Periodical Pain

I debated about writing this post for a few months, before it struck me that no one actually reads this blog. So I can dispense with any worry as such. Having said that though, in case any one does read it, here is a disclaimer:

I am not a medical professional, and I don’t claim to have a cure that works in every scenario. I am describing what has helped me through extreme menstrual agony, in the hope it may offer relief to someone else too. Please do not use this advice in lieu of visiting a professional, and also please keep your own medical circumstances in mind too.

Now that that is out of the way, I can get on with my post.

So, up until a few months ago, I suffered from debilitating menstrual cramps. I have a fairly high threshold of pain, having suffered from migraines for the better part of my life. But these cramps had me crying with agony, while clutching my stomach, and gasping for breath.

I used to chow down ibuprofen to stave off these cramps, but the pills somehow elongated my cycle. And to be honest, ibuprofen scares me a little, with excessive usage known to cause kidney issues.

I agree that the responsible thing would have been to visit a gynaecologist, and perhaps be tested for endometriosis or something. However, I am overweight and I knew how the conversation would go: “Lose weight. The pain will then go away.” This is my imagination at work mostly, but that’s my opinion of the broad medical profession in this country.

[Reader discretion: The concluding part may be TMI for some people. I talk about bodily emissions. So stop if you are squeamish or easily grossed out.]

When I recalled the cramps and the agony, I realised that I always felt I would end up feeling better if I could let out some gas. I always felt constipated during, and therefore putting two and two together, I figured out that maybe a clean gastric tract was the way out of these cramps.

So, I avoided food when I knew my period was on its way. The preceding few days, I would eat much less. During the actual period, I would eat practically nothing. I survived mostly on juice and water. And it worked. I didn’t have cramps at all.

As you can imagine though, this is not the healthiest decision to make. Also, it was sometimes not feasible to maintain a no-eating policy.

Apart for my cramps, I also suffer from gout, and the attendant swelling at my joints. To ease that pain, I started measuring how much water I drank in the day. To my utter shock, I realised I drank less than a litre. I slowly amped up the intake every day, till I was drinking between 2 and 3 litres. Yes, it meant more trips to the loo, but the swelling reduced considerably. And, I found it was much easier to clear my intestines.

Then a couple of months ago, I finally put the two theories together. If drinking more water helped with my digestion normally, then it should ease the constipation during my period too. So I started drinking a litre more during my period.

It helped. It really helped.

First of all, I no longer felt constipated. At all. Second, every time I could feel my uterus tautening up, I would drink a glass of water. Funnily enough, the full bladder forced my uterus to calm down a little. I don’t have a clue why, but it did. Third, my period cycle didn’t elongate. Fourth, there were fewer clots. And fifth, the flow became easier and more consistent. I forgot to mention before that I have extremely erratic periods, and they can vary between mere spotting to practically haemorrhaging levels of flow.

Like I said, I was unsure about writing this, but I think that if it helps even one woman overcome debilitating pain, it was worth it.


Mistress of Mishaps

Just want to put on record that, this week alone, I have burned myself on an immersion heating rod, and stabbed myself with a diamond-dust bead reamer.

It would be a wonder that I reached the ripe old age of 32 without killing myself at all, if it weren’t for my poor mother for banning me from touching anything* till I was 15.

*Includes: fire, iron, toaster, microwave, electrical sockets, matches, lighters, computers, cars, grill, hobs, freezer, knives, needles, and so on.

Waste Not Want Not

Of all things great and small that I absolutely detest is food wastage by an adult. [I added that last bit, because children don’t really understand the implications of food wastage.]

The other day, we had one of my mum’s friends from Dubai over. She has moved back to India permanently, and is currently settled in Vishakapatnam with her Air Force husband. She was on her way back from Calicut, and was taking a detour through Mumbai.

She had rung mum up, looking to catch up. She suggested lunch, and we decided to meet halfway. Our home is in Matunga East, and she was staying with friends in Andheri West. Her contention was that it needed to be accessible by auto rickshaw, so the initial plan was to meet up at Bandra Kurla Complex, where there are a plethora of nice restaurants.

