Tag Archives: ramblings

The Cycling Chronicles.

What do I have in common with Lance Armstrong? Greg LeMond? Peter Sagan? Nothing at all. Except that they are some of the best cyclists humankind has known and I might probably be one of the worst. Or let me just be modest and say, humankind might see me as a person who’s awkwardly seated, desperate to un-hunch her shoulders, clearly locking her elbows and panting on inclines but cycling nonetheless!

I have only known how to cycle for about a dozen months now. It’s a shocker to most people and yes, I am still trying to respond to “What were you really doing as a child then?!”.

Of recent, I have finally gathered the courage to cycle on the main roads, albeit at light traffic hours, but it should still count – considering I’m collecting enough anecdotes to write a post about!

  • My usual morning workout includes cycling a couple of kms before I hit the gym – the snag being that the road is almost at a 20-degree incline and it is ‘oh-so-not-easy’! The burn in my thighs and the shortness of breath kill, while I dissuade myself from staring back at passers-by who would have probably walked past faster, and also because India (we have people everywhere, all the time). One of those days when I was barely wheezing past the stretch of incline, my speed faltered, a couple of vehicles overtook, distracted me and bam! Turbulence hit, brakes were applied but I still went and rammed into a garbage truck picking up its trash. Wait. Don’t jump to dirty conclusions! The truck was okay. The cycle was okay. I was okay. And no garbage fell on anyone, anywhere. I swear. Otherwise, there would have been a selfie, for sure! One doesn’t experience a lot many selfie worthy embarrassing moments in life.

 

  • Guess what happened one of those days when I parked my cycle below the gym and was happily sweating it out upstairs? Someone ran off with one of the handle grips on my cycle. Or they might have sauntered off at a leisurely pace. I will never know. What I will remember are the scratches and cuts my right hand faced that morning while cycling back due to the absence of said pilfered item. How much could have a handle grip cost them? Or was that funny for them? Haha. Not funny.
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And just like that – vandalism enters my life.
  • My cycle seems to be a pet peeve for many around. The other day someone left an empty plastic water bottle in the basket. I ignored it thinking one of the building staff might have left it there by mistake. The next day a bouquet of dried out roses were stashed there. Of course, people have asked me if it was left there for me by a “secret admirer”. But what if they were left behind by the person who stole my handle grip and then he stole this bouquet from someone’s trash and thinks dried roses can be apologetic enough? The world works in mysterious ways.
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Roses and no note? I want my note! You can take the roses away.
  • We all strive to look cool once in a while. I thought my Bluetooth earphones might do the trick for me. I put them on one morning, but they didn’t last a minute in my ears. Thanks to the uneven and pothole-riddled roads of Bangalore, the earphones kept dropping out and became more of a distracting menace than a cool kids’ gizmo! So cool of you Bangalore city, so cool. Attention on the road is more important than looking cool. I get it! Thanks.

See you around. Cycling, hopefully.

Graciously Yours!

P.S.: Also, thank you A, for literally running with me all those weeks, helping me get a hang of figure eights and u-turns and, simply, cycling.

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Moo Points?

My week started on a bad note – regular household issues – oh yes, we bachelors have those too. No maid, cook screwed up the food quantities, delayed to work, no transport, traffic and oh, the heat! So coming up, are a lot of moo points. Take it or leave it, but do read it!

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As I strode purposefully towards the main road, following my Mom’s advice to calm down, cars and bikes zipping past me, a cab honking at me for taking up road space (well, the footpath could give me a sprain, they’re that bad), I saw a cow ambling at 10 am in the morning, barely moving enough to place one foot ahead of the other, ten seconds at a time.

Cars conveniently circled around her and went their way, not even bothering to honk. Why me then? Why was I expected to be on the footpath when this cow could do whatever she liked? Why did I have to chide myself for being late for office at 10 in the morning when this cow could just loiter around, literally doing nothing!

“Eat more meat.” “Focus on your calcium intake.” “What about carbs?” “And when will you take those multivitamins?” So much talk about food and food preparation. If she’s hungry, she doesn’t even have to go to the kitchen to whip up something or Swiggy food! She can just regurgitate food ingested earlier and chew it again! Not that I want my ingested food back in my mouth, urgh, but just sayin’!

