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Everyday Emotions

Miracle exercise? Half a miracle!

Toshiki Fukutsudzi. Past few weeks, I have been seeing this name on many FB shares. This doctor has developed an exercise which requires only 5 mins everyday, and if done regularly will help in reducing belly fat, improve posture and reduce back pain. Now, I am a perfect candidate for this… I always say that I don’t have time and I do suffer from all the above problems. Years and years of slouching over textbooks has given me a very bad posture, which in turn has resulted in fatty deposits around the belly and consequently back pain. So the video says, that doing this for 30 days will produce visible results. And Google search has not yielded any result on whether this exercise is effective. Funny part is, of the top 10 Google results for this, atleast 5 of them are copy-paste of each other without a change in even a single word (this includes a French article too) 🤔 The posts mention it takes just 5 minutes everyday, so i thought, why not give it a shot? Also I plan to document the results on this post, so that will give me an additional motivation to keep doing it.

Day 1 – I have measured the circumference around the navel. No, I am not going  to disclose the number, but is shall disclose the difference in number and in percentage at the end of the month. I generally don’t eat fast food, fried items, non veg or drink aerated drinks. So, I am not essentially making any significant changes in lifestyle while doing this. 

The exercise itself looks simple enough, but whoa, is it difficult! The body gets super stretched and towards night, the muscles in my arms started to ache. And it is not easy to keep the position for 5 mins, but not impossible too.

Day 2 – clocked 5 minutes. This time, I could feel the muscles  on my back complaining too. I have no idea whether there is any relation to this exercise, but I was feeling quiet tired today like as if I did too much physical work… even though I didn’t.

Day 7 -the muscle pains have reduced. I missed doing this only one day. So far no visible or measurable difference

Day 15 – I have been quite regular, probably I might have missed doing it only a day or two. The exercise has become easier to do. But the more you remain in that position, the more you feel the stretch. There has been no difference in the waist circumference, in fact, I have a slight doubt whether it has increased a bit. 😖 With regards to posture, I am being more aware of my stoop and am correcting it every now and then. There has been no miraculous cure of my back pain too. But point to be noted is that I am only having general discomfort in that area as opposed to full on pain in the back.

Day 30 – so the stipulated one month is over. Now the benefits touted by the web articles were three fold

  • Loose belly fat – which I didn’t
  • Correct posture – yes
  • Reduce back pain – yes

I remember my yoga lessons in college. It was a torture for me because, I couldn’t sit straight for more than 2 minutes, and if I did, the back pain would recur. But if I went back to my slouch, I was ok. Years of wrong posture mislaigns the spine and one gets comfortable in this misaligned posture. But the problems surface years later. When doing this exercise it stretches the back really well and probably it slowly smooths out the misalignment. Probably that s the reason for all the aches in the first week. So I see that now I am able to sit straight for longer periods of time – say 10 minutes, which was unthinkable a month ago, without back pain. So, I will give 2 out of 3 for this. Regarding reduction of belly fat, maybe if I continue doing the exercise, there will be a change for the better in the long run.

 So is this exercise beneficial? Definitely yes! But can this half miracle be converted to a complete one? Only time can tell!

Note: this article is based purely on my experience and should not be taken as a substitute for doctor’s advice​.

A tale of sorrow and indifference

The month of December saw the death of two very important people of the public domain. What surprised me was my reaction to them – as it was not what I had expected.

My teenage years were filled with a lot of music. My Panasonic two in one was my most trusted companion after books, and music would be blaring out of its twin speakers for most part of my free time. And my most favourite album was – Ladies and Gentlemen: the best of George Michael. I must have listened to it day in and day out, over and over again. His voice mesmerized me. His amazing voice range could coo ballads, and sing in angst (without it sounding like screaming). His song Freedom 90, was my anthem growing up, my sing out aloud song, my i-dont-care-a-damn song. Yeah, yeah, I knew all about his controversial life stories, but I admired him only for his music and nothing else.

When I heard of his demise on Christmas, I was surprised. Surprised that I did not feel sad or feel any sense of lose. I was surprised that I was indifferent to the news, despite his music having been such an important part of my life. The only explanation I can think of is, like I said before, I only loved his music and that transcends mortal days.

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I had received a forward in December –

*சென்ற வருடம் டிசம்பர் 5 தண்ணீரில் மிதந்தது  சென்னை. இந்த வருடம் அதே நாளில் கண்ணீரில் மிதக்கிரது*.

