Biting the Bullet

After deciding to make an active effort to lose weight, I finally went back to the gym today. I am at the tail end of a 3-month membership, which I fully intend to renew.

I live in a relatively middle class area, without flashy homes or outlets. In keeping with the theme of its surroundings, the gym too caters to a gentler pace of life. It doesn’t have state-of-the-art equipment, nor ultra-buff trainers. It has a comfortable sort of appeal, and welcomes any kind of person to work out.

True to its overall appearance and rhythm, there aren’t pushy trainers. The gym is peppered with them however, and they more or less leave people to do their workouts as they wish. They are on hand for assistance or advice, but they are not overtly aggressive.

I’ve been a member for a little over two years now, and I have been prone to go in, do a little exercise, and leave shortly thereafter. There was no method to my workout, and I merely did the exercises I knew or remembered from previous sessions. I wasn’t particularly keen on getting a trainer to oversee my workout, because I have been severely low on energy, and as it was, my motivation was at an all-time low.

But today I walked into the gym, and went directly up to the trainer. I committed to coming in regularly, and sticking to a plan. For my part, I did tell her that I don’t have much energy, and I would prefer to move slowly. I am not in a rush to change my body, and would prefer a comfortable pace.

Tomorrow, she will take my measurements and set up a workout plan. I have finally taken the first step.

A Sweet Memory

I have always cherished time I spent with my family. We are a small unit: mom, dad, and I, and our extended family included my mom’s twin sister and my ex. Any permutation of five worked well, except that my father needed to have either mom or me, in case he was alone with one or both of the other two.

One Friday, my aunt was coming over from Pune, where she stays. She was going to spend a few days with us, and so we decided to go for a late night movie to kickstart a weekend of fun and frolic. I booked the tickets from the office during the afternoon.

The plan was to pick my aunt up from the train station at 8 pm, then about an hour later, pick me up from a local train station, and then head to the theatre.

At around 7 pm, an hour before I leave the office, there was a dogfooding session on. [I will reserve my rant for the IT industry abusing English for another post.] The product manager had ordered in doughnuts from a recently opened Dunkin’ Donuts across the street for the participants of the session. I wasn’t one, but he offered me a doughnut nonetheless, since I happened to be in the immediate vicinity.

Now, there is this neurosis I have: I always feel the need to pack up goodies for home too. And the doughnut was very nice indeed, and I wanted to take home a box to share with the family. The only drawback was that my mum had previously loudly proclaimed her strong dislike for Dunkin’ Donuts. [Apparently, the few times she has been, the doughnuts were less than great.]

Also, I was getting heat from my folks to leave office on time, seeing as they would be waiting at the station to pick me up. I decided that I would risk the ire, and went across the street to pick up a box of doughnuts. Initially I wanted to buy a dozen, but quailing a little at the thought of my mom’s dislike, I stuck with half a dozen.

Luckily, I caught my train, and I reached the station on time. I clambered down the stairs, clutching the oblong box firmly aloft. It was really delicate, and wasn’t built to withstand commuting in Mumbai.

I reached the car, and passed the doughnuts to my mum and aunt in the back seat. I didn’t realise it till that point, but I had been holding my breath. And I released it with a sigh of relief, when the box was greeted with squeals of delight. Whew.

Dad was driving, but he wanted a doughnut too. So he pulled into a parking spot near the station, and the four of us dug into a doughnut each. I remember my father being unable to decide between two, so I handed him one, took the other, and we swapped halfway through. After polishing off four of them, we headed to the theatre.

I have hundreds of memories like this, but they flit in and out of my consciousness. I think blogging about them will create a record that I can read for ages to come.

Change is a Good Thing

[Somehow, as I wrote the title, I heard it in Martha Stewart’s voice. Heh.]

I have had a few relationships over the years, but only one was truly toxic. The others were variations of two incompatible people being attracted to each other at the wrong time. Except my last relationship, of course. That was true love, at least from my side. But I digress. The truly toxic ex was an expert in dragging me down, and one of the things he always said is that I change my mind too often.

