Day 21- And it shall continue

So, this is not the end, as expected. After the early days of ‘break- taking’, and routine- creating, the past few days have been surprisingly busy and productive and messy and incredibly wholesome. I did domestic duties and kept the children occupied during the day, and worked on a paper all night. And trained at dawn. When did I sleep, you ask? Ha!

That is what I’ve been up to. No movies, no Netflix ballyhoo, no snoozefests. Yes, there were late-night, balcony green- tea rumination sessions and early morning stomach vacuums. Also…

Chaotic water fights under the shower and endless mopping and scrubbing of ‘stuff’ (aka play dough, actual dough, acrylic paint, poster colors, oil paints, glue, glitter glue, fabric glue, juice, ice- cream, yogurt, curry, cereal infused milk, milky biscuits, chocolate, wax, bits of paper, bread crumbs, rice flakes, corn flakes, yada yada yada) from the floor tiles. Arguments with a 6 going on 16 ‘woman’ who thinks math is overrated. And reasoning sessions with a 3 going on god- knows- what man which mostly ends up with me being smacked in the face with various items of the household. Lounge wear and sleep- face. Roots desperate for color and brows like Frida Kahlo.

Aah! I miss my old life.

There have also been loads of curfew- less, non- time-bound pajama parties and sleep-ins. Forced to eat home food, sweaty, impromptu carpet and baby workouts; and the appearance of a flicker of a shadow of an eight- pack (HELLLOOO ol’ friend!). And loads and loads of cuddles from tiny humans who mean the world to you.

I do not miss it THAT much.

Till next time,

J

Day 15- Let’s talk about the unfortunate 4 AM club

Day 14 was mired in household chores, literature review (for work) and contemplation. I went to bed early (i.e. 01:00 AM rather than 03:00 AM) and hoped to wake early.

I did wake up earlier than usual today. 06:00 AM is much later than my pre- COVID 04:00AM start, but the past couple of weeks have been “off”. I wanted to have the luxury of not setting an alarm. My natural clock wakes me up at 08:30 AM, always has. And I fight it every darned day of my life, by trying to kick myself out of bed at a god- awful hour such at 04:00 AM. It is the bane of my existence, but I must endure it if I harbour any hopes of having a productive day.

I am often asked how I accomplish this seeming impossible task. To go against the grain of my most basic nature. The easiest answer would be – make it a habit. Of course it is easier said than done. Even after all these years of waking early, any number of factors can throw my morning routine off. A late night, a sick child, rainy or cold mornings, spousal discouragement, a presentation to prepare, travel or just pure fatigue. And deviating from the habit for even a couple of days can make it much harder to get back on track.

I have always kept my phone away from the bedside. Not particularly due to fears of radiation exposure, no; when the alarm rings I want it to be far enough to make me get out of bed. ( For the chronic snoozers of alarms -try one of these https://alar.my or Alarm Clock for Heavy Sleepers. There are several similar apps out there.)

Getting up and brushing your teeth is step 1 to winning the sleep battle. Second is not going back to bed after your morning cuppa. For that I have gotten into the habit of changing into my workout gear as soon as possible. There have been days when I have woken up too early, taken a cup of tea to the couch and fallen asleep there. But I am yet to fall asleep so in my workout attire.

Minimising the number of steps I need to take to get to this point is critical. Therefore, my clothes and bag are laid out the previous night. This seems to help. And once I’m out of the door, there is no looking back of course. So that is all. My secret. I don’t think of it as a long sequence for the day. The aim when hitting the sack at night is singular. Get my arse of bed and into the loo. Period. The rest then falls into place from there on.

Getting home after training in the morning. Getting ready (almost) before the kids wake up. Prep the progeny for school. Get to work. Yada yada yada. The rest of the day is self- scheduled. And falling asleep as early as possible at night is also taken care of. Many nights, I end up passing out mid sentence during story time. I’m that knackered. All that sevofluorane exposure in the OR must also help.

Like I mentioned before, I despise this 4 AM business. I do it out of compulsion. Compulsion to training. And on days that I’m truly miserable, I give in. I sleep. And on other days I thank heavens that the days when the alarm rang at 03:00 AM or even 02:45 AM (residency +3 yr old + 3 months old+ pumping + pre- rounds )are behind me!

