what exercising is like (when you aren’t fit at all)

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I open Instagram and am showered with pics and videos of headstands, abs, and fitness challenges.

I, on the other hand, still fall flat on my face every time I try to do the knee-chin-down-ass-up part of a Suryanamaskar.

No arm strength, you know.

Or back strength.

Or core strength.

Basically, no muscles anywhere.

And it sucks.

  1. I hate group classes. It has nothing to do with people (even though I usually stay away from them too). It has everything to do with the fact that I just can’t keep up. And sure, it’ll get better with time. But until then, lagging behind / not managing half the things others are doing / realising just how unfit you really are – just isn’t fun.
  2. When I first started lifting weights, I felt like a pro. Then realised I ordered the wrong weights, and was actually lifting 0.5kgs.
  3. Andheri West gyms exist to make you conscious. Forget worrying about that bit of belly flab. You’ll question everything from your non-branded wardrobe (Oversized t shirt and pajamas? What were you thinking? Where’s your Nike Sports Bra?), to your lack of makeup (sweat-proof MAC only please).
  4. Protein bars make no sense. Unless you’re really working out like crazy and need that extra protein. I think it’s time we admit why we eat that expensive stuff – it’s filling and tasty (and probably contributing to more weight gain than loss, given you aren’t working it off as much)
  5. Yoga pants are a quick-fix ego savior. Feeling unattractive? Throw them on. They tuck and squeeze at the right points. Enough said.
  6. Sometimes, letting go and just enjoying a workout is good enough. So maybe you find a partner in your group class who is as unfit and you (video?!) hi-five in the middle of a sumo squat. Maybe your favourite pose is shavasana. Maybe you pose in front of a mirror in extremely tucking yoga pants, sucking in your stomach, and post it on IG (even though you know that’s not how you look the rest of the day). The simple fact that you turned up for your workout is something to celebrate.

In all honesty, weight gain is something I’ve struggled with my whole life, and specially the last six years. It’s something that people would love shutting me up about, because how can you complain about weight gain when you aren’t actually obese? But the fact of the matter is, how we feel about our bodies changing is relative to each of us.

Maybe it’s age. Maybe it’s genes. Maybe it’s hormonal imbalances. But come what may, I can’t get rid of the 8 kilograms I’ve gained in the past 6 years. I’ve tried calorie burning workouts at home. I’ve worked out at the gym (I would gain muscles, and somehow suddenly lose them, and go back to square one. Something that even my instructor couldn’t understand).

And after a lot of hue and cry, I’ve come back to just enjoying yoga.

No, I still can’t do any of the fancy poses. In fact, I can’t even do a lot of the basic ones. My hands still can’t touch my feet when I bend.

Maybe it’ll get better, maybe it won’t. But I’m showing up. I’m enjoying it. I’m trying to be mentally and physically fit, and not bother with the weighing scale or the measuring tape. And really, all that matters is that we try, no?

Until then, tucking yoga pants, suck in tummy, click.

Or, accept yourself. (Tell me when you manage this one, okay?)

How to deal with being stuck with your significant other this quArantine

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Okay, for starters, just be thankful you aren’t stuck alone, okay? Unless you were about to break up the night before the lockdown began, and somehow just felt really sleepy and decided, oh well, I can do this tomorrow.

But let’s admit – it isn’t always a heavenly abode, being at home with the person that you now sometimes convince yourself that you absolutely love.

But we’re all figuring our way around it, no?

