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Monday, April 24, 2017

Zindagi

*ज़िन्दगी*

कभी खुशी है तो कभी गम है ज़िन्दगी
भावनाओ का एक समंदर है ज़िन्दगी ।
कभी अनुभव है तो कभी सबक है ज़िन्दगी
कभी समझ ना आये वो पहेली है ज़िन्दगी ।

कभी तपती धूप है तो कभी ठंडी छाँव है ज़िन्दगी
वो बिन मौसम की बरसात है ज़िन्दगी ।

कभी गलतियों से भरी है तो कभी सही है ज़िन्दगी
सीख कर ही बनती है लाजवाब ज़िन्दगी ।

कभी ऐतराज़ है तो कभी ऐतबार है ज़िन्दगी
एक खूबसूरत सी मोहब्बत है ज़िन्दगी ।

कभी कविता है तो कभी किसी की कहानी है ज़िन्दगी
कभी पूरी ना पढ सको वो किताब है ज़िन्दगी ।

कभी जागी रैना है तो कभी गहरी नींद है ज़िन्दगी
सोच सको तो सपनो की चादर है ज़िन्दगी ।

कभी अपनो की भीड़ है तो कभी अकेली है ज़िन्दगी
मीलों की तनहाई मे एक गहरी दोस्ती है ज़िन्दगी ।

कभी मुस्कुराती कली है तो कभी चुभता कांटा है ज़िन्दगी
कुदरत के रंग बिरंगे फूलों की बहार है ज़िन्दगी ।

कभी गीत है तो कभी एक साज़ है ज़िन्दगी
सुन सको तो एक संगीत की महफिल है ज़िन्दगी ।

कभी रुकती है तो कभी संभलती हर एक से जीत जाती है ज़िन्दगी
आखिरकार मौत ही है जिससे मात खाती है ज़िन्दगी ।

कभी तुम आज़माओ तो कभी आज़माए ज़िन्दगी
खुशनसीबी से मिली है सो खुलकर जियो ज़िन्दगी ।

क्या पता कब फिसल जाये रेत की तरह ज़िन्दगी ।
क्या पता कब फिसल जाये रेत की तरह ज़िन्दगी ॥
©Goldli

Sunday, March 26, 2017

My First Full Marathon


While my spirit is jumping with joy on this huge achievement, I can say the least about how my feet and body is feeling right now. I should have finished the full marathon last year in December but for health and fitness related pitfalls. Forty two at forty was a goal in my mind since last year and am I thrilled that I could manage to get there while still at 40 (well, barely a few weeks to go before I turn 41 but I am still happy to have gotten this far while I still can).
It really was an endurance run. Kudos to those who go in for the full marathons year after year.
It takes a lot more than training and fitness to get there. By far, one of the most challenging feats of my life and I feel exhilarated at having achieved it!

It is an overwhelming experience and rightly said that if you want to experience life then go for a full marathon. There's so much of life and learning in those 42.195 km that one would rarely get from anything else. Two years ago when I took to running, little did I imagine that I would complete a full marathon one day! Five and ten kilometer runs were a lot of fun but a half marathon added in some challenge and grit. I should have been happy with the half marathons but I craved for more. Struggling with chronic asthma and weight issues, it wasn't an easy task to aim for the full marathon but something deep within, wanted a taste of that human endurance. I took to reading all available articles available on the internet for marathon training and started preparing myself for the feat. In August 2016, I suffered with a severe asthma episode that had me restricted on all accounts. It mean't no workout and certainly no marathon training! It took me two months to recuperate from this episode which meant I was severely under-trained for the full marathon that I had planned for myself in December.
Forty two at forty was not going to be an unfinished goal, so I looked up the next available full marathon which happened to be this one in March. It was December and I had a good 4 months to train and regain my stamina, or so I thought :). Man proposes and God disposes! This couldn't have been more truer in my life. I had started experiencing severe joint pains and morning stiffness in my finger joints which led me to get myself tested. I tested negative for rheumatoid factor but had a positive ANA titre. I was asked to stop all my physical training and rest my hands to the maximum. I was still toying with the idea of signing up for the full marathon in March at the point of receiving my reports. The day I got these reports, I knew it was now or never and I signed up for the full marathon that same night. Yeah, I have a rebellious streak in me! I don't like to bow down to pressure. RA or no RA, I wasn't going to allow that to deter me from my goal. Core and strength training went for a bouncer as I could hardly use those hands. Turning door knobs, opening sauce bottles, buttoning up became challenging. The most frustrating thing was/ still is tying my shoe laces and here I was aiming for the impossible.
I knew in my mind and heart that if I gave up this time, I would never get myself to ever run a full marathon and that's where I decided to work more on my psyche and less on my body. I knew I had to train my body to the long grueling distance running and so started working in that direction. I had to be careful in not burning out and so chalked out a long distance run schedule that allowed me at least 2 weeks between each increasing distance target. Although, I had made plans to do at least one trial run of 38 to 40 kilometers before the actual marathon, I could only manage to reach up to 30 kilometers in about 5 hours.My stamina and pace had suffered immensely. With a full marathon cut off time of 8 hours, I knew I was safely placed in terms of completing the run but did I really want to be the last one in? I stopped thinking about the pace and decided to focus on completing the marathon within the cut off time.

