our way, we came across Tantra. Right outside on the window was a T-shirt that said 'State of my mind' with clouds and a broken TV. "That is so Ramya," words flowed out of my mouth as I gaped at the shirt. "Of course, that has RAMYA written all over it!" exclaimed Snigdha. "No wait, that has 'State of my mind' written on it," chuckled Shoili. "Shut up, I know that's what you're going to tell me, so guess what, I'm not talking," and she finally shut up.

That was just 200 bucks. Our budget was 1k. Happy with our discovery, we set off with a spring in our steps to see if we were going to be lucky again. Janpath was, well, very Janpath. I don't know why we thought we'd unearth some rare artifacts there! Half an hour more, and that was the end of Janpath. Experiment failed.

We were walking back like Zombies. Our legs hurt, but our futile efforts pained us more. We spoke little or nothing on our way back and stopped by a corner to catch our breath and satiate our throats with water. Out of nowhere Snigdha had a crazy idea. With a determined look on her face she spoke "I'm buying a CD!"  A CD? Like a movie, music, what? CD? Before I knew, she had already bought one. A blank CD. Errmm.. okay.. "I'll make a movie out of our pictures!" Now THAT is exactly what we should have thought of before starting that Dandi March to Janpath. Anyway, it was a super idea.

But hey, that was her idea. What was I going to do? I thought a little and I beamed. Snigdha knew that I had come up with something more. She gave me her Tell-me-what-you're-thinking-or-I'll-hit-you-hard-right-now expression. "I'll bake her a cake!" I exclaimed. "Brilliant!" High-fives were exchanged, half-hugs shared and poor Shoili felt used and abused.

The entire shopping fiasco ended up like a fairy tale. Ramya's birthday was one blockbuster birthday. We cut the cake that I baked, watched the movie that Snigdha created and Ramya quickly changed into the T-shirt we had bought her. Her mother and sister thought we had ordered a customised version of that shirt specially for the crazy birthday girl! We ate, drank, laughed at her, laughed at ourselves and finally realised that the end is always happy.

This post is a part of the contest at BlogAdda.com in association with Badhai.in

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Diwali, Y U NO come sooner?

There is one question we ask people at work in August, every year: Is Diwali falling on Thursday-Friday or Monday-Tuesday? God cannot be unkind, it cannot fall on a Sunday. Priority task for those staying away from home: booking seats on IRCTC and eventually being able to get reservations in the 5th attempt, if you're lucky, and you're set for grand festivities!

Come October, and the only discussions over lunch at work are probably about how many days are left for Dusshera/Diwali. However, the preparations for the festival over weekends are like Physical Education classes in school. You always thought of them as 'free periods' while the PE instructor physically tortured you with exercises till you dropped dead in the heat. 

When I woke up this morning and opened one eye to check the time, it was 6 a.m and also a Saturday. Saturday, as soon as that word popped up in my head, I automatically fell asleep. I was woken up 3 hours later by mother's shrill voice. I thought it must have been her daily attempt to please the Lord, but no. I could hear Utho beta, 9 baj gaye! It was only 9, on a weekend, and I was expected to be awake for God knows what! Mother's reasons sometimes fail me.

I didn't like the idea of waking up so early, but I eventually did. It is almost impossible to sleep with a shrill voice piercing through the walls of your delicate ears. The table was laid. A big glass of milk with Bournvita and a slice of chocolate cake that I had baked for myself last night. Whoa, this was a new development. Any way, I brushed my teeth and sat for this one-of-a-kind breakfast. My mother sat beside me checking out Kareena and Sara in the Daawat-e-Walima pictures in Delhi Times. "Amazing daughter Saif has, she looks too pleased that her mother's ex-husband, who left her, is now getting married to his latest girlfriend!" "They're all used it Mommy," I replied relishing the cake.

We finally got down to the main issue. "You're tall enough to reach the tiles on top in the kitchen, right?" asked my mother nonchalantly. Of course, I am. You are my mother and you know that already. The breakfast on the table made it impossible for me to tell her that. I nodded my head in agreement. With another sip of milk, I looked up at the fan. Dirty. It wasn't going to end with just the kitchen. As soon as breakfast got over, Mommy handed out a duster to me. 

I was told to go out and dust the kitchen windows. Then wash them with detergent soaked dusters followed by a dry wipe. Ditto with the main door and the back door and the third entrance to the house. I was done with all of it in 1.5 hours. Dishevelled, I was making my way back through the front door when my attractive neighbour magically stepped out of his house. There I was in my ugly PJs and 2 chocolate brown dusters on my shoulder, gazing at this man. A short chat followed. Yes, getting the home ready for Diwali. How are you? Where have you been? ( Like seriously, where were you when I was wearing pretty clothes throughout the week?) He told me how he was the pilot of that plane that carried Kareena, Saif and the family from Mumbai to Delhi. (Highlight of the conversation. I've been very interested in that wedding, though asking him if he took autographs would be a stupid question. He didn't tell me that he did. It meant that no autographs were taken.)

I entered the kitchen and VOILA! There stood my mother with 2 more dusters and a ladder. It dawned upon me that a modular kitchen is not worth the money if it cannot clean itself. One corner to another, I watched dusters change colour with every wipe. I had started at 9. It was 1 when I got over with the cleaning. I saw my nails, they didn't look like my hands. I looked into the mirror and I could spot a cobweb on my head, dust on my face, grease on my shirt. Lovely! I looked like I was ready for a Halloween party.

