Thunder, Lightning and the Speed of Thighs

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Image Credits: Dumpaday.com

Do you ever have a crazy mental dialogue when you go shopping alone? Or always, for that matter?

Date: 28th March 2015

Venue: Shopping Mall

Before visiting the mall, I checked out a website which tells you what colours you should wear depending on the kind of energy you project. I realised that I had been wearing dark colours all my life whereas I should have been wearing bright colours. I agreed with the same for lack of a valid counterargument and went shopping.

Brain: In order for you to accomplish this, look at all the colours that you would have never worn normally, before your life changing ‘which colour should I wear’ discovery.

Me: Ok.

I stayed off the dark colours and went to look for the more chatak(loud) colours. 

I picked out a few clothes, with slightly shaky hands. Changing the core colours you wear almost changes your identity in some way.

Brain: You will look like a fruit salad wearing these colours.

Me: Snicker.

I picked out a few of those fruit salad clothes, determined to feel good looking like a fruit salad. After all, if it lifts my energy and makes me happier(like a yellow coloured minion), who cares? I also picked out a few pairs of jeans and went in.

Now, before I go into the juicy details of the trial room, I want to give let you in on a conversation which I had with a senior on Yahoo chat almost a decade back.

X(For lack of a better codeword): Do you know that guys in the hostel call you thunder thighs?

Me: Umm.

What the hell is one supposed to do with information like this? And why do people feel like passing on such information? It is like going to a dog and saying ‘You know that you bark, right?’ . Uh! Ok.

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Image Credits: www.boredpanda.com

As I thought about the thunder thighs label, which always brings up an image of Sridevi in a wet sari dancing with Anil Kapoor, who is her brother-in-law now (Bollywood, you scare me), I pulled out a pair of jeans and started trying it on.

Me: Ugh!

Brain(in an animated paan chewing driver’s tone as the jeans reached my thighs): Ab tak to Manali tak ka raasta tha, easy tha. Aage se Rohtang pass hai.

Me: Ssh!

I gave up on the jeans, as it probably gave up on me. I walked out of the store with my self respect intact. What goes on in the trial room, stays in the trial room.

I went home and did the weighing scale dance. The steps are as follows:

Step 1: Remove all coins from your pockets.

Step 2: Get on the weighing scale.

Step 3: Blink a couple of times in horror. Hope that the blinks scare the damn weighing scale to lower the weight.

Step 4: Give the weighing scale a second chance, by checking its zero error. Who knows – the scale might be pointing to 5 kg instead of the default 0 kg?

Step 5: Bring out curse words with as much venom as possible. Make the weighing scale feel bad by screaming ‘Once a traitor, always a traitor.’

Step 6: Take charge of the situation and create a zero error in the opposite direction.

Step 7: Congratulations! You are now 5 kgs lighter. You can be the poster boy or girl in one of those pretentious weight loss commercials, in which only the ‘After’ photo gets photoshopped.

I want to hear about your crazy shopping and weight reduction experiments. Don’t be lazy. Comment below. Typing makes one’s fingers thinner, so I hear. 😉

Proudly yours,

Thunder Thighs

P.S – I have sworn myself off the virus called ‘perfection’ in a ceremony that involved two frogs, one unicorn and five strands of hair of men who have now turned bald but were wise enough to preserve those strands of hair for my ceremony. Talk about foresight. This deadly virus leads you to squint and read through your text at least two dozen times. I am trying to return to normalcy and hence I read through the text only a couple of times, after it is done. Pardon me, if there is a typo, although you can let me know about it…in private, of course. Together we can fight this virus and save time.

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Morning Glemashomikumona

Bromo Sunrise-2Mornings…We either love them or hate them. The media has a big role to play in terms of how mornings should look like. For them, the idea of a morning involves the following sequence of events – Bright sunlight streams into large sized rooms(with no clutter, obviously). A vivacious woman wakes up with her hair perfectly falling on her shoulders. She has a wide smile playing on her lips. She proceeds to take a steamy shower using a shower gel.  She sometimes plays with the lather that forms and blows it out to no one in particular and then happily proceeds with her day. Depending on what is being sold in this version of mornings, the vivacious-girl-who-plays-with-lather might drink coffee and/or wave to people(sometimes even strangers, depending on how desperately they want to sell you what they are selling you).