A few days before the marathon, my mind started playing games. I was nervous! I started getting skeptical about my decision. One of the reasons why I stuck to posting my training updates on a public forum, was the accountability it gave me. I had to be true to myself and to those who are taking inspiration from me. I did not for once allow my fears to be shown. The last trial run of 30 km, just 10 days before the actual run, resulted in the resurfacing of a recurrent heel pain owing to Plantar Fascitis of the left heel. This was totally not needed at this point and as I limped with pain in the days before the marathon, I made sure I rested my feet as much as I could and wore heel inserts for cushioning my heels at all times. I knew even a slight display of pain or discomfort before the run would make sure I wouldn't be allowed to run so I bore it all with a straight face. Good thing or a stupid thing to do, I don't know but all I knew was that I wanted nothing to come in between me and the start line at this point. It had taken a lot to reach where I did.

Come marathon day, I was a nervous wreck. My heel was still painful and I had a slight wheeze, both very detrimental for the planned run. From , my previous runs, I knew my hands and fingers would swell up from the long distance running, so as much as I was advised to wear splints on my finger joints, I simply couldn't risk wearing them. I had no idea what I was going to do but I knew I had to just show up and allow the moment to take charge. A positive run buddy makes a huge difference to your psyche and I was blessed to have one. Going by my earlier experiences, I knew I should just take it slow and steady as it was critical to keep my sustenance during the lag hours of the run as I had no idea how my body would react to the 30 plus kilometers as I had only run 30 km at a go. I knew about runners hitting the proverbial wall as I had done so in my first half marathon and knew how it played with my psyche. I was sure I was placed well in that department and I would not end up facing this at least not until the very end given my internal motivation to complete this marathon. I was surprised I hit my first wall just after 13 km into the run. My left heel was stinging in pain and I experienced the first thoughts of dropping out. I knew it was just a start and I had not even reached the half way mark. This run was going to be agonizingly long and painful if I chose to continue. I tried distracting myself and subconsciously ended up taking more pressure on my right leg to ease up the pain in the left. A combination of running and walking got me to the halfway mark in about 3 plus hours. We were at the East Coast Park at this point. As per the map we were provided, the runners had a 15 km stretch inside the ECP, entering at 18 km and exiting at 33 km. We lost out on 20 minutes as I waited for my run buddy to relieve herself earlier in the run. I did not want to leave her alone during run as it was her maiden marathon attempt as well and we were there in it together. As we continued running, we began to see the marathon effects unfold with runners writhing in pain, some coiled on the ground, a few vigorously rubbing their calves while some appeared to have given up by their body language. There was no first aid in sight and most of the crew members, young college going kids, were fast asleep on their backpacks at their posts.It was a long night and definitely not over for us.
At 25 km, my right hamstring muscle was beginning to twitch with a sharp pain. I experienced my second proverbial wall in the run at this point. I had 17 more km to run and with both the legs in pain, I was not placed in a comfortable situation. I reminded myself that I was more than half way done and went totally mute in terms of conversation with my buddy. I did not want to let her know that I was almost at the verge of dropping out. I saw the crew noting down the bib numbers of runners who were consistently dropping out and again convinced myself that the pleasure of crossing the finish line and holding my first ever full marathon medal was much more than the pain I was going through at that moment. I envisioned writing this blog and told myself, I would much rather write a blog on the completion of a marathon as against giving up. These thoughts allowed me to trudge along in the hope of seeing the exit from ECP at 33 km, but to our surprise, we discovered the organizers had changed the route and we were going on a different route that saw us complete 34 km within the ECP itself. This was the last distance marker we saw during the run. After a 30 minute run/walk, we found a post with some active crew members who informed us we were still 8 plus kilometers away from the finish line. This was impossible. As per my GPS and pace calculations we should have been about 2 plus kilometers away. Without the distance markers on the route, it was difficult to know what was happening. By now, more than a few runners understood there was some mess up on the route.We made it to the finish line in 7 plus hours where, the GPS indicated we were well past 46 km in the run. All that mattered is that I managed to complete the full marathon and more :) in the allotted time with all the hurdles I was facing pre-run as well as during the run.

