Category: me

Welcome vanity

Welcome vanity

When I go home for the summer the one thing I do is take a mental break from being a parent and reconnect with the person I used to be. There are enough people around to pull me back the moment they see the mom-in-me taking over me-the-person.

And so it was that my sister pointed out a change that had happened so slowly, so unobtrusively, that I had barely noticed it. Since I gave up full time office I stopped bothering about the way I look.

That doesn’t mean I have become sloppy or untidy or that I lounge around in my night clothes all day. In fact, I like the routine of sitting down at my work table neatly dressed and ready to take on the day.

The difference is – it’s all done mechanically. I don’t give a thought to what I wear. I wear what I always wear. When I was going out to work, I dressed with care. If I was out on an assignment I’d be even more careful, dressing up according to where I was going or who I was meeting. I enjoyed that. It was part of the happiness of going to work. Clothes, pretty clothes, cheered me up. They do still, but somewhere along the way I stopped indulging myself.

If you are a stay-at-home-parent or a work-from-home-person you might comprehend how that happens.

Comfort takes over fashion completely. Not that I was ever ‘fashionable’ but I did own at least one pair of heels which I would fish out when the occasion demanded, I’d visit the parlour regularly and I’d wear a sari to work somedays just for fun.

Now, I find I come up with all kinds of reasons to not dress up – the sari is too cumbersome, heels too uncomfortable, skirts make me look fat, salwar suits are too difficult to maintain and so on.

So I pull on a pair of tights or my jeans and a tee and I’m good to go just about anywhere, a dressy shirt when I’m going out, a plain one when I’m home. As for the sneakers – I practically live in them. Formal events, specially those where I need to wear traditional clothes, are few and far between and always lead to panic (WHAT AM I GOING TO WEAR!) so much that I look for ways to avoid them. This really needs to change.

Watching my mom is an inspiration. She religiously sticks to her nightly self-care routine, never steps out for her evening walk without changing into a starched and ironed salwar kurta and spends hours at weavers’ exhibitions picking out the most gorgeous saris.

So here it is – my resolution for the rest of the year, rest of my life hopefully: I will have more fun with the way I look.

With the children a little grown up I do have the time. Also, the change might not be huge in the physical sense of it. All one might notice is an extra dash of lip colour, the occasional eyeliner, painted toe-nails, open toed sandals or a bit of heel. Flamboyance was never my thing. Besides, this transformation is more from the inside, more about trying new things, about taking an interest in and enjoying the way I look.

The weight is there of course, it’s going to be there for sometime, maybe longer, maybe forever. However, that really shouldn’t stop me, right?

Some amount of vanity cannot hurt.

This piece here argues that vanity can be an effective motivator. So if I start enjoying the way I look I might actually be motivated to lose weight and look better and get further motivated and so on in a delightful cycle.

Sounds good, huh?

Linking up with Linking up with Nabanita’s Mommy Talks

No space for vanity

No space for vanity

I needed a bunch of photographs for some official work recently and happened to get two sets done from two different studios. One set was a faithful enough picture, with me staring rather self-consciously into the camera. The other studio airbrushed the final product presenting a new, very much improved, me. In fact when I went to pick up the photographs the man at the counter took a long time rummaging in his desk after asking me twice over, ‘Aapki hi hain na?’ (You’re sure they’re yours?). When he finally handed them to me, I thought I looked nice, way nicer than I’d ever look in real life.
The dark circles had been done away with, the blemishes all smoothed over and the skin was glowing. I sat comparing the two sets of pictures. The vain me was quite happy while the sane me remained amused. 
The son sauntered past, picked up the other one – the non air brushed one – then proclaimed, 
“You look prettier in this one.” 
“Not possible,” said I, “Look at this other one – you’ll see the difference.”
“Yeah but then in this one you look like some auntie, you don’t look ‘you’ at all.”
Which was such a valid point that the vain me threw up her hands and walked off in a huff while the sane me nodded in agreement. There really is nothing better than a tween son to keep you rooted in reality. Sigh! So I shall continue to wear my blemishes and my dark circles and the extra layers of fat too and I shall try to do so gladly because they make me ‘me’.
And I’ll try my hardest to not get envious of the yummy mummy’s because if God one day in his infinite kindness did decide to make me all beautiful, the kids would disown me.
Oh and you, you layers of fat, if you’re listening, nope I’m not giving up the fight. I’m going to keep on trying to get rid of you – just not by airbrushing – when it happens it shall be the real deal.
Picture credit: Pixabay
Linking up with Nabanita’s Mommy Talks 