At the time, I strenuously objected to being ‘vilified’ thus, and made huge, often ridiculous, attempts to prove otherwise. I had once said I find African-American men very attractive, and a few months later I said I didn’t. This example sticks out most in my mind, because he was a jerk about it. [As an aside, I realise that my attraction to any given man doesn’t factor their race into the equation.]

Many years down the line, I read a lot about psychology to understand the workings of my mind and its reactions. There, I came across something called consistency bias.

In short, consistency bias is a memory bias that makes you believe that your thoughts, beliefs, tastes, and attitudes are the same as they are now. And no, they aren’t.

Not only does our environment change, but we as individuals change dramatically as well. Our life experiences are hardly ever stagnant, and our reactions to those experiences is always slightly different.

There was a time in my life when I hated food. Or at least I thought I hated food. Of course, that no longer holds true. I was just eating food that didn’t agree with me, and I created a mental association between feeling poorly and eating.

Today, I am a vastly different person to the innocent, gullible child I was, not understanding so much of what happens around me. I have matured and become kinder, by understanding the guiding forces behind people’s behaviour.

If I ever meet the toxic ex again, I will feel terribly sorry for him. His poisonous mind can’t have made life pleasant for himself. Or for those around him.

Three Years & Many Tears Later

Three years ago today I lost my dog. However, rather than focus on how I lost her and relive those painful memories, I thought I dredge up an old blog post about a morning spent in her company.

img_0004My darling little fatso; I miss you more every day. Love you always.

Take that, Dog

Last night I decided that today needed to be a new start. I had gotten into the habit of sleeping very late, getting up mid-morning (at 8) and therefore getting into work really late. As a natural consequence, I have started staying in the office till 8 – by which time it is crawling with lizards, and my nerves are frayed to breaking point. So I decided to get up early, so I went to bed at 10:30 last night.

Best. Decision. Ever.

I woke up, bright and shiny, only to realise that I needed to let the dog out before I could water the terrace plants. I padded down to the parents’ room, and saw one small black nose emerging from under a pile of blankets. Quelle surprise.

I prodded. Poked. Hissed. Whispered. Shook. All to no avail – she didn’t even open her eyes. I shall but glance briefly on the sonorous yet rhythmic noise emanating from her throat. The pain just wasn’t waking up.

Finally I ripped the blankets off her, only to be rewarded with the flicker of opening eyelids and the blissful cessation of afore-mentioned noise – which was promptly replaced with a warning growl.

To which I raised an eyebrow, and lugged her off the bed. And dumped her (carefully) on the floor. And grinned.

Hustled a protesting cocker spaniel up two flights of stairs and ushered her out into the dewy morning outside.

Take that, dog, for waking me up at the odd hours of morning just to be let out, and then do nothing while I sleepily prop myself against the door-jamb. The number of times I have hauled my butt out of my cosy bed to lift her sorry bottom onto my bed, only to have her curl up on the very spot I have just vacated, because it is the warmest. The innumerable occasions where I have woken because a freezing nose was shoved into my neck, demanding cuddles and covers – and then subsequently reawakening shivering, only to realise the dog has appropriated all the blankets and I am left with nary a stitch of blanket.

Revenge is sweet.

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First Love

For today’s offering on the altar of my blog, I was thinking about writing about my first real boyfriend. Then I remembered I probably have a post written about him somewhere, and I should dredge that up first.

[I’ll add my 2016 bits in post the recap. So stay tuned.]

When I was dating my exes, occasionally I would remember my first boyfriend. Well, technically he was the second, but then again the actual first was a total wash-out. So NAM was whom I considered my first real boyfriend. I would feel horribly guilty, because whenever I thought of him, there was a wistfulness that crept into my mind. He and I were so good together – we laughed, we quipped merrily away, and we were so young. But it was a doomed relationship from inception because he was a Arab Muslim and I was an Indian Hindu – and never then twain shall meet. (Although he was rather liberal in his outlook.)