  1. Have your own dedicated space. Or if you’re living in a Mumbai pigeon hole, your own dedicated corner / kitchen stove / time on the pot. Anything to make you feel like you have a few moments, all to yourself.
  2. Eat your salads and soup. But learn to eat the oil-dripping pakodas too. (And to be fair, it’s actually easier to learn to eat oil dripping pakodas than to learn to eat salads).
  3. Divide your chores. Try not to keep a tab the one day you did the dishes AND mopped the floor while the other watched television.
  4. A friend and his wife are now deciding on chores they both hate, via friendly games of table tennis, loser takes up the chore. Not sure how friendly those games stay, when there is toilet scrubbing in the mix.
  5. Dear Men, try not to crib about the amount of hair you find floating on the floor, which have a weird habit of sticking to the mop and only letting go when you pull them out by your hand. Yes, we know we lose hair. But tomorrow, when you won’t have any on your head, we’ll still be nice to you about it, and pretend you look as hot, even when half bald.
  6. Working out together is great. It gives you something you can both take joy in together, and helps with overall fitness, keeping away depression and anxiety, and the whole jingbang list. But you know what, letting the other person sleep, sometimes does more for your relationship than working out ever could.
  7. Watching good shows / films helps. It enriches your mind and soul, together. But watching trashy shows / films – clutching each other and laughing while watching something like Splitsvilla – priceless.
  8. Try not to let your arguments escalate to the point where one person feels compelled to bang the door and get out of the house. Firstly, you can’t really get out of the building, so you’re basically stuck meandering between your house door and the building gate, in a germ filled elevator. Secondly, it’s really hot outside, and you’re just going to feel like a fool for stepping out, and will probably come back home to a smirking spouse. This is what that time on the pot is for, people. Seek your space.
  9. Meditate. If nothing else, it’s 10 minutes where you don’t have to listen anyone else.
  10. Be kind to the other. Take a shower every day.

Things You Learn When You Start Cooking

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In my Mom’s words – Covid has achieved what she never could. I now have to learn to cook for myself.

And of course, it comes with its own share of learnings.

  1. Cooking Daal-Roti-Sabzi takes longer than a highly hyphenated chicken-a-la-king or a healthy banana bread. It’s also less fun. Less instagram-able. But after a week of fanciness, it’s what saves your ass (and tummy).
  2. Whether or not a dish gets made is 5% dependent on how much we like it, 10% dependent on how difficult it is to make, and 85% dependent on the number of utensils required to make it. Except when A is cooking, and I’m the one washing the utensils. Then he goes the whole hog without worrying about consequences.
  3. Goondoing aata is either super relaxing. Or messy and frustrating. There is no in-between. Also, I was about to write ‘kneading dough’, but that dainty fanciness is so NOT WHAT IT IS.
  4. You understand the difference between tsp and tbsp in a recipe. Sometimes the hard way.
  5. Things that were created to torture you: Cutting methi. Peeling garlic. Scratchy ladyfingers. Ensuring the aloo stays inside the paratha. That itch in the eye right after you’ve cut green chilli.
  6. Hard boiled eggs are my new best friend. Efficient. Uncomplicated. You get what you hoped for.
  7. You can actually lose weight by eating home cooked food. Or by being so tired and frustrated by the time you finish cooking, that you have no appetite left at all.
  8. You have nightmares about those cringe-worthy times when you asked, nay, demanded that your Mom cook your favourite dishes. Or worse, when you cribbed about the lauki / kaddu that was actually cooked.
  9. You finally understand the real gravity of the question, which till now you easily ignored every time your Mom asked (and you wonder if this is Karma getting back at you) – what do you want to eat today?

Do you find yourself forced into the kitchen? Are you enjoying it? Or are you, like me, creating cribby lists out of it instead?

P.S. I just saw a lizard in my kitchen. That’s it. I’m done. The kitchen is a quarantined zone now. Send some food over, please?

Signs this lockdown is changing you.

It’s happening. As much as we want to deny it, a new normal is slowly defining and engraining itself into our lives. We’re all aching for what our lives used to be, but going ahead and living this one anyway. Not like there’s a choice.