 

Till next time,

J

Day 10- Pursuits less worthy?

10 days

  1. Frozen 2 X 3 (maternal obligation)
  2. Frozen 1 (torture)
  3. Black hawk down
  4. Olympus has fallen
  5. London has fallen (obviously)
  6. Ayyappanum Koshiyum
  7. Action hero Biju (revisit)
  8. Bala
  9. John Wick
  10. A quiet place
  11. Triple frontier
  12. The Witcher- Season 1
  13. The dark knight trilogy (again!)
  14. Sherlock Holmes
  15. Elementary – random episodes
  16. Lucifer- random episodes

10 days.

  1. The anarchy
  2. On hundred years of solitude (again, after ages)
  3. My seditious heart
  4. All the light we cannot see
  5. The Witcher- The last wish
  6. Ruin and rising (Grishaverse book 3)

 

Till next time,

J

 

 

 

Day 9-Cleaning the day away

As a household, we all woke up about two hours later than usual. Besieged by lassitude, we delayed the most basic of tasks. Z did not want to brush, Boss Man refused his morning repast. Me, I wanted to cease to exist for a day. Pause. Freeze.

It was just that kind of day.

We trudged on. I sat down with the little ones with their worksheets and art supplies. The A man usually flays the sheets in about 6 mins. Today, he didn’t bother. He was done with this crap that Mum was enforcing upon him. Z and I engaged in a battle of wills and like always I had to relent. We were done. At 1130 hrs. The day hadn’t even began.

I switched the TV on, and even rescued the iPad from the monster’s lair (where it disappears to most days when I don’t want them to be glued to it!) and passed out on the couch. I have not been sleeping well of late. Must be that, I thought.

The progeny had leftovers for lunch. I felt like sugary cereal and cold milk.

It was just that kind of day.

And then I got to work. Maybe the sugar rush helped. *See, even sugar isn’t truly evil.* I had to rid myself of this weird and inexplicable fuddle.

I cleared the toys. Sorted the overabundant crayons, color pencils, sketch pens and pastels. Chucked a whole lot of them into the bin. Arranged every book rack in the house (trust me there are more than you’d expect).Mopped, vacuumed. Dusted every surface. Shined every mirror and glass. Changed the sheets. Washed every sink. Scrubbed every bathroom wall and scoured the floors.

I cleansed and decluttered. It tidied both my home and mind apparently. I cleared the cobwebs from the ceilings and also my brain it looks like. My hands are pruney and my back is sore. But The Needle has stymied it’s relentless push toward despondence. I successfully cleaned the day away, literally and figuratively.

The children are fed and watered. We are alive. Productivity and routines can take a break. Sometimes, all we have to do is get by.

Sometimes, it’s just that kind of day.

Till next time,

J

Day 8- WhatsApp fuckery!

My post today is going to be be a tad different. I’m a very hesitant user of WhatsApp. For several reasons. But I must admit, it has it’s uses. And of the millions (of course I exaggerate, or do I?) of messages and forwards I receive, I do not usually bother with the forwards. But sometimes, I get riled up. I did so today.

I think I need to share it.

This was the forwarded message-

Amazon, they use to give full two pages advertisement in all newspapers. Flipkart, don’t know how many times they celebrated Big Billion Days in a year. They flooded with Chinese products to Indian market. Sold them and made huge money.

Big Basket, Grofferrs, their notifications was ringing every hour till last week. Malls, Super Markets, Big Bazaar. Where are they now? They stopped all services! No delivery at all. Tomorrow when dust settles they will come again with 20-30% discount sales. We forget what they did in these difficult times and go again to online and super market. Think again!

Who helped us during this tough time? Our own street Grocery storewala. He is supplying grocery and necessary stuff in this lock down period. The milkman is supplying milk everyday. He has not shut his service and ran away. That small vegetable shop run by lady is still open. Don’t know from where she is bringing vegetable but she is feeding us. Will you forget this help?