She can be white. She can be black. She can be brown. Or even a mix of all three. And she’ll still be loved for who she is. Why? Why do I have to then worry about being tanned? Why can’t I just be I loved for who I am?

Oh and here in a country where Hinduism is largely significant, she even gets protection for just being who she is – a female. Talk about harming a cow and behold the furore that will persist. While we two-legged women carry around pepper sprays even in broad daylight – for the exact same reason – because we’re females.

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And that’s how I ended up with an existential crisis conferred upon me by a lone cow, walking at her own pace in the middle of a road, refusing to make way for the world rushing around.

The heat fried my brains, I guess.

Still,

Graciously Yours!

Cooking up a storm!

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I am 26. I am single. I am a female. In India, that’s enough to set people rattling off about marriage and family planning. In my case, more advice follows about learning to do tasks that suit a woman in the house than one in office. To name a few – cooking, stitching, birthing, being graceful, looking pretty, being an ideal daughter-in-law, the ideal wife, the presentable new addition to the family. These were my bones of contention with a man who would have almost cut me off at the knees, stopping just in time as he rightly realised the bloodbath that would follow. Needless to say, I didn’t take it well. Oh yes, I didn’t take his abstaining well! And I console myself thinking many others wouldn’t have either. Love has mysterious ways of revealing the real you. What do I do to ward off the very things we parted ways over? Do those exact things to prove myself capable, to perfect myself, to console myself that he didn’t fight hard enough for me.

So I cooked the other evening. There were reasons, of course, which had nothing to do with proving to myself that I could cook. Or so I tell myself. I was procrastinating working on my manuscript, at some level of my subconscious. The mood to write just wasn’t right! So cooking. Also because the cook hadn’t turned up. And my flatmate couldn’t be fed take-away with a running body temperature of 102 degrees! So you ask what is the big deal about cooking? Well, there isn’t. At least in my mind. Except, people around me (read: relatives, the ones who call me twice a year – on my birthday and on their birthday to remind me that I’d forgotten about them. Well, I didn’t forget you. I chose not to remember you.) think it is a vital sign of being a good wife. And here I thought I should prepare to commit myself to a partner, whole and soul. I don’t particularly enjoy cooking. Maybe because most of my favourite dishes are best eaten raw! Salads, sprouts, fruits, milkshakes, sandwiches! But like everything else, I like to do it well, whenever I do cook. And lo behold! I cooked the main course for three people with stunning ease and a record time of 40 minutes. Of course, I’m only talking about rice, lentils and a curry, but hello? It was stomach filling, soul-fulfilling and lip-smacking – with a serving of ghee added to it. To all those skeptics and cynics, why do you keep cooking up a storm?

When the time comes, life teaches you everything. Or it perishes you. Why do you have to keep pushing people into a box, trying to fit them into standards, forcing them to keep up with how the world was fifty years ago when you were our age? Why is it still expected of women to be the ones running the house and holding together the fort, while encashing cheques at the month end? What is the man bringing to the table except for the money? Pray, tell me, if it was just about the money, then as a woman with financial stability and an understanding of financial management, why do I really need you men? Maybe a little consideration? Maybe join me as I flunk ‘Cooking 102’? Maybe let’s have a good laugh over how easy calculating ROI is compared to roasting the wheat flour just brown enough to not burn it for the halwa? Maybe let me sit around and watch you churn a chocolate banana milkshake for me? It’s about wanting to run the house with my partner, rather than for him. And if he isn’t ready for it? Well, then he needs to haul his ass from the couch and come stand by my side like a man.

Oh also. I can stitch a button on as good as I can your lips!

Graciously Yours!

Setting Sun.

