The Christmas holidays

Every year for the Christmas holidays (usually from a few days before Christmas to the New Year), I take off from work but we don’t plan any trips out. I plan to do nothing other than sleeping, walking, baking, reading, and watching some TV. (I also add some mundane cleaning up the home, sorting and arranging my clothes, and the annual give-away of my clothes I haven’t worn for a few years to this ‘nothing’ list).

Sleeping

There is usually no problem with this during the holidays, the problem is trying to get back to the ‘normal’ hours once the holidays are over 🙂

Walking

We started the holidays with a Christmas eve walk at the Devil’s Punchbowl where T&D had gala fun running around with sticks.

Walk down to Loosely park, and two walks at Puttenham Common were beautiful with numerous photos for T and me (thanks to A) 🙂

Baking

This was the most successful task of the holidays with some tiramisu, brownies, oreo mug cake, chocolate mug cake, marble cake, and chocolate espresso cake all within the last 8 days! Thanks to A who did most of the cutting (chocolates and butter) and cleaning, we could do a lot more this time.

The marble cake which is my usual came out brilliantly this time, while the chocolate espresso cake was a new addition to my repertoire.

Reading

2016 was a terrible year for my book reading as I had finished only 5 books for the whole year until Christmas! In the last week, I read The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, and Talking as Fast as I can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls, and everything in between. I enjoyed all three of them and enjoyed snuggling up with my books even more.

Tomorrow is my last day off. I plan to get back to the exercise routine with a spin class and also relax with a bath before the hustle and bustle of the work week begins on Tuesday.

An inherent love for sports – part 1

I became an investment banker by chance. I did not actively look out or prepare for these roles. I vividly remember a chat with one of my batch-mates – I wanted to apply for a research analyst role and he was trying to convince me that the IB role would have a lot more perks and money! True to his word, the only IB role I was interviewed for landed me a lucrative job that paid for a lot of travels and luxuries. Along the way, IB was also the reason I was able to move to the UK with more than a generous relocation support from the IB employer. I enjoyed the work in the first year post-MBA and then it has been downhill – with increased money though. I quit this 4 years ago and moved to the corporate world. The pay was lesser, but the increased and flexible time on the hands made up for it. The work was again good for a couple of years, but for more reasons than one, I have lost interest in my most recent role. There isn’t a wide scope of what else I can do and there doesn’t seem to be any interesting offers available for what I can do.

The science of the human body interests me. I have always liked sports. When I was in high school, I wanted to become the team doctor for the Indian cricket team! In the last 2 years, running has changed my life – and my attitude to many things in life. I got injured on the way and was intrigued by the Physio (& internet) provided information on prevention and recovery techniques. I had never done weight training before Dec 2014 and it fascinated me what just a few weeks of strength training could do to my running. When I got bored of the gym later in the year, I read up on the various ways to build strength outside of the gym – resistance, suspension, kettle bell, circuits and more. I get inspired by other runners on Twitter and Strava. And I feel immense happiness when someone I encourage goes out for a run (my dad, Ranj, Aruna, Preeti, Roshi and even Ankita far away in Bombay!).

Given my dead-ended feeling with my current career, I want to explore doing something with sports. Given my interests, the paths I have researched include:

  • Personal Trainer
  • Strength & Conditioning coach
  • Running coach
  • Sports and Remedial Massage Therapist
  • Physiotherapist
  • Sports therapist

The one basic topic that needs study across all of these is Anatomy and Physiology of the human body. I paid Coursera for the first time and am currently learning Introductory Human Physiology by Duke University. It hasn’t been easy (a lot of concepts to learn and I am so out of touch) but I am currently in my 6th week of the 10 week course. I am happy I am trying this before going full-fledged and spending on something bigger – the course has set the reality straight on my concentration / focus levels and my out-of-touch state with anything to do with reading and learning. The flexible deadlines have helped (I have reset deadlines twice already!) and I hope to finish the course before the end of the year. The instructors and the content of the course have been very good and I would highly recommend the course for anyone interested in the topic. It gives a sound background in a very wide subject. I intend to read the book – Anatomy for Runners – to get a background into the other human science (Christmas reading?).