Running a full marathon is akin to standing on a beach with the waves hitting at you. There will be waves of pain, waves of freedom, waves of passion, waves of despair and waves of varied emotions! One only needs to dig one's feet in the sand and stand steady to avoid getting carried away by the waves. A marathon is not just about the distance but a lot more about desire, determination, dreams, daring, devotion and dedication.

If there is anything I have gained from this experience, then it actually started right before the run where two of the sign boards read "Go hard or go home" and " Finish with smiles and not regret". With the eventful happenings in my life, I have strongly begun to believe in the impermanence of everything and acceptance. There's no point cribbing about the unfairness of situations in life but to find a better way out of it with a positive outlook. one can definitely do more than one thinks. Attitude matters! Rather then bowing down to hurdles, accept and embrace them. Find a passion and pursue it. Find out what makes you happy and go all out in achieving the same. Look after yourself first and foremost! The rest will fall in place!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Letter A of Fitness


The letter A of Fitness!

Your life or fitness journey could be defined or refined, however you take it, by the following 3A's:

Acknowledgement & Acceptance
Action, Amendment & Adapt
Achieve and Affirm

The first and foremost thing that defines anyone is one's Attitude. Attitude, not towards the outside world, but your attitude towards your own self, towards your own life. With the right attitude, comes the acknowledgment of the state you are in. Admit that you need to do something in order to bring about the necessary changes in your life. We are often in self denial or in the very common phase of procrastination. It is also worth noting that with acknowledgment, should come acceptance. It's no big deal if you acknowledge that there is a problem and don't allow it to bother you beyond that. Acknowledge that there is an issue that needs to be addressed and accept it. We come across many situations in life where an acquaintance, friend or family member makes a personal comment on our state, be it something like,

"Hey, why don't you do something about your weight?. You must join the gym or there's this excellent Yoga teacher who can help you lose that flab.

Oh! You have diabetes! You must cut out sugar and go for a walk or start running every day.

Oh ho look at those tandoori thighs. Why don't you do something?" and the list can be endless.

What do we normally do when we face these personal comments either laced with concern or scathing and critically scornful. For someone who has acknowledged the problem and accepted it, it's a matter of fact thing but for someone in self denial, the first reaction to these situations is an instant vitriolic response often backed with a self empathizing portrayal of one's own state.

"It's easy for you to stand on the other side and make those disparaging remarks on my state or appearance but you only need to step into my shoes to experience the pinch.

Advice is easy when it's not your life.

People make it their personal business to butt in to someone's personal space. How can anyone be so insensitive. Don't they realize that I am suffering with a medical condition that doesn't allow me to do anything?" and this can just go on.

Acceptance along with a realization of your personal situation is key to the right attitude for the next Letter A in life.

Once you acknowledge your situation and accept it, you should be ready to take the plunge! Take action! Acknowledgment and acceptance are not enough. Understand that you have been gifted this one exclusive life and it is totally up to you to make it or break it. Just sitting on the couch and blaming the poor godforsaken hereditary genes is not going to take you anywhere leave alone resolving the problem. Sedentary behaviour is emerging as the root cause of most health issues, particularly a rise in cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and obesity. Stop whining and start shining! Take action and bring about the necessary amendments in your current life, be it dietary changes or finding some form of workout that works for you. Adapt to the changes just like animals, birds or plants adapt to their natural environment in order to survive. Adaptability is pivotal to your personal success especially more so in this journey of self improvement.

Once the journey starts from acknowledgment & acceptance, you take the necessary actions , make amendments and adapt to the changes, is there anything that can stop your progress towards achieving the goals you set for yourself? If the foundation is right, the building will stay upright. Fitness is like a castle in the air if it's not built on a solid foundation. Work progressively towards your personal achievements and affirm your life!
©
Goldli


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Priceless


Aankhen mili, fir zindagi, fir raaste
Din bane hafte, mahine, aur barah saal!
Woh toh kehte hai woh nahi badle
Par unhe pata kaise kya hua hamara haal!

Arre ab, arre ab, kehte nikal gaye nau saal
Tab jakar aaye hamare baal gopal ;)
Woh bole ab toh kamre ki kamar hone do
Hamne kaha ek aur issue ho jaane do!

Fir aayi zindagi mein ek nanhi pari
Ho gayi duniya hari bhari
Na kamar rahi na kamra
Ab toh antique piece ho gaya hamra!

Woh kehte hai woh nahi badle
Unhe kya pata kya hua hamara haal
Barah saal ki kahani hui nahi purani
Antique piece ab hoga museum ka maal!

Ekdum PRICELESS! ;)