I will not. I have decided henceforth I will not go to Amazon, Flipkart, Grofferrs or Big Basket. No malls, no super market. I will shop in Kirana store, local dairy and small vegetable shop which helped my family to survive. It’s okay I will spend some more ruppes. But I will not forget what they have done for me and my family.

Thanks 🙏

( Don’t know who penned this but a point to note )

And this was my hastily, almost subconscious, frenzied reply. Copied and pasted. Not even edited for grammar or spelling.

I have ruminated for a while before replying to this. Please do not be offended, or take this personally. You guys must have noticed that I am quite reticent on WhatsApp. My replies are abysmally delayed, and a forward from me probably means I’m sick or delusional. But sometimes, replies are warranted, even to errant forwards from strangers.

The quantum of misinformation and rubbish that we are bombarded with on the daily, on this very useful platform is mind- numbing. Generally, I consider it a nuisance, but now I realize that daily shots of this, even in minute doses is enough for mass indoctrination and amplified mob frenzy. To make matters worse, our current political climate seems to fuel the mania.

I urge you all to read, from every source you can. Widen you horizons, wisen up on local, national and international matters. Have a world view. We are all (on this group at least) people of science no?

Consume from the left media, the right wing, the centre, middle- every fucking publication and media if you have to . Look for evidence, not conjecture. Start looking at news as you would a scientific paper. What level of evidence is it? Among the five (or six, or seven) levels, Whatsapp in my humble opinion is level 100. Worse than nothing.

Or you could chose not to know at all. Forget the media and their endless rambles. The screechy voices and sketchy on field reporters. The journalists who can’t string a sentence together. (Would I be allowed to work if I couldn’t place a suture?) The 24 hr ballyhoo. Be blissfully ignorant, and therefore happy. And, also not have a WhatsApp account.

Let us look at this seemingly innocuous forward for example. To put the record straight- I am one of those who orders extensively online. It makes my life a lot easier, trust me. And the past week has been hard. I first ordered on Amazon Fresh (where the delivery window is 2 hours) on Saturday evening (a day before the curfew), and received a slot for the next Wednesday! I knew then, that this was a portend for things to come. My orders have all since been cancelled, and not by me. Today an email said, deliveries for essential items have resumed in my area. I went online- no luck! System errors it said, then ‘no delivery slots’ apparently. Of course I was gutted, irritated. Suddenly Amazon is the enemy no? Of course, beat the beaten dog to death!

Amazon is a multi- national, billion- dollar, corporate giant. With almost a million directly employed employees and several more indirectly employed. Does any sane man/ woman believe they do NOT want profit at this time? When ecommerce orders have jumped exponentially. During the good times, they could offer massive sales and offers and quick deliveries due to their gargantuam stockpiles and armies of warehouse and delivery workers. The warehouses and stocks are worth shit if the workers can’t show up or if they are beaten half to death on the way to the homes of their consumers! Also, the term “essential” item is a minefield. Ask the folks who run the companies. (I could elaborate, but that would be too much)

Other countries who have been hit by COVID-19 worse than us, especially the US and UK are still quite reliant on ecommerce suppliers. They consider them life- savers. They write up thank you plaques outside their doors for these folks who get them their milk and bread. They are no less heroic to them than any ER nurse or physician.

Why are we suffering then?

The answer is always the same no. Inadequate, or worse- wrong information handed to the folks in the field. Mismanagement, political shilly-shally, and many a time , ignorant or fanatical idiots at the helm.

As for the kirana shops, I do not doubt that at least some of them have altruistic intentions; but the majority are here to do what everyone else wants to. Make a quick buck, make hay while the sun shines. Exactly like the ones who hoard masks and sanitizers and sell them at exorbitant prices. Prices for essential commodities have been artificially risen to upto 70% in some instances. Again, this is multi- factorial, and not entirely of their making, yet they do play a part. They behave in a patronising manner, refuse to provide bills in some instances, refuse to serve customers who question them, refuse to give items that were asked for (in those shops where the customers wait outside, and lists are handed over to the employees)

Do not get me wrong here, I am not trying to glorify the giant corporations or vilify our poor, small traders, my grouse is with this “shooting from our arses” mentality. Where everyone with a fuckall WhatsApp account is an expert.