(continued here and then here)

Childhood memories

I have a vague memory of my younger self – cuddled in the far corner of the bed which was in the far corner of the bedroom in the corner of my home, with a book in my hand and eyes deep into the said book.

The best ever gift my dad has gotten me is the membership to the small library shop – with the old and new copies of Tinkle (& other comics), Famous Five, Secret Seven, Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew (and also M&Bs which I tried but didn’t interest me at all!!) and more.

Until I was allowed to cross the busy Arcot road on my cycle (I think I was allowed from 6th standard 🙂 ), dad used to take me every 2 days in the evenings to pick up my books. I was allowed two books at a time. Usually, a Tinkle Digest (more volume) and an Enid Blyton would be my choice. And then the far corner used to happen. During the summer holidays, it was very easy for me to finish these two books in 24 hours instead of the 48 scheduled hours between my trips across the main road. And then I used to try my luck asking mom / dad another trip to the library. Now, a comic would cost us 50 paisa and a book about Rs.1 or 1.50 – the costs can add up quite quickly if I was allowed every day trips. My hobby was a luxury that my parents encouraged, 2 days at a time. I still crib about every damn thing they refused to spend on me in order to save for gold, but I (now) know how difficult it is to manage a household budget.

I remember my childhood as school, volleyball, riding around on my cycle and my books. When I was happy, I was in the corner with my books. When I was angry or upset, I was in the corner with my books. That’s how my parents remember me. That’s how I remember my younger self.

I don’t know when all this changed – was it the rigour of board exams and college admissions? Moving far away from home to the new found freedom in the Pilani hostel? I still used to spend my Saturday mornings in one of the corners of the Bangalore Forum Landmark but life had too many other distractions. And then Hyderabad, Bombay, London… life has been busy and I forgot my childhood friends.

I want to get back to my corner… deep inside the book without the distractions of the to-do list, the dog, the husband, the work stress, the worries and life.

New Year Resolutions

I believe in starting on New Year Resolutions in December – if I am still on them on Jan 1, I know I will continue through the year 🙂

1. Read more books
Given my meagre reading in the last decade(!), this is one area I really want to get back to my younger-self and has been a resounding success.

Christmas break reading:

The Book Thief – my first 500 page book in years!
The terrible and wonderful reasons why I run long distances – compensated for the above by finishing this short and sweet one in a couple of hours

Jan 2015 reading:

Faster than Lightening
Born to Run (will finish this weekend)

2. Get back to learning and speaking Spanish – and keep at it
My on-off relationship with Spanish has to be taken to the next level. I did spend a fortune flying to Peru a couple of years ago and I could have a conversation with the locals there and even started reading some children’s books etc., but without practice, all is forgotten faster than the learning. We hope to go to Cuba sometime this year and I want to be able to speak the language there and want to continue beyond this.
All I have managed this month, is getting back on Duolingo for 10-30 mins every day (actually, still trying to do this every day – but I do manage 2 lessons on most days). Need to step this up with all the material I have from Bombay and Cusco.

3. Strength training and speed work for my runs
I will write about my running in 2014 in another post but the focus this year is to run faster. I think I can do a half marathon – scheduled my first official one on Feb 28 but I really need to work on my speed – I am just really slow. End of last year, I learned to do strength training and I know I should be doing intervals but need more commitment to do more than the current 4 workouts a week – 1 swim class, 1 spin session, 1 gym (strength + cardio) session and 1 long run over the weekend.

4. Learn to Swim
I am scared of water, scared of drowning in a 5 ft pool.
I am spending too much money on this but I am not giving up. I know my confidence is growing a tiny tiny bit every time I get into the pool. Hopefully during the year, I will get to swim 25m non-stop in the middle of the pool.

5. Read more on the WWW (yes, the world wide web)
I installed the gReader and cleaned up my TheOldReader feed (the back-up I took when Google Reader shut down) and I am now reading the few people who still write blogs among the umpteen people I used to follow almost a decade ago. I cleaned up my Pocket feed and now using it a lot more on my chrome.
It is a smaller success but I hope to continue and increase the breadth of topics I read.

