First Live Football

Recently we were lucky to get some tickets for the football match between Swansea City and Nottingham Forest at the Liberty Stadium. Mr M watches a lot of sports on the tele. I always thought that football is slightly boring as you could watch the whole of 90 mins and there still wouldn’t be any goal. A whole match gone by without any team scoring a single goal. Very frustrating, I should say.

So, when we went to the stadium, after some tense moments regarding the tickets, we finally got in. Even though I have been to the Liberty stadium for a rugby match, the seating for the football was different. I found that the Nottingham Forest fans were seated together in a separate section. Slowly and steadily the pitch started to change. The Swans fans were seated close to those Nottingham Forest fans too. Odd that. You can imagine the drums starting to roll, the booing starting to gain momentum etc. It was becoming exciting, at least to me.

When you watch a football on the tele, you don’t realize how much is going on in the pitch. Every step counts. The reaction of the fans for every single movement in the game keeps you engrossed in the game. It is a totally different game altogether out there. I never realized that. I was getting distracted with all the fan exchanges that was going on. The more rowdier it got, the more fun it was to me 😀 No wonder people like to watch a match live.

When I thought that I would end up watching a game with 0-0 result, Notts finally scored towards the end and changed the game stats. All together I had lot of fun watching the match live.

Drama Llama – Wk 1

It has been a while since I wrote about anything. But now, I have got a reason to record what is going on. So I might try and post weekly about it so that I can see how I am progressing.

I have always be afraid of water. No clue as to why. It might have something to do with my parents trying to dunk my head in the river Ganges when we were on our once in a lifetime trip, or it might have been my friends who tried to drown me in the sea in Bali. Whenever we visit a water park I opt for the looking-after-the-bags duty which will keep me away from the water and the waves. I don’t like water entering my ears. Not one bit. Now I live in a sea side city with beautiful beaches. I love to go and get my feet wet in the sea but that is all I am willing to do. I have had “learn to swim” as my New Year Goal for so many years that I ultimately stopped adding it to my list.

So I decided recently that I will try and get this fear out of my way. It has been going on for way too long. I got myself enrolled in a “adult swimming confidence” lessons, which runs for half an hour every week. I did my first week. Well, at least I am still alive and am here to tell you all about it. So that is a start.

I knew I was afraid of water and I wouldn’t get in the pool, but I didn’t expect that I would be petrified. My instructor asked me to get into the pool first, and I wouldn’t. I was getting terrified more by the minute and was on the verge of getting up and walking away. It didn’t matter that the pool was so shallow that the water was only up to my hip. It took her a lot of effort to convince me that she wouldn’t let me drown and she will be there to hold my hand for me to relax. My first activity was to lie on my back and enjoy the water. Again, I wasn’t gonna let my ears get wet. As a result I wasn’t relaxing and I was panicking to get my leg back into the water. All the while I was holding on to the noodle and there was no chance of going under water. But how would a scared mind know that. After 4 attempts she realised that I wasn’t gonna do it well on my first attempt so she asked me to try and lie of my front and try and kick the water. I tried. I really really tried. I promise. My legs wouldn’t go up. It was happy inside the water touching the ground. But at least I wasn’t panicking about getting my ears wet.

After half an hour of this drama, my legs still wouldn’t stop shaking in-spite of it being inside the water and now that I have stopped doing any manoeuvre. She praised me for trying so hard and that I had got into the water in-spite of my fear and survived 30 mins in it. That is a big plus according to her. I thanked her and was happy that I am getting out of that place.

When I came back home (thanks to Mr M for picking me up after I didn’t want to wait another 20 mins for the next bus) I just wanted to give up and bawl my eyes out. I was so close to losing my shit. I hate that I am so afraid, but also glad a bit that I am doing something about it. If you don’t get any more updates about my swim drama, you know that I have drowned in the shallow pool of water.

What’s with these fire alarms…

On Friday, we had a fire alarm going on in the school just before the school was about to start. Thankfully, not many kids were in the building. The steam from the Kettle in the kitchen was the culprit. Having done the recent Fire Marshal Training and being nominated as one of the Fire Marshals, it wasn’t easy to remember to herd all the kids and not to mention the school dog, through Fire Exits and stand there freezing in the cold until it was all sorted.