I told mother that I wanted to rest. She didn't deny me that. So I lay on my bed and I soon dozed off. I woke up half an hour later and quickly took a bath. Lukewarm water. I could have slept in the bathroom. By the time I was out, it was 3 p.m and lunch felt like it was insufficient for the 4 stomachs that I seemed to have grown. I don't remember when I hit the bed and fell asleep again. A peaceful, dreamless sleep. 

When I woke up, I felt like I could have slept for another few weeks until Diwali was finally here. How I wish I could do that. Sigh, I already have a list of everything that has to be done tomorrow. Sunday, there you go, down with the cobwebs, to the naali.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Glad It's Over!

We know what teenagers are like.  We’ve all been through that stage where our hormones trolled us into believing we were adults. Infatuation, crushes, minimal forces of attraction were terms that only meant one thing – LOVE! Ironically, love was something we didn’t really know of back then.

Rachna was just another 13 year old. Fretting over pimples, trying to fit into her 18 year old sister’s shoes, clothes, social circle etc, comparing whether her Math text books had more problems than her best friends. And, Rachna was crazy about her class teacher in school. He looked all right, but when Rachna compared him to the scrawny boys in school, he looked nothing short of a Greek God.

He wore the correct shoes with the correct clothes. Every girl in school was madly in ‘love’ with this teacher already. Dimples and nicely cut hair, clean shaven and eyes that would shine every time his students needed help - what more qualities does a teenage girl seek in a crush? Rachna felt her desperate attempts to seek his attention were overshadowed by the smarter chicks who strut around confidently around him. In a bid to be one-up on them, Rachna decided to write him a love letter.

How does one proceed to write a love letter? She picked up a letter-writing book and ran her finger through the index looking for a love letter, unfortunately, there were no sample letters. Her love story started with a shy Good Morning – on most other occasions her jaw would drop so low that it was impossible to utter anything coherent. She wrote what she saw people write in the movies – she poured her heart out, just like some actress in some movie had, some clich├ęd nonsense about how they were going to make it till the end and all that jazz. It seemed a little too perfect to her, but then that's how she wanted her love story to be! She blushed and did not write her name in the end at all. If they were meant to be, he would find out. A few little hearts danced around her head with a few glittering stars.

She carefully placed her letter on his desk the next morning, in between the attendance register. She kept her fingers crossed, hoping she’d get what she had always longed for, a fairy tale love story, her prince charming. When Mr. Prince Charming entered the class, Rachna crossed her fingers so hard that they could have almost broken her metacarpals. 

As soon as she saw him open the letter, everything around her played in slow motion - her heart sank a little lower to her stomach, the sleeping butterflies in her stomach woke up with a stir in response, cold sweat beads formed on her forehead. She saw his expression go from good to bad to ugly to worse … until he finally tore it apart into little pieces and dropped it in the dustbin.

15 pieces of her love letter multiplied by a million - exactly the amount of pieces her heart broke into.

Tears welled up in her eyes but she had to show no emotion. Her friends would probably disown her, laugh at her and do everything a teenager did to make another teenager feel miserable. Of course, he was her class-teacher; he knew it was her handwriting even though it had no name.
Lessons learnt: Never write down a love letter in your own handwriting, especially when your teacher knows what it looks like and your class has only 22 students.

She couldn’t study well for his paper due next week - final exams! She plugged her iPod into her ears and wailed for hours listening to the saddest songs and downloading even sadder songs that she could manage to find under 'Heartbroken couple songs MP3 download', 'Cheated in love songs MP3 download', 'Love songs  Sad MP3 download'  on Google. She filled up her personal diary with paragraphs after paragraphs about how she had to show that heartless beast that she was doing great without him. The very next moment she felt she couldn't fall in love again. She switched on the TV and saw Kajol sobbing uncontrollably to Rifat Bee 'Mujhe mera pehla pyaar nahi mila..'. It was getting worse by each passing day. She didn't speak to her friends at all, none of them bothered either because it was exam time. The entire next week she tried to avoid eye contact with him, she couldn't just leave school, that wasn't even an option for her. Okay, she couldn’t concentrate.

 A quick calculation showed that she needed 55% in his paper to clear the hurdle on to the next class. She studied enough to secure 55%, wrote enough in the paper to score that much too.

When the report cards were finally being given away to the parents, Rachna was only worried about Prince Charming’s paper. It was awkward to be in love with someone and then fail their paper. That morning she kept her fingers crossed for a good 30 minutes. Failing his paper wouldn't just ruin her reputation before him, but would also mean a grand lecture from her parents at home. It felt wrong to be standing in front of him; it suddenly struck her that she was beyond foolish to have done what she did. She was WRONG, so WRONG!

She couldn’t pay attention to the conversation between her parents and Prince Charming. Her fingers were still crossed because she didn’t want him to complain to her parents about her absurd behaviour. She peeped into her report card and saw a 56 against his paper. She didn’t know whether she had earned it for herself through what she did to him or if she had really studied only that much. There was just one thing she could write in her diary that night: Why must everything have a happy ending? Why can't we just be glad that it's over?

PS: This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead is purely coincidental, except maybe a few instances where Rachna was Yours Truly. 

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda