The Year that was (2013)

2013 has ended on a wonderful note for me. I learnt a few lessons and I am beginning to understand what is important in life and what is not.

The year started with lots of tears and emotions, if I remember correctly. It was yet another New Year’s eve where my husband and I were miles apart. I was really fed up of what my life was throwing at me. I was in the same state of mind almost till November. Time and again, I used to wonder why God is making me live this lonely life. But right towards the end of the year, I stumbled across an article that discussed memories.

It seems even though we had a happy childhood, years later, when we look back, we only remember the sad and unhappy moments vividly. As soon as I read that, I realized that most people around me, including me, only remember the unpleasant happenings from childhood. Our memories make us believe that we had an unhappy childhood, which is not true. 

It was like a revelation for me. By worrying and feeling sad all the time, we only etch that ‘one unpleasant’ happening in our memories, whereas, the all other happy moments are forgotten.

I then realized that I should try my best and make my children’s childhood happy and memorable. I wanted their memories to be mostly happy. Happiness starts from the phase of ‘being content’. From then, it has become my new motto. Be Content and Be Happy. If I am happy, then they would also learn to be a happy person, isn’t it?

Despite being alone and miles away from my husband on yet another New Year’s eve, I am happy and content of what I have at this moment 🙂 I am surprised that I am not feeling sad and depressed. Wow, what an improvement!

I am ready to welcome 2014. May this year be filled with happiness, good health for everyone! Happy New Year 2014…

Eco Femme cloth pads review

After knowing about the harmful chemicals present in the disposable diapers and constantly adding to the garbage pile, I switched over to cloth diapers for my babies. Only then, it had occurred to me that I have been adding to the pile every month during menstruation. I imagined that cloth would be very messy to use. But after reading some experiences of cloth pads and getting a recommendation from my friend, I was game for trying it out.

I had ordered 3 Eco Femme cloth pads through Shycart (I had blogged about that experience earlier over here). It was an order of 2 day and 1 night pads. I had purchased this to see if it was really possible to use cloth pads after years of using disposable sanitary pads.

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To be honest, it was a hassle when I tried this in the last cycle. It was not because of cloth pads itself but because of the small number of pads I had to begin with. From what I read, advice is to start with around 6. But I was not ready to invest in 6 pads without being sure if I would like it. After using it last month, I placed another order. Now I have a total of 5. Yes, these pads are here to stay with me, as far as I am concerned.

Things I liked:

  1. Soft: As we know, the disposable sanitary pads that are sold in India are nowhere near as soft as it would be in the US. This actually felt soft, softer than any pad I has used before.
  2. Stays in place always: Press buttons are sewn on to the pad to secure them to the underwear. Surprisingly, it stayed in place throughout. Did not bunch up as I had perceived. It was a little bulky than the Ultras I was used to, but not as bulky to feel uncomfortable.
  3. No smell: I was really skeptical about it. There is actually no odour emanating from this after use, unlike the disposable napkins. And, if the pads are soaked, rinsed and washed as per the washing instructions, they get clean and fresh as new.
  4. No overflow: For years, we were made to believe that only disposable pads absorb the liquids quickly and there was no way that a cloth could absorb even half as much. Well, this is absolutely wrong. There was no overflow of any sorts when I used them. I wonder why the advertisements by the major brands portray this in that way.
  5. Minimum carbon foot print: Finally felt good that I am not adding to the trash. Due to the rains and the small number of pads I owned, I had to use disposable for a couple of times.

I really liked using these pads and hence I took the pain to wash them whenever possible to ensure that I did not have to use disposable. There were a few things which I found it difficult to handle.

Things I did not feel comfortable with:

  1. Washing and drying: Though the steps were simple, it was a bit of a hassle. I think this feeling is mainly because I am not used to this and also because I tend to not tell anybody about my periods. That would no longer be possible as these have to be hung outside to dry. In fact, my mom in law spotted it last time and was having a look from all angles. Thankfully she did not ask me about it! Being a shy person does not help here J
  2. Long drying time: Due to layers of cloth sewn together, it took quite a while to dry. The cloudy skies and the occasional rains did not help. A machine wash would have definitely brought the drying time down.

Apart from these, I really liked everything else about the product. I would definitely recommend it to my friends and family.

If you are here wondering if this will work for you, I say why not try it first. You could try these on days where you would be home (on a weekend or something) or on light days. Once you gain confidence in the product, I think you would definitely use it regularly.

Detailed washing instructions and encouragement to try these cloth pads can be found here

My first 10K at TWCM 2013

I woke up at 04:30 am surprisingly feeling well slept. That was a complete contrast to reality, as I slept at half past midnight. May be that was because of all the adrenalin rush in the lead up to the race day.  Since the weather forecast had predicted rains at 50% chance, I glanced outside and was relieved to see no signs of rain. After a light breakfast at 05:00 a.m. (Glass of milk and a small banana), I was ready by 05:15.

Just when I was about to wake up my brother for a drop to the local railway station, heavy downpours started. I was dumbstruck. I was scared that these rains were going to spoil my plans. I was game for a run in the rain, but I was pretty sure my dad would not approve of that. But when I nervously glanced at my dad,  to my surprise, he asked me to go to the venue and return back if it continues to rain. I heaved a sigh of relief. After checking on Arjun and Aditi one last time and giving mom some last minute tips on how to handle them if they start crying for me, my brother and I made our way to the Mandaveli MRTS.

When I entered the station, there were just a handful of people waiting for the train. But as time went by, more and more people made their way into the station. The excitement and butterflies in the stomach started soon after. A few of them had already started warming up. Even I tried to loosen the muscles a bit by walking around and doing high knee ups. Since the starting point of the race was right next to the Indira Nagar MRTS station, we were encouraged to use the train.

This being my first race, I had a lot of questions, concerns and nervousness. My major concern was restrooms. Would the portable toilets be available near the starting point? I dreaded at the possibility of having to run with a constant urge to look for restrooms. After having a near dehydration experience in the mock long run of 8Km, I took every effort to avoid dehydration. I drank electrolytes the previous day, to stock up on all the salts. The other concern was, I never run 10Km before the race. I was skeptical about my own abilities. But come what may, I was determined to cross the finish line, even if it meant that I had to walk for most parts.

As soon as the train reached Indira Nagar, the station was filled with people in orange. It was orange all the way outside the station too. Why wouldn’t it be if more than 7000 were to participate in the 10K event. After a quick bathroom break at a Porta potty, I made my way to the starting point. It was a festive atmosphere with loud music and lot of people, big and small, old and young, Indian and Foreign, strong and differently abled, raring to go.

The starting point was divided into bays based on the time in which one expected to finish the race. The first bay was less than 50 minutes. I quietly walked past it. Then, there was a 1hr bay. With a little bit of hesitation, I walked past it too. Then was the bay for 1hr and 10 minutes. Though my estimate was around 1hr and 15minutes, I decided to stick to 1hr and 10 minutes bay.

With less than 15 minutes left for the race to start, I tried to warm up a bit. Thankfully, I did not feel self conscious as many other people were doing the same (Since I run alone daily, I am constantly looking for ways to avoid amused gazes at me). I wanted a picture taken for my own records. A lady kindly agreed to do the honors in my obsolete smart phone. I needed proof for participation, so how could I let go of the opportunity 🙂

At the starting point

At the starting point

There was a timing chip stuck to the bib to record the timings. The start time for every person is recorded only when a person goes past the start line where a timing mat is placed. So, it actually does not matter when we cross the start line. What actually matters how long it takes to reach the “Finish line” from the “Start line”. The organizers were repeatedly announcing this information over the loudspeaker in order to avoid any panic situation, as for many people, like me, it was going to be the first race.

The race was flagged off at 07:00 a.m. as per plans. With the loud speakers playing ‘The Final Countdown’, it was an electric atmosphere. I am sure everyone was excited and filled with positive energy. I even got goose bumps at this point of time. I slowly jogged with the crowd. It was difficult to get past all the slow joggers/walkers. I know it was not a serious race where only professionals participate, but it would have been a nice, if actually everyone stood in their respective bays. There is no problem with someone jogging slow or walking. It is just that they should have started in their designated bay as it was quite unfair to others. Nevertheless, with a race with 7000+ participants, all these were to be expected.

The first 3 KMs was all about finding a way in between other participants. Initially I had thought that I should stick with someone who runs my pace, but that proved a difficult find. So, decided to run at my own pace. I took a walking break of a minute before I reached the 3KM mark. Volunteers were offering water, glucose, lemon and salt at the 3KM aid station. I grabbed a cup of water and moved forward.

Beyond the Madhya Kailash junction, traffic was closed in one side of the road. Other side of the road was used by all the runners, viz. marathoners, half marathoners and the 10K participants. Needless to say, it was congested. So the task of finding a way in between the runners continued. Volunteers were present all through the route ensuring that runners run in the lane allotted, one lane was for people running towards Madhya Kailash and the other was for people running towards Adyar flyover. I continued jogging at the pace I was used to. When we reached Adyar flyover, I saw a 4KM marker and the clock read 07:28. It was well inside my estimates. I continued to climb the flyover, huffing and puffing. Incline was a new territory to me as I had only ran on flat surfaces. It was difficult, but somehow managed to scrape through. Downhill was relatively easy and once we crossed the flyover, I was happy to spot the aid station. Grabbed some glucovita and continued over Thiru Vi Ka bridge.

The entire route was familiar to me, but still, the roads looked very different with runners all over the road and curious onlookers on the sides of the road. Some were cheering us, some were wondering what we were up to. I was sure of one thing though, the people in their vehicles must have been cursing us for creating traffic congestion early in the morning on a Sunday! Nevertheless, we continued to run cheering the fellow participants who were on the other side of the road. Most of them were half marathon runners. Looking at some of the older runners, I gained much needed determination to continue running and not resort to walking.

Once we went past the bridge, in about 0.5KM or so was the U turn point. It was 07:43 when I crossed it. I was off my target by a minute or two. But since flyover was not a part of my training, I was not disappointed. I continued running. By now, my legs were tired and my pace dropped. The trouble was when I had energy to run, the road was crowded and hence I was finding it extremely difficult to do justice. It was not just me who was in this situation. With these thoughts, I continued plodding along with the crowd.

When I reached the bridge again, I noticed that nobody was using the pavement on the side of the bridge. I took that and started running. As there was no one to pass, I was able to pick up pace and sustain it for a while. The surface was uneven and the rain water was on the pavement here and there. So, I tried my best to be careful too. A gentleman clicking photographs sitting on the edge of the bridge warned me about the uneven surface and asked me to be careful. I thought, both of us were potentially up to dangerous stunts J

I lowered the pace a bit and continued until I reached the aid station. Gulped down glucovita once again and got ready to run over the flyover once more. I was really not looking forward to it. Walked, jogged, walked and jogged until I climbed the flyover. Once on top, I started wondering how many more KMs to go. Though there were markers every 2KM, I noticed only one at the 4KM point. I wondered if the volunteers would know. I started looking for ways to distract myself to continue running. It was at this point, I saw some amazing runners. There were blade runners, there were participants on their pedaling with their hands and there were also participants pushing their dear ones in a wheel chair. These participants gave me the motivation to run.

When I was about to reach Madhya Kailash, presuming there is about 2KMs left in the race, I saw a marker saying 1KM to go. That sight was enough to push me through the last stage. After grabbing some pieces of banana from the aid station, I ran with a determination of finishing strong. But again, the roads were congested with runners. The pavement was uneven and the roads were water logged at some places. So, I could not continue with the same enthusiasm. There were a lot of people cheering us when we entered the CPT campus. Volunteers were saying last 200 metres, keep it up. But I just could not run any longer. So walked for a minute inside the campus and then ran in the direction guided by the volunteers. It was at this point, I spotted the “Finish line”. I sprinted the last 50 metres and finished the run. I have no words to describe how I felt after crossing the line. I was delighted, exhilarated, jumped with joy and when someone handed me the finisher’s medal, it was as if I had conquered the world. I was super happy :). May be, this is what they call as “Runner’s high”! The feeling of accomplishment, the feeling of winning a battle in which you were only fighting yourself.

My family could not be there to see me finish. I was sad for that and I missed even them more when I looked around. Most of the participants were with their family or friends or fellow runners. People like me, who were all alone by themselves were a very few. How I wished my husband was here. He would have been proud of my achievement. May be next time, I will ensure that my family including DH is there to cheer me at the finish line.

My official time was 01:07:59. Never in my wildest dreams had I thought this was possible. Not after stopping my 10K preparations mid way, owing to reasons beyond my control. I was very happy with the final result.

When I sat down to stretch a bit and much on the breakfast, a nice guy stopped by and congratulated me. I never knew him or had seen him before. It seems we were in the same bay at the start line. He said I did excellent and wondered how I got the prediction right and stood in the 1hr 10minute bay. I just smiled 🙂 in reply. Only I knew that I was supposed to stand in the 01:20 minute bay.

It was time to rush home and I was happy to hear that my children did not give much of a problem. They were all excited to see me and my parents were extremely proud of my achievement. Dad especially was excited to see my finisher’s medal. When consolidated results were out in the following days, I found that I stood 29th amongst women. Not bad, isn’t it? If someone, 6 months back, had predicted this (when I did not even start jogging), I would have just laughed.

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After the race

Of course, I did not let go of the opportunity of posting a picture of me with the finisher’s medal on facebook. My friends were happy to know about my participation. A few even asked me if I was a sports person to begin with. They were all amazed to know that I started jogging only 6 months back. I kept telling them, “If I can, then anyone can”. I hope to pull some of my friends in the next edition 🙂

I sincerely thank the organizers, volunteers, garbage warriors and police personnel who helped in organizing this wonderful event. I definitely look forward to the future editions. Kuddos to everyone who was involved with The Wipro Chennai Marathon 2013, for making my first running event a success!

Needless to say, I am eagerly waiting for the next opportunity to participate in a running event. Once my husband returns from his call of duty in January, we will move to Karwar. After that I have to look for events organized around that area. I hope for more opportunities to be motivated, so that I can continue to jog every other day for as long as I can.

How I registered for my first 10K and prepared for it

In July 2013, I took up jogging seriously to lose weight and become fit. When I started, I could barely jog for 0.5Km, but I tried to do walk/jog as much as I could. As days went by, the weight started coming off my body. I was also getting stronger and by end of a month, I could jog for a mile (1.6Km) without stopping in between.

TWCM

Feeling upbeat, I decided to look for ways to stay focused on this jogging plan. Participating in a running event has always been a dream. Since I was going to stay in Chennai until Jan 2014, I looked up for the Chennai marathon’s date. Only then did I stumble upon the news that registrations were already open for ‘The Wipro Chennai Marathon 2013’ that is to be held on 01.12.13. When I told this to my husband, he tried to coax me into registering for the event. Since I had wanted to enjoy such an experience, I was excited too. The only thing that stopped me was my dad’s impending transfer. There was a possibility that dad could be transferred out of Chennai and if that was the case, then there was zero chance for participation (Travelling with 2 kids for a running event in Chennai is always out of question). But DH’s point was, in the worst case, the money spent for registration would be a waste. Considering that we waste as much money on unimportant stuff, I was bought by this argument and registered for the 10K event in August 2013.

This registration motivated me to keep my jogging routine going. Usually, Arjun does not let me step out of the house without him. Even the iPad bribe would not work, if it is for allowing me to step out. So, I had to take up my jogging after dropping him off at school at 10:00 a.m. Sometimes the weather was awesome, but there have also been many instances when it was very sunny cutting short my workouts. But whatever be the conditions, I could only do it for a maximum of 40 minutes as I had to be with Aditi for sometime before it was time to pick up Arjun.

As days passed by, the ease with which I jogged improved leaps and bounds. As the weight kept falling off, my stamina also improved. One has to be careful here as running everyday is not recommended. But as a beginner I was not aware of that and hence was left with a lot of pain at the end of a jog. When I researched online, I found a lot of articles recommending running alternate days. I was thankful for finally knowing what to do.

My routine was a jog alternate days (3-5 days a week). I also did a little bit of strength training (squats, arm exercises, abdominal exercises, standing on tip toes for calf muscles) when I have time and energy after the jog.

Right when the preparations for the 10K were on track, I hit a roadblock. Wedding of my parents’ friend’s son was supposedly fixed on the same weekend as the marathon. I was disheartened as this would mean we would all be in Erode that weekend and not in Chennai. Since both my parents’ wanted to be there, there was almost no possibility of participation. After all this, I still was a tiny bit hopeful and continued my jogging routine. I was not working towards a long run every week and increasing the long run mileage gradually. So, I was not actually working towards running the 10K.