This forward resonated with me, because even I was wallowing in tears on hearing about the CMs death. Now this surprised me, because she had not been a part of my life, she had in no way any bearing on anything I do, I have never even given a thought about her. All that I knew of her was all the things that’s portrayed in the media and movies. And they were never in a good light. Even our Superstar also has made many references about her which has never been complimentary, and having had no knowledge about politics, I assumed that that was the only dimension to her personality. Around the time when the news of her death seemed imminent, I started looking at YouTube videos and stumbled upon this “Rendezvous by Simi Garewal”. For the first time in my life, I heard a different version of her life. For the first time, I came to know about her early struggles, her political struggles, the ruckus in the parliament which changed her. This last one horrified me – I mean how come when movies and media never had any qualms in criticising her, no one has ever once alluded to this mistreatment of a woman in the Assembly? Why has no one ever praised her for having overcome so much, especially the patriarch political system to be the CM? It was from here, that the pain started, the sense of having lost someone close started, the weeping started. The enormity of what she has achieved and the realisation that nowhere in the horizon is someone as towering as she was, started sinking in. And this emotion was echoed by many women, even those who did not belong to TN. This deep emotion that I felt on the news of her demise, not just surprised me, but shocked me and probably even changed me. Thank you, My lady, for everything you have done and may you rest in peace, atlast….

Eternal journey

I scoured through the pages of the “world-wide” web in search of a good valentine’s day quote for my DIY card. But after going through hundreds of images, I’ve still not found the right one. I mean all of them were about giving the heart, taking the heart, how you make me feel, flushed cheeks, rapid heartbeats etc etc. Like some college girl with rose tinted glasses.

It was nice being in college. Though I never enjoyed my college days, I realise now, how free I was. I am responsible only for me. Did I eat, did I study, did I keep myself safe. My concerns also could be counted on the fingers of one hand – studies, family, hmmmm… That’s it. 

When did life become this series of OMGs? OMG the shelves are dirty! OMG the bathroom tap has leaked again and now there is water all over! OMG I have to get ready for office! OMG my children are playing and a pillow is on top of one of their face! When one is running around dousing these metaphorical fires, where is the time to be doey eyed and melting hearts? 

After a point of time, once a person is “settled” and their overactive hormones have also settled,  love ceases to be just passion or romance and becomes…. more. Like, Love is giving respect to one another whether in public or private, whether in front of children, colleagues or alone. Love is not taking each other for granted. Love is taking the effort to switch off that gadget and just be there for the other. Love is remembering the preferences of the other at all times. Love is asking someone whether they are ok with a tricky situation and not just assume the other shall “adjust”. Love is giving small surprises, be it a stem of rose or just a samosa… (Not just bringing something for the children and buying one extra, but going out of the way to buy a gift). And then there is something else which makes love greater than the sum of all the above. The answer to what that something else is, is a human’s etenal journey.

Where are the Malayalam books?

The DC book fair at Kochi was advertised to be the largest book fair in South India… really? Have the organisers never visited the Chennai book fair? It is supposedly the second largest book fair in India… I was able to go only once – in 2013. And there were at least a 100 stalls there compared to the thirty odd stalls here. Sheri, athu potte… 

Having lived outside Kerala all my life, my Malayalam education was taken care of my grandmother, balarama and vanitha. My grandmother taught me the alphabets and I learned to string them together reading Balarama and Vanitha. It started with a few sentences and finally I have now graduated to reading entire articles. Still my reading is comparable to a junior schooler’s reading… 😯

Now my children are also growing up far away from their roots. And I realised today at Fort Kochi, that the foreigners were able to understand what my son was speaking more than me. So this holiday, one of the high priorities in my book lists for this India trip was to buy as many Malayalam books for my preschool children. (Not that speaking English with an accent is a bad thing. But I elt knowing the mother tongue well is also very essential. That is such a simple thing, right? But apparently, no. I must have been up and down at least some 5-6 bookshops, but except for H&C books, none of them had any aksharamalas, Malayalam rhymes etc. 

So I was quite excited today when we finally decided to go to the DC book fair. Surprise, surprise! The so called “largest book fair in South India”, did not even have a single aksharamala with them! (Whereas there was no dearth for books for toddlers and preschoolers in English) 

Now this was an eventuality that I had not expected. And it bothers me, raising a multitude of questions in my head. Where are the Malayalam books? (Again I have to clarify – there were quite a number of Malayalam books for more advanced readers. My grouse is that there were NO books for preschool and primary çhildren). Am i alone in thinking that our language should not fade out with a generation? When kalikudukka and the like is selling like hot cakes every week, really, is there no market for primary level Malayalam books for reading and writing? Or is this vacuum the reason that the former is doing well? If saleability is the problem, won’t  bilingual books work? (for eg the book on fruits will have both Malayalam and English names) and last but not the least, am I ALONE in asking – where are the Malayalam books?

