Not calm. Calm.

Woke up 3 hours after I’d slept. Clothes, pillow cover, bed sheet – all were wet from sweat. Heavy breathing. Heart racing away. Head overflowing with anxiety. No cause, just anxiety.

I usually remember all my dreams. The good ones, the bad ones, and the weird, confusing ones. I didn’t remember anything. The memory was blank. Head was just … black.

Sat up. Took off the duvet. Waited a few minutes to let the heart rate recover. Tried reading something on the phone to distract the head. Nothing worked.

Got up, opened the window, and put my head out into the cool night air. It helped a bit.
Left the window open.

Opened the Calm app. Took a few deep breaths. Then started a sleep story – the Stephen Fry one. Kept the phone on the side table, and lay down on the dry side of the bed.

Heard some of the story – something about lavendar fields in Italy, IIRC. The light breeze from the open window was cooling the room. Slipped my feet inside the duvet.I could hear Stephen Fry softly talking in the distance. I didn’t gather much of what he was saying. I pulled the duvet over my legs and waist.

Next thing I remember is the alarm waking me up at 5:30.

Thank you, Calm. Thank you, cool wind.

 

Walk the dog…

I wake up early, make a coffee, and start working straight away. So, by 9 or 10 AM, I’ve got in 2-3 hours of work, and need a break. The dog and I go for a walk.

We return, we have breakfast, and I head up to work again. He sleeps.

After another couple of hours of focussed work, I’m in need of a break again by noon/1PM. So, unless R has already claimed it, the dog and I go for another walk.

We return, have lunch, and watch TV for a bit. Then I return to work upstairs, and he goes back to doing what he does best – sleep.

By around 6 or 7 in the evening, my head is screaming for a break again. Literally screaming – tinnitus has been getting quite bad lately. So we do whatever helps. A.k.a. the dog and I go for a walk, again.

I have always loved walking. I went for lone walks after fights with parents as a teenager. I enjoyed going for lone walks in Delhi in my early 20s – it helped living so close to Siri fort forest. I loved walking around the campus in Calcutta, and at the sea front in Bombay.

I occasionally enjoy company on my walks. I go for a daily walk with Dad when I’m in Karnal. I also enjoyed walking around with a few friends in Bombay and Calcutta. Once in a while I even enjoy having R come along for a walk.

More often, I prefer to be alone. Walks are my time to let the mind wander, or focus, or rest. Let the mind do what it wants while the legs, the lungs, and the heart get some loosening. After all most of the non-walking time is just the opposite – mind at work, everything else resting. Having company on a walk means the mind has to engage – converse, debate, listen (to remember). Not rest. Not recover.

Walking with Chewie isn’t the same. He doesn’t tax my mind too much, yet keeps my heart entertained. He loves all the tracks – muddy, sandy, gravely, boggy – that I keep exploring. He loves hills as much as I do. He enjoys exploring smells in the woods. He loves rivers and the sea. He enjoys being out and about, likely more than even me.

So, when I hit a mental road block with work, I look at him, and he’s up for it. We go for a walk.

When I’m anxious or tense, he takes me for a walk.

When I need to clear my head, or escape tension in the house, he indulges me with another walk.

I’m grateful to have him, always, on the walk.

Sometimes when I’m deep in work, when it’s -4°C and horizontal rain outside, when my body is still aching from the previous run/ride/swim/yoga, he comes and nudges my arm away from the keyboard with his nose. He wants to go for a walk.

I coddle him, delay him, curse him, plead with him. Then he wins. We go for a walk.

Continue reading Walk the dog…

Sugar

Today, I ate

  • a 150g bar of Dairy Milk,
  • half a McFlurry with cookie crumble,
  • three chocolate chip brioche swirls, and
  • two Cornetto cones.

These may constitute ¾th of my total calories today. All sugar. All crap. All I crave, and then hate 1.

No más azúcar. ¡Por favor!


  1. Except Dairy milk. I never hate dairy milk. I should eat less of it, but can’t hate it. 

81.9

That was my weight today morning – 81.9 Kg.

12 days ago it was 78.2 Kg.

That’s 12 days with injured ankles.
12 days without walking my dogs.
12 days without any exercise. No swimming, no yoga, no pilates, no cycling, and definitely no running.
12 days of over eating and sugar overdosing.
12 days of watching an unhealthy amount of TV.
12 days of not speaking to parents or friends.
Also, almost 12 days of awaiting a regret email.

12 days of being physically and emotionally crippled. 12 days of fighting, and not always winning, a battle with creeping depression.

The weight gain is just a symptom.

Continue reading 81.9

Exercising is for the head, not just body

I run, I swim, I practice yoga and pilates, and I spin & bike.

I do this to stay fit. Everyone understands that.

Few understand that these workouts are far more important to my mental health, than to my physical health. I may survive physically without these workouts – unfit, but alive. I’m not sure I’d survive mentally.

That is why I preach. Not for the physical benefits, but for the mental.

Angry

Didn’t work, or workout all day. Started it in happy, high-energy mode, but blew it.

No swimming, pilates or yoga this week. Not much stretching today either.

Need to meditate to get my head at peace. Haven’t. In weeks.