On the day of, my mum was feeling poorly, so she asked her to come over instead. Now, since auto rickshaws are not allowed past a certain point in Mumbai, she offered her an Uber instead. Somewhat to my surprise, she accepted.

The lady showed up, and dove immediately into the laden table my mother had prepared. Since she was coming after a while, my mum had slogged over about 10 different dishes, all vastly different yet complementary. We were of course pleased to see that she was hungry, and I set about serving her, as is custom in India.

[As an aside, I follow customs up to a point. I prefer joining the meal too, instead of hovering solicitously, like a fathead, trying to be hospitable. I can be hospitable whilst eating too.]

Mum wasn’t hungry, so she skipped on food, and concentrated on making hot egg wraps. I am not being crude, but I piled that plate pretty high. I made sure there was a little of every item, and I had to set out bowls for those that didn’t fit on the plate.

After I sat down, I continued to push various dishes forward, asking if she would like anything periodically. She did take several helpings of various dishes, although she never once commented on the food or the spread. Mum did ask her whether she was enjoying the repast, but she declined to comment. I furrowed my brow a bit, but decided not to be judgemental.

After about 2 hours of lunch [yes, really!], she deigned to rise from the table. I saw in absolute shock that her plate was still mostly full of food. She has wasted almost every single item, even those she had taken seconds and thirds of.

In utter disbelief, my mum and I scraped food that I worked hard to earn and she slogged to make into a plastic bag for the bin. I was close to tears because it was effectively a full meal I had to throw into the bin. My mother was as stunned, but perhaps more collected than I was.

The rest of her visit passed in a red haze for me. And I was glad to be shot of her when she left, happily paying for a second Uber, this time for her to get back home.

I cannot begin to describe the rage and pain I felt when I saw that laden plate. Aside from the moral implications, income is not easily forthcoming in my household. My mother, despite being ill, worked very hard to prepare that meal. It is against our family’s culture to waste food.

Never want to clap eyes on her ever again.

Getting Back in Tracks

After my initial enthusiasm of September, which appears to have been mostly fuelled by a desire to fulfil my goal of posting every day of the month. In any case, the gym membership lapsed, because after the first day under the tutelage of a trainer, I had pulled several muscles in various parts of my body.

On a slightly related note, I haven’t ever had much luck with resolutions, or for that matter the close of the old year. I always anticipate that the New Year will be better, and will thus contain less trauma than the previous. I am always wrong. Always. [But that’s a topic I will leave for another day.]

Last year, judging by my post, I had a similar thought: I would get a jump on my resolutions from December. It shouldn’t come as a surprise as this was prompted by a peek at the scales.


Anyway, I had intended to get started on a bunch of resolutions in December, so come January and the pressure to maintain said resolutions, they will have already become habit. At least, that’s the hope.

I told my mum, the kitchen in-charge, that I would like to eat healthier food. Fresh fruit and salads were already a staple in our meals, but we ate a lot of sweets too. Plus, pastas, pizzas, and noodles on the regular, with great big honking doses of parathas and rice as well. We have a carb-heavy diet, and it was doing me no favours.

So, from today on, we are going to have healthier meals, with the carbs and fat cut out as far as possible. Because I am terrified of a binge later, I have allowed myself one cheat meal a day, at least till I get into the stride of things. It is 8:00 pm here, and I still haven’t had a cheat meal as yet. I am guessing that this will take the form of a hunk of cheese, but who knows.

A second measure is to start some form of exercise. I actually enjoy exercise quite a bit, once I’ve gotten over the inevitable starting aches and pains. However, while starting is easy, carrying on past that obstacle isn’t. So once again, I’m starting easy. Not with the gym this time, but at least a walk around the neighbourhood every morning. I plan to do this at least 4 times a week for the present, and I started today.