Please, I beg of you my lovely, smart , intelligent ladies. Let us pledge to screen every message and forward, scrutinise every “fact” and second guess every image and video before we mass circulate this. Let us not let idiots and imbeciles insult our intellects this way.

I apologise for my rant. I wouldn’t say this anywhere else; except to MY people.

P.S. My milkman is a super star. That IS a scientifically proven fact.

What say, just a tad too much?

Till next time,

J

 

 

Day 6- A tranquil apocalypse

Does’t this feel like the proverbial calm before the storm? Do you sense the worse is yet to come. Like we are seated to watch a blockbuster movie, and the pre- movie trailers and adverts keep running on. If this is truly an apocalypse, it’s seems quite tranquil at the moment no?

I had a neighbour knock at our door today, she stood a metre away from our doorstep and asked if I knew where one can get tested for The Virus. She then went on to talk about how she couldn’t wait for these 21 days to be over. Ah! Naive optimism or blissful ignorance?

I do not have a clue as to what might happen in the coming weeks. Nobody truly does. We can make scientific conjectures, historical predictions; but they are all guesses. Italy and India had their first reported cases at about the same time. Granted, they have tested about half a million people, while we have less than 30,000. Yet, the picture seems curiously suspect. I feel like we are heading to the edge of a precipice- the path to which is flat and non- threatening but at the endpoint of which we are met with a yawning bottomless depth. I hope I’m wrong, I’m but a pessimist after all.

Anyhoo, for now I shall describe something so mundane that it may momentarily confound your cognition into forgetting The Blockbuster Mr COVID-19.


How am I coping with my fitness fervour you ask? Not as bad as expected to be honest. Yes, I have not had a barbell on my back for precisely 17 days now. *Has it been only that long since?* I have not run for 10 days. I have not even taken my bicycle out for my *now rare* grocery runs *and risk having a lathi thrown at my back, no questions asked!*.

Ugh, the early days were hard. But the withdrawal symptoms are abating. Also, about ten days ago, I was at wit’s end in terms of keeping the progeny engaged. I ended up searching for a box of games from my childhood days *Domino, UNO, BUSINESS?* and lo and behold, I found a couple of rusty, squeaky dumbells. The heaviest being 15 kilos, I think. That, coupled with some resistance bands, the kids play mat, my night stand and an Ikea stool- boy am I sore!

The beauty of strife, is that it strips life down to the basics. I have a roof over my head, food in my belly and my family is safe. The rest, we shall deal with as they come. If people can get jacked in prison, who am I to whine for not having access to a squat rack. So my friend, we shall get ripped in quarantine. No more obsessing over lift numbers, nay. My goals now are:-

  1. Increase push up strength. Do more and do it better
  2. Master the pistol squat (almost there, just working on the ROM)
  3. And try and keep as much of the gains as possible. Strength can be regained back quite quickly.
  4. And try to do this-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0GMr8xV4IY4&t=51s

I have hacked a lot of exercises, and am really having fun with fitness again. I wish I had one of those pull- up bars though. Also, maybe a pair of heavier (20 kgs+ anyone?) dumbbells/ kettlebells. Why can’t a human ever be satisfied?

Oh yes, and also; the progeny have PE time everyday as well. I do the half an hour with them. It’s a perfect warm up for me, as its a good one to get the heart rate up and get a light sweat on.  It’s insane, chaotic, very noisy but loads of fun and giggles. We all like to follow the Joe Wicks kids workouts on YouTube. Trust me, when done with the right heart, these are not as east as they might look to the physically uninitiated!

Stay safe, stay healthy, stay fit folks!

Till next time.

J.

 

Day 5- Only?

Has it only been 5 days? Weekday morning rush and night- time scraps; memories of a couple of weeks ago, are paling already. Amazing, truly!

Normal workdays for me, are days in which my time is not mine. I’m either sorting the kids out, or engaged completely and wholly with a patient- conscious ones in the OPD and unconscious ones in the OR. I live on flecks of me- time. Venting to friends or catching up on audiobooks in the car. Reading the newspaper in OR while the patient is being intubated. You get the drift.