  1. You are more in touch with your family / friends / colleagues than ever before. Not only are you in touch with them, you don’t really ‘call’ people anymore. It’s video call or nothing. And for once, it doesn’t matter how you look on that video call… Makeup? What’s that?
  2. You only access 1/5th of your wardrobe now – that untidy corner with all the baggy t-shirts and torn shorts and pyjamas. There are days when I force myself to dress up just a little. And then proceed to do pocha in my Vero Moda slacks. And then I wonder if I can send a pic to the brand and ask them to do a #RealWomenOfVeroModa campaign. A instead asks me to shut up and concentrate on finishing our chores.
  3. Magic Mop is your new best friend. You also spend more time reviewing and recommending this mop to your friends than you do a MAC lipstick.
  4. You’re suddenly very aware of how many utensils you use in a day. And actually clean the kitchen counter once you’re done.
  5. Your daily achievements now include making a chapati that was actually round and phooloed.
  6. You also finally realise just how much oil / ghee / sugar was going into some of the things you absolutely loved. In some cases this helps in quitting those unhealthy things. Or in other cases (specially if you happen to be a certain Punjabi boi), you shrug your shoulders and devour it anyway 😛
  7. WFH no longer means that one easy day off where you get to laze around in bed, not necessarily very efficiently. Instead it suddenly means not having any clearly defined start and end times, where everything merges into one constant draining flow of never-ending work. I mean, you can’t exactly miss a Client’s call and say you were out at a loud restaurant and didn’t hear them, can you?
  8. The quality of your jokes has fallen to a standard never before imagined. But everyone still laughs at them.
  9. You realise that even though you’re spending a lot more time with your SO / family (if you’re lucky enough to be home with them during this time) you’re spending significantly less quality time with them. Schedule some family time. Or a date night. Without Netflix. Your relationship needs it.
  10. You also realise that if you can get through this lockdown with your SO with your relationship intact, well, you can probably get through most things with them. If you’ve gotten used to seeing each other in torn clothes, dripping in sweat after cooking / cleaning the house and snapping at each other in crankiness, and still manage to feel some amount of love for each other, well, hold onto that relationship, okay?

Things I’m learning while Quarantined

Okay, before you judge me, let me acknowledge my privilege, and how lucky I am to have a roof over my head, the resources to get me through these months, and the opportunity to stay safely home during this period.

BUT, this is my blog, with all of 5 readers (this is a slight exaggeration of course, it’s probably 2 readers), and here I can be as air-headed and selfish as possible. Bwahahaha.

So here are some things I’m learning, in my highly privileged position, these days:

  1. Pril > Vim bar. With the sudden task of washing utensils three times a day (I mean, how do we even eat so much?!), I was having nightmares about those ads in the 90s showing hands washed with regular dish soap vs. some superior dish soap. And I never thought I’d say this, but the crying skin on my hands thanked me the day I managed to get my hands on a bottle of Pril. My hands are now back to their regular criss-crossed weird state, without skin peeling off like a dangerous fungal infection.
  2. Yoga is bliss. I’ve tried out a lot of different forms of home exercise, and there are some great resources available online. But at a time when stress and anxiety levels are at an all time high, nothing can quite calm you down (and stretch you out) like yoga. (So what if I still collapse in that weird chin-down-butt-up step of the suryanamaskar… I collapse in a calming manner, okay?)
  3. Our cleaning maid is a superhero. So one day I got a little enthu and decided to do jhadoo + pocha of the entire house. I of course use the term ‘entire house’ rather loosely here – given that our entire Mumbai apartment can fit into most Delhi homes’ living room. I have never sweat so much in any cardio session. My ass and thighs were screaming murder half way through. I skipped yoga the next day and spent most of it exhausted in bed. HOW DO THEY DO THIS EVERY DAY IN MULTIPLE HOUSES?! I mean, unless she magically turns into The Hulk and throws around the mop and water powerfully everywhere, how is this even possible?
  4. Time management is tougher than it looks. I am genuinely jealous (and super curious) about all these people who are getting bored and coming up with different challenges / ways to get through the day. I mean, HOW DO YOU HAVE ANY TIME TO GET BORED? By the time I’m finished with office work + cooking + jhadoo + pocha + bartan, all I can think of doing is crashing on my bed. My Netflix consumption has actually gone down in this period. I don’t need your lists of the 100 best films / shows / books and where to find them. Get me the how-to-make-a-meal-in-5-minutes list instead. And if it has impossible-to-source ingredients like baby corn, zucchini or cream cheese, I swear I’ll strangle you. In some weird socially-distanced way.
  5. For your marriage to survive, go into the kitchen one at a time. Nothing good can come out of giving each other advice on how to cook or cut veggies. Trust me.
  6. Nothing beats not wearing a bra. It just doesn’t. This is how we were meant to be. Also un-groomed. Like why would you even care if you’re hairy and your boobs are supported when the world around you is coming to an end?
  7. Coffee is still bae. Dalgona, or phitti hui. Frothy or black. Whether it’s insta-worthy or worth the sly sip – it’s still that one cup in my day that I absolutely look forward to. And sigh after every flavourful steaming sip.