And also with Mel at  Microblog Mondays.
Edited to add: This post got me the featured blogger badge at Mackenzie’s at Reflections from Me.

Birthdays gifts and badly kept secrets

Birthdays gifts and badly kept secrets

With Christmas around the corner I was going through my wish list checking to see what gifts I’d saved away, and I came upon this – a bunch of wallets, flashy ones – one with a peacock feather motif, another one all gold and shimmery and a third bright pink one. 

I stared at them. And I wondered. Not for the life of me could I fathom in what fit of bling I had ‘wish-listed’ these. My memory is not quite what it used to be, but I was certain I wouldn’t do this. It just wasn’t me. 

Before I go on, you need to know that my birthday is round the corner. And nobody  is ever as excited about it as H and N — not my friends, not my parents, definitely not the Husband (who once made the cardinal error of forgetting it, and is not likely to forget it in a hurry ever again) and most definitely not I. I mean of course I like it when someone remembers it but that’s where it should end. The hoo-haa is kind of embarrassing but then when have the kids ever worried about what embarrasses me? They start planning months in advance and they make up for everyone else … they create enough of a hoo-haa to satisfy the most hoo-haa craving person.
Every year they scrimp and scrounge to get me a small gift. This year they decided to enlist the help of Mr Moneybags – the Husband. I’ve overheard secret phone calls which they think I have no clue about and eavesdropped on whispered arguments which they think I cannot hear. 
They first convinced him to order a book from Amazon. The rather proactive Husband, did so right away and I received my birthday gift in November – more than a month in advance. 
I was suitably surprised at how apt their choice was and very thrilled too … but the children decided it came too early and so didn’t really qualify as a birthday gift. Now, they have taken things in their own more capable hands, or so they think, and they’ve been furiously surfing Amazon. Only – they have no clue that the things they ‘secretly’ save in a wishlist is my wishlist. That’s how those clutches/wallets came from – all N’s choice!

Since I made the discovery I’ve been logging in everyday to see a new set of gifts. They seem to change their mind everyday. The latest is this – a personalised ‘I love you mama’ cushion and a World’s Best Mom trophy.

I’m waiting with baited breath to see which one makes it to the final day.

Giving the heart its due

Giving the heart its due

Have you ever been in love with two people at the same time? If you have – tell me how do you pick? While the head clearly chooses one, the heart longs for the other. It only becomes worse when in your head you’re a practical Capricorn and think the choice is clear – obviously you follow your head, right? But despite your best intentions you cannot stick it out because your heart is not in it.
Here I am stuck between my two loves – the head says gym, the heart sings out Z.U.M.B.A.

The backstory:

This last year has been a bit of a downer on the health front. Tests revealed desperately depleted Vitamin D levels. The doctor prescribed strengthening exercises that were gentler on the bones. The head quirked an eyebrow at the heart even while nodding in wholehearted agreement. The heart sighed but knew it didn’t stand a chance.
Dutifully I gave up Zumba and took up gym membership. I could do this, I thought, after all these were the first friends of my fitness journey – my first loves. I said hello once again to treadmill and dumbbells.