I have been craving a holiday. A true vacation, one where I don’t have to pack for four or worry about baby food and diarrhoea. Where I don’t have to come back and catch up on laundry or make up on- calls at the hospital.

I am not downplaying these difficult times. The human loss, the economic ramifications- the consequences of this pandemic are going to be far- reaching and unprecedented. Time will tell if the world will ever be the same again. I understand that.

But there is this small part of my brain, who doesn’t. That part sees how happy Lil Z and Boss Man are to have their Mum to themselves. All day. It senses their relief when they wake up and find Mum passed out beside them. It relishes the late- mornings, and the cuddles and leisurely coffee and newspaper stints at the balcony. That brainling, also loves the fact that we are longer dictated by the clock. We sleep when tired, wake up when we are bored of sleeping. We eat when hungry.

Z and I are not morning people, and now we are not forced to be. Boss Man likes to zip around the house in his pyjamas post 10PM- this is his ‘me time’, sans his bossy sister. And now he can do so.

The trees and creatures outside must be savouring this brief respite. Wondering where all the ruinous, wasteful humans have disappeared to.

Tomorrow I shall mourn my lost time and money. Cry about being stuck here when I should be settling in to my new home. Grieving for the family that is broken at a time when we should be together. Blaming destiny and governments and fellow people.

Today, I shall be grateful for small mercies. For this time off from the hamster wheel. For a breather that I so desperately needed, even if it involves being occasionally smothered by anxiety.

Tomorrow, I will watch with trepidation as the death toll rises across Europe. And as the disease ravages the so called leader- of- the- free- world. I shall cringe when BBC tells me that cow urine is not a remedy. I will wonder how many thousands are truly infected in my country, considering our meagre testing capabilities. I will worry about the lack of true initiative and preparedness in India, lockdown not withstanding.

Today, I will go to bed thinking of the scientists world over; staying up in fluorescent labs; pouring over microscopes. Of an emergency room nurse; taking on an extra shift as another one of her co- workers is taken by the darned COVID19. Of leaders and visionaries who are not politicians. Of doctors and nurses, and nursing assistants, and lab workers; of sanitation workers , and housekeeping staff. A prayer might escape, from this mind that often battles with agnosticism.

I will go to bed hopeful.

Till next time,

J

The Obsessed.

“Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.”
Franz Kafka

The problem with mercilessly following our intense obsessions is the relationships that we leave on the wayside. The fun- times that we discard at life’s sidewalk. The holidays we sacrifice at the alter of it’s pursuit.

Is is fair that people around you may have to bear some of the weight of the millstone that you perennially carry around your neck. People who dare to love or care for you may inordinately be forced to share some your vexation.

Will my progeny remember me as the selfish human who hounded my own obsessions, rather than cherish their fleeting childhood? Are missed park appointments and hasty bedtime routines a true benchmark for the parenting prize?

Is spending time massaging others’ egos a prerequisite for the “good human” epitaph.

Are romantic pursuits as wasteful and corrosive as they seem?

If one chooses to integrate into conventional society, one is signing an unconditional waiver of one’s true nature. We lie, make polite conversation, bend to others’ will, alter our basic personalities, practice meaningless small talk and generally waste the precious and limited time that could otherwise be utilised to nurture our obsessions.

Whatever people might say, and despite the mockery that the Obsessed are subjected to; we must thank them for all the things that they have brought forth, out of their convoluted minds. Their fruitions have given us every great book, piece of art, scientific innovation and technological advancement.

Let us let them be, please. For they allow us our fun, hassle- free and easy lives.

Till next time,

J.

Life and lifting

I. AM. OBSESSED.

Before we get into the specifics, read about my physical pursuits here and here or just click on the Runday Monday link above.

I have been seriously “lifting” since my second born was about 14 weeks. 8 months and counting now.

The sheer physicality of moving heavy things around never appealed to me before. I am unsure of the reasons, just as I am unsure of how I got into weights. I did not meet anyone who inspired me to do it, nor did I read about it. Maternity leave, and then going back to work at 11 weeks post- partum, with no real help on hand hit me hard. The guilt of leaving the young one, not having enough time for the first- born and the stress of catching up at work almost drove me to despair.