Of Useless Updates and Positivity

It has literally been a month since I’ve been working from home.

It’s been 3 weeks since the lockdown.

And while people seem to be struggling with it, I frankly haven’t minded it one bit in terms of being home. I don’t feel suffocated or that the walls are closing in on me, this despite being stuck in a tiny Mumbai home with a non-existent balcony. I think it’s just one of those perks of being an introvert.

I finally feel like I have a better hold on anxiety as well – cutting off from excess negative news has helped in a major way. Sure, there’s still a once in the day check on the Covid-19 numbers, or anything important anyone has said. But that’s it. No clicking on the article to find out just how doomed we are. Staying away from negativity has helped more than anything else.

In other news, been binge-watching The Office because John Krasinski has my heart. Well, also because it’s funny. But mainly for John (Totally have FLAMES plotted out in the back of my notebook).

Also celebrated A’s birthday, with Zoom calls from friends (every birthday we remember just how much we love our friends who take way more effort than we do to do things for us), extremely buttery (but yum, of course) food, and some horrible slapstick movie night. I’m sure it was the most underplayed birthday A has ever had, but didn’t have too much of a choice on this one.

In even more other news – the highlights of my day now involve how well I finally managed to make a chapati (My mother would finally be proud), and how my hair are now really out of control (they literally hid my clip from me for 24 hours. I swear I thought the cat ate it.)

And frankly, I’m okay with that. The highlights being this thing. Not the cat eating my clip.

Just clarifying.

Of expectations and reality.

I saw a post on Instagram the other day, which said something to the effect of ‘If you don’t manage to acquire that skill now, the one you always wanted but never had time for, then the real problem is you. #NoExcuses’.

This, frankly, angered me.

Yes, we’re all at home. Yes, it’s a great time to finally learn to draw, cook, get fit, finish that book… and if you aim to do that / are doing that, that’s great!

But even if you aren’t. If you can’t. If you don’t feel up to it for whatever reasons – that’s great too.

Nobody knows you and your circumstances like you do.

Maybe you’re struggling to balance office work, and cooking / cleaning / washing utensils and are barely left any time to breathe at the end of the day.

Maybe you have a lot of time but can’t get off that couch in front of the television.

Maybe it’s difficult to even get out of bed and face another day of this new reality we’re all waking up to, and frankly, struggling to accept.

I think the only thing that really matters right now, is that we learn to be a little more gentle with ourselves – give ourselves whatever it is that we need, to get through this, to be strong. You don’t need to live up to a random person’s expectations on social media. Given the circumstances, you barely need to live up to your own.

It’s hard enough by itself.

So just breathe. Try and be your strongest self. And get through this, whichever way suits you best.

Of washing your watch and therapeutic diaries

Today, for a moment, I felt like we were almost adjusting to the new normal. It was 9PM, we’d just finished dinner, and for once were actually relaxing in front of the television set. And while exhaustion is the constant state of being nowadays, it didn’t seem quite as bad.

And then of course, I remembered that I still had utensils to wash, a kitchen to scrub, and a litter to clean.

But given that after all this I’m managing to sit in front of my screen and actually type something out, that has to count for something right?

