Thursday, January 25, 2007

Like a drop in the ocean

Nowadays no one calls an apple an apple – it’s a pink lady, a Fuji, a Jonathan, a Golden delicious, a Granny Smith. Similarly, this lovely city is dotted with gyms but heaven's, let’s not call it a xxxx gym, it might be offended at such a simple title. Instead let’s call it a health club, fitness centre, exercise room, sports centre, sports club, leisure centre and my all-time favourite, The Health Hall.

Anyway I joined one of these aforementioned health/ sports/ leisure clubs/ halls/ centres 24 weeks ago yesterday and it has been such smooth sailing. NOT.

I’m beginning to wonder why I ever bothered. I had some luminous notion in my head that the higher the fee the greater the potency of the paid for machines. And once again I was wrong wrong wrong.

Week nine
It’s one week before our holiday to India. You would think that I would be motivated to go 4 days this week considering that next week I shall be eating my own weight in chaat and kebabs and rasagolla’s. Instead I have cleverly convinced myself that there is no point killing myself in the early autumnal morning chill as my body needs to calm down and get used to not doing much beside eat - legitimate preparation for India, you know. Besides which the one day I do go this week I find that both Bug-eyed Boy (BEB) and Desi dud (DD) have disappeared and that using the cross trainer with nothing but the BBC news to keep me occupied is just not good enough. And as if that was not boring enough I have also lost not an ounce. There is nothing to be excited about.

Week thirteen
India seems a distant memory. And thanks to the highly motivational cost of paying for fluffly towels and young locker room attendents, I woke up a minute before my alarm and walked it to the gym at some unearthly hour. This morning, for my experess entertainment it would seem, there is a desi aunty (DA) in the gym and she is wearing the loudest pink in the world. From dark head to stubbly toe. A fluorescent pink that is acceptable only as a flash of chewing gum in a teenager’s mouth - a tracksuit with matching bandana, wrist bands and ankle socks. All in pink. All in Velour. And her feet tucked in the brightest white shoes that money can buy. Like they have been through an intensive dental floss colgate whiteness programme. And she apparently has not been on a wonderful induction and been introduced to the various areas within our grand health hub. This is obvious in an instant to the trained eye (mine) as she has decided to do her stretches in front of the bank of eliptical machines instead of in the stretching area (which is nothing but a collection of floor mats in the corner). I have no idea what was on the news as I could barely keep my eyes off the pink goddess. As I cross-walk on the elliptical machine she conducts her stretches loudly, aiming for the loud breathing to get her metabolism and that of all gym goers going. With each bend she groans quite loudly and then standing upright she exhales with a huge sigh. The bank of machines with us fitness types (hahaha!) on it just watch in amazement, rpms getting lower as we switch concentration to this pink puffball. About 20 stretches later she turns towards us, notices everyone looking straight at her, gives us a big smile and says “I’ll soon fit in low rise jeans” before turning on her heel and trampling off down the stairs. I’m ever so glad I guilt-ed myself into going. I think I’m back on track with 4 days a week. And I have lost 300 grams. No. Seriously. Only 300 darn grams. Maybe I can eat a packet of crisps today.

Week eighteen
Sadly there is nothing to new or exciting, like a life changing body shape for a before and after DVD that is so popular on shopping TV!, to report except that we are having a mild winter and this means that getting out of bed this early is not the chore I imagined it. And yet I feel like slamming my phone against the freshly painted walls each time I hear the alarm go. The only amusement this week has been watching a very expensive Personal Trainer take his own photograph with his cellphone in the mirror in the stretching area while his client rowed for his life. His Blackberry equivalent then beeped and apparently it was the picture he had just taken and his comment to the sweaty rowing guy was “Ooh, my mum will like this picture”. Thank god rowing guy had his hands on the handle because he sure looked like he could murder someone. Later as I quietly did some stretching to relieve my aching muscles I noticed rowing guy had moved on to push-ups. I think he was about to collapse because I could hear the trainer having a conversation with another colleague about his plans for the weekend and had clean forgotten about him and any counting of reps. Such is life eh? In my own sad news I have lost another 600 gms. Another 100gms and that shall be 1kg. How pathetic can it all get?!

Week twenty three
This is the last day of week 23 and this is the end of a 5 week run of 4-5 days each week. My body has grown so used to the 45 minute work-out that I barely break a sweat. I need a re-programming session with a fitness coach. ‘Re-programme’ with a fitness coach is the free way of getting a schedule of things to do without paying a fitness trainer £60 and hour to follow you around with a clipboard and pen barking like an army sergeant (and talking simultaeously on his phone and Blackberry paid for with his fat fee). So coach M and I are talking about the strenuous nature of the Stairmaster, that mighty machine that does nothing but recreate the stairs, and I am thinking "but wouldn’t it just make sense for me to walk up the seven floors to our flat each day?". And then the flashbulb in empty head clicks on – they created the Stairmaster because I would never ever do something as ridiculous as walk up the stairs unless I absolutely had to. So I agree to walk the Stairmaster for 5 minutes. While I struggle to look graceful walking up the moving rubberized stairs who do you think comes into sight but BEB. Looking as bug eyed as before. And he has a new Tattoo on his right arm – of an angel! Dude what were you thinking? That it would cross out the effects of that skull and cross bones on your lanky left arm? That your mum would be proud now that it was a jodi (set) of Tattoo’s instead of one lonely one? And now BEB is running manically on the treadmill. For a whole 2 minutes. Till his eyes actually pop-out of his sockets. Before giving up and sitting down to admire his new tattoo. And slurp some water from the bottle attached to his freshly tattoo-ed arm. I hate to say it but this guy needs the re-programme more than me. All this strenuous cardio had made him look utterly emaciated; surely his goal must be to bulk up. For now he just looks like a walking billboard for the starving and a Tattoo parlour. Even the great entertainment has failed to move any weight off me. I'm doomed to be fat and yet surprisingly very very healthy for ever.....

