December 27, 2005

img_1293_small.jpgI must confess that even after 350 km, I still get a daily thrill out of my new bike. It is just the thought of riding it – to tennis or to office – that makes me get out of bed in the morning with a measure of energy and enthusiasm.

One thing is clear after 350 km – riding a “guy’s bike” is not a question of physical strength or even of stature. Not really. Ok, you assume a certain minimum of both, but if you consider that I possess sufficient quantities of both, then obviously what’s required is a very nominal quantity indeed. What you need, really, is willingness: the intention, the determination, and the conviction that it can be done. And really, it can be done.

Ok, I know that I confessed to dropping it three times (and counting). But what the heck. You can’t learn anything worth learning without getting a few scrapes.

Anyway, my bike is the best. I took it for its first servicing on Saturday. At last, it has had its brake handle replaced, so it is whole now. Oh, and it’s shining again (I’m such a slob about cleaning it).

What I like best about my bike is… second gear! It’s really a fun gear. If you want to putter along slowly, you just slide into second gear and it purrs along with a deep, throaty, satisfied sound, like a big fat cat full of warm milk. In my office campus, there’s a speed limit of 15 kmph. (Yes, 15! Can you believe it?) I used to find it funny, all these big fancy vehicles crawling along at 20-25 kmph (nobody can really do 15) as though they’re in a procession or something. Now, I look forward to it. My bike loves it!

Then, when you’re out on Ring Road and speeding away from an intersection, you step into second and go, boy, go! The engine gives a subdued roar and the bike leaps forward like a race horse (and you know I know what I’m talking about, right?). The idiots in their fancy cars are left standing still. My bike loves this too!!!


Ok, so I’m bike-mad. It’s good!

Full-body Massage

December 18, 2005

devbagh_small_31_34.jpgDevbagh is wonderful. An island with coniferous forest. Not too many people. Good food and lots of it. Good beach and even better water. One night is too short a time for this beachy paradise.

The most exciting thing that happened in Devbagh is, I went for a Kairali Ayurvedic full body massage. For those of you who have never had one of these, full body really means FULL BODY. I think I made a bit of an idiot of myself by demanding a towel before emerging from the bathroom without any clothes on, but they humoured me and allowed me to keep the towel for all of five minutes while they did my head. Then they made me get on to the wooden table, and off it came. I don’t know if it is normal to feel so shy about total nudity, but I do. Nudity, for me, is reserved for husbands and – if they insist – doctors. But now I have to add masseurs to this short shortlist.

Nudity apart, it was a good experience. At least a “must do once before I die” sort of experience. They amount of oil they poured on me wasn’t funny!!! There were two women, working mostly symmetrically on opposite sides of the table. One had softer hands and more careful movements than the other. They made me lie on my back first, then after a while they made me flip over on to my stomach and they did my back, which was very nice. Then they made me flip over again and they did my front again. It was really quite difficult flipping over – there was so much oil on me and on the wooden table. In fact, when they pressed me this way and that, I kept slithering around on the table.

And in case you’re wondering, there wasn’t anything at all sexy about it. I once had a haircut that was distinctly more sexy.

After the massage, they made me get on to this wooden seat, with another slab of wood to rest my feet on. Then they closed a door in front of me and another over my chest, so that I was sitting boxed in with only my head in the open. That was surreal! I felt like I was in a horror movie and something grisly was about to happen to me. Luckily, all that happened was 5-10 minutes of steam, which was very nice. Thereafter, I was allowed use of the bathroom with a designated Kairali soap and shampoo and I emerged all soft and fluffy (or at least, that’s how I felt).

Maybe I wouldn’t want to do this again, or at least not in a hurry, but it is nice to have done it once, just to find out what it’s all about.

Self-fulfilling Prophecies

December 12, 2005

When I was studying Psychology, I read of an experiment where some duffer kids were told that they were the best in the class, but, being late bloomers, their time had not yet come but soon they would outshine everyone else in a radius of 17 miles etc. So then, these kids, who naturally had low self esteem, slowly began believing in themselves, and, moreover, their teachers (who did not know this was an experiment) began believing in them and giving them more attention etc (rather than focusing on the bright kids) and lo and behold, several months later, the duffer kids were at the top of the class.

The point being, that if you believe in yourself, you can achieve much more than if you don’t, and that it is much easier to believe in yourself if you have people around (particularly people whose judgment you respect, teachers, superiors, close family and friends) who believe in you.

On the flip side, I have often enough seen or heard of people who get discouraged and stop believing in themselves because just ONE PERSON – maybe not even a particularly important person – keeps telling them how worthless they are. It is so easy to wear down someone’s belief in themselves by just being derogatory and scornful all the time.

This doesn’t often happen to me, because I have a very stubborn conviction that I am good at most things. But, in music, that is an exceedingly tenuous belief, due partly to the fact that my teacher always used to run me down and scorn me. In some people that might bring out the best, but in most people it only turns them into failures, and so it almost did with me. Until one day, I decided that if playing in a group with my teacher and so many others was going to make me so miserable, if he was always going to snub me in front of everyone, and if I was really so much worse than everyone else, then I was just going to stop.