The third and last resolution is to be more considerate of my body. I tend to get bored with lathering and conditioning and the associated ministrations that are necessary for general upkeep. I have fine hair, with an oily scalp, prone to dandruff. I have dry skin that would put a desert to shame. And while I once only had cracked heels, I now have cracks under my toes AND in the arches of my feet. I have no clue how I managed that.

So, I have devised a hair care and body care routine to combat these ills. I also hope that the cut out carbs and fat will assist somewhat. I already eat quite a bit of fruit and vegetables anyway, so I don’t think that will have too much of an impact.

All in all, I hope to do a better job of looking after myself next year. I would also like to increase productivity, learning, and mental well-being, while reducing stress and illness. I hope to make more of my time, and spend less energy on useless pursuits.

Here’s hoping.

Do You Even Lift Bro?

For the last couple of days, I have been having hysterical giggle fits in the evening. This particular evening, one of my friends was unfortunate enough to ring up to discuss a project we are both working on.

He sounded a bit out of breath, so:

Me: “Hey, are you climbing stairs or something? Why are you out of breath?”
Friend: “No man. Started working out a bit every evening.”
Me: *stunned because he is a super scrawny character who eats like a sparrow* “You. You’re working out?!”
Friend: “Oh dude, just stretches. No weights or anything!”
Me: *giggling* “Good. Although, if you wanted to start, they suggest water bottles. You should start with empty ones though.”
Friend: “Geez Karishma. Thanks man. I should always call you when I’m down. You will always show me that there is obviously further to go.”
Me: *in hysterics at this point* “Of course! And you can increase the quantity by 10 ml each week!”
Friend: “You need to go lie down. Good night!”
Me: *crying with laughter*

Ok, so I know it wasn’t that funny. But he thought it was funny too, and we both got a good laugh.

Movie Review: Begin Again

I have picked up the pace on my reading again, thanks to the alarming “you are behind” number on my Goodreads reading challenge. [26, in case anyone wants to have a good scoff.] The challenge was simple enough: a book a week for the year. I had made a similar resolution for movies, which of course I far surpassed. Spending an hour and a half, versus a few days, on a movie makes it that much easier to stick to.

Of course, that’s just a ramble, and has nothing to do with my watching the movie at all. I watched this movie because Mark Ruffalo is perfection.

Story: Gretta (Keira Knightley) is a singer-songwriter in New York, who has found herself living on a friend’s sofa after an acrimonious surprise breakup with her boyfriend. One day before she is due to leave America, and heading back to England, she sings one of her songs at a bar.

Coincidentally, Dan Mulligan (Mark Ruffalo), a down on his luck, former superstar music producer, happens to be in the same bar. He hears her song with arrangements added in, and is instantly smitten with her voice and song.

He offers to produce an album with her, and the movie takes the story forward.

Review: Incredible movie with realistic people and situations. Loved every single second, because finally I’ve watched a movie that doesn’t lose itself in the realms of fantasy and idiocy to be funny, charming, and heartwarming, and remains grounded in the real world at the same time.

Story: The story is very straightforward. The overreaching arc is Gretta’s journey to getting her first album produced. Both Dan and Gretta have messy pasts, remnants of which constantly raise their heads. The scenes and dialogues delightfully turn cliches on their heads, and make the story utterly captivating and charming.

Characters: No one is perfect, after all, and so there are no good guys and bad guys. Each individual is on their own path, realising that some of their assumptions about the future are just not going to happen. The reactions of the characters are so lifelike and appropriate, without unnecessary histrionics and drama. Each character is a masterpiece.

Acting: Although every actor was superb, the two central actors, Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley were sublime. They didn’t even have to articulate to communicate with the viewer. I am so much in awe of their work in this movie. Just magnificent.

What I liked: Don’t know if you can tell that I adored every second of this movie.

What I disliked: Dear lord. Absolutely nothing. It is now one of my all time favourite movies.

Rating: ✩✩✩✩✩




Book Review: The Game of Life 3: Stolen Hope

I have many mixed emotions when it comes to this book, Stolen Hope. Also, because it has taken me the better part of 9 months to wade through it, I wonder if I am able to review it adequately. Anyway for what it is worth, here is my review.