Today
I have listened to lots of contradictory information about cabbage soup and every new agey diet going and ignored it all. As a result of not doing any real dieting I have lost only a few hundred grams of weight and that too is purely due to keeping doggedly at the machines. And carrying around my gym gear everyday is surely building some muscle in my shoulders and arms. And my back is building character with all the pain it must bear. V constantly tells me how thin I have become but I suspect this is mainly a ruse for me to reciprocate it and tell him how thin he has become (which he has – how do boys do it?). Not another person has noticed an inch of weightloss or trimness. Yet I can do 45 minutes of high intensty eliptical or treadmill or swim 40 laps without collapsing under the weight of my own sweat. It is all because I am an ocean of being, a freak of nature and THERE IS NO WEIGHTLOSS.

I shouldn’t complain. It did take me near on 17 straight years from 13 to 30 put on the weight, layer by fat-I-don’t-care layer. I do not believe why I imagined that 23 short weeks would do the trick. Or at least part of it. I shall persist regardless.

At the moment I have no hope in hell of looking any better on my next beach holiday in 12 weeks. But frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn as my heart shall be healthy as a horse by then. I shall gallop across the sandy beach with a load on my back. I shall then win the most interesting holiday photographs competition 2007.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

This morning I walked to the gym on a bed of freshly fallen snow. And the soft gentle flakes flurried down covering my coat with a momentary design. I even took a quick picture of the snow on the path ahead of me with my phone camera (which I have no clue what to do with now). It's all fleeting and by 9am there will be nothing but slush and memories of the white carpet.

It rarely ever snows in London and any snow is usually turned to water when it hits the energy consuming machine that is this city. This has been a record mild winter and it's only in the last two days that real winter has started. It's finally cold and frosty and overcoat and scarf wearing weather. It probably won't last but I will certainly appreciate winter when this is over.

The snow covered rooftops and straggly tree branches looked so beautiful as I traveled in to work a few minutes ago. The pleasure of an overland journey in a heated train capsule looking out on a city washed with wonderland quality is a morning charmer.

All this beauty came crashing about my ears with the words "Due to adverse weather causing signaling failure there are severe delays occuring (to almost every) line". In the underground, which is UNDERGROUND, what's the weather go to do with anything? And no I don't want someone to give me an answer. I just want this city to get its act together and not act like a child caught out with fobidden chocolate. It's not even 10mm of snow and it's OUTSIDE. And now I am late. Bah humbug!!!

Monday, January 15, 2007

the mojo one

In the past 15 days I have not been blogging (with the exception of the tag) because I’ve been searching for politeness. And my mojo. Since the start of this year increasingly my mood has darkened and all I want to use my blog for is to rant and rail against various people and the world in general. Of course I cannot do that because I am simply not that person – and because I am hoping it’s a phase that shall soon pass. I must admit that it has taken all my willpower not to yell lately, to say things I know I will not mean in a while but seem real right now and I will definitely regret later. Simply not blogging was the simplest way to simmer down.

So it’s 2007. And I’m hoping that at work (and in life) we’re all done with the chirpy New Year’s greetings and story exchanges of how wonderful their break from work was. Yada yada yada. I know I should be a bit happier at the start of a NEW year but I can’t help feeling this bit blue. And the reason for this unhappiness is ironic. Really. It’s mainly because 2006 was such a fantastic year that I really can’t see how 2007 can beat it. I’ve decided that maybe talking about 2006 will help me focus on how to better cope with 2007.

2006 was the year it all happened for me. So many things came to pass that it seemed almost like the climax of a summer movie where all the trails and tribulations are overcome, hurdles thunderously hurdled over, before the characters walk into the sunset and a wonderful life. In 2006 I felt most at peace with myself and the world than at any other time in what I remember of my 30 preceding years. At work I finally figured out what I wanted to do, chased what I was looking for and loved every minute at my incredible job. In love, V and I celebrated 15 year of having first met and then 5 years of blissful marriage. We finally bought bricks&mortar to surround us and joined (and kept to) a gym to get the ‘us’ in good health. We did our house up with love, care and tasteful d├ęcor all to make it into a warm and safe home. I watched my family prosper after years of not – mainly my joy is at seeing my parents in exciting jobs which make them smilingly happy and satisfied – and I am convinced that all our waiting and good deeds finally paid off. And each day of the year I watched my brother grow into a wonderful responsible human being that makes me proud to be his sister. I learnt to finally banished all the demons and people from my life that plagued me. I learnt to not hanker after 'friendships' where the giving was all mine and I was blatently hanging on for no good reason. I finally understood why a few good friends are a far better deal than a load of so called ones. London and I made firm friends at long long last, after 4 years of tetchy battles. I decided to be firm in my convictions, steady in my plan and to always listen to my instincts – and all those things stood me in good stead. I reached a good place in my head and heart, a satisfied place, a tranquil place, a place where each morning it’s great to wake up.