On the other hand, I spent a good half an hour of my time this Saturday convinced that my smartwatch was in the washing machine. Needless to say, I was distressed. I even searched through the murky waters in the machine tub to try and find it (with some vague hope that I’d be able to dry it and make it work). But in all of this, I didn’t quite freak out the way I would expect myself to after drowning a 30k watch that was a gift from my in-laws. The amount of weight in that sentence alone should be a good indication of the level of freaking out. But, I wasn’t. I guess when the world around you seems almost apocalyptic, perspectives change.

Oh, the watch wasn’t in the washing machine after all. It was quite dry and safely packed up between my pyjamas in my almirah. But it was another hour before I realised that.

I’ve come to realise I’m using this blog almost as a therapeutic diary, and for once, I’m okay with that.

Speaking of therapeutic diaries, maybe I should talk about this vivid dream I had where my client died thanks to being hit on the head with a cricket ball, and his wife decided to bury him without prior notice?

Well. Maybe some other time.

For now, I’m just going to enjoy a Monday where I’m not dead.

Of quarantine and privilege

It’s increasingly becoming difficult to picture what the world would be like when we finally get out of this.

It’s increasingly becoming difficult to keep anxiety at bay. Or even worse, the indifference.

It’s increasingly becoming difficult to assign meaning to the days spent morning to night between office work, cooking, washing utensils and cleaning the house.

It’s increasingly becoming difficult to ignore the privilege we take for granted.

I see social media flooded with countdown to 21 days, and I wonder how people think that this will actually be over in that period, and that on day 20 a further extension won’t be announced. There are random challenges ranging from fitness to putting up pretty pics and tagging people. Everyone’s putting up pictures of what they’re cooking – often fancy things with ingredients that may soon run out. And then there is news about the crores of Indian’s left without a means of income. Of lakhs of people walking home, social distancing the last thing on their mind.

This disease was brought into the country by the privileged – people who could afford to step out of the country for work or pleasure. And yet, I wonder who is the one really suffering.

I’m not judging the social media posts, heck, I’m contributing to that instead of spending time writing or doing something productive. I guess we’re all dealing with it whatever best way we can – and given the current situation, that’s just fine.

Sorry, this was just a super morose and uninteresting read wasn’t it? I’ll try harder next time. Actually, fuck it, you know I won’t. This isn’t Instagram, you know. I don’t need to pretend.

Notes from the times of Corona

It’s a weird time.

Yes, that sentence just about sums it all.

As I toss and turn in bed trying to get my mind to rest, it instead decides to race through every apocalyptic film I’ve ever watched that began with – “A deadly virus had wiped out 90% of humanity. We were all that was left…” I feel guilt, mixed in with some fear as I remember how hungrily we lapped up all that grime.

The days are endless. Not from a lack of things to do, stuck at home, as one would expect, but from the endless tirade of work melting into one task after another – where even the breaks aren’t relaxing and the work stretches not productive. It’s like we’ve forgotten how to compartmentalize things and everything is one never-ending muddled up task.

There’s a tiny furball purring in my lap. We’ve decided to name her Zoe. She has her life’s priorities set for some time it seems. Eat. Sleep. Poop. Play. Scratch hooman. Repeat.

Mumbai houses scarcely make for a great view. If you’re really lucky, you’ll face some greenery. Or even the sea. But for most of us, the scene before us is far from dreamy. My view, for example, is another building – with a simple straight layout which ensures I can see what’s happening in each flat, every room. And they can see me.

So I now see the woman who seems to be doing laundry three times a day suddenly.

I see the guy sitting on a swing that they have managed to fit into the tiny excuse of a Mumbai balcony – swinging away in the heat at 3 PM.

I see the house with the two old women, where the 55 inch television set is on at all times. It’s big enough for me to be able to see exactly what they’re watching – from Bigg Boss to Naagin. But every now and then they manage to surprise me with a Sex Education on Netflix type of choice.

I see the darkness in the house where the kids often partied, now left to fend for itself.

I see the house where the parrot cage was hung in the window. It’s now empty.

I wonder what they see when they look at our house.

It’s a weird time.

One day at a time.