Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Facebook 101

“I have often considered deactivating my Facebook account. It’s so depressing to see other people posting pictures of their perfect lives…their accomplishments, pets, kids, vacations, food, parties, relationship milestones etc., when I feel like nothing much is happening in my life!”

That’s what a friend of mine told me today, as we were venting to each other about the monotony of our respective lives. Now, as a veteran cynic, here were my few pearls of wisdom to her, on how to avoid Facebook-induced depression:

  • Remember what they say about “judging a book by the cover”? If there was FB when that idiom was coined, it would have said “Don’t judge a person’s life by their FB posts”. Obviously, we are all sharing only the “best” moments of our lives on social media (with exceptions, like this dude). But to think that someone’s life is unadulterated happiness, would be to believe that reality TV is un-edited.  
    • The so called “most romantic” couples on FB are probably fighting like cats and dogs behind closed doors…
    • That drool-worthy Vietnamese street food posted straight from “The perfect vacation in Vietnam” probably gave the poster food poisoning soon after….
    • That fun party you wish you were invited to probably had really good posers who could make even a funeral look like fun…
    • The new job announcement from your high-school rival was probably true…but what you didn’t know was that he was unemployed for 6 months before this (and struggling)…
  • If you are one of those people who constantly check FB after you have posted something, and get depressed when you don’t get enough “likes” and “comments”, baby, you need to listen to this song. Alisha Chinai is of course singing about a mutual exchange of hearts/love, but the same principle works for FB too. “Like ke badle mein like de…”.  Every time you “like” or “comment” on someone’s post, you’re making an investment. And you will get the returns. Those same people will return the favour when you post, to keep the vicious cycle going. Barter system is not dead.
  • A person who has 1029 friends on FB probably has no real friends. And by “real” I mean “not in the virtual world”.  Such a sorry state of the world when even YouTube views and likes can be bought

Sadly, FB is often a great example of that saying about “empty vessels making the most noise”. The happiest or most accomplished people are probably the least active on FB or don’t even have FB profiles. They are busy living their lives…climbing mountains, gazing at stars, telling bedtime stories or baking in their little kitchens that smell like heaven.
So while FB can be very appetising, it’s best consumed with a pinch of salt.
P.S. I have a few pretty aggressive investors on my friends list. They hit "like" two seconds after I post something, even lengthy reads like this one. So unless they are really fast readers like this girl, they are the kind of people who make FB hilarious.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Achilles' Heel

It wasn’t the first day of the year. Nor was it my birthday. But yesterday was a day of resolutions. Why? Well, when your almost 3-yr old tells you “Mummy, your tummy is like Daddy Pig’s”, you know it wasn’t really a compliment (for the uninitiated, Daddy Pig is Peppa Pig’s dad, whose tummy walks at least 500m ahead of the rest of his body).

So I decide to make my tummy history. I call up many local fitness clubs and gyms, and finally book a class in one. Brimming with excitement, I get into my workout gear and wait for “A” to get back from work and drive me to the centre. My little girl throws a tantrum saying she wanted to “exerzist” too. But I tell her that any more “exerzist” will make her vanish, and that will make me very sad.
“A”, of course, is very happy that I have finally taken the plunge. He is at his super-supportive avatar, not complaining at all about having to give the little missy her shower and dinner all on his own (a task that would make even Iron Man poop his pants).

Two seconds in the centre, and I have a panic attack of sorts. Not only was there no overweight person like me, there was nobody my age or fitness level. A room full of young girls who looked like they run triathlons for a living…and a friendly instructor who ran a boot-camp style routine. They had determination written on their faces, eyebrows squished and lips tightened to focus on their fiftieth squat. I was clearly in the wrong class.

Anyhow, I join the routine after a feeble attempt at cracking a joke about my fitness. I thought I would die after two squats, but I didn’t. In fact, it started to feel like fun. Why? Well, looking at the mirrored walls of the studio, I couldn’t help but think “mirror, mirror on the wall…who is the fittest of them all”. So I gulped my laughter and stretched my legs, up down, up down….squat, now stand…now jump…now lie down and touch your knee with your nose, and all this while, remember to breathe. Are you kidding me? It felt like running on a treadmill blindfolded, with a plastic bag over my face! I couldn’t stop…and I definitely couldn’t breathe.

While the Iron Ladies went on like they were having a stroll in the park, Daddy Pig panted and puffed. And then, snap snap snap. What was that? It was Daddy Pig’s knee. Something had snapped and I found myself sitting on the floor. Embarrassed, but trying to appear calm, I assure them that it was nothing major. But they wouldn’t believe me, especially after one of them swore she heard my bones snap! So I had them all fuss over me, help me sit on a chair with pillows under my feet, until “A” arrived to take me back home.

The look on his face…I cannot even describe it. If I had been running on a treadmill blindfolded, he looked like he was made to run on one after someone had pulled out his eyeballs. And to think that a 3-yr old is capable of such torture techniques over her bath and dinner is nothing less than bone-chilling! Anyway, given I couldn’t walk very well on my own, he helped me into the car and let me narrate my story. After a minute of silence (like they do in memory of someone who has passed away), he says “You know what, you are just fine the way you are”. Meaning “Please don’t ever do this again…to yourself or me”.