Two weeks before the marathon came the good news. The wedding date was not 01st December as we had assumed, but 11th December. I was overjoyed, to say the least. I thought all was not lost and tried to do a long run before the event. But due to a chest infection early November, my jogging routine was not on track. I was not very fit at that time. Hence, when I tried to push myself to 8Km on the treadmill 10 days before the marathon, I ended up being sore and dead tired. If this was how I felt after a long run, I was not hopeful of running a good 10K.

The mistake I had done here was trying to increase mileage by more than 30% in a week and sadly, I did this when I was on the road of recovery from a chest infection. Experienced runner’s advice is to increase 10% mileage every two or three weeks. It also goes without saying that we need to rest the body well after illness and we should in fact start slow. But what is done is done. I decided to keep these experiences in mind for future experiences.

Once the soreness and tiredness lessened, I jogged outdoors as usual. I did not overdo it and stuck to around 4 Kms on Monday and Wednesday. Since Sunday was the race day, I decided to rest after Wednesday. I drank a lot of water and fuelled my body with all the good nutrition from fruits, nuts, eggs. It was indulgence in the name of fuelling, to be honest J

On Saturday as soon as I collected my kit bag, I was excited. Yes, I am really going to participate in the first race of my life on Sunday. How was the first 10K experience? More on that in the next post.

Joy of giving and Mom’s iPad mini

Some people just love to give gifts and some people just love to receive. I never knew I am a giving person for a long time. But after picking up a job, this habit started. May be until then, I was worried about being questioned about how I spent my pocket money. After gaining the much needed independence, I indulged in the habit of giving. I am not talking about philanthropy. Rather, It is just about making my near and dear ones happy.

I started with small things like books, watches and mobile phones for my family. Sometimes it was for an occasion. Sometimes it was just another spontaneous decision. I once bought clothes for my grandparents for Deepavali, a Hindu festival. My grandparents were delighted, to say the least. They proudly told the world that their little grandchild bought this. Somehow, I began enjoying the smile on their faces after receiving a gift.

Why am I suddenly talking about giving? Well, yesterday I ordered an iPad mini for my mom. It was yet another spontaneous decision. After the purchase, I had an uncontrollable urge to post about this feeling. I have bought watches and iPod for my mom. One time, I even bought her sarees. But never something very expensive. May be, her requirements weren’t such, or so I thought.
It was only after I bought an iPad last year, my mom got a first hand experience in the world of technology . Of course, I have given her a few lessons on using a PC many years back. But she did not pursue it much. May be, it scared her or confused her. Or, it could have been because of the nature of windows operating system. As we all know, the OS vista asks too many questions.

A tablet is a child’s play nowadays. So, just like how my toddler learnt to operate the iPad, my mom did too. Her areas of interests were limited to watching a few episodes of her favourite serials on Youtube, playing a few games like angry birds, temple run etc. As days went by, my toddler was almost addicted to this iPad. Out of fear, I hid it and thus successfully restricted the iPad time. But if he sees any of us with one, he simply grabs it and does his own business! Needless to say, I get to use mine only when he sleeps. Now, my younger daughter, who is just 14 months old, also started demanding that I let her watch her favourite rhymes on it. Oh my! I get to use it only for an hour or so after both of them call it a night.

Due to these developments, my mom does not get much of a chance to do her things. My dad recently was issued an iPad by his office. But he takes it to his office everyday. Despite having 2 iPads hanging around in the household, my mom does not get much of an iPad time. This has been a case for the past couple of months. Recently, my dad subscribed to various Tamil magazines. Seeing the low subscription cost, my dad and I convinced mom decided to forgo the physical copy of a few magazines that she purchased regularly. But sadly, the truth is, she never gets to read it after the online subscription. Dad suggested her to read the magazine on his laptop. As she is not well versed with the laptop, the tasks seemed very daunting. I felt bad seeing her struggle like that. I opened the website and taught her how to navigate and read. But after a while, she gave up and left the room to do something else.

I was left wondering what could be done. Just because she stays at home and her usage is limited, we are forced to believe that she does not require any expensive gadget. But now, I changed my mind. I had a feeling that her excitement is similar to what we had when we were first introduced into the world of computers and internet. It really opens a whole new world for her. Unlike a PC or a laptop, the tablet is easier to operate. Though she might not use it productively (to be frank, who does? Isn’t it like a toy for the grown ups?), she can independently use it for reading, watching videos, playing games, video calling etc. She might even learn how to use google and get to experience the internet like we do.