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Animal Encounters

When I think of the various animals that I have encountered in my life, the list is pretty long. Loads of animals and memories that go with each one of these creatures.
My very first memory is of tiny pink suckling mice pups that my cousins and I used to find under a drain cover as kids and pulled them out to play with them by placing them on a bed of hibiscus leaves. Disgusting, I know. The thought gives me jitters now but yes...did it. The cats that stealthily came in from the back yard and lapped up the milk that was left on the gas stove. There would be the sound of the lid clanging loudly on the floor and one of us would dash to the kitchen. As an 8 year old, while cycling around the neighbourhood park, I encountered a bunch of kids pelting stones at some abandoned pups. I threatened to hand them over to the police if they did not take them in and happily cycled home with one of the pups myself. Jimmy, a cross breed, who lived to be 16 and the last pair of socks he chewed up were those of the husband on the day our wedding got fixed. I can't imagine why ;) but yeah I could smell the jealousy.
Then there were monkeys that some how found their way to our homes during the summer and left behind half eaten fruits on the trees and the terrace. There was also a group of monkeys that would come in to our classrooms in school. The school building was an old, single storeyed structure and access was easy. I remember all of us shrieking and scrambling out of the class room while the monkeys made merry with all our bags. On many ocassions, our lunch boxes were sadly carried away by these monsters. Then there was the parrot that a tarrot card reader would carry. The pigeons and sparrows that came in to feast on the various stuff (papads, vadiums etc) my mother would leave to dry out in the sun again during the summer. The two fat lizards that lived in our house and had a special attraction towards me. I used to enjoy late night conversations on the phone with friends and had a couple of close encounters with these two. Once on the shoulder and once on my head.They would normally hide behind my grandfather's photo frame on the wall but after these encounters, I would closely be on the watch and believe me when I say that they would come out of their hiding the minute I settled in the room and would slowly make their way right above me....shudder! One day, I decided to take it up as a challenge and brought in the big handled cobweb cleaning jhadu  (broom) & we went around the whole place, me after them or them trying to terrorize me  with their ready to jump at me pose. Those were terrible times! I seem to have a great affinity for these bloody reptiles as another traumatic memory I have is from university times when I lived in the campus hostel. The campus was in the city outskirts and surrounded by a forest area, so sightings and encounters were common. This was a morning encounter on a particularly busy day when I got into the shower. Hung the towel and the clothes, got out of the last remnants of what I was wearing and chucked them out of the bathroom and saw a wild lizard (the monstrous black grey ones you would normally see in the wild) creep in from the window. We both stared at each other in shock for what seemed like ages and then as I made shooing sounds to ask it to go back the way it came in, it seemed hell bent on coming my way. These wild ones know no fear. I learnt it the hard way. Just as I decided I would need to escape from the tiny bathroom and reached for my towel, the wretched lizard made a quick dash and jumped right into those clothes hung on the hooks behind the door, making me a prisoner. I had to holler loudly and get someone to throw in a fresh towel from the top of the door before I could make my way out. After that incident, hostel showers were a quick 3 minute affair with my eyes glued to the bathroom window!
The next memory I have is of the first time I visited Gurgaon. Hubby was a resident managing vet on a horse breeding farm. We had a bungalow right in the middle of the farm. It was the month of December and a very busy foaling time. He got called away for a delivery the same night we arrived and I was left to myself in the bungalow surrounded by a paddock on two sides, a farm area with alfa alfa on one and a huge lawn area in the front. I was woken up by a loud thudding sound from the top of the house and just as I wondered about the source, I  was shocked by a loud snorting from the bedroom window. ;) To my total wonder and surprise, the place was surrounded by horses. It was early dawn and I decided to venture out to get a closer look at the horses from the fence that separated the paddock from the bungalow and opened the front door to find a peacock jump in right in front of me from the roof (the source of the loud thudding). Life on the stud farm was filled with many more animal memories but the horses and peacocks remain the most memorable.
Later, after we moved to Singapore, I worked with a French company that was doing research at the Singapore zoo on the long tailed macaques(monkeys) & had the opportunity to watch and work with a colony of 52 monkeys. Each one had a unique personality. During this time, the zoo authorities had rescued two gibbons which were also under my care. The female was a cute little thing called Wahila. The male was a ferocious bugger called Bosley. Wahila was temperamental and threw tantrums very often ;) (very female) but it was Bosley who surprised me the most. He was a charming guy and enjoyed all the attention I gave him. On one occasion, I had a couple of interns who had come in to watch the colony and I spent lesser time than usual with Bosley that morning. He went on a rampage within his cage and made a complete battle field on the place. As the interns finished and were stepping out, Bosley put his arm out from the one square  hole in the cage and grabbed one of them by the throat, literally choking him before we could could set him free. Jealousy!!! Even gibbons!!!

My stint in the zoo gave me the opportunity to have close encounters with many more exquisite creatures. There was baby tamarin monkey which was abandoned by its mother right after birth and had to be hand fed until it could be released back amongst its own. There was a baby wallaby, Volley again abandoned by its mother and we took tutns carrying the little guy in a cloth bag just like it would have been carried in the pouch by its mother. Volley was released back to mix with his kind but for many days he would still make his way towards any of us who walked into the wallaby enclosure. There was a little doe that hurt it's neck and needed to be isolated and cared for some time before it could be released. It was one hungry little chap that sucked up the feed within a minute. There are so many more memories to share and I will end up writing a book if I wrote them all.
The mammoth sized earthworms during zoology practicals, the cockroach whose salivary glands got me full marks in the finals where I was to exhibit the digestive system and I was the only student who had left the salivary glands intact and beautifully displayed with a black film roll beneath :) Then the days of December when we used to sing Christmas carols and hymns during assembly in the morning and immediately after that had the zoology practical session where, I was busy singing "oh come let us adore him..." , while totally engrossed in a big fat frog that lay in front causing ripples of laughter.  I was a terror in class and always had something up my sleeve. I told the class it was always a good idea to practically see the organism bring studied and told them I would bring in roaches to the class and how they are not to worry if they felt something climbing up their feet. This obviously had them jittery and panicky with random disturbances across the class during the lecture.  Lol! No, I did not carry any roaches. Just the thought gave them the jitters I guess ;)
The lecturer came to know later about the source of disturbance and decided to get even during a practical test ;)
I remember I was to display the venous system of the frog and that's where I was busy singing and just as I was cutting open the skin, the lecturer startled me by calling all the dept lecturers to listen to my singing. I looked up to find the whole dept standing right across with amused expressions. In my embarrassment, I cut off the anterior abdominal vein. 😢😢😢
During a visit to Kerala, my cousins and I went to a hill resort about 50 km from Calicut and did a lot of trekking and walked through the hills to get to a particularly scenic waterfall. On our drive back, my aunt who had taken off her footwear to relieve her aching feet suddenly felt a wetness under her feet and looked down to see a pool of fresh blood! She quickly called our attention and started asking if any of us was hurt. She was quick to spot a dark stain on my jeans just above my right ankle and asked me to pull it up. There it was, happily settled and languishing in my blood, a big fat, tenacious leech, suckling away my blood. The incident took me straight to my zoology lecture where we studied how the leeches secrete an anticoagulant in their saliva that allows the blood to flow easily as well as something about the sucker that made the bite painless to the victim. I was shocked to see the bloody thing stuck to my leg and even more traumatised by the fact that it got into my jeans and I had no clue and no sensation of the bite. For ages, after that incident I kept checking my legs every now and then in the fear of finding the blood sucking parasite. Luckily , that was the last time.