Ransomware Alert

That morning was just like any other morning. Got up late, hurriedly sent my children to school, took a “kakka – kuli” myself and landed up in the office huffing and puffing. My colleague had already fired the laptop and was checking his mails. When i took it over from him to print out a document, I was unable to open it. I tried restarting my laptop (a novice’s quick fix for all computer problems). But that didn’t work too… I realised that strangely the extension of the file was modified to something else that i havent seen before. I think it was docxV or something. I tried changing that. That also didnt help. That was when i realised that all my files in that folder had mutated to that strange extension.

And with increasing trepidity, I realised that ALL the files in the laptop had mutated. Pictures, documents, PDF, PPTs…. EVERYTHING. And NONE of them were opening.

I felt like I was stuck in some kind of horribly made Sci-Fi movie and the only thought that was running in my mind was – “What the Hell is wrong! what is happening?”

And suddenly, as if some telepathic person had read my mind, the browser popped opened automatically (on its own) to a site. It explained a process by which they had transformed the contents of my laptop to some unreadable form (they had explained it, but me being the technically challenged person I am, it just went right over my head). And that NOTHING or NOBODY except themselves, can rectify the problem. Then it said if i wanted the problem to be rectified, go to the link below.

Afraid, I didn’t click the link. But I called my All-Knowing cousin. I explained everything and he replied in one word – Ransomware. They lock your computer like this and then take ransom from you for unlocking the computer. I had never heard about this before. Antivirus could not detect it. Antivirus cannot solve it. Nobody can solve it. In fact he said in 4 simple words – Nothing can be done. If he of all people said that, then I knew nothing could be done. That was when I truly started panicking and the water works started. I mean, all my customer details, proposals, anything and everything that i had worked on in the past years were all gone!

Early in the morning, my colleague had received an  e-mail with the subject “Invoice” and he had opened it thinking it was from some client. He had also opened a zip file that came attached with the mail. We suspect that was what triggered this attack on the laptop.

So what did we finally do? We had no other choice but to format the laptop. Everything was gone. I had backup with me, but I had not updated for the past 4 months. So I started combing all my e-mails to retrieve them. I have not gotten back all my documents, but I am able to manage now. What if this had happened in the accounts laptop!

So lessons learnt from this humbling experience

– ransomware attacks cannot be resolved. It can only be prevented

– ransomware attacks are not detected by antivirus. I had run a scan after the attacks but I got the result “no threats found”. (Cannot help myself from  grudgingly admire the genius behind this)

-DO NOT open any attachment from a mail you do not trust especially containing a zip file. Even today I keep receiving  e-mails under a hundred varied subjects (some very creative) like – invoice, payment pending, fine pending, your car has been caught in a traffic violation, Amazon order status (Amazon has never sent attachments), receipt of payment made etc.

– Always have a backup – this is not new advise. Nevertheless, repetition does not diminish it’s importance.

– and CONSTANT VIGILANCE!!!

The Forgotten Friend

Boys and their toys. As if spending some 8 hours on the phone is not enough, my husband decided to go for some good earphones, coz he is not able to “enjoy” his movies with all the “noise” around. So he buys a Sennheisser. And he is not been able to stop extolling it’s greatness. While I was trying to get a decision from him on who is going to a meeting tomorrow – but, who was I talking to… He was tone deaf to the outside world. Seeing my irritated face, (coz, I put a lot of energy into my conversations. I don’t know understated.) He said, “here, try this”. And he places the earpieces into my ears. Few seconds into the song and I was stunned. No, it’s not the Sennheisser. I mean, it was awesome as always, but that was not the reason I was stunned. Nor was it because my tresses got static haired listening to the thumping OST of Mad Max. I actually like rock music, as long as it does not involve screeching or people like Gene Simmons (this crazy rockstar has insured his tongue for a million dollars… Ugh)

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The thing that stunned me was a sense of loss that I felt while listening to the music. Like I had serendipitously chanced upon a long lost and sadly forgotten friend. My friend, my love – for music. Books and music were my steadfast and sometimes only companions during my growing up years. How many hours I have spent – working on boring assignments, walking from hostel to college and back or just lying down, staring up at the ceiling and trying to drown my loneliness in the ocean of music…

When my children were born, I had taken a conscious decision not to use the earphones, lest I do not hear my children. Its not like I have given up listening to music completely. But when I listen to it through earphones… It’s like I have cut off everybody else from the world, wrapped a cocoon around me and now it is just me and the music.  Sometimes i get a high listening to music, that i have often wondered whether this is how it actually feeIs… To be intoxicated?