However, I am not going to dwell on the pitfalls and the eventual demise of our short relationship, but more on the parts that still make me smile when I think of him. He had to be the most intelligent, romantic, exciting, charming individual I had ever met. He was kind and sweet, and he had a roguish twisted grin that used to melt female hearts left, right, and centre. His jet-black hair flopped cheekily over his brow, and he had the most chocolate-y brown eyes I had ever seen. It was no exaggeration that he could have had any girl in the entire college, but for some bizarre reason decided I was the one for him.

There was the complication that my best friend at the time was completely bowled over by him. It also helped significantly that she was also Arab and Muslim. I really didn’t think I stood a chance with such a dazzling character, so I didn’t try. (I was seriously overweight and had hair that went beyond my knees. DWEEB!) Oh and I was all of 15, whereas both of them were 18.

I suppose we started becoming friends because we lived near each other. I would spend hours after class in the IT centre, and he would be hanging around as well. Just goes to show how incredibly innocent I was that I never thought it was odd that his and my work finished at the same time. I lived about 45 minutes away by foot, and I used to walk that distance (I was in England, and I loved the countryside). He had a bicycle, and again it never occurred to me that it was odd that he pushed it all the way home. Just to walk alongside me.

I still remember the day we actually started dating. He had been coming over and spending time with me, watching stupid movies and chatting into the small hours of the night. My best friend obviously didn’t appreciate our budding friendship, and talked to me at great length about how she and NAM were dating and hitting it off so well. It never struck me to consider WHEN they were actually dating. I was such a DUMB kid. The feelings continued to develop and I continued to deny they existed. I had only confided in my landlady’s daughter, Stacey.

One evening, NAM and I had had a small argument – which I can’t even remember right now. He called me up saying he had something to say to me. I stood on the porch in the freezing cold and waited for him. He showed up, and stood making small talk. I was so mad that I didn’t want to invite him in, but Stacey overruled me. (She was really fond of him.)

The mother and daughter pair were going out, so they were off getting ready. NAM and I sat watching TV, and I refused to speak to him. (Yes, I am aware that was infantile, but ‘poise’ wasn’t in my dictionary at that time.) Stacey hung around trying to get us to talk, till she lost her temper with me altogether. It was her belief that NAM fancied me, not my friend, and therefore I should tell him I liked him too. (She was a much smarter 11 year-old than I was a 15 year-old.)

Finally they were on their way out, and she left with the parting shot that maybe I stood tell him that I fancied a bloke. I couldn’t believe my ears, and I stared at the shut door in abject horror as she winked out of sight. I mustered up every inch of courage and looked at NAM, and I remember squeaking out, “Didn’t you want to tell me something?”

Every trace of the grin habitually on his face had been wiped off. He replied, “Yes, but who is the guy that you fancy?”

Me: “That’s irrelevant. What did you come to tell me?”

“You first.”

Even after that tell-tale remark, it didn’t strike me that he had come to tell me he liked me. I cringe at my stupidity.

I looked at the carpet for approximately half an hour, while there was pin-drop silence in the room. Finally I realised he wasn’t leaving without an answer, and wanting desperately for the earth to swallow me up, I blurted out that I liked him.

Again with the pin-drop silence.

And then a few seconds later, I was in his arms, looking up into his smiling face and doubting my hearing because he whispered, “Me too.” in my ear.

So many years later, and this story still brings a smile to my face. It was in 1999, and here I am 17 years thence, still thrilling slightly to the romance in that interlude.

NAM – those were his initials – was far more mature than I was, and there were many reasons our relationship failed. I expected our romance to unfold like a romance novel, and of course it didn’t. In retrospect, I would have to experience the requisite misery too, and that would have been awful. I just wasn’t very smart at the time. [Still not smart, but at least now I know it.]