I love the experience of an apple product. Though I have not used their laptops and PCs, their phones, iPods and tablets impressed me a lot. My dad always wanted an iPhone, but he felt that they were too pricey. My DH also felt the same. They were delighted when they received them as a gift from me on different occasions. Of course, it was a surprise. For my brother though, I gifted a Samsung tablet for his wedding. It was his choice and not mine 🙂

On similar lines, I ordered iPad mini. I wanted her to experience the best. Flipkart was selling Nexus 7 for less than 10,000 rupees. But somehow I couldn’t get myself buy that. Just after I placed the order, iPad mini with retina display’s release date was announced. It was not going to make me cancel the order. The newer version is going to cost 29,000 rupees. The older version is 7,000 lesser. I thought it was good enough for mom. Hope she likes it! It is going to take another 3-4 days to arrive. I am going to have a tough time keeping mum as it is a surprise gift!

Weight loss strategy – Part 2 – Motivation

In the last post, I had written how “Eating Right” was the first stepping stone in my weight loss journey. All my previous weight loss missions did not yield the results I wanted. If I look back now to point at one single thing that jeopardized my efforts, it was the “eating” part. Eating right is the key in any kind of weight loss goal and I was glad that I got it right, at last.

After completing one month of eating right (with no exercises), I saw results. Really! It was my son’s ear piercing ceremony. All the near and dear ones had gathered for the occasion and everyone commented that I have lost weight. I was delighted to hear that and was sure it was due to my new habit. I was MOTIVATED to continue this.

Losing weight had been one of my goals for past so many years. Apart from eating right, it also involves working out! This time, my workout options were limited with the meager time I had for myself with 2 babies under 2 years! Gym, aerobics classes, yoga classes were all not an option. Though there was a gym close by, it opened at 7 a.m. by when my kids are up and it closes at around 11 a.m. when they nap. So making it to the gym was a distant dream.

Since I enjoyed aerobics earlier, I thought I would give it a try. I had bought an aerobics DVD sometime back and so I started with that. But then it turned out to be something very dull and ended up not liking it. I searched youtube, but still could not find an aerobics training video that I liked and could do. Then, I decided try jogging outdoors. To be frank, I can jog a bit on the treadmill but not outside. I used to feel the urge to stop running quickly when compared to treadmill. On the treadmill, I could push myself to jog for an extra minute or two. But when doing it outdoors, even if I set a target to run until the next lamp post, most of the time I would stop before I reach there. Due to this history of mine, I was not very hopeful about my plan, but since there was no other alternative (that I knew of, at that time), I decided to give it a try. My plan was to alternate walking and jogging until I build the stamina to jog continuously for a kilometer at least.

Once the plan was all set, it was time for action. But, sometimes we need that one thing that gently pushes us to take that first step, also called as MOTIVATION. I had had enough of my close family tell me that I need to lose weight. Though it counts as a push, it did not count as motivation. I had asked my husband to be my exercise buddy. However this did not work because one of us had to be around our children. I continued to wait for my motivation.

When my husband gifted Nike track pants and T-shirt for my birthday, I was excited. These were expensive stuff and I just could not continue waiting around for a push. The T-shirt was a size ‘L’ and yes, no marks for guessing that it did not fit me. When we went to the store to exchange it, to my utter dismay, we were told that ‘L’ was the largest size that they stock! Finally, I exchanged it for another pair of running tracks.

By the time I was about to start my jogging routine, my old pair of Nike shoes gave away. It was as if even Gods did not want me to start. A month passed before we had time to check out a nearby Nike store. I was shell shocked to see the prices. The most comfortable pair of running shoes cost more than 6,000 rupees. Are you kidding me? I was not ready to pay this exorbitant sum. We checked out an Adidas store next to it and the prices were in the same range. My husband pressurized me to make a decision quickly. But somehow I could not just buy them immediately. Later that day, I checked online to see if the prices were any lesser. To my luck, there was a store wide promo at Jabong.com. I got a pair of Nike Pegasus 29 shoes @ 20% off. Those were the exact same pair I tried at the store. So, I knew the shoe size. Wow, I really felt proud of my achievement 😉 despite the fact that these shoes cost more than what I planned to spend.

