Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Whom do you confide in?

Sharing your problems with a friend or loved one can be pretty therapeutic.  It gives you the space to vent out your feelings, and makes you think more clearly about the problem at hand. But be careful about choosing that friend in whom you confide. I’m not saying friends are bad, but not all understand what you are going through. Not everyone knows what is right for you. 

The one with a ‘me-too’ saga-

I had sprained an ankle, and it was swollen and quite painful. Confined to the bed, I was chatting up with a friend. And the next thing he says is, ‘Come on don’t be such a wuss, you can do better than that. I had a fracture six months ago and I dealt with it so bravely.’ Yes, but you had people buzzing around you round the clock, supplying you food on the bed, carrying you to the washroom, and providing you everything that you needed. You didn’t have to bother about getting your kids ready for school, or limp around to cook, or tend to sick kids simultaneously.

There is this other friend who’ll always say, ‘Arre, yeh toh kuch bhi nahi hai (this is nothing), if you listen to my problems you’ll know how much I’m suffering.’

The point is, no two situations are comparable. Many people compare your experience with theirs and in the bargain, end up making your situation seem inadequate of eliciting strong emotions. 

The one who doles out Advice-

An advice cannot be universal. What applies to me cannot apply to someone else and what worked for me might not work for someone else.

A friend who had just had a miscarriage was told by her sister-in-law not to think about the baby. She advised her to start chanting and meditating. Yes, chanting helps. But this was not the time - maybe eventually, but not at that point. She was grieving, she needed time to first accept her loss and overcome her grief. How could you expect her to just start chanting? She needed someone to vent her anguish and share the precious memories of her pregnancy and the dreams she had for her baby.

When I was going through a difficult time with my mother-in-law, a friend advised me to go and get a job. It helped her, she said. It kept her away from her mother-in-law for the better part of the day. Great advice, maybe I’d take up a job, but not for the wrong reasons, and definitely not as an escape route. That wasn’t my medicine at that time.  Another friend told me to cut off the mother-in-law and be nasty to her. Her words? ‘Give her back nicely’. I didn’t want to do that – my m-i-l had taken care of me so many times, and she wasn’t a bad person. I’d have to be a monster to even contemplate such a thing. All I wanted to know was how to resolve the issue at hand.

But people give advice as per their own experiences. They have no idea about your background, your limitations and your way of thinking. They tell you what worked for them. But you aren’t them, are you?  

The one who barely ‘touches and goes’-

A friend Apu, once told me that whenever she’s upset, she calls upon her partner, Ani, to share her problems. Once she starts discussing her problems, Ani starts getting distracted and keeps changing the topic. After that she switches off her mobile, is not reachable or busy every time she calls her again. But when Ani is upset, Apu’s expected to lend a patient ear, give some advice and also be compassionate enough to relieve Ani from work for a few days. All take and no give, eh?

I had this, ‘if-there’s-any-problem-just-call-me-anytime’ friend, who’d do the disappearing act when I called on her more than once. She’d coax me to tell her what’s bothering me, and assure me she’d be there whenever I’d need her. But the very next time I pinged her, she’d not even bother with replying or taking my calls!

I get it, upset people are not the most interesting people to have conversations with, but you don’t expect problems to disappear immediately after some pep talk, right? Some issues persist for a long time, and if you are not up to giving your time, or lending a patient ear, don’t make false promises that you’ll be around.

The All-India-Radio-

There’s an opposite kind of friend who loves to smother me with her affection. She’ll put an arm around me, give me a warm hug, and coax me to ‘tell me everything’.  She’d be there whenever I’d ask to speak to her. She’d listen to everything I had to say. But even before I’d realise, the words would be floating all around and be the talk of gossip mills. As a result, more people would now give me their valuable advice, leaving me pretty embarrassed and feeling let down.

That one true friend-

All friends are not made equal - some empathise with you more than the others. But it doesn’t mean you should forsake the ones who don’t feel as you do. Every single friend has a different role in our lives – it’s just that you should know what kind of friends to keep away from sharing all your stuff and who are ones worth fighting for. 

If you have that one/few close friend/s who understands you, will put an arm around you when you are down, will listen to you rant and vent endlessly and sometimes just sit and watch the stars with you silently - when that’s all you want to do, count yourself lucky. Trust me, most of the times that's all that you need.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Crashed - diet?

They say ‘be careful what you wish for’ for you never know when your wish might come true. But unfortunately, by the time I heard what they said, it was too late – the wish had already been made. Once upon a time, long, long ago, when we still woke up by chanting ‘karagre vasate lakshmi, karamadhye saraswati, karamule sthitao gauri, prabhate kar darshanam’ and not ‘karagre vasate whatsapp, karamadhye facebook, karamule sthitao instagram, prabhate mobile darshanam’, I weighed about 49 kilos. Umpteen chocolates and fattening food later, the scales stayed put at 49. I struggled crossing the 50 mark and no matter what I did, I couldn’t.

Well, I was reed thin and then I made the ‘wish’, that I now wish I had never made. I wished I’d put on a few kilos more so that I’d look a bit more, errr...how do you say it? Rounded? Curvy? Well chubby, maybe. And suddenly the wishes were horses and beggars were riding, and how! And what do I know, the scales not only tipped the 50 mark it kept going, and wouldn’t stop. The pointer was just about to touch 70, but I managed to get the needle to stop at 69.9. How? Ahem...well...I’d rather not say it here!