On Saturday, we were back home after a quick trip to Central London for shopping and were relaxing watching Taggart when the fire alarm in our apartment went off. What with all the fire incidents that have been going recently, we had to rush out with our essentials (phone, wallet and a jacket) and were waiting and wondering what caused it. Looks like someone smashed the fire alarm box on a floor below us. Thankfully, the fire engines (almost 4 of them) arrived within 5 minutes and checked all the floors and ensured us that nothing was amiss and let us in. We were outside standing in the freezing cold for almost 15 minutes until all was sorted. If only I could get hold of that person who did that. Wonder why they did it. Some thought that it was a prank by some drunk person. It was just 7 pm for god’s sake. I guess we should be happy that it wasn’t 2 am or such. I would be happy to not to hear those alarms for a long time now.

Catty Business

I am not sure if you people know anything about my (mis)adventures with animals, mostly cats. I did a whole rant post. Among all animals that have troubled me, cats rank the first. If you read that post you will understand. They never were happy to see me. Want proof, check this post.  If you see, there is an underlying theme there. They don’t like me and they think they can overtake me and my home. I don’t really care for their liking towards me, because it is sort of mutual, even though I can’t hate any animals, liking is a different matter altogether. But the second one, I do have a say and unless you are a very big animal like Elephant/Lion or something like that, I can overtake and overthrow you from ‘my’ home. Period.

What brought this on? Yesterday while I was locking my front door on my way out, I heard a distinct meow. Wondering if my nightmares are coming true I turned around and saw that there wasn’t any cat nearby. But then the sound kept increasing and in a few seconds, I saw a cat coming down the stairs. I am waiting for the day when they arrive by lifts, but then the lift in my apartment is of the grilled sort. So, unless someone helps them, they can’t.  It came down to my floor. Sat on the floor and started meowing me. I tried to ask the cat, if it wanted anything and why is it even in this apartment. It started to meow a little forcefully and strongly as if it was annoyed that I didn’t get what it said. It felt for that minute that the cat was really trying to tell me something and then started to scold me because I wasn’t getting a single word of what it was saying. Thankfully my watchman, who was on his way down, chased the cat away. Not before it turned and gave me ‘that’ look. Why? I thought I was done with them. Not again, man. Not again.

Broken

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“Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching, and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be. I have been bent and broken, but – I hope – into a better shape.”
― Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

Letting go

The context of this post is something I started last week, but never got around to completing it. It was also a reason for my yoga based post for yesterday’s SoCS prompt. I have never been good at meditation. I have come close to calming down a couple of times, but have realized that I can never completely empty my mind. I dread to think what will happen if that ever happens 🙂 The reason being that I cannot let go. I am not a control freak even though I expect a little discipline in things I am involved in. But other than that I have become a little chilled out (than what I was much earlier) thanks to the mellowness that comes with age (or rather the acceptance that I cannot change or control everything in life). My thoughts travel so fast in all directions and I can think of too many things that I switch between context’s even before I can complete one train of thought. My friends know how I speak out of context suddenly (that happened today too) without any preamble and then I have to trace back to the actual point of the switch of my thoughts. Letting go of the thoughts or emotions and to go with the flow is something I am not good at all. I have never been and I am not sure how I will fair in my older age. While talking about it to my friend today on the way back from our brunch (photos will come later), I realized that more than letting go I am afraid that I would have to restart and trust me I have done my share of restarts in life and it is not that easy. But then life never is.