So yeah, that is the reason, for it was in that stunning moment that I had realised that I had missed my friend, so much and the sad part is… I never realised it at all….

In search of a song

Sometimes inspiration or a memory hits us at an unexpected time and in an unexpected place. (Not unlike writing this blog post at 11.30 in the night)

A few days back, around the same time (looks like my inspiration clock is set at a weird time), while I was half asleep, I heard a few rusty cogwheels in some forgotten part of my brain creaking – ta-ta-ta-robot, ta-ta-ta-robot robot… I immediately sit up straight, like some electric current had passed through me, smiling broadly.

Now, I think is the time for a lengthier explanation. Two months back, my husband asked me, “Do you know the name of this music ?”, and he beat boxed it. Yes, I knew it. This was something I had heard a loooo..oot of times at the theatres some twenty years back. The single screen theatres during their hey days, used to open the screen for the first show with much pomp and fanfare – this electronic music, lights, the works… But what was the name of the song? No idea…

We had searched through YouTube, video by video, trying different combination of keywords – best electronic music, old electronic music, dance music etc. We tried googling, Yahoo answers, but no luck. (Apparently, my husband had spent 12 years and a lot of money buying music records, just to get that song!)

Coming back to the story, I started laughing, feeling exhilarated (I guess this is how Archimedes felt when he jumped out of the tub and shouted “Eureka”), that I at last cracked the ‘Mystery of the  elusive song’. I googled ‘robot electronic music’ and viola!!! 👇

Robots – Kraftwerk

kraftwerk

I just played the song loudly on YouTube (he was already asleep), and he sat bolt upright, wide awake and excited, ” How did you find that song?!?”. I was so happy and the best part was to see my husband’s boyish enthusiasm and his goofy grin… Ah! Small, small things can bring so much joy in life.

<< End of Story >>

Epilogue: First thing my husband did was to share this info with his brother, and guess what? He had known all along the name of this song. Talk about communication gap. 😤

Remembering, on Mother’s day 👪

Happy Mother’s day!

I didn’t know it was mother’s day today. It was Amazon, Flipkart and Hopscotch that reminded me about this day. And also a cute little card that my daughter brought from school.

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(Of course, the words were written by the teacher; my daughter’s current handwriting looks like this 😉👇)

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I still remember the days soon after my son was born. Questioning my every move, bombarded with suggestions, sometimes conflicting, sleep deprived and totally stressed (just like every other new mother) I had a totally confusing start. Finally I decided, the only thing that I am going to listen to, is this –

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I used to feverishly pore through the pages of the book for every sneeze and every cough. What if I did something wrong. My husband was even worse – why is his leg crooked? why has he not turned? Why has he not gained weight? Why… Why… Why? By the time our daughter arrived, things were much more relaxed.

(At this point, have to acknowledge the sleepless nights, the confusions and the back breaking work, my mother and my father went through with me. My father was a like a surrogate mother to my son during my second pregnancy. So I think I am not much mistaken in wishing both of you today. Happy Mother’s Day. 😊)

But all this was not my biggest concern. I knew somehow we will scrap through. The biggest concern, problem, confusion, tension was – to work or not to work. I had reached a point where finally, things were looking up and I may or not may not have been considered for the next rung in the corporate ladder. And I loved my job and my company. Also, despite working in the male dominated FMCG sector, I have never ever been mistreated in any way (oh, I’ve had my fair share of month end rebukes, outbursts and fights 😁, but you know what I mean). My company was very supportive during my whole pregnancy period and they were ready to make some allowances to help me dive into my new designation of a working mother. So the thought of leaving everything behind was a torture to me. How many sleepless nights I had spent trying to make up my mind! Do I aspire to be a woman who has it all or do I take one thing at a time? Will I be doing an injustice to myself, my work and my education or will leaving, for now, be the right thing for everyone? How could I just leave behind everything I knew, what about my identity? Ah, Identity! It is such a powerful emotion. While I was working, I was not S’s daughter, M’s wife or A’s mother. I was Jyoti and I was recognised as such.

Finally, my back pain literally became the last straw on my back, and I quit. Though I still feel a pang of sadness whenever I remember quitting my job, looking back, I have no regrets. I am gainfully employed again, in a job that constantly challenges me and everything has fallen in place much better than I had imagined.

This is how I began my journey of motherhood and there are miles to go before I sleep. So… what is your story?

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