NAM and I broke up in a few months, and I played the role of tragedy queen to the hilt. Thank you, exclusive diet of Hindi movies. I thought that a first love was the last love, and I was resigned to pining away the rest of years in solitude and melancholy. Ha. If you have read my Spring-Summer Connection series, this happened shortly before those events. Stacey’s house was my first paying guest accommodation in Scunthorpe, and the hero of the series owned the second. Altogether I lived in three places during my two years there.

[Also, the best friend in this story, and the best friend in the next series are the same person. I was a terrible friend clearly.]

Eventually, I came back to Dubai, and I think NAM went back home to Doha. He emailed me a few times, just as my family was moving back to India. The better part of two years in England, and me acting like a ridiculous movie trope, wasn’t enough to convince him, but in early 2003, he suddenly realised that he couldn’t let me go.

Finally, I lied to him about being in another relationship to make him go. That moment in my life was about my family, not about my love life. Certainly, it wasn’t about a doomed relationship at the tender age of 19.

NAM and I didn’t keep in touch. I did try looking for him many times, but he doesn’t seem to have an online presence under his own name. To be honest, part of me is glad. Because, as I’ve said before, nostalgia is a dangerous thing.

Tipping the Scales

In my current trend of thought, with weight and weight loss fixed in my mind, I remembered an incident with my dog a few years ago.

I had taken her to the vet, because she had developed a rash all over her skin. It hadn’t hampered her lifestyle in any way, except she was itching continuously. She was still an obnoxious little git who demanded her way through the day.

The prevailing theory in my house was that the rash was caused by the infection that abounds in India, thanks to dirty roads and surroundings. So, rather than let her highness walk the short distance from the car to the clinic, I carried her in. She loved this treatment because, in spite of her in-house bravado, she was a timid thing.

After catching my breath, we went in to see the vet. I liked him a lot, because he really cared for his patients. On occasion, I’ve seen him eviscerate owners whose pets looked like they experienced neglect, and thus we got along famously: our love for animals over humans creating a bond.

He examined her really quickly, and determined that the rash originated from an infection in her ears [which was already undergoing treatment]. Thus, the normal skin creams I had been using were having no effect. He would give her an antibiotic intravenously, and the rash would clear up in a jiffy.

He asked me to place her on the weighing scale, so that he could measure out the correct amount of medicine. [As an aside, I didn’t know this was standard practice till I met this vet. All the other vets were so incompetent, they never bothered to weigh her.] I plonked her on the scales, and it registered at an even 20 kilos.

The vet turned to me, as I stood there with pride writ large on my face, and said, “You do know that 10 kilos is the ideal weight for this breed, right?”

Yikes.

Dumb Belle

After writing about my weight loss challenges, I decided to track my progress on the blog. This is more about a means of motivation for myself, rather than to educate anyone or to show off. [I have nothing to show off at present anyway, so that is beside the point.]

Things I want to achieve in the next 12 months:

  1. Lose 30 kilos.
  2. Improve my daily hydration. [I used to drink very little water, and I had amped it up to 4 litres a day. Now I drink around 2 litres, but I would like to hit a daily intake of at least 2.5 litres.]
  3. Take up yoga again.
  4. Join a dance class again.

I will post updates regularly, although I haven’t as yet decided when to embark upon this path, and how to schedule the updates.

Because this space is secluded, much like a diary, I feel free to express my thoughts and failings without judgement. Somewhere, in the back of my consciousness, I am aware that other people’s judgement shouldn’t bother me; but it does nevertheless.

Another, greater, reason is that when I track myself in any form, I tend to do better. There is a lot of research that proves this, and I firmly believe in those results. By the virtue of declaring that I would try and blog every day for a month, I actually struck off a goal from my list of eventual to-dos.

I hope to see similar results on my weight loss journey. Good luck to me [and anyone else currently on a quest of their own]!