OK, that got a little too deep and emotional. Lets move on. I realized while writing the post, that I know of 4 different songs titled “Let * go ”  with 4 different contexts, even though at the end it all boils down this

Some of us think holding on makes us strong, but sometimes it is letting go. – Herman Hesse

 

Speak freely and….slowly

This post or at least the content and intent of this post is due for long and Thanks to a post I saw today, I decided to complete it today. Warning: might be a long post 🙂

I don’t remember much of my childhood, but I do remember events which made an impact on me. I was a slightly rebellious kid, no doubt about that, even though I was calm and quiet and all that. And I was calm and quiet and labelled a very ‘reserved child’ because I had a hard time speaking fluently. I used to stammer and stutter ‘a lot’. I cannot frame a sentence completely without stuttering at least half of it. It was such an effort to speak. So I always used to shy myself away from anything that requires me to use my voice. And hence the label of a ‘reserved child’ among the relatives. Little did they know how much of a tom boy was I at school. Sometimes, my mind used to rush with all these thoughts but I could never get it out. And when people younger to me made fun of my stutter, all I used to do was to go to my room and sit and cry and wonder why.

I always believed that there is always a balancing act in nature. And for me that came in the form of my voice (irony isn’t). I couldn’t speak fluently but I could sing. And I was pretty good at it. And to my surprise, when I sang, not even once I stuttered or stammered and words just flowed. Imagine my relief , not to mention to be good at something other’s weren’t. But again, I never sang before anyone else. At home, I used to sing loudly and love the way the words came out unhindered. But then things changed , for good. In school, they were selecting students for singing during a Christmas celebration function. And the Headmistress noticed that I sang well. And since I was already a slightly-terror kid at school, she thought that I was confident personified and put me in a skit. Imagine my horror. I could not string a single sentence for almost 5-6 rehearsals. She got really pissed off and she even caned me that I was doing it on purpose, because I had already told her that I wouldn’t be able to do it, even when she suggested it. Yeah, I was putting on a show so she would let me be. That is what she thought and the punishment was to call my parents so that she can report me. Good Luck with that, I thought 🙂 When my parents explained to her that I have a problem with speaking and I stutter naturally , she was surprised. She didn’t quite understand how I could sing well and not speak. Something even my parents weren’t sure of.  I really liked that Headmistress, because she was the one who did some study on that and came back to my parents and told them about it. Seems like my brain processes at a speed which is almost twice that of which my tongue can handle and process it. No Sh**!!! And it can be rectified with Speech Therapy. Those times (early 80’s) the speech therapy weren’t that popular or cheaper. My parents were hardly making the ends meet, so there went any hope of it. That would also explain why I don’t stutter during singing, because there is a restricted and controlled flow of the words and coordination between the brain and the tongue. Well, if I cannot make the speech therapy, I can at least sing my way through, right ? Except that life is not  a musical.

But the fact that I could sing without stuttering gave me a lot of hope. I started taking part in my school’s singing competitions and won. But I still could never talk to people or even take part in the regular school activities that involves speaking up. And throw the fact that not many people know about this problem into the mixture and things sometimes gets worse. Like this one time when my Headmaster (many years later) forced me to recite something during assembly and that took like ‘for-ever’. I did warn him though. Not to mention that I had to endure the snickers (not the eating kind) from the whole school. Thank you Sir. But when he realized the problem, he felt real bad about it and from then on, no assembly recitations for me , yay!!!

Everytime I changed school I had to endure this issue, because of non-awareness. I had more problem speaking in my native language (Tamil) than in English. Go figure!!! So in high school, when our teacher wanted us to read something, I would really jump from one bench to another as soon as I see that my turn is coming up. Anything to avoid it. And I always made sure that if I finally get the chance, it was always towards the end of the period so that I wouldn’t have much time to go ahead with it. Oh, the things that I had to come up with to avoid talking in front of people. But ask me to sing and I will not bat an eyelid and go ahead with it 🙂 I kept that with me and when my friends knew that I could sing, they would have requests and most of my high school and college free times were spent singing. Nothing like it to use what you have got as a confidence booster.