6. Write / Blog more
This is my fifth post this month – Not bad eh?

7. Watch less TV
Exercise, Books and Duolingo fight for time that TV inevitably loses out. Somehow A has also stopped watching all those weekly shows which has helped. We do listen to a lot more music these days, which is a good substitute 🙂

8. Be more organised
Even though I am Monica-ish on how I like things to be planned and organised, the last year or so has been disaster in this regard – my paperwork is awry and my organisation and planning skills have been in a coma! I should get this back on track. Still not much of a breakthrough yet.

9. Find a new job – to find something I enjoy doing more
No, this is the worst of the list – I really need to do something about this – but again not focussed yet.

10. Wake up early
Don’t ask – Disaster, with my boss traveling on work, I go into work a good hour late these days – I better correct this before she gets back!

It is not a bad start, but I have not been crazy busy at work – hopefully I will still be doing most of these when work gets kicking (soon) and also pull my socks up for the few that I am lagging on.

The magic of the Boy Racer

I am sitting in the balcony of The Real McCoy, the English pub in Cusco overlooking the Plaza de Armas on a sunny friday afternoon and gazing at the Andes, which I need to leave behind soon. Just one more day surrounded by the green mountains that I have gotten so used to being next to me, comforting me. I so dont want to go back to London or my life in the city – but then, I can’t run away from reality forever is it?

 

The only good thing is that I am going back to A, after a month. This time apart has made me realise a bit more of what he means to me. I think I will appreciate him being in my life more than I have before. A, you are worth it 🙂

 

I just finished reading Cav’s Boy Racer. I have read some books by sports personalities and I think I like this one the best. As I read the book, it was difficult to not fall in love with this guy (even though he is sometimes too much cheese for my liking) and cycling. No wonder when I told A I was starting to read this book, he said, “Enjoy the boy racer… but not too much else you’ll dump me :D”!

Many of my girlfriends have wondered about my love for sports. Inevitably for someone born in India, I grew up watching cricket. My school friends used to wince everytime Sachin scored well. I would talk about the game and all the stats all day in school and they had no choice but to listen. But then they also got chocolates every April 24 – so they shouldn’t complain 😉 As I grew up, I also started watching / following tennis, Formula 1 and now football and cycling.

 My love for sports and sportsmen, I think comes from my belief that unlike most other professions, this is one in which even if you are born with abundant talent and a silver spoon, it requires a lot and lot of consistent hardwork and training to be at the top. I identify myself with the hardworkers in everything I have achieved (unlike the smart ones) and hence appreciate and fall for the Tendulkar, Sampras, Schumacher, Messi and the Cavendish of the world. I like their passion (Cav talks a lot about this in his book) and hence can appreciate any sport in which I see the sportsmen giving their 100% game after game, year after year and only getting better.

 After reading this book, I am interested in getting to know more about George Hincapie – Cav calls him the second nicest person in the world (next to GH’s brother!) and he is well known for riding some 14 tours! Unless one actually follows cycling, one doesn’t realise that this is such a big team sport. That coveted yellow jersey is (unfortunately) worn by one rider, but that requires the whole team to selflessly work for that one leader. I used to love that HTC train (unfortunately, the team that was performing so well couldnt find new sponsors at the end of last year and had to be dissolved) and Cav again talks about his team mates a lot in his book, who work all through the race for him, pull him through the mounatins, so that he can weave his magic sprint in the last 200-250m to capture all the glory. I think I was so lucky to watch his magic in the final stage of Tour of Britain in London – thanks to A, I watched it from a super spot just as he whizzed past the finish line with his hands held up – and we also got his autograph in the erstwhile HTC jersey 🙂

 Obviously he has achieved a lot more since this book – including the green jersey and world championship and hopefully a (gold) medal in the Olympics road race 2012 – and I hope I get to read about that in a sequel to the Boy Racer.