Huh?

I would not speak for everyone, but my mornings are vastly different. For one, sunlight is not responsible for waking me up every morning. The alarm clock rings, leading my half awake self to turn it off multiple times. In fact, for some strange reason, I have two alarm clocks ringing at the same time, on my phone and my husband’s. I get up and turn both of them off and head back to my bed after this vigorous activity early in the morning. I almost feel guilty for sleeping without setting an alarm and then turning it off. Switching off the alarm, or turning on the snooze button earns you that right…the right to sleep for a few extra minutes. Those few extra minutes, if caught in a wrestling match with the remaining 6 (or 7…or 8…or 9….are you a lazy bum?) hours of sleep, would win hands down.

Over the years, I have understood the importance of a morning routine. It helps me find myself. Before I head into the day, doing what I am supposed to do, I sit and be ‘me’ for a few minutes, sipping on ginger tea and writing in my journal. I pick out angel cards in the morning to get advice which a person like me feels she needs to do, in order to be equipped to tackle the challenges of the day.

Earlier, my morning routine consisted of only three things – Get ready, have breakfast and listen to mindless dance Bollywood songs on MTV. That set the tone for the day. Over time, I have become more finicky(and weird) about the stuff that I need to squeeze into my mornings. I feel like an HR manager recruiting for an extremely tough role. I consider various options of what to include in my morning routine and then carefully hand-pick some. If they don’t provide value, I kick them out.

The first thing that  I do as soon as I open my eyes is look at the clouds. I feel thrilled if I see feather or angel shaped clouds, because I consider it to be a good morning wish from the big guy(or gal) up there. Then I scroll through Facebook and my email(not ideal I know) and get in touch with ‘reality’. I then make myself a cup of ginger tea and write in my journal. No playing with soapy foam for me, thank you. Sometimes, I just stare outside my house and think….about nothing in particular. Then I do some energy medicine moves, which have been recruited recently by me. And then the day starts….The value of this morning ‘me time’ has increased over the years and it acts like a soft landing before the day starts.

Now for some weird stuff that finds time in my morning routine. I sometimes write gibberish in my journal. I feel that the pressure for words to make sense build up over time and we talk in an extremely structured way with other people. But, words can’t do justice to raw emotions. Ever cursed and went on a I-don’t-know-what-came-over-me trip? Exactly! Now you know a way to curse without anyone ever getting offended.

Hence, I write nonsensical words(or sometimes sing them, just like kids do)….bapulaposimapoleeee. It feels great because emotions that you are not ready or express in words because they may be too ‘wrong’, come up. If you think I am crazy for doing this, try it. Most importantly know that Osho preaches this a fair bit. I feel much better dragging someone else into the picture. And just imagine if Aamir Khan spoke gibberish instead of what he said recently about intol…err… shimatolipasomimosa. Phew, that’s better.

What weird(or normal) stuff do you do in the mornings?

Signing off now..Have a great day!

Image Credits – Lenspaint Swyl Saksena Studio

P.S – I have sworn myself off the virus called ‘perfection’ in a ceremony that involved two frogs, one unicorn and five strands of hair of men who have now turned bald but were wise enough to preserve those strands of hair for my ceremony. Talk about foresight. This deadly virus leads you to squint and read through your text at least two dozen times. I am trying to return to normalcy and hence I read through the text only a couple of times, after it is done. Pardon me, please, if there is a typo, although you can let me know about it…in private, of course. Together we can fight this virus and save time.