But when I finished my post graduation and got an offer with a MNC for a computer science engineering job, new scares were in place. Till then , my environment was controlled and less people involved, who already knew my problem and my reason I don’t talk much to people. But now I am going into a new world, away from my family and I wasn’t sure anymore about how I was going to make it. And thanks to all those friends of my parents and relatives, because they were suggesting speech therapy now (when I was in my 20’s) to enable me to be confident about facing the world ahead. I had seen the effects of it because one of the students in my Uni whose conditions were worse than mine, took a course with a professor in Speech Therapy in the Uni and I saw the effects of it and knew that it would do good to my speaking capability. Not to mention my confidence , which can do with some booster too. But I thought about it and then rejected it because I didn’t have the energy to do it , nor the money. Because I know that my parents would have to borrow more money than they have been doing, for this. Also enduring the taunts and snickers all these years, I was so used to it, I thought, if the world does have a problem with my stuttering, then so be it. I am good. So what if I cannot speak fluently. I have earned good grades, good job in spite of all this and thankfully in the Computer Science field, I don’t have to talk much with my mouth. My hands can do all the talking it wants 😀 and I ain’t no King George VI who would be required to make a speech from time to time. The world can survive without my speech therapy and even, I will.

I won’t say I did not have any problems at work, because any discussion would eventually require me to talk but people were considerate. The only thing that I couldn’t get into was any conferences or discussions that involved any customer interaction. I could talk a mile a minute to the ones closer to me. Give me a new person and I will just shut down or rather my mouth does. Even now after all these years, when my brain has slowed down a lot and I don’t have to worry about stuttering and all that stuff anymore, I still find it difficult to start a conversation. I prefer emailing someone at work rather than pick up the phone and get the work done quickly. I do not involve myself in any customer calls or anything that involves a group. I don’t even do any demos to my second level manager. Not because I am not confident of my work, but because of the fact that I have never done it and my confidence is still low without adding any pressure of performing well. I can talk to this same manager outside of the demo without any issues , may be even with very less stuttering, but put me in a group, even if virtual, and my tongue is tied. If you see me in a group, it is guaranteed that I will not open my mouth unless it is necessary, even if the stuttering has reduced much over the years.

I do stutter more if my brain is not relaxed , that is to say when I am too tired or too worked up over something or too tense. Anything that causes the brain – tongue interaction to falter, you will still see me stuttering a lot. And when I feel low about it, I go home and sing myself heartily. I am no professional in singing, even though I tried learning classical for a month (and then the teacher left that place and that got discontinued). But I can hold myself well. I never participated in any competitions other than the ones I had in school. But then I never really felt like doing that. For me singing was a therapy of it own and that is what it will always be. It makes me relaxed, it makes me joyful, it makes me see the world all ‘jazz’ed 😀 And with my nieces and nephews , I have got a new set of admirers. Singing also makes me forget my incapability to speak fluently but it also keeps me grounded to reality that I have to try and talk slowly. Every now and then my manager has to stop me and tell me that I am talking at the speed of a bullet train and that he just can’t follow me. How I do that I am not sure. But when I am relaxed and well, I don’t seem to stutter much or rather I ignore it. I also don’t stutter much with people close to me or who know my problem. And since I am not sure how the new person will react to it, I tend to stutter more at their presence…. yes, the pressure is the problem for me.

Some people might also think that my stuttering and its impact (that I slow down while I talk) is a good thing because if not they might get blood in their ears given the way I get carried over at times when I talk and I know that I am not stuttering 😉 There are lot of ways now to handle this problem through therapy. But first and foremost, acceptance is the key. It is an issue, true, but there are always ways of looking at it positively. I guess for me, if I wasn’t stuttering I would never have found out that I could sing well or would get into an industry where I don’t have to talk much with my voice. And those two are ‘huge’ things for me. Both are confidence boosters. And people who want to snicker or make fun will always find something or the other to lower our self esteem. If we keep giving them the ammunition of defeat, they will always grow stronger. And as I said, Nature always , always balances things in life. All we have to do is find the source of our balance with respect to this problem. There is bound to be one and then excel in it. Not for anyone else, but for ourselves. We have to make ourselves feel good first. Selfish – yes, but that is where it has got to start. We cannot make anyone or anything better unless we feel better ourselves. And there are lot of people who don’t even bat an eyelid when I stutter. I really thank them from the bottom of my heart. And in this age of technology, there are 1001 ways to communicate and not everything requires a voice. For me, it is a problem only when I let it be.

“Look well into thyself; there is a source of strength which will always spring up if thou wilt always look.”
― Marcus Aurelius