… and I settled down

…. to the leg presses and bicep curls. ‘Look’, the head told the heart, ‘It’s not so bad, is it?’ The heart bobbed its head, like an employee who doesn’t quite agree yet nods to a rather overbearing boss.
The workout didn’t have the happy zing of Zumba but it offered the comfort of routine and as I began to gather speed on the treadmill and lifted heavier weights for longer counts the sense of achievement kept me going. Just as a a girl gives up the rush of a first crush for the sedate love and care of a married life, I began to settle down to my gym routine.

But it’s never easy

Right across from where i exercise there runs a Zumba class. Each time the door opens a waft of my favourite music floats out. As I watch the girls through the glass walls, twirling and jumping, I mentally go over the familiar well-loved moves along with them and my poor beleaguered heart feels a little squeeze.
In that moment the treadmill seems the drabbest thing on earth no matter that I’m running on it like I’ve never run before.
And I am beginning to feeling like that long-suffering employee who is finally deciding to hand in notice to his boss, like the woman who decides to give up her marriage to rush back into the arms of her first love.
The problem is – there is no overbearing boss, no boring husband – there is just me and my not-so-good knees.
My one hope now is that the vitamin tablets would have worked and the strengthening exercises would have done their bit. And then perhaps I can have a bit of both worlds. On a more serious note, if you have pledged your life to to exercise it pays to listen to your heart.
A basket of tomatoes and some life lessons

A basket of tomatoes and some life lessons

Picture Credit: PIXABAY
The other day I was at the vegetable vendor’s picking out well.. obviously – vegetables. As I moved to the tomatoes I was joined by a boy of about 14. He dug into the basket turning the tomatoes this way and that, picking out some then dropping them back, then picking out some more. Finally he asked me, ‘How do you know which is a good one?’
Deja vu struck.
While we were growing up we lived in a joint family. While my sister and I did our chores (my mum saw to it) most of the mundane outdoor tasks were handled by others in the family. It might have had to do with the fact that we lived in a crowded area and mum wasn’t certain we could negotiate the roads safely on our own.

One day, perhaps the house help wasn’t around or maybe because my mum decided it was high time I learnt to do this, she handed me a bag, some change and asked me to go buy vegetables.

I mean, seriously? Vegetables? The teen me was completely appalled. I could imagine going out and buying stationery or books or sweets or clothes. But vegetables? What a mundane, unfashionable, low brow task to be saddled with! My entire teen self quailed at the idea rejecting it outright.
I refused.
“If you can eat vegetables, you can go buy them too,” said my mum and I saw her face settle into that familiar determined look my sister and I disliked and dreaded. If you know even a little bit of my mum you will know she can really dig her heels in, specially  when it comes to, what she thinks of as, teaching us a lesson.
I didn’t stand a hair’s breadth chance. So there I was with the most embarrassing jhola (cloth bag) in one hand and the money in the other off to buy vegetables at Chantu ki dukan – that’s what the vegetable vendor was called! I bent my head, praying I wouldn’t bump into anyone I knew, as I threaded my way through the crowded street.
I cannot recall what I bought. I just remember picking up a handful of something, mumbling out, ‘Half kg of this’, handing the money and walking home in a blaze of self-consciousness.

And here was this boy, how easily he asked for my help and how gladly I gave it! Standing side by side in a rather companionable silence we picked out tomatoes. I wish I had been more like him when I was his age.

So dear H and N, here’s the lesson for the day:
People are more likely to offer help than laugh at us if only we cast aside our nervousness and ask for it. We might be laughed at for pretending to know something but the moment we voluntarily expose our vulnerability and  enlist someone’s assistance we create a bond putting them firmly on ‘our side’, so to say.
No matter where you are – at a new school, at the library or in the sports ground, don’t be too shy or scared to enlist people’s support, even if they are strangers. Ask for help and you shall get it in greater measure than you ever expected.
Have you ever been in a situation like this, where you’ve been to embarrassed to ask for help? Do share. I’d love to add your experience to mine when I talk to the kids.