I needed a way to clear my head occasionally, and for me the only way to do that is to sweat it out. Once upon a time, running helped me do that. But now, driving halfway across town to find a half- decent place to run seems ludicrous.

I headed to the nearby gym/ fitness centre out of sheer desperation. Payed the 3 months’ joining fee, bought ONE new sports top (I did not get my hopes high) and weeded out my old running bottoms from the sad and messy depths of my wardrobe.

One day after work, I pumped in the car and even though every cell of me told me to head home to my babies- I drove  to this gym place.

The timing was crap, and the place was bursting at it’s seams with people who were stuck on moving machines with their phones super- glued to their hands. Every darned cardio machine was taken. It is a ladies- only sort of place, and so the weights section was peaceful and quiet. Again, desperation and the need for some space and quiet drove me to the weights section. And, I WAS HOOKED.

How I looked, did not matter.

I did not yearn for me pre- babies abs.

My squishy mid- section, flabby arms and dimpled legs did not bother me one bit. (Having a baby second time around does that to you. Your bodily changes don’t have the same shock value anymore. You know all about how the female physical being can travel to hell and back.)

I did not care how my hair was or what I wore. I did not mind grunting and making feral noises while I lifted. I cared zero shit as to what the women around me thought or did. At first, I treated the cardio equipment like the plague and stayed far away.

I went whenever I possibly could. I despised the management with all my heart for closing the place on Fridays. I even went in after my 24 hour on call shifts. I went in at 11 PM after putting the little ones to bed. Or sneaked in an afternoon session at around lunch time if I could, knowing that the place will be fairly empty at that time.

I did not have hours on end to spare. So my mantra was simple. Have a plan. Make it quick. Make it count.

Be efficient. Be brutal.

Needless to say, the beginning was not pleasant. Even with my physically active background, my body was shocked. It had not seen or experienced anything like this for it’s three decades of existence. Marathons and day long dance practice is different. And oh yes! I was only three months in after delivering my second child when I started 🙂

Slowly, the changes began to get apparent. The strength gains are addictive. Pushing oneself to the brink of their physical limit and then past it is always an exhilarating experience. A hint of a quad sweep, a trace of the biceps brachii as I pick up the little one and the pins going further down on the weight stack every week- the victories are small but fulfilling. I am not even upset that I cannot find jeans that fit anymore (the quads- glute- waist ratio conundrum ) or that I am packing on the pounds.

For the first time, it ain’t about the looks at all. It is about the me time, the strength gains. The mental emptiness as the physical self is being tortured into submission. The sore bottoms that remind you of the good times you had the previous day every time you sit. The achy back as your try to find a comfortable stance in the OR. The joy of feeling in control of at least one thing in your life. Of people commenting on how you stand different, walk different- seem different.

The high of the so called “beginner gains” is hard to explain.

I have no idea how long this will last. I hope to have stumbled upon a life- long passion but I don’t care either way. I am not aiming to compete in bodybuilding shows or becoming a powerlifter. Heck, I am not entirely sure when I can make it to the gym today. All I know is that currently I am being sucked into the vortex of protein shakes, pre- workout, foam- rolling and workout splits. That currently the only clothes that I own (that fit me) are my pyjamas, scrubs and workout apparel.

In fact my wardrobe is a fair indication of my life currently- family, work and the gym.

Till next time.

J.

Finding time

There is always time. ” I have no time” is an excuse we make when we don’t want to do something.

We always got the time we need.

I did not feel the urge to write, the past few months.

Or to be honest, I felt the urge but could not be bothered to actually make the effort. Lack of time, was a convenient excuse.

Life has changed dramatically folks. Apart from the possibility of moving countries, jobs, separation- there is also the unrest within.

Mid- life crisis?

Considering a lifetime of 60 years, this would qualify as midlife.

I am aware that this post could come across as cryptic and vague. But, there is no elaboration to offer.

We have no idea where we are heading. Not sure, where we will be in the coming months.

Never imagined that national policies or regional politics could ever have a direct impact on our personal lives and family matters. But then, life is always beyond our imagination- ain’t it?

Till next time,

J.