Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Confessions of a resolution-breaker

For a good part of the last decade, I have embarked on every New Year with "losing weight and getting to shape" as one of my resolutions. New years are born, progress into middle age, grey and lumber into old-age and death, but this resolution of mine has always remained the same - fresh, untouched and young. It resiliently survives every year and gets into the next list for the next year. To be fair to myself, this is the only one that has remained in the list for so long - all the others are either kept or knocked off the list because I know they don't fit into my scheme of things.

I am going to use this post to rant about my inability to stick to this resolution, which continues to haunt. I am sure I will have plenty of empathy from like-minded readers out there. And this post might also be sneered upon by many a fitness-freak. But then that is a risk that one always has while speaking out one's mind.

As I have always affirmed, I love good food - read "fattening food". Most people who know me consider me strong-willed (hubby will vehemently vouch for this). But this so-called strong will trembles like jelly and comes down on its knees at the thought of good food. So when hubby dear suggests we order pizza, I make a feeble attempt at refusal saying "O should we really?" And to give him due brownies in his contribution in making us a rotund couple, he says “Yes" with utmost finality and certainty. My mind, which was trying to do a tight-rope walk on the very thin line of my new year resolution, does a little jig and hums to itself as it loses balance and falls into the abyss. I waste no time in ringing up Pizza Hut and ordering a pizza. When the pizza guy offers a new stuffed-cheese version, I give in and tell myself "Ok - just this once".

I have never been a "sports-loving" type person who loves physical exertion. The rest of this paragraph has a list of excuses that I have for not exercising and staying fit. If you are a fitness freak, please feel free to skip the remaining stretch. In the convent school that I went to, we had 1 sports-hour a week till standard 6, after which age, I assume that the nuns were of the opinion that girls did not need sports. Being an only child, I thrived on books for company during vacations. Well into my adulthood, I found that the lack of interest in physical exertion was not helping me with my resolution at all. I used to walk to and from school daily - which was a good 5 km, and was enough activity for me then. The only activity I still love is walking and I get to do very little of that with my long hours at work and now, a baby at home.

Inertia, inertia, inertia - I stick to my resolution by exercising promptly and keeping tab on my food habits for a week. And then I relax for a day.. And inertia sets in. And I feel almost certainly that my metabolism, which has a mind of its own, is also so used to status-quo that any change in the fat-burning rate is very slow and requires a lot of stimulation. Heredity is not a strong point for me here. There are marked tendencies towards pudginess on both mom's and dad's sides. And it looks like I have inherited the worst from both the gene trees.

And last but not the least, I have to talk about the many friends and well-wishers and sometimes total-strangers who have taken liberties to casually joke about the weight-factor. The first few times this was the butt of jokes, I went beet-red with shame. I made silent promises to myself that I would do something about it. The next few times, I really didn't feel as bad about it as initially. And then within a year or so, I got to a stage where I could joke about it myself. I should say that these people have made a phenomenal contribution in making me mentally "accept" the problem. And as long as I could accept it mentally, I could live with it. I recognize this, but am yet to shake myself off this state.

And so I begin 2007 with this resolution still in my list. This year, I have spent some time thinking of the reasons behind my failure. And now that I have made my confession, I feel a wee bit more equipped to stick to my resolution. Cheer me on, folks :-)

Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Tower of Babel

I love languages. Probably, some of this love stems from the fact that we spoke 2 languages at home, and I was exposed to 2 more languages quite early in life. But 3 of the 4 languages I knew were Indian, and 2 of them South Indian - so obviously they had similarities. My first exposure to a non-Indian language was when I started learning French. It was during this period that I stumbled upon connections between French and Indian languages - and marvelled at the wonder of the links.

A shirt is "chemize" in French, a baggy top is "kameez" in Hindi. Bread is "Pain" (pronounced "paan" without stressing the last "n") in French - And wow, it is "pao" in Hindi. Brother in English is so similar to the Sanskrit "Bhraatha" and the root for "patriarch" and "pitha" must be the same. Lufthansa, the German airlines, literally means "flying bird". "Hamsa" in Sanskrit is a bird - swan. The name for numbers also point a close connection - Septa, the Latin root for 7, which is "Sapta" in Sanskrit - if we start looking, what we find might be just too amazing. I guess most of these connections would have been spoken about and researched by etymologists across the world. My thrill and amazement at these links is proabably more due to the fact that I discovered them through serendipity. But there are certain bizarre similarities - In colloquial Tamil, the "kiddie" word for water is "akkam". I had heard kids saying that all my life, but when my daughter started said that word one of these days, it struck me that it was so close to "aqua", the Latin root for water. Was this a real connection or was this coincidence?

If you look up Wikipidea on the Tower of Babel, it says "According to the narrative in Genesis Chapter 11 of the Bible, the Tower of Babel was a tower built by a united humanity to reach the heavens. God, observing the unity of humanity in the construction, resolves to destroy the tower and confuse the previously uniform language of humanity, thereby preventing any such future efforts." I don't know if this story is for real, but somehow, like a lot of things in mythology, it does seem to make some sense.

If you would like to look at the connections between words in different languages, here is a nice site that discusses the origin of words and how they appear across languages -

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

New beginnings

We would all love to start the new year with some joy, cheer and optimism. I apologize if this post is not fitting to the mood of the season. But I found this topic to be more meaningful than all my usual blabber and more representative of new beginnings.

On the first working day of the new year, a colleague of mine had sad news to share - his cousin's 3 year old son had been diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Luekemia (ALL), a form of blood cancer. This is the 2nd time in the last couple of months that I had heard of the disease. Two months back, I had received an email from a colleague, appealing for financial aid for Aditya, a 4 year old kid affected by ALL, whose only hope lay in an expensive Bone Marrow Transplant that could be done only in the U.S. Incidentally, Aditya's mother had also worked for our firm a few years back. He is now undergoing treatment in the U.S. Words cannot describe the suffering that these kids and their parents endure. God help them in their suffering and give them the courage to sail through this. http://adityak02.googlepages.com/latestupdates - This page has updates posted by Aditya's dad on his health. There is also a link through which donations can be made for his treatment.

It is when one hears such things that one realizes the pettiness of whining about the small hicuups faced in life. For a while, let us stop being warped in our problems - Let us pray for the health and long life of these kids and the many many others who die of hunger, malnutrition and disease. Let them have new beginnings and reason for hope and optimism. Let this world be a better place for them this year. Let the buds stand a chance to bloom..