Starting to Kick – Wk 3

It had been a very busy week work wise. Hence the delay in my updates. This week my swimming day wasn’t great. Had an hours sleep the previous night, woke up all tired and sleepy and had to be in a school hour and a half distance away, the weather was awful, you name it. In spite of all that I was determined to go ahead with my swimming lessons hoping that I wouldn’t drown myself because of the lack of sleep. I reached the pool only 10 mins before my lessons.

The previous week we had a discussion at work on the techniques to be used to float on the back easily and get back up without my arms flailing. I wanted to try that technique to see if I could get back from floating without holding the pool wall. I wasn’t very successful but after 5 times I got it right the last time. My instructor made me try the kick on the front and get me to move from A to B.

I was doing the kicking all wrong by using the whole leg instead of just the feet. After almost 10 times, I wasn’t able to do anything with my leg. I was exhausted. Combine that with the fatigue I was done for the day and it was only 15 mins into the lesson. I alternated my kicking lessons with my trials for the floating and was more determined to try harder until the end of the lesson.

The last 10 mins of the lesson (out of the 30 mins) was spent with me trying to float, kick, and watching the clock alternatively. Once it was over, I wasn’t be able to walk straight. Mr M came to my result, as usual. But I was able to successfully move at least 30 cm using my kicks and that is a great deal for me. I will take any small success I can get with respect to my swimming lessons.

Staying Alive – 85 – Wk 2

For people who are wondering about the title, it is the effect of watching the programme called “The Chase” sponsored the Gala Bingo. I love those bingo calls that is shown in those adverts. It is also very relevant to the current post.

Week 2 of my swimming lessons went well. Nothing too dramatic, sadly. One of the best investments I have ever made in my life is 20£ which I spent on a silicone based ear plugs and a very good pair of swimming goggles. Saved my life to be honest. I went in a little early for my lessons so that I can get a bit more familiar with the water and make sure it knows who I am. There were other lessons going on for kids, but I stayed on the other patch and tried to remember to float. Didn’t get very far, I should say, but at least I did not cry for help.

I got a noodle and tried to hold on to the edge of the pool and float on my back. It was good, I was getting comfy, but I couldn’t get myself to get back in the water and stand. I still have to practice it a bit more on my own to identify the small trick that will help me do that. Thanks to all the efforts of hitting myself on the pool edge to get back up, I have got a shiny bruise on my wrist. I am OK with it as long as I get somewhere with floating.

Since the sectioned part of the pool was open to everyone, three young kids decided to show off and annoy me a bit. This has happened in the past and I am sure it will happen again. But thanks to the super cool ear plug I didn’t hear what they said, even though one kid did come to me and said something in Welsh which I decided to ignore because I don’t think he said anything nice anyway. An instructor came around and asked them to behave because they were mucking about in the water dragging each other down. They were just being kids, may be a bit mean, but kids nonetheless.

When my lesson started I was still not able to float on my back and I was still not able to get my leg up to kick, but at least I tried very hard without panicking and was able to put my face inside the water and breathe out. I did drink and inhale a few pints of it in the process which has triggered my sinus to go berserk, but it is part of the process I guess. The funny part was when my instructor came around to remove my goggles. I was wondering why. Well, I had worn it the wrong way around. 😀 I didn’t even realise that. I didn’t place it correctly and I realised that when I went into the water. I have got a red eye to show for my mistake.

But hey, at the end of the day, I survived even though she made try the kick so much that I was exhausted and started looking at the clock and counting the minutes. I didn’t panic, I didn’t feel like bawling my eyes out, I was able to feel the water, see the water and came out alive with some bruises and red eye to show for my efforts. Not too bad, I should say. I ain’t gonna cross the English Channel any time soon, but at I am trying to keep up the effort to learn.

Bookshops, not!

This is how the story goes. Someone we know was in London for a couple of days for a conference of sorts. We met over dinner one day and caught up with all the gossips and news and such. Later when they were back to their own place of residence, they gave us a call to check with us if we would be able to return something that they bought from a bookshop in Soho. Mr M and I enjoying being in bookshops. We always go and check out what’s new in Waterstones/Foyles or even those small bookshops that look like Ollivanders from Harry Potter. We agreed and they sent us the item. First and foremost, we knew just by looking at the courier cover that it wasn’t a book. If it wasn’t, then we wondered how on earth did they get that in a bookshop. To clarify some more, it was an adult ‘toy’. Now that left us baffled. The receipt that was attached points to a bookshop, sure. Since neither of us has been to that area before we took the help of Google Maps (where would I be outside India without the aid of these maps) and went around one Saturday afternoon.

The board outside the shop did say ‘Soho Original Bookshop’. Alright, that’s perfect. Looked quite old enough too. We didn’t see any signs of it being a licensed adult store or anything or maybe we failed to notice it if there was any. Now imagine, if this was indeed a bookstore how embarrassing would it be to check with them if the receipt of an adult toy sale belonged to them. We were quite sceptical. Did we have a choice? No. So we both went in and it all became clear. I am sure that there were some books somewhere there, but it was primarily an adult store. Nothing wrong with that. There are more than one in that area and they have signs and all. What I couldn’t comprehend was why to call them ‘…Original Bookshop’, when it wasn’t just that. I am still going with the assumption that they had some in the basement or upstairs (I saw the stairs…just not sure if it led down or up or both)