Here is a quick note for any of you who are considering buying shoes online. I definitely suggest you to visit the actual store and try a lot of shoes. Find the one which is the most comfortable and note down the model, size etc. Before you buy, check if any of the online stores stock them. Most likely, they would be selling it at a discount around festival season or clearance. If you can, wait and grab your pair that time. You would be doubly happy to receive your favorite pair of shoes at a discounted price!

Now, let us get back to my story. After spending more than 10K on the Nike running gear (tracks and shoes), I simply could not afford to wait longer. I had to start now. Yes, these expensive running gears were my MOTIVATION to start my workout routine.

Everyone needs some kind of motivation to begin any task that seems daunting. Sometimes this motivation is external as it was the case with me. My husband in his own quiet way wanted to motivate me to start on this journey (He is the one who gets to listen to my cribbing, isn’t it :)). He did that by purchasing me all these and boy, did he not know that I would feel guilty to just sit on it and waste my time! If this was his plan, I should call it a master stroke!

After waiting forever to take the weight loss mission to the next step i.e. jogging, I finally got there after getting my hands on the shoes. Yay! What happened next? Watch out for my next post on this category.

Finally, all these external motivation (running gear and people’s compliments) can only push one for so long. After that, it is mainly self motivation that is going to sail the ship. I will write a post exclusively on that after sometime.

My first experience at a residential school

In the summer of 1994, I was 10 years old. My dad had just taken a long leave from work. We had shifted to our native village after my school closed for the summer. My parents were constantly discussing various residential school options that were available for me. I was scared and excited altogether. With these mixed emotions, whenever prompted by my parents, I was revising my lessons. Most schools conduct entrance examinations to admit students. My parents wanted me to be prepared. Though I did not like to revise my lessons, I did sit and study at times.

After clearing the entrance exams, I joined a residential school. My brother was very excited to see all the outdoor play things like swing, merry go round, slide etc. He was only 5 years then. But seeing his excitement, my dad enrolled him too. I was tensed at the prospect of learning to tend to myself and take care of him in a different environment.

After some days, my brother created a lot of fuss in the school and hence my parents shifted him out. I still remember writing to my parents every time asking them to take him back. He used to be home sick and cry a lot.

For me, the first few days went by adjusting to the new environment. After the initial excitement and new found independence died down, I hated the life at residential school. I was missing my parents, home. I waited impatiently for a chance to go home. I longingly looked at the day scholars who go home everyday.

At the school, everyday at 5 in the morning, a bell rings to wake us up. Some students rush to bath, some study, some continue to sleep until 6 O’ clock. But from the time the first bell rings until 6 O clock, a series of hindu spiritual songs are played in the loud speaker of all the dormitories. Ayarpadi Maaligaiyil is one of the first songs that is played. It is a lovely lullaby rendered for Lord Krishna in my mother tongue, Tamil.

Everyday when the bell goes off in the morning, it used to bring me to tears. Unknown fear would grip me. I used to think about the ever scowling teachers, some mean students and a lot of things that usually finds place in a terribly home sick 10 year old’s mind. These emotions were particularly intense if I had just returned to school after a short break at home for festivals, vacation etc. The song is actually a lullaby sung for Lord Krishna by his mother. Needless to say, early in the morning, I would be home sick. Thus I began associating these memories with this song.

After putting up with the school for a year, I left at the end of 6th grade. But the stress I experienced there continued to stay with me. Every time, my brother or I hear that song play in the radio, television etc, we simply could not stand it. One of us would run to switch it off. For us, it would remind us of the difficulties we experienced at that school. It would take us back to that world we did not want to belong to. My brother hardly stayed there for a month and despite being very young, his memories of the school stayed afresh.

Now, it is nearly 20 years since I associated my sufferings to this song. There is absolutely nothing in the song that could make anyone sad (except may be people who are longing for mom’s lullaby), but it haunted me for almost 20 years. Only recently, I started listening to this song without getting depressed. I am fascinated at how some things like these are etched in our mind. They say “Time heals” and in my case it has, even though it took 20 years.

This post is in response to the Weekly Writing Challenge: Moved by Music dated 4th November 2013 at The Daily Post.