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Spinning Class, John Abraham and Hypnotised Goldfish

Once upon a time, a big trend in the fitness world caught my eye(and thighs) – Spinning. When I first heard of it, I imagined it had something to do with going round in circles. But, on searching the internet for this trend, which my friend swore helped women of my weight burn 700-800 Kcal in a one hour session, I was intrigued. It was a cycling session, plain and simple. It was just the right thing for me to attempt, given that I had a knee injury a few years back which had prevented me from doing any high impact exercises, leaving me with the options of swimming and cycling. I decided to dive into spinning. I used to stay in Bandra in Mumbai, close to the hippest gyms that I could ever dream of being close to. The hippest gyms were made hip primarily due to the species of people that walked in there – actors, models, aspiring models, college kids and misfits like me who had no business being in that area or those gyms. Well, it was and still is a free world. Hence, I walked into Gold’s Gym in Bandra and signed up for spinning classes which cost me Rs. 2000 for a month.

Simpleton that I was, I didn’t realise the impact spinning could have on one’s life and thighs. Also, my lungs were ready be shocked out of their wits especially after mocking a certain guru who used to teach pranayam on tv with the best of intentions, results etc for the people who actually went past the mockery to do what he said. Anyhow, when the fee for spinning class was whipped out from my bank account. my brain started getting paranoid over the fee.

‘You are paying Rs. 2000 for cycling?’ my brain said.

‘It is spinning,’ I said.

‘Doesn’t matter. It is the same thing. Didn’t you have a cycle back home which you got bored of and now use to hang towels on?’ my brain said.

I was stumped. I decided to go ahead with the class the next day before I beat myself up prematurely over my poor financial decisions which astrologers had predicted all their lives I would do.

The next day, I arrived on time having booked my slot for the class. Even wild horses could not keep me away from the class which had aroused my curiosity for knowing the difference between the cycle back home and the cycle which would be used for spinning. Armed with a water bottle in hand, I stepped into the class. As soon as I entered the spinning studio, I noticed the dim lights. Then I saw the instructor whose cycle was on a pedestal with the rest of the cycles below. Was she going to teach us how to cycle? Puhleez, I thought to myself.

We mounted the cycles which were kept in neat orderly rows, close to three walls of the small room. The 4th wall belonged to the instructor and her cycle. There were wall sized mirrors on each wall except the instructor’s and large speaker systems mounted around the room. The door was closed and to my surprise the lights went off. The music was turned on at a delightfully-eardrum-blasting volume. And then…Drumroll…..Disco lights were turned on! The instructor patiently explained to me as to how to ride the cycles and it was certainly more complex than what I had thought, given all the code words and instructions she promised she was about to use.

We started cycling, err, spinning and staring at the mirror in front of us. It was a delight spinning in a disco type setting. It was one of the things that I never thought I would experience or be allowed to experience in a real disco. And here I was- loud music, lots of mirrors and disco lights. The only thing that didn’t go well in the setting was the unnatural number of gasps that I was letting out due to the stale air being pumped out of my lungs. The instructor made it look easy, as if she was cycling in a meadow in France. There were exquisite movements which my cycle back home might not have been able to handle me doing. I would not be surprised if they made us do upward and downward dog yoga moves on those bikes. But thankfully, they concluded the class after making sure that atleast 15% of the stale air in my lungs was pumped out, much to the telepathic delight of the pranayam guru who seemed to be smiling much more when I saw him on television the next morning after having regained consciousness post 15 hours of sleep owing to the intense disco shock my body underwent. But, I felt strangely good about myself, maybe because of the extra boost of dopamine in my brain.

Evening rolled around and I sprung back to the spinning studio, this time more eager than the first day. Months passed by and the love affair between me and the spinning class grew stronger and stronger. One evening I was at the reception of the gym, talking to the receptionist in order to book my next day’s slot in the class. She started off well, acknowledging my presence and then started behaving distracted. She didn’t even bother to maintain eye contact at this point. There are certain things that I feel obliged to be offended about, one of them being people not paying attention when I talk to them. I adopted a firmer tone, hoping that she would realise that I was the customer and I was upset! I wanted to be able to use the word ‘irate’ because there is hardly any occasion that I get to use it, but I remember being upset in a no-veins-sticking-out-of-my-neck-while-I-yell way.