I kept pestering Mr M about the name of the shop. I couldn’t get it out of my head. How am I supposed to know which bookshop is just a ‘book’ shop and which one isn’t? Why go with a store name that doesn’t serve the purpose of the items being sold. Don’t the adult licensed shops also sell books related to it? I get so confused by these things. The pattern goes awry in such cases unless you know the place and the history and such. If I was a tourist and ended up there thinking that it is a bookshop, I would have been embarrassed and flustered more than anything else at least until the curiosity gets the better of me 😉

A few weeks later, we were walking through the Euston station road from Drummond Street. Just opposite the bus stop, there was a ‘Gentleman’s Club’.  Now, this I know a little bit from the stories I have read. The store next to this is called ‘Euston Bookshop’. Now again, this doesn’t look like any bookshop. Why? because it is covered with a curtain and the only window that is present is tinted. I almost asked Mr M to go over there while we were waiting for the bus, but one closer look and my jaw dropped again. Mr M also thought that it might not be an actual bookshop. Again, why this cloak and dagger thing? Why not just name something for what it is. It is not as if it makes any difference to people here. A couple of folks who walked past were peering through the tinted window and were having fun. I would have done the same thing. It is our natural curiosity. The only reason we thought for people to use the term bookshop in their store titles might be related to some regulations in some areas, even though that is stretching it a bit too far. At least that might make a little bit sense. People always baffle me. At least I got a good story out of this, one I will remember to tell for a long time 😉

That day when my heart almost gave up on me

In most of the tube stations here in London, we do not have stairs. We always have the escalators or a lift. I try and take the stairs when and where available and if it’s easily accessible too. One day on my way to school, I decided to use the Hampstead station route. I have been through this station and always noticed that no one ever uses the stairs, not that I had noticed one anyway. That day for some reason I saw the sign to go through the stairs and it was kind of tucked in a corner. That should have blinked the red lights…but I can be colour blind sometimes and I wondered why do I have to wait for those lifts (one of the four was out of order)? Let me just climb the stairs. It said, “There are 320 steps and do not use it unless it is an emergency”. Now we know that those are standard legal terms that they write everywhere. 320 isn’t much, is it? So I just started climbing the stairs.

Slowly and steadily as I climbed step by step my mind started to realize that there wasn’t anyone else climbing other than moi and then it slowly began to realize that there was a reason for that number 320 and the steps being tucked away in a corner. I must have climbed almost halfway through it when my heart decided that enough is enough. I literally thought it would stop breathing. I had my asthma inhaler with me, but I had already used my reliever one in the morning so there shouldn’t be a need for me to use one for another 12 hours minimum.

I thought I must be halfway already and there would be no point going down and taking the lift, so I might as well just climb the remaining stairs albeit very very slowly. In order to divert my brain from the panic rising in my heart, I started imagining a scenario where I am closer to the end of the stairs, even though when I looked up I could only see more steps curling and curling with no end, and that people are waiting for me with a camera and a mic and giving a live commentary about how close I was to making it through…yadda yadda yadda… I saw myself finally climb those last few steps and those people looking at me like I am a fool to even attempt it but then also praising me for my valiant efforts on completing it. With those scenes playing in my mind and willing my heart to give it’s all (I haven’t made my will yet… and I wanted to be conscious when I finally reach to make one) I finally made it. I almost crawled the last few steps. There wasn’t a soul around to see me and if there was one, they must have thought me a numpty to even attempt such a thing.

My legs almost gave up on me and that wasn’t the end of it. I still had to reach my school which was another 10 mins of drive from there by bus. I ended up having another dose of my inhaler and couldn’t speak for almost half of the day. My throat was all scratchy from trying to breathe. One of my colleague who saw me in such a bizarre state asked about it and I told her about my expedition of the day and she said that Hampstead was the steepest of the climbs and that is why people do not use the stairs in that station. I felt so dumb. Not my finest Monday I should say. My thinking was all muddled up that morning (I will blame the weekend!)

A couple of weeks later, one of my colleague came in the bus I was in and she almost fell down getting to her seat. On enquiry, she said that she just climbed the 320 stairs which she hadn’t known was that steep and it almost killed her. I sat back a little relieved that I wasn’t the only one 😉

An end and a beginning

It has been almost 14 years (more like 13.5 years) since I joined my current company. This week will be my last week there. Finally, after saying goodbye to a lot of my colleagues, it is now my time to venture out. It is quite a long time to spend in an organization on the same team, even though we have had different managers, the teams have been merged, reorganized etc. The worst and some of the best years of my life has gone by during that time.  I have worked in 2 other organizations but only for a limited amount of time. I hadn’t made any friends there. Acquaintances…yes. Friends, no. This is the only place where I have made friends and have retained them too. I have people who care about me and help me whenever and wherever possible. Like any journey, I have had people leave and new people join. But the best part of it is the experience. The experience of seeing the organization grow, the successes and failures, the growth of the people involved, all of it. The end of my Vanvasam (reference to Ramayana, where Lord Ram was sent to the forest for 14 years), as my manager put it 😉 or end of my Vanvasam & Agnyatavasam (reference to Mahabharata, where the Pandavas were in the forest for 12 years and 1 year incognito) which might be more appropriate in my case.

Now to the beginning of a new age. Literally. The big 4 O. Even though I don’t feel it yet, it is still a fact that I just crossed the big 4. Nothing dramatic happened. Maybe just the weather which turned a bit dull and rainy but the sky is slowly clearing up. I hope when I am back from India in a fortnight, I will come to a sunny spell. It is going to be a very short and very hectic visit. Given that I have 1001 things to do and not have enough time to do it all, my blogging might take a hit.  I might have my usual weekly prompts scheduled in place, though. Hopefully, there won’t be much of dramatic changes in the world until I am back. Stay safe and Happy Blogging.