There is almost no way to beat all the goodness of 2006. And 2007 has not yet inspired much confidence. I know this dark mood and all these irritants will disappear with the spring sun and a wave of my hand. I just can’t see it just yet. I want 2007 to be satisfying, like the aftertaste of a tasty meal, if not special, but I fear that sometimes all my hoping for too much will jinx it all. I want the joys of 2006 to linger and not be swept away in an instant.

Over the past 15 days I have felt my mojo slip away along with the quiet confidence of a good year gone by - for no apparent reason other than the stretch of year ahead of me. On Thursday evening I went for dinner with colleagues and visitors and on our route home we decided to show them some of the sights from Waterloo Bridge. So at 10pm we walked around the lit up ice rink set in majestic Somerset House on the Strand before setting off for the Bridge and Waterloo Station just south of it. As we walked on to the bridge on a clear and mild winter night the view just took my breath away. I’ve walked over this bridge many a time in the past 4&something years but never at night. It was a sight to behold. All those grand buildings and landmarks that draw people to London, all lit up, shiny and sparkling and ethereal. Big Ben framed by the London Eye. Houses of Parliament. NFT. Shell. St. Pauls. RAF Church. Gherkin. Oxo tower. South Bank. Bobbing boats on the Thames. The old and the new. The shiny and the matt. I’ve seen it all before, at night even. Just never with these eyes and in this somber mood. And suddenly in one instant it was back. My mojo. Uplifted by the sparkly twinkly beauty of London’s grand skyline.

In that one moment I knew 2007 will be just fine.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Another year. Another me.

This is the way to start a New Year, a tag from WA. There’s quite a lot of stuff about me that this blog has not betrayed and at some level I am loathe to let go. At another though it’s a nice thought to share some of the madness and a challenge to do it without betraying more than I want.

1. I am a technophobe. And I’ve learnt to hide it very well. I love technology, make no mistake. In fact I am amazed and awed by the strides technology has taken. From being able to listen to music on my dinky cassette playing walkman as a teen to the fact that something as big and bulky as a jumbo jet can fly – most technology to me is nothing short of a miracle. On the outside I’m confident with the technology I need in day to day life (like my computer, mobile etc.) but even none of these ever comes to me without terror. Deep down I live in perpetual (and obviously irrational) fear I shall irrevocably break/ delete/ morph/ kill whatever I am using. It took weeks for me to start using my fantastic new 2006 iPod because I was terrified that any movement would make the songs all disappear (because there was no CD / diskette to remove and make safe).

2. I make resolutions every year. I have ever since I can remember celebrating the turn into the New Year. I know I know everyone is always saying how they don’t bother because they don’t/ can’t keep them past the first week/ month. I’ve been taunted about making New Year resolutions for the longest time but nothing will change my faith in my resolution keeping system. For me resolutions are about starting as you mean to go on – and I nearly always manage to keep up at least half the resolutions to reflect on when the year ends. I have a long list this year too. So sue me.

3. I love my food - A LOT. In fact so much so that I began a failed blog about it. It failed mainly because I was so excited to be eating nice things that I forgot to take any pictures and then I slumped into an unending laziness. Top 10 foods to include in one last meal: Chicken Thai curry, Bhindi (like my mum makes it), Paneer tikka, Toblerone, rajma, idli, momos, Club sandwich, Chicken hot & sour soup with naan (counts as 1 for me), shammi kebab (from Wengers). Reading back that combination of things as one last meal is pretty gross and would probably kill me anyway.

4. I am just a bit obsessed with lists. Nearly everything/one in my life features on my lists. They don’t need to be even or odd numbered. Or coherent to anyone but me. Either the lists are written down ones (like groceries, things to do, party guests, meals) or each one is counted in my head (yummiest meals, best books, loveliest days, ironic moments, friends). I have a mind rolodex and every page has a mini-list. Most things are graded and assertively given their place in the list. I got to this list keeping way-of-life organisation much before I had read High Fidelity. Way before I even knew who Nick Hornby was. Often I’m not proud of it but once in a while the order gives me great comfort and sometimes great joy.

5. I know with an ingrained certainty that I will never ever be thin. No matter how many cold winter mornings I get up and go faithfully to the gym. And yet I shall not give up. I am nothing if not eternally hopeful.

That’s me and this list.

I hope you had a lovely celebration to ring in the New Year wherever you may wander - with family, with friends, with good food & drink, with laughter, with hope and with dreams. Have a lovely 2007.