There’s this famous poem, ‘As a rule, man is a fool, when it’s hot, he wants it cool, when it’s cool, he wants it hot, always wanting what is not.’ Why did I think I’d be any exception? Now that I had gained weight that I had been desperately craving to gain since long, I wished I’d be back to the original size! There!

Damage already done, I needed some motivation to lose weight which was not until our trip to Munnar. That trip I must say was pretty ‘Moti-weight-ing’ and thus began a journey of a 1000 miles with a single elephant ride! They say, where there’s a will, there are relatives, no, I meant there’s a way, and groggily I found my way that went round or rather square in circles, (wait, is that even possible?) in the park near my house. Thirty minutes of walk, dripping in sweet sweat wasn’t doing much to the waistline, except making me sleep more in the afternoons. 

Like a god-send, a friends group on FB started a new fitness group which I enthusiastically joined. To keep us motivated there was this diet and activity chart that we needed to fill out every day.
When I logged in, I had already had a tall glass of lemon juice in warm water with honey at 6am and then a tall glass of milk at 7am, followed by a bowl of oats at 9am, a bowl of salad at 10.30am and 3 phulkas with vegetable at 1pm. I filled in my entry and skimmed through what the others had filled in. Lunch: 1 phulka, said one entry. How does one survive on 1 phulka? I mean, that’s like two bites, right? But maybe that was the trick to losing weight. I made a mental note to eat just one phulka at night. But the mere thought of starving at night was making me hungry again, and it wasn’t even an hour since my last meal. I gulped down water to make the hunger go away, but it wouldn’t go away. My kids don’t listen to me these days, why would hunger? Well, after wondering what to eat next, I settled with a bowl of cornflakes without any milk. Maybe I’d keep munching on it as I worked I thought. It was gone before I could spell c-o-r-n-f-l-a-k-e-s. A couple of hours later, the tummy was grumbling again. Walnuts went in, followed by a bowl of papaya, and green tea, and by the time it was 5pm, I thought I would die of hunger. I was too embarrassed to log in and fill up the rest of the diet sheet.

Why was I indefinitely hungry? Was I possessed by the food monster? As I marched back into the kitchen, my eyes fell on the pressure cooker, and like Archimedes, I suddenly knew the answer to my question – Rice, eureka! I am so accustomed to rice that nothing else feels like lunch. I can eat rice in the morning and stay full until dinner time. Skipping rice was my nemesis. The brain never registered that I had had my meal.  

Giving in to the temptation, I quietly open the lid and poured some steaming rice into my plate with a generous helping of tangy, spicy, rasam, a miserly dollop of ghee and some fried potato palya (vegetable) on the side. Heaven! One whiff of the food on my plate and half my hunger was already gone. As I mixed the rice and rasam, I felt the rice make gentle love to my fingers and then proceed to pleasure my mouth. As the rasam-rice touched my tongue, it almost felt orgasmic. I closed my eyes, yielding to the pleasure, letting the food satiate my hunger. (What? Literally guys!) Needless to add, I wasn’t hungry again until dinner and I could manage with a single phulka at night.

At this rate, however, I doubt I’ll be able to lose any weight. And if I manage to do that, I’ll be back with a ‘The journey from fat to fit’ post or else this might be the precursor to a post titled, ‘And this why I never managed to lose weight.’

So long, Ciao!   


Saturday, July 16, 2016

Book Review : The Tales of Sunshine- by Sundari Venkatraman

Every day you wake up to news that makes you sad – to add to that there are little ups and downs in your own life and there’s hardly anything that cheers you up or motivates you to get up and get going. So when Sundari Venkatraman sent me her book ‘Tales of Sunshine’ I was so fascinated by the title and the cover, that it didn't take me long to dive nose first into the book immediately.  

Sundari calls them ‘Human interest stories’ and yea, they are most definitely that! The 'Tales of Sunshine' is a collection of heart touching and heart warming stories. There are stories of common people like you and me. There are stories of everyday experiences that shake us – difficult decisions, trying times, hopeless situations – things that make you pull your hair out in despair. There are stories that show you a ray of sunshine and a glimmer of hope as the protagonists come to terms with the helplessness at hand and turn around what seems to be impossible.

When you read the book, it is possible that you might find a connection with a story here, a character there or the situation someone is in. That’s what makes the stories so endearing and beautiful – they connect with you and lift your spirits. The book is an anthology of ten stories - but they aren’t preachy, and they don’t tell you what to do. But they do tell you that there’s always a way out, they give you a ray of ‘Sunshine’. 

I loved each one of them and my favorites were 'A ray of Sunshine' which shows that everything is not lost and that you have it in you to make the best of a hopeless situation, and ‘Is Grandpa Home’, which brought a lump to the throat.  Sundari's stories urge you get in touch with your humane side, something that we seem to have lost somewhere along the way. They also urge you to look at problems not as an end of the world but as a means to find solutions. Sundari's writing is powerful and flawless and she scores on all grounds with her evocative writing. 

So go ahead and pick up your copy of the ‘Tales of Sunshine’.  Isn’t a little bit of sunshine all you need on a rainy day?

Title : The Tales of Sunshine
Author : Sundari Venkatraman
Available on : Amazon Kindle  

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