thewilltoholdon

As I breathe and think and dream


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To Long Lost Friendship

This morning I had a weird urge to look up those people on Facebook who had once been my friends when I was still with my ex. I have not been in touch with these people for the last five years if not more. Once upon a time they used to mean so much. There was a time when their name cropped up so frequently in my conversations. I knew who was having a fling with whom, who was expecting her first child, how one was trying to resuscitate a floundering business, how someone else had switched jobs, how someone was a compulsive liar. I met these people frequently – at parties, on Sunday brunches, in nightclubs, on vacations. There were some I liked a lot, some a little less and others whom I was not too fond of at all. However they all meant something. They used to be a part of my life, for good or for worse.
Now they are all gone. They vanished when my ex and I rode off into the horizon … in opposite directions. I have no idea whether that person did manage to turn his business around or whether the then pregnant lady had a boy or a girl. Busy as I am in my new life, majority of the time I barely spare those people a thought. But sometimes in a rare spare moment, their thought returns to irk me. I miss the presence of those friends/acquaintances of old times.
And this is not just about friends lost due to the crumbling of a marriage. I think of all those friends who had once been an integral part of my life and who now mean nothing. They are either lost to me completely or are reduced to an infrequent status update on Facebook, most times ignored. Where is X, the girl who was my best friend in junior school? She used to wear her brown hair in plaits and had a horde of younger brothers and sisters. We used to be so close that on days, when she was absent from school, I felt lost. Where is Y whom I used to share a room with ten years ago when I started my work life? I daresay I can find out where she lives these days from Facebook or some other social site. But here we are talking about the girl I used to chat with till 4 am many nights, sharing laughter, tears and deep secrets about boys and life. It feels weird that the girl who once used to know me better than myself, is now a stranger. Where is Z, the guy I once had a secret crush on fifteen years ago? I remember When I had discovered he had a girlfriend, I had been so heartbroken that I cried myself to sleep for a week.
They say we carry with us all those friends who matter. Do we? I have friends now. Precious though they are to me, they have never been able to replace all the different flavors of friends I have lost over the years. Maybe I should have made more of an effort to keep in touch. Maybe this is what life is and we are all ships in the night, passing through. Maybe one day I will once again rekindle that lost friendship with someone from the past. But for now, I raise a toast to all those long-lost friends and acquaintances. Here’s to you, guys! I miss you all.


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‘Meat’-ing Expectations

I have always been a non-vegetarian all my life. I like meat (both lean and red), seafood and the works. Being a Hindu, I should probably not be eating beef on religious grounds. But I have never really been a conformist and while due to health reasons I reach for lean meats most of the time, I love to dig into my occasional meatball sub and lasagna. My husband, on the other hand, comes from a very traditional and conservative Indian family. And they are ALL vegetarians. And very strict vegetarians at that. The rules of their household are – No meat. No fish. No eggs. Not even garlic for a number of his family members. Now for those who do not know much about Indian dietary rules, please do not ask me why garlic is clubbed with the rest of the non veg brigade. It just is.
When my husband moved to Australia in his early twenties, he was a vegetarian just like the rest of his family and he planned on staying that way. However he found it difficult as there were not too vegetarian options available at the time. There was just one burger joint that offered a decent vegetarian burger and he had that so many times that he soon became sick of it. He tried cooking at home. However that was not possible everyday with his study and part time job schedule. Besides his flat mate and best friend was a non vegetarian who loved cooking biryanis and chicken curries. So this meant that my husband had to cook vegetarian meals just for himself. It all became too much. His well-meaning flat mate suggested that he should ‘try’ eating chicken as it would make life a lot easier for him. My husband agreed and they went to a KFC joint where my husband had his first original recipe fried chicken. And he loved it. He took to eating chicken as the proverbial duck takes to water. From then on life in Australia was a lot easier for him and by the time I met him, he could cook a mean chicken curry himself. With me urging him on, he started liking lamb and goat too. He could not develop a liking for seafood as the ‘fishy’ smell was too much for him, he said. Also he did not like beef or pork. Still in our household, we had reached a happy compromise. Say, if we ordered pizza, it would many times be half and half – pepperoni on my half and chicken on his.
So all is well in our tiny world. The only problem we now face is that my husband’s family has no idea that he is no longer a vegetarian. My husband has never really ‘come out’ in front of them in this aspect. When we got married, my in-laws knew that I was a non-vegetarian but they assumed that I would mend my evil ways and embrace vegetarianism. Now my husband might have had something to do with them thinking on such lines, as in a bid to get me ‘accepted’ into his family as soon as possible, he probably took a few liberties with the truth. Since we live half a world away, we have never really been caught out till now. I just need to remember while on our weekly telephone conversations with my hubby’s family, that if someone asks me what’s for dinner, I need to quickly substitute words like chicken or lamb with mushroom or cottage cheese.
When we visit my in-laws in India, we of course have to live like vegetarians for the duration. This can be a little bit of a bummer because we expats always crave food from back home while abroad and it does not seem fair to be missing out on all the yummy non vegetarian options available when in your home country. I do put my foot down at times and insist on sneaking out of home and eating at a non-vegetarian restaurant. Like when in Hyderabad, I wanted to taste the incredible biryani the city is famous for and in order to escape from my sister-in-laws house, we had to cook up a false story of having to meet up with a friend for lunch.
Of course, things will be much more difficult when some of my in laws come to visit us in Australia. I guess we will have to empty the freezer and the pantry of anything vaguely resembling meat or fish. And probably get some new cookware for cooking vegetarian food as my in-laws are known to have noses like police sniffer dogs. That is the reason they avoid eating at restaurants which serve both vegetarian and non-vegetarian fare.
However the thing that is threatening to blow our vegetarian cover is not the imminent arrival of my in-laws from India – it is my toddler. My daughter loves her chicken and fish (“chick-chick” and “fishie” in her speak). And I can just imagine that day not very far away when she will blurt out on the phone or video chat that she had tandoori chicken for lunch. I imagine my mother-in-law will probably faint on the other side then! However that is not the worst that can happen. A friend who has a similar situation with her in-laws, tell me that her 4 year old has sensed that his mom and dad do not want non-vegetarian stories to leak out to his grandparents. Conniving devil that he is, he now routinely blackmails his parents and tells them – If you do not give me such-and-such, I will go and tell grandma that you made roast lamb for dinner. Gosh! These kids! I guess I now have a few months at most to start saving in order to meet future ransom demands. Or to get my husband to confess to his family about being a meat eater (and that will probably lead to my being branded the ‘evil wife’ who lead her pious husband astray). Or to really switch to vegetarianism.