There was still no response from her. I turned to the object of her distraction, the person who had made me the abandoned-hanging-between-upset-and-irate spinner. It was one of those moments where the world became extinct and the only object of my focus became the entire world. The object of my focus was John Abraham, decidedly flashing his best smile, with furrowed eyebrows, perhaps because my expression was now out of my control. I stared at him, looking like a hypnotised goldfish, with my mouth opening and closing, trying to form words. When I think about it in retrospection, I feel like Ross felt when he kissed Denise Richards on ‘Friends’ and then scrambled around for words.

‘Say something. Say anything. Say hi!’ my brain went at that time.

But, my mouth just opened and closed, with no words coming out of it, much to my dismay. This may have happened for 5-10 seconds, but it felt like eternity.

The next obvious thing to do after screwing up a potential conversation with the drool-able actor was to update my Facebook status.  The likes and comments were like balm for my goldfish soul. Blob!

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The walk to the jaws of hell.

We went to Indonesia a few days back for an adventure filled trip. I am generally not a person who finds pleasure in doing random acts of adventure especially during holidays where the contrasting option is always a lazy morning with a widespread buffet breakfast made complete with items which I never miss while I am at home – orange juice, potato wedges, baked beans and so on. But during holidays, these items are the elixir in my life, seducing me every morning to wake up and grab a nice seat by the water body which is always around the breakfast area. My husband being painfully aware of these fascinations of mine probably shuddered before he booked this trip. He would probably have imagined my breakfast buffet devoid face while going through a trip where the only thing that spelt luxury was the woollen jacket that I got to choose few days back and also Kopi Luwak, one of the most expensive coffees made in the world, made through a careful series of steps, one of them being passing through the intestines and in the poop of an animal called the Asian palm civet.

 

Note- I did not have Kopi Luwak ultimately.

 

A bit of background-My husband had started planning for the trip a few months back. We were 4 of us going for the great adventure. He sent us multiple emails on the itinerary asking us to confirm whether we were okay with the plan. We agreed to the plan, without going through the email. There is something about avoiding blatant and harsh truths which gives a sense of comfort, of knowing that you are in control. Reading that email would have led to months of discussions on how difficult it was going to be without food, sleep and clean air, in some cases. Avoiding reality gave us a nice bubble to hang out in, in a world where all of the above were freely granted.

 

Reality didn’t strike us even when we landed at the Surabaya airport, from where we had to drive for 9 hours to a resort near Ijen crater. The drive was peaceful and we reached the resort(?). The walls of the resort were paper-thin, which reminded me of the Friends episode where Ross cheats on his girlfriend with Rachel. Of course, nothing of that sort happened here, but I was incredibly tuned into the hope that there were no snorers in any of the adjoining rooms. Thankfully, I slept like a log for two hours, before it was time for us to see the Ijen crater.

 

Note: I didn’t know till I came back from the holiday that BBC had a documentary on this place titled – ‘Kawah Ijen Volcano- In the jaws of hell’.

 

Knowing myself, I would not have hopped out of the hotel like a happy bunny wanting to go to a place with a description ‘Jaws of hell’ . Come to think of it, I would not even watch a movie titled ‘Jaws of hell’. I get teary eyed when I think of my blind innocence. We reached the foothills of the mountain on which the crater was located.

 

Note- One reality you need to be aware of when you go to Ijen, is that the concept of time and distance is lost on the tour guides. They will say anything to make you keep walking. If they say it is a 5 min walk to the crater, glare at them till they come out with the truth. Sometimes even that doesn’t work. You might just need to ask your lungs on how long it can keep you alive and that is the distance to the top(can be the top of the mountain or the place you go to after your lungs give up).

 

Anyhow, we started walking. We were of the impression that it was an uphill walk of 2 km. I was overconfident about my abilities to scale such a tiny distance. There were N95 masks passed around, but I folded mine and kept it in the pocket. My lungs had survived the haze in Singapore and a little bit of volcano dust would not do me or my lungs much harm. And I had done pranayam(breathing exercise) a week back, so my lungs were probably covered in some sort of impermeable golden halo which no volcano dust, smoke or farts could penetrate.

 

Note: I did not know that the crater boasted of vast amounts of sulphur and the beautiful lake that you see in the picture below is an the largest acidic lake on the planet Earth.