I looked up from my Kindle and out the window. The air turbulence was distracting. I wanted to stretch my legs that were getting cramped in the narrow leg space provided these days by airlines. Just a few minutes ago, the view from the window had been drab – blues of the lightest kind with fluffs of white cloud in the foreground. Or was it more than a few minutes ago? I wouldn’t know. My phone was on flight mode and my mind grappling with an Agatha Christie whodunit. Keener observation of the clouds would allow the brain to identify patterns. Sometimes it would be a horse’s head, other times a trophy and then a flock of sheep. But right now? Right now provided a view that would make it to Instagram stories, photography contests and lure amateurs towards professional photography. But I sat there watching unperturbed, unhurried. I was flight bound to home. The Sun was going home for the day too – home being the horizon. My eyes went in and out of focus, the portrait mode some call it, others name it bokeh. In an expanse of white, to the far right, soft hues of orange meshed with lighter yellows which faded into whites of the clouds. The mixed streaks seemed painted, with the flourish of pulled brush strokes. The center was a deeper, brighter, concentrated shade of orange, like the Sun itself was shining out – but you knew this was an illusion – more science than mere fabrication. The Sun was closer it to its home than it let on – this was simply a delayed telecast you were viewing. Closer to my window, making way for the scene were the clouds – bigger clouds, fog-like, misty, as if dewy-eyed at the beauty out my window. And then came the window – double paned, corners curved, waiting to be flapped down; a hole at the bottom edge of the outer window, scratches on the outer pane, whether flying bird wings or key marks, no one knows. And then I return to my Kindle, back to Christie, because I know, no matter how good the camera, it wouldn’t capture the scene my bare eyes saw. But I hope my words did.

Graciously Yours!

Hope.

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What keeps you going on the less happy days? What keeps you from letting one night turn into yet another morning? What pushes you to breathe one more time even though it pains every time? The belief in God – whatever your religion may be, wherever your faith lies? Or is it destiny? Or karma – that you will get what you give around. Or are you one of those who believe in the power of humans and the ability to conquer the world – the rising supporters of humanism?

Me? For me, hope keeps me going – the hope that one of these days, I’ll figure myself out again. Someday the sun will be brighter, the world more colorful and the day happier. The hope that this too shall pass and l will survive it like I have all these years. Hope. It’s important not to lose hope.

Graciously yours!

Pride.

Often times, I have heard the phrase ‘heart swelled with pride’ but in a long, long time, this has been a first for me. I feel full – full of pride and a truckload of tears which if they were to fall out of my eyes would make the rainbow look dull in comparison! That is how happy I am as I see you moving closer to your dream. I saw you struggle but you never gave up – maybe you did at times, but I was lucky to be around and keep you steady. I saw you smile through the worst nightmares and yet wake up the next day with enthusiasm. I saw you believe in me when both of us didn’t believe in ourselves. Maybe the faith in life is what paid off. Karma has secrets we don’t really know about. Karma is not always a bitch. Bad things happen, but so do good things. I know you don’t ask for much but life has its’ way of giving you what you deserve, and not just what you ask for. I wish you could see the goosebumps lining my arms right now and the headiness of such happiness. Who wants to get high when life can give you such shots?

People change, lives change but times change too! Your time, it seems, is here A!

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Graciously Yours! ❤

Of trails and travails.

Every once in a while, the city closes in upon you and you choose to run after the sereneness of the outskirts, the hill stations, the backwaters, the mountains, don’t you? I almost managed to do the same. I say managed because we had failed to acknowledge how many more would also be looking for sereneness there! I visited Dehradun and Mussoorie recently, and if you think this post is about how pretty the landscape is and quiet the hills are, you couldn’t be more wrong.

Ruskin Bond’s books were my mates while growing up and the writer is famed for basing his stories around these few towns in Uttarakhand. I was obviously excited about the trip on that account too – to find myself facing those shops, houses, to walk in the trails of woods and the warmth of the people he’s written about. But I’d forgotten about the two big words – commercialisation and globalisation. With the ease of access to the towns, better roads and influx of tourists, Dehradun no longer is the regular hill station – there’s nothing hilly about it, all flat land and roads marked by McDonald’s and Bengali sweet shops, malls and Park Avenue stores. We picked up drinks from a Tibetan township thinking it’s a concoction they’d brewed at their place only to find it spread all across shops later on. So much for trying to experience something local. Well, at least, I sort of learnt to use chopsticks from one of the diner owners in the Tibetan township. Sort of.