Forgot to take the torch for evening walk. Chewie went barking at some guy walking in the arboretum. By the time I got him under control, Dudley went off to the guy, who was already rattled.

I hate loud noises. Chewie’s bark is really loud. I had to scold him, badly. All bad for my mental peace.

In all the chaos, I also dropped my phone. The screen protector is in bits now, but at least it saved the screen.

Then, my favourite bluetooth headphones stopped working. I couldn’t listen to any podcasts on the walk.

Next, Dudley tore off Chewie’s lighted collar. I saw that, so picked up the collar, but lost a battery. Since I had forgotten the torch, I had to use phone flash light to look for it. Took a bit.

Dudley got a bit of a scolding. I hate scolding. I hate loud voices, including my own. Not good for my mental peace.


I want to get some things done – things to do with work, with new work, with money, with parents, with us, and more. I’m not doing anything.

I’m angry. Just angry. I need to run.

P.S.: I hate the new George O’Malley

Swimming, the anti-depressant

Natural water has always held the magical power to cure. Somehow or other, it transmits its own self-regenerating powers to swimmers. I can dive in with a long face and what feels like a terminal case of depression, and come out a whistling idiot.

-Roger Deakin, in “Swimming”

Continue reading Swimming, the anti-depressant

Dear Zindagi

I seem to be having a renewed fling with Hindi movies. It could be me – looking for a change from the formula Hollywood movies – or, it could be the movies I saw – light hearted, yet not the outrageous fare the Salman or Akshay produce.

I liked Ae dil hai mushkil (ADHM). And now, 2 weeks later, I really, really liked Dear Zindagi.

ADHM felt more polished, had much better music, and had the usual play between a male and a female lead.

Yet, it was Dear Zindagi that I liked more. A lot more. Some reasons…

  • Alia Bhatt – she brings a truck load of freshness, youth, and energy to the screen. It’s been a week, and I can still close my eyes, and remember the wide variety of her expressions. Brings on a smile every time.
     
  • SRK – I was starting to get tired of him in lead, primary male roles. And he goes an reinvents himself, and how. A small cameo in ADHM was brilliant. A full role, but as a second character to a young, female, primary lead – and he pulled it off effortlessly. He was strong and present, as his own character, while not stealing an iota of focus from the main character – Alia’s. Which brings me to…
     
  • Sole female lead. I didn’t think that Bollywood could produce a movie with a strong, solo female lead. At least not in my lifetime. And here we have one. Not just a solo, strong female lead. But one that’s neither an arch-feminist waging the war on the world, nor a mother-to-the-world leading the charge. She’s just a regular, young girl, living (the complicated & troubled, yet sometimes joyous life) in modern India. Hats off to the producer and director for taking on this challenge, and executing it without heavy melodrama.
     
  • Mental health. It took a long while, but glad to have a bollywood movie bring a focus on mental health into the mainstream. Usually, mental health issues are portrayed either with jail-like mental asylums full of odd characters, or with dark, dangerous, gloomy, brooding characters.
    It was pleasant to see it shown in such a different light. Yes, normal, successful, seemingly happy people, surrounded by friends, can still have mental health problems. And yes, it’s not just normal, but important to see a therapist/consultant to work on those problems, the same way we do with our physical health issues. Thanks again, to the writers, the director, and the producers, for bringing mental health in focus, in such a non-intimidating, yet serious manner.
     
  • Bombay & Goa. My top two favourite places in India. The only two places, I’ve long stated on record, that I can live in if I ever return to India.
    The movie highlighted some of the best bits of both places for me, without focussing on the usual landmarks and tourist spots. More than the sights, it was the people, the culture, of both places that I love. That I’ve missed. Was a warm blessing to see them portrayed on screen. Not perfect, not complete, yet true … to what was shown.
     
  • Friends. I don’t have any. I use to, not anymore. So, it really warmed my heart to see such a close, happy bunch of friends. Fighting, forgiving, fun, friends.
    Friends, you can speak to. Or not. Who give you an embrace, and a shrug. Who care about you, but not just for the gossip. Just, friends.
     
  • Family. Again, the movie didn’t stick to one of the two standard strains of family relations – the god like parents in front of whom everyone bends eventually, or the devils of parents against whom everyone rebels, till parents come to their senses or the kids die.
    Families are complicated. Relationships are complicated. It was good to see them shown as such, and not in one of the two simple baskets. We’re both right and wrong in our relationships. Often at the same time. Some relationships are special, some even more so. The strength of that bond, sometimes, has nothing to do with time spent together, or closeness of the relationship in traditional terms. And sometimes, relationships that should be close, aren’t – me & sis, for example. Often, some friendships get closer than even the closest relationships we were born into.That’s just how we are. Such is life. Such, it was, in the movie. Thank you!
     
  • Ae Zindagi Gale Laga Le, Take 2. I liked the music of ADHM more than that of Dear Zindagi. Still, there are a few songs in this movie that’ve quickly made their way to my most played playlist. This one deserves a special mention, considering the original was (is) a long time favourite. (Take 1 is brilliant as well)
     

Love you zindagi…. (and you too, that small corner of Bollywood)