That night, the pain wasn’t too bad, so I went to bed early. In the morning, my leg was a tree trunk. My knee was swollen and it felt like I had metal chains tied to my right leg. I managed to get an afternoon appointment with our doctor, so I went to work limping.  I regretted it straight away. No, not because the pain got worse…but because everyone wanted to know what had happened. And although a “sports injury” is often quite cool, it’s actually quite awkward when it’s difficult to explain whether I had the injury due to sports or the lack of it (my shape definitely supports the latter).

At the doctor’s clinic, he asked me to sit and then stand up, stretch my leg and then fold my knee. Oh, the irony! He almost sounded like the fitness instructor. And when he inspected my knee closely and said he suspected ligament tear, all I could think of was…”thank god, my legs are shaved”.

P.S. I need to get a CT Scan – Arthogram done to find the extent of my physical injury. As for the mental trauma and embarrassment….there’s nothing that a bottle of wine doesn’t fix.

Moral of the story: “Perfection cannot be improved”. So don’t hurt yourself trying too hard!
And one for the ladies: Always have your legs shaved/waxed (whatever your weapon of choice) even if it’s winter and you know they’ll never be exposed. Life will find a way to catch you unguarded.

Edited to add: Turns out (after a CT scan) that I have two torn menisci and may need surgery and/or physio to recover. Damn.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Some other time...

While living in a new residential estate can often feel like living on a construction site (the sand, the workmen and the noise from their equipment, the road closures and lack of infrastructure in the beginning), one of the main advantages, we were told, was the sense of community that it fosters. You end up knowing everyone on the street, as you bump into them either overseeing the construction of your house, or while moving in with your furniture or as you spend time caring for your new front garden (for non-gardeners like us, the “caring” lasts until it’s time for the first lawn mowing). And of course, if the estate is developed by reputed/big developers, they organise events like movie nights, group fitness classes, BBQ in the new park, Easter egg hunt, kid’s boot camps etc. to help you “meet your neighbours”.

Now, those you know (have seen) me, know that the idea of a “fitness class”, that too with my “new neighbours”, would be as riveting for me as a worm cupcake (the type that witches are known to make). As for movie nights and BBQs, those I like…but unfortunately couldn’t make it to any, because we were either overseas on holiday, or at another one of those million birthday parties we attend (thanks to our little social butterfly). Easter morning egg hunt…erm, we missed that too, because by the time we woke up, we didn’t think there would be a single egg left.

So yesterday, on a relatively relaxed Sunday, we decided to walk to the park….and hoped to “see” some of our neighbours. The social butterfly chose to ride her trike, while her parents cleared the streets of dogs, people, birds and even plants (if we could), to keep her from running them over. It was a beautiful day…the sun, the clear blue sky, the hyperactive toddlers fighting over their turn at the swing. We exchanged polite greetings with the other parents, only to find out that they didn’t actually “live” in our estate. They had come over from the neighbouring suburbs because they had heard great things about our park.

So after half an hour at the park, we decided to head home, disappointed for not having spotted a single neighbour. Oh well, we did have a good time, nevertheless….and there were no accidents, major tantrums, or trying to hug/kiss unsuspecting young boys by our drama queen.
As luck would have it, the neighbours from the first house on our street were out on their freshly laid front lawn and driveway. We greeted, smiled, complimented their house and their child and shared a few of our “building house nightmares”. All was going very well. They even invited us in for a cup of tea, and we promised “some other time”. Just as we were saying bye, our little girl peed her pants. While I turned red (and “A”, a shade of purple), she proudly declared that she was watering their lovely lawn….and actually did a little run and turn, to…erm…equally spread her offering on the grass. Afraid to look our neighbour in the eye, I did catch a glimpse of them smiling politely and saying “it was OK”. By that time, I had nervously picked up the mobile water sprinkler in my arms, and let her finish the job on my skirt. I could hear “A” apologise profusely, and explain to them that we were trying to toilet train her and encouraging her to be without nappies when we went out short distances from home. It was hit and miss – some days she was really good at telling us, and other days, it was too late. But apparently, this is how they learn.

I don’t know how they took the uninvited discourse on toilet training (especially after what happened). But in my embarrassment, rush and nervousness, I started running with her. While I ran, I told the neighbour “I will get our hose and clean up the lawn.” How I planned to do that, don’t ask. We would need a really long hose…and, it would probably just be easier to borrow theirs. Most importantly, can water-based substances really be “cleaned” from grass?  So, I ran in my wet skirt, with an overjoyed toddler trying to pull her pants down because they were wet.

Just then, the neighbours from across the street came out into their driveway, and started walking towards me, smiling. I never wanted an invisible cloak so badly before. I kept running….and even before they could say anything, I cried out “some other time”! I didn’t look back to see the expression on their faces. But I won’t be surprised if they list their house for sale tomorrow. After all, who wants to live next to a complete lunatic who runs in a wet skirt, clumsily carrying their half-naked child….throwing gibberish in air!

The evening was gloomy. We decided to wear dark glasses and avoid eye contact with anybody in our street in the near future.