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The Day I Almost Gave Up

Dieting isn’t easy. According to statistics, 95% of diets fail. And I almost ended up contributing to that number yesterday. I am in Week 4 of my 5:2 diet and I thought I had a handle on things by now. I was getting comfortable with the idea of feeling hungry, falling into the whole rhythm of ‘feasting’ and ‘fasting’ and telling myself that it wasn’t all that hard. Then along came a day like yesterday.
I knew when I got up in the morning yesterday that it was a fast day. However I found my usual optimism missing and something felt off. It was the middle of a hard week. I had been battling with some difficult work in office. On the personal front, things were pretty crappy as well. My husband was away on a 10 day overseas trip. This is the first time we have been separated since our marriage two and half years ago. My toddler was down with a cold and had been miserable and restless throughout the previous night. Add to that the fact that my husband is also my chauffer who ferries me part way to work and his absence made my commute pretty rough the whole week.
I thought of postponing the fast to the next day. But fasting on a Friday is not much fun. So I soldiered on. By midday, I was feeling really out of sorts. I felt uncomfortable and could feel a headache start to form. Even my usual tactics of shopping during the lunch hour failed to give much joy. My eyes were continually drawn to all the shops selling pies, cheesecakes and ice cream. I was incredibly tempted to step inside a particularly heavenly smelling bakery and had to drag myself away from there. Back in the office, I heated up some soup for myself. That was another mistake. Based on what I had found out about myself in the past few weeks, the fasting rhythm that best suits me is when I eat nothing at all till dinner, except maybe some iced teas or lemon water. Eating mini portions of food in the day somehow makes me all the more hungry. And sure enough, post soup I started craving food even more.
By the time I reached home, I was exhausted and had convinced myself that I would not be able to continue with the fast that day. Maybe I would give it a try again the next day or else just make do with single fast day in this week. Not the end of the world, right? “No, tomorrow is another day and today you can eat!” said my food deprived body. However I did feel guilt raising its head as well. I had been so good all this while and it felt wrong to throw it all away. Also my conscience reminded me that this is how my previous attempt at 5:2 had ended last year. First there was one missed day , then two and then before I knew it, I had given up on the whole thing.
It was a struggle to prepare my daughter’s dinner and while helping her eat, I came up with the idea that would in a way let me have my cake and eat it too! If I could just hold on my fast till 9pm, then from 9pm the previous day when I had last eaten to 9pm that day it would be 24 hours and that should count for a full day of fast. So technically I should be able to eat after 9pm and still salvage my fast day. That thought cheered me up a bit. No more guilt about having abandoned my fast midway. While having my dinner of grilled fish and lentil and vegetable soup, I told myself that this was Dinner Part I and Part II would follow after 9pm. With that thought, I went to put my daughter to sleep. It turned into a battle of wills for she was in no mood for sleep and would rather ask a million times about her dad and when he would be back home. Reassurances and maybe a hundred lullabies later, she finally dropped off. By then I was so tired, I just crawled into bed myself, the thought of preparing Dinner Part II too exhausting to contemplate.
And surprisingly I slept well. When I got up in the morning beating my alarm clock by ten minutes, my first thought was that I had gotten through the fast day. Hurrah! And further good news, when I went to weight myself this morning, I had lost almost a kilo since the last weigh-in a week ago. Boy, am I glad now that I did not give up last night! You see, it pays to hang on. I am now looking forward to my next fast day. After all I still have a long way to go. But as for now, where was that cheesecake shop again? Today is a feast day, guys!