There was the tiger encounter at the tiger temple in Thailand. Back then , it seemed like such a thrilling thing to be able to make a physical contact with the majestic creature but today I understand the implications of what human greed can do to wildlife. I also got to feed ostriches, kangaroos and koalas in Australia.

The latest one is of a pink necked green pigeon family that decided to make our balcony garden their home. The kids and I got to watch them build the nest,  saw the eggs and were able to follow the entire journey of the chicks until they flew away. .

Monday, July 25, 2016

Women's Web - Womb versus Work


I have always wanted to be a mother. This was something I felt very deeply about. So when motherhood came to me after an agonizing wait of 9 years, it was but natural for me to consider changing my role to a stay home mother and attend to my new born. Having said that, I also knew I would not get back to my career if I took too long languishing in the comfort of the said role, so there was never a choice. There was tussle between the pull to stay home versus going back to work. When I did get back to work, post delivering my first child, leaving this new found love of my life at all of 3 months was next to impossible. I cried myself to work every single day for a few weeks and couldn't overcome the guilt of missing out on all my baby's first milestones. I felt stay home mothers were really fortunate to have all that time to spend watching their little babies grow, but in retrospection, I realized, being away from my baby for those few hours in the day gave me a different perspective. I learnt to value the time I had with him and was focused on utilizing it to the very best. I was able to manage time effectively, more on top of things, more able to multitask and at the end of the day felt more satiated and content for having achieved what I did.

Talking to mummy friends in the same boat, told me that I was far better placed in terms of being connected with the world and was in a better shape on the emotional radar as the exposure to work meant my brain focused on actively working, thinking and creating. In short, I was able to keep my sanity intact.

Motherhood in itself is a challenge and when one has to juggle it with work, social networking, hobbies/ passions and keep the magic in the marriage alive, it takes a lot more than one can imagine. Some aspects that perhaps helped me retain my sanity and kept me enjoying the ride were to set my priorities right. Being a mother was the first most important job on hand and there was no compromising there. I learnt to trust my gut instinct where it came to decisions that required me to weigh motherhood versus work and the former always took precedence. I choose to work on my terms without giving up on family time, manage to make time for the much needed social networking and friends to help keep my happiness meter on the high always and do not hesitate to get my partner to chip in to get the much deserved rest when I feel I need it. One of the things working mothers face is guilt for not being there for your child 24/7. At one point, while leaving to work with my 8 month old crying for me, my then 3 year old first born asked me a question that jerked the ground from beneath. "Aai how can you go to work leaving my baby sister crying?" A question that hounds me till date. There is nothing wrong in choosing how to manage your motherhood journey. It's your own and you set the limits. Although motherhood is the single biggest thing to change your lives forever, it is a beautiful journey of self discovery! No wonder then when it's said, with the baby is born a new mother!