It was one of the most difficult things I ever did in my life. I hated and feared my teacher. I was young and significantly lacking in social confidence ( I hadn’t started my working life then). I enjoyed music and I really did want to play and to be respected by the other players. I worked hard at that. I didn’t want to quit. But I didn’t want to be humiliated. So I called up my teacher and told him that, very quietly and firmly. I remember rehearsing my speech, and then forgetting it all, but getting the words out anyway.

To my surprise and embarrassment, my teacher apologised most humbly and begged forgiveness. This was strange! But it was nice. After that, he made sure he never said anything I could take as derogatory. Somehow, I felt good about myself. My playing improved too.

Tennis, now, is a different story. After playing with Amit for a few months more than a year ago, I haven’t even touched my tennis racket. Then, I started tennis lessons, on 1 December. Surprisingly, I hadn’t forgotten much. My teacher was impressed. Today was lesson number three, and he was most impressed. He kept saying “too good”. 🙂 Is he the sort of teacher who says this to everyone to encourage them? I don’t think so. For one thing, last time there were another two beginners with me, and he didn’t say such things to them (though the girl was clearly not very good at all). For another thing, he says good when I know I’ve hit a good shot, and then too, not always. So he doesn’t just say it all the time.

As though this were not enough, Amit surprised me the other day by saying a most unexpected thing. He said, I have talent!!! Me? Talented??? I could hardly believe it. I have NEVER thought of myself as talented at ANYTHING. I think I am most ordinary at everything.

Ok, I’m not asking for anyone to write in and tell me how talented I am…:-) I mean, it’s just that my own concept of myself is not of a talented person.

I felt pleased as punch. I still haven’t got over it. Me. Talented. At tennis, what’s more. I mean, I have never been much of a sporty person. I play badminton abominably (though I love it) and I even swim only moderately well (though I learnt when I was 3).

So anyway, what with being so talented and my teacher being so pleased at my progress, I’m feeling positively gung-ho about tennis. I can’t wait to get out on the court and get better. Why do I have tennis only three days a week??? I want to play tennis NOW!

New Bike, Old Bike

December 11, 2005

My old bike is feeling neglected. It stands under the trees marking the car’s parking place and gets covered with leaves and dust like it’s always done. But now it feels neglected because the new bike, which is bigger, stronger, and shinier, is the one that stands close to the building, and gets taken out for a ride at every opportunity. Over the weekend, I parked the new bike next to the old bike under the tree. I’m sure they exchanged words. Now the new bike is equally dusty, but it still gets taken out for a ride and today it is going to be parked in the pride of place near the building again. Poor old bike, it’s going to have to remain resentfully under the trees, guarding the car parking space, while its former glory turns to rust.

My new bike is now three weeks old. It’s still only got 160 km on the odometer. But now I’m getting used to it. I no longer feel so shaky and I don’t have to spend all my energy concentrating on which gear I’m in. It’s almost become automatic to shift to a lower gear when I brake, and shift to a higher gear when the engine begins to pull. I don’t even have to really listen to the engine, I can just feel when it wants to move up.

It does feel good to ride a bike that has some power – after six years on my old bike. This fellow goes purring up to 50 without a thought and won’t allow me to use the fifth gear until I’ve exceeded that, which I very rarely do. My old bike use to struggle with all 60 cc of its engine, to hit 45, and then it would behave like a bucking bronco even on a relatively flat road.

Oh, and I’ve managed to keep my new bike on the vertical in the last few days. Wish me luck!

PS: My new bike is temporarily christened Bluebird, because it’s blue and it’s not a Thunderbird. I’m trying to think of a better name, but it might not happen.


December 4, 2005

Now as most of you know, I came to Bangalore eight years ago (in April) just after getting married. Ok, I know that’s not what getting Bangalored means, but it’s close enough. 🙂

And I was just remembering the Bangalore I saw then and have seen over then past eight years. I remember when:

  • Traffic went both ways on Residency Road

  • And Richmond Road

  • And so many other roads

  • Ring Road was where everyone went to watch flights take off

  • Outer Ring Road was agricultural land

  • Vivek Nagar Road had lots of big trees… and no pot holes (yes, really!)

  • Koramangala HAD roads

  • There was no flyover being constructed at the Airport Road-Ring Road junction and traffic went by so smoothly

  • You could hit 60 kmph on some roads in the city

  • Traffic jams happened on Thursdays (Infant Jesus Church day) and Saturdays (pub night). Period.

  • Agara Lake and Hebbal were practically out of town

  • ITPL was a twinkle in someone’s eye

  • Brigade Road was full of small-small shops where you could go bargain hunting

  • Victoria was a hotel

  • Shoppers’ Stop was where Shoppers’ Stop had always been

  • The words Rex, Galaxy, Symphony, and Plaza had something in common

  • Imperial showed shady movies

  • Lido existed

  • Cafe Coffee Day was the only internet cafe in town

  • The Only Place was on Brigade Road

  • If you said, “Let’s meet at Corner House,” nobody said, “Which one?”

  • Foodworld was the SUPER expensive super market on MG Road

  • Crossword was what came in the Sunday papers

  • Premier book shop was a landmark, and Landmark wasn’t

  • Commercial Street was a big bazaar and Big Bazaar wasn’t

  • Metro wasn’t either

  • You never needed fans

  • You usually didn’t need boats either

I guess I have become a Bangalorean!

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