 

We started moving forward. We had carried an innocent looking torch for the trip. The tour guide and my husband were the ones who got to carry the torches. The rest of us were clueless people just walking ahead step by step, counting metres till we saw what was to be seen.

 

I did a bit of small talk with the tour guide.

 

“So how much time from here?” I asked, not seeing the point since we had to reach the top anyway.

 

“2 km.” he said.

 

“Ah!” I said.

 

Silence followed by some panting and puffing by the people around. It was cold and the wind was hitting against my face. I used my muffler to cover my face as much as possible.

 

“How many times do you go to the top?” I asked.

 

“Once a day.” he said.

 

“Lazy fellow. Had I been him, I would have gone at least 3 times. It is just 2 km.” my brain said.

 

I decided not to let the rudeness of my brain escape in the form of words through my lips. I smiled and walked on.

 

The air started becoming more and more impure. It was getting difficult to breathe. The voices in my head were getting muddled. The only saving grace was the misery of the people around. Had they been hopping on the way up, it would have raised serious questions on my fitness levels. We gave each other the look that prisoners probably give each other – one of desperation coupled with anger . For us, the anger was based on the decision to leave the cozy confines of the thin-walled hotel in order to smell sulphur(willingly).

 

My husband was relatively unperturbed by all of this. He reminded me of Jillian Michaels where she gets all brutal and smiles occasionally to encourage the gasping beauties on her show. We took breaks, walked on, trudging in darkness most of the times, because the tour guide was flashing the torchlight everywhere except on the ground and we were too out of breath to complain. Some prayers may have escaped my lips, not that I remember now.

 

I stopped asking the tour guide on how much longer we would take to reach the top, because of his blatant lies and his lack of knowledge of time and distance. Amidst all the helplessness, a wave of sulphur air hit us, almost as if a bunch of dinosaurs had decided to fart at the same time, although the smell was a bit more pungent than dinosaur fart would be.

 

The tall women walking in front of us announced to their tour guide that they were heading back because someone in their group couldn’t breathe properly. I was tempted to join them.

 

We were then given masks by our tour guide. These masks, my husband informed later, are used to avoid poisonous gases in war zones, etc. Although the masks looked ugly, they looked like the sweetest present sent from heaven as if to give us one last chance at life. Can anyone else hear a symphony of angels?

 

There we were(gasp) finally at the top. The tour guide told us that we could either wait to see the sunrise from that point or we could walk down(ugh) a few metres to see the blue fire, which is essentially ignited sulphuric acid. The couple who had come with us decided to stop at the sunrise point. My husband wanted to see the blue fire. I was game until I saw the narrow path down the crater with few rocks being used to balance oneself and walk downwards.

 

“I am not going down that road. What if I fall into the blue fire? What if I skid, surpass the thousands of people who are walking in front of me and end up right in the middle of the blue fire?” my brain protested.

 

I decided to go ahead anyway. We started walking downward, with me using curse words ever so often, to warm myself up from inside. There was a railing which we had to hold(read grab onto for dear life) as we walked down the slippery path. The smell of the sulphur fumes grew stronger. The blue fire would take at least 45 minutes to reach given the slippery path and the heavy crowd. My husband (thankfully) decided to click the pictures from a comfortable spot, at a fair distance from the blue fire. I gasped in and gasped out, trying to get back to normal after the walk we just had. During this time, the tour guide informed me that there were workers who carried 80 kg of sulphur from the crater to the foothills every day. My lungs shuddered when they heard this fact.

 

We walked back up to the sunrise point after 15 mins of picture clicking. After reaching the sunrise point, we clicked selfies and smiled at each other as if all of the above never happened. Some people, however were undeterred by the entire walk or probably had done a lot more pranayam(breathing exercise) than me. One of the guys who was standing next to our group asked me as to what language I was speaking and told me that it sounded cute. At that point in time, I couldn’t have cared even if a bird had come and spoken in Hindi, which happened to be the cute language I was speaking.

 

But it was not over yet. In our minds, we knew that there was a long walk back, down the slippery road. But, the thought of hot Indonesian coffee and clean air kept us going.

 

Image Credits- https://www.facebook.com/lenspaint.
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