Please note: I received this book free from the author for the purposes of reviewing it. This is not a sponsored review, apart from the book itself, and the views are my own.

Author: Shubha Vilas

Story: The story is obviously not a new one, and is a take on the famous epic Ramayana. This book, the third in the series, focuses on the time Rama, Sita, and Lakshman spend in the forest after Panchvati and hinges on the single event of Sita’s abduction by Ravan. There are a few other minor events, but the whole book appears to lead up to this point, and then tapers off into the brothers looking for her later.

I am not focusing too much on the story, because it isn’t new. It is the treatment that is of greater relevance.

Writing: I once read a translation of the Sundar Kand, another chapter of the Ramayana, exclusively dedicated to Hanuman’s solo adventures in Lanka. Since the Ramayana is originally written in verse, the descriptions tend to be flowery and overly detailed. They are repetitive and use analogies extensively. While this style works for poetry, in prose it becomes exceedingly tedious, and sometimes contradictory. This book suffer from the same problem.

The editing is very loose, and there are several words used without consideration of their meaning. Some of them actually make no sense whatsoever. Also, the detail can be extraneous and exhausting. As mentioned in the paragraph above, they appear to be direct translations, and cannot adequately convey their meanings in English. What works in Hindi or Sanskrit doesn’t not translate into English seamlessly. For example, when describing Sita’s incomparable beauty, the author compares her to the moon: a ‘moon-like’ face. Yes, in India, this is a common compliment. Not so the case in English prose. Therefore the book, albeit intended for a global audience, fails in that respect.

The book is peppered with lessons. Or rather, intense moralising. I found this aspect incredibly tedious and frankly annoying. Almost every page has several footnotes, breaking the flow of the narrative. Honestly, a well-written book has lessons that are conveyed subtly to the reader. Each reader takes away their own interpretation, and perhaps is able to glean more each time they revisit the book. To have preachy footnotes telling me how to interpret the text is awful. If this was a study guide, I would understand. But it isn’t. It is supposed to be a novelisation of the famous epic.

The overall writing is mediocre at best.

Characters: While I am cognisant of the fact that I am talking about the Ramayana, I couldn’t connect to the characters at all. It is my personal view that the epics were intended to teach through example, and even the divine made mistakes during their incarnations. In this case, the characters fell into one of two widely disparate categories: extremely good and extremely bad. The few mistakes that any of the good characters made are explained away. Yeesh. The bad characters have NO redeeming qualities. At ALL. No repentance, no anguish, no softer feelings, nothing. This was awful. How can every single character be so one-dimensional?

There is no motivation for any of the characters. Granted, this book is a part of a series, but because of this stunted character development, it cannot stand alone.

This aspect of the book was disastrous, in my opinion.

Pace: The described events could be written about in about 50 to 75 pages, and was stretched to 300 pages instead. In the beginning, there are copious descriptions of the environment and scenery which was boring to say the least. There is a little padding out, in the form of anecdotes from other characters. However, these are sometimes forcibly injected into the narrative without just cause. They serve as a distraction and unnecessary padding.

Towards the end of the book, just before and after Sita’s abduction, the pace picks up. Here I was able to blaze through without falling asleep.

Overall, the pace was uneven, and would have been vastly improved with tighter editing.

Conclusion: I finished the book only because I am compulsive like that. I also felt obliged to read it, after having received it gratis from the author’s team. I would have preferred a more refined take on the story, and believe that the author meant well. Given a choice, I would not recommend the book to anyone, nor would I read it again. And although I hate reading a single out of a series, this is one instance where I make an exception.

Rating: ✩✩

Aside: I was a little surprised to see the fairly good rating on Goodreads, but I then realised that mostly Hindus will pick up this book, and most will be reluctant to objectively assess a book they consider divine. I, while being a fairly devout Hindu, have no such problem. I don’t believe being objective about the writing is a reflection on the divinity of the characters at all.