Thursday, August 16, 2012

Today I Was Told...

…I’ve been taking my medication wrong. I need to take it in the morning and not in the evening because what my doctor told me is wrong. You see, if you’ve been taking the same medicine for the last 15 years, you’re automatically made a doctor and the all knowing expert about it. Everyone else is wrong.

…I need to lose weight. Because I don’t know I need to lose weight. I like not having clothes fit me anymore. Also, it’s been a long time since I was this size so I’m shocking people. Oh the horror.

…I should go for my walk in the mornings and not in the evening. Apparently evening walks are only for mental good.  If I need any physical benefit, I need to go in the morning when the body is fresh. Sure. Because I’m the epitome of energy and joy at 6 am. Oh, and I can go back to sleep once I’m done with the walk so that’s supposed to be the silver lining.

…I should eat more fruit. A couple of apples and pomegranates a day isn’t enough. I should be able to put down half a watermelon and/or a whole papaya after every meal to make it count.

…I don’t drink enough water. I have to have a bottle surgically attached to my hand and make sure my kidneys are functioning at their optimum by drinking at least 10-12 litres a day. It doesn’t matter that my kidneys aren’t made to work so much. But so what? I have two.

…Bombay has *so* much variety in crockery. Which is why visitors who come here insist on buying more each time they’re here. Apparently I’ve been doing it wrong. You’re not supposed to make glassware last years on end. No. You’re supposed to buy a new set every year. Didn’t you know?

…My FitFlops aren’t as good as some others. They’re not as comfortable to walk in but where did I get them from? Because *everyone* is wearing them and it would only be right to buy a pair too.

…I have zero fashion sense because at my age I’m not wearing “frocks” when I go out with friends. Kurtis and jeans are for those turning 50. The young don’t wear them.

…I have fat arms. And a big bum. But these are hereditary so I’m not entirely to be blamed. Pitied rather.

…When I get blood tests done, I’m a fool for getting x, y and z tested. I should get only z. So what if all three might be important for a comparative study? Or that the same tube-full of blood can be used for multiple tests? No. I have to save that 100 bucks where I can. Because that 400 bucks on imported oregano (to be used in masala pasta) that was bought simply because it’s imported was plucked off a tree right?

This is day 1. The giver of all this gyan is here for another 2 days. You can imagine just how thrilled I am.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

In the Air

So jaded and cynical we have become of life that we’ve forgotten to look for the small joys, hidden as they are. It took me an hour long flight to Ahmedabad to realise this sad truth of our allegedly superior city living.

On the flight was a group of elderly women, on their first plane journey. That they were from a village was obvious from their attire and the fact that excitement hung over their seats like a happy cloud with rainbows streaking through. As the aircraft taxied for take-off, most of the passengers leaned back in their seats, eyes closed, preparing for what was a routine experience. Not these ladies. Childish giggling and whispers could be heard from them even as the aircraft picked up speed and leapt into the air. Oh how I wished at that time that it was my first airplane ride, just so that I could share in what those women were experiencing – unbridled pleasure and glee, untouched by the fake expressions city folk have gotten used to, as they saw the city growing smaller and smaller before their eyes and getting enveloped by fluffy white clouds broken only by arrows of sunshine. Of course, they were also the only ones on the entire aircraft who actually heard what the cabin crew was saying about safety procedures, even looking shocked at the idea of emergency landings.

As we flew to Ahmedabad, I don’t think any of these women sat back in her seat even once. All of them kept leaning towards the window, trying to get a look outside. At one point a cramped version of musical chairs happened when the women exchanged seats so that everyone could get a chance by the window. So much fun. And when the food trolley passed by, it was simply hilarious, their expressions, at hearing the cost of samosas and chai. Of course, there were some aware people in the group. They chose to lecture their friends on how to appear cool about prices when sitting in an aeroplane.

And then there was the new experience of going to the toilet in the air. I think they were waiting for someone to go first, all of them being a little shy. But as soon as the first one got up to go, all of them did. And their faces when they came back! I never realised that the cramped tiny space that passes for a restroom in airplanes could be so fascinating. Of course, i think that some of them went into the lavatory only to be able to describe it for years to come.

On landing, the women burst into spontaneous applause and laughter. Unable to control my curiosity any longer, I leaned forward and asked one of the men accompanying them what this was all about. And the answer thrilled me to no end. These women were all from the same village, most of them related to each other. The men accompanying them were sons, nephews, grandsons who’d decided to give them the experience of a lifetime. Since these women had only heard about, seen planes on tv and in magazines, they’d decided to fly them from Pune to Ahmedabad. In fact, the group was scheduled to take the evening train back to Pune the very same day, having had the best time of their life already.

I’m glad I was on the plane that day. Even today, thinking about that journey, I smile. And I remind myself that flying up there with the clouds is something to be excited about, no matter how jaded I might be on ground. 

Once the seatbelt sign was off, they stood up to look at the clouds  

Preparing to get off the aircraft

Group Photo

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

For the First Time...

...I’ve felt bad for people living in Bombay. Okay, maybe I feel bad for them (and myself) each time I’m stuck in a horrendous traffic jam in the middle of the afternoon on a weekday, but today I felt sorry for them. An emotion I’d never thought I would feel.

I say them because I don’t live here anymore. Technically. Yes, I may spend quite a lot of time in this city and Bombay will always be home, but I’ve experienced life outside of potholes and traffic jams and muggy weather that makes you want to kill yourself every other day. And I grudgingly accept that it feels good. Sure, I miss the comforts of having everything at your doorstep, and I definitely miss the food. But I’m beginning to realise these are luxuries one can live without.

But I get ahead of myself here. What inspired such feelings was wanting to assuage the building guilt (of living on mithai for the last 2 weeks) by heading out for a walk. But as soon as I’d decided on resuming my evening ritual, I was faced with the problem of where to go. The beach was too wet and littered with plastic from the sea, the roads near home too full of open manholes, crazy traffic and crateresque (yes, it’s a word) potholes. Not to speak of the million and one construction sites that have left a permanent haze of concrete dust in the air. That left a joggers park with a round walking track of some 200 metres as my only option.

So the grandmom (forcibly taken for some exercise) and I get to the park and I realise that (a) all of the senior citizen population of the area were there and (b) most of the under 40 were there too. Walking the track was like walking on Churchgate station at 5.30 pm, dodging people right left and centre in an attempt to get ahead. Of course, most of the elderly were sitting on chairs provided in the park, content to take in some greenery and fresh air and gossip for an hour or two with friends. Some of them were brave enough to venture out for a walk, making their way around the track slowly and steadily. Then there were those who were obviously there on medical advice. There was also the category of walkers who seemed to have lost their way, standing out in their jeans and fancy kurtis. Which left the serious walkers, children and maids with babies in prams.

And this is when I felt sorry for people living in Bombay. And myself. I missed the luxury of stepping out of my house and having all the space in the world to go for a walk. I missed the fresh air, the absence of traffic, the long winding lanes I could go down without worrying about potholes and open drains. I felt sorry for the people in the park then, who had to search for a patch of green and some place to walk without worrying about getting hit by a speeding car. I felt bad for the children who couldn’t run around carefree and untroubled, restricted by the rules of the park and limited to a pair of swings. And I felt some relief that I wasn’t living in Bombay anymore.

Because I can’t imagine being bound by concrete and traffic anymore.