Mussoorie has a dual face though! It’s got the ups and downs of a hill station, the roads which allow vehicles but has no space to fit two of them side by side, a mall road – typical of hill stations, which seemed commercially successful and now stretches for almost 3 km with people flocking it all times, even as late as 10:30 pm at night. The mall road boasts of eateries, brands, shops selling insignia for surrounding hill stations to be carried back as mementos of the visit and countless shops selling the same clothes! But if you take a diversion from the mall road, you’ll find the cobbled roads intact, men and women silently going about their lives, no tourists in sight and the clamour of the mall road light years away! The peace, though short-lived, I was hoping for. I also found the quaint coffee shops that take you back 50 years ago at Landour, where Bond is supposed to reside currently. On further observation, I realise the town was being redecorated to capture the old world charm by Dharma Productions for a film. Well, at least this commercialisation is pleasant to the eye!

Oh and don’t even get me started on the waterfalls! They’re no longer natural. They’ve been cemented and structured to flow the way man wants them to, with water rides, fun activities, shops, tea stalls, changing rooms set close to the rock bed of the fall. Ain’t saying it’s bad, au contraire, it’s brilliant for the people who live there. It’s just not what Ruskin Bond had written about. And no longer the spot for a getaway for me.

I came away from the hills renewed, of course, but disappointed with what we had done to places remote and almost preserved naturally till a few years ago. The human touch, we should call it.

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While trekking in Mussoorie – away from Mall Road. The irony is that the trail led us to shops at the top of the trail.
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Dharma Productions crew at work.
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Yes, that’s a waterfall. It ain’t a swimming pool.
Graciously Yours!

Forever?

I’d lie if I said you had me at hello, but once you had my attention, dear fellow, there was no looking back. I waited for you all day long and it was only by the night that you came – in my dreams. I stuttered when I spoke to you, flushed when I spoke of you. I’d be surprised if you even gave any second thoughts to my presence while you were the only presence that persisted in mine. Soon, you walked away out of my life, I flailed at your memories to keep you on my mind until someone else had me at hello. I say love. Others, infatuation.

I ask – is love only meant to be forever?

Graciously Yours!

Writing.

You’d think the words come easy – that to write was second nature. You set deadlines, timelines, daily word challenges, look up picture prompts only to make sure the words keep flowing. You’re afraid that if you stop writing, you won’t be able to start again. You’re also afraid that if you keep at it, soon your life, your thoughts, your fears, your dreams will all be on paper to read. Nothing will remain sacred, nothing will remain your own. The tension remains – to do or not to do. It’s an addiction you want to lose to. You look into the eyes of the people who read your words and you see them contemplating how much of what you’ve written is fiction. You are afraid they’ll see you for what you really are. And on other days they take you to be what you’re not.

You’re only the medium for the ink to make sense on the paper. What do you do?

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Graciously Yours!

Dog weds Goat.

(Not fake news!)

I am angry. Seething with anger, if I may so until I go on to the next news piece which arouses the same emotion in me. This probably has something to do with the click bait theories and algorithms being run by all social media outlets and even news agencies these days – all that they wish to do is get a response from us, mostly in the form of outrage, or surprise, or any sort of reaction. So here goes mine.

I understand not celebrating Valentine’s Day. A lot of people consider it a commercial gimmick, which it is, and they do not want to succumb to it. There are others who call out a day of love as unnecessarily famed, because they treat all days with love. Then there will be people who think a Western concept has no place to hold in a country like India, a concoction of cultures in itself. What I don’t understand is marrying a dog to a goat as a mark of protest against V-day?! What on Earth were you thinking? And this was not a thought which crossed across only one person’s mind. There were several others who agreed with the perpetrator of the idea and that led to a group protest, a mass protest more like.

What’s more – the media reported it, social media sites lapped it up and then like every action has an equal and opposite reaction, there came a protest group protesting against these protesters and filed a divorce petition for the marriage of A DOG AND A GOAT!!!

I am not even making this up. I don’t think I am this creative! I am just stating the facts as reported in the news.

My questions, the ones just off the mind would be – was the marriage even registered in the first place? And who really married them? And as per Hindu rituals, Islam or Christianity? And who’s going to be hearing the petition and awarding a divorce?

Also, did anyone care to ask the Dog and Goat if they want a divorce, because we in India sure as hell don’t ask if they wanted to get married!

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Graciously Yours!