The journey to a pause…

This might seem like something different to what I usually post, but on account of what I have gone/am going through, I thought it might help someone else too or at least join me in my rant.

Menopause (if you don’t want to read about it anymore, might stop right now and move on 😉 )… First and foremost…why a “pause”. I don’t get it. What do they mean by “pause”. It is not going to come back later in life, is it? It is supposed to be the end of the menstrual cycle and it is still called menopause? OK…as usual I digressed. Back to the topic now.

For the past year and a half, I have been having the symptoms that are listed on NHS’s website for menopause (not all, mind, but at least half of them). When I told Mr M he was like “you are too young for menopause”. I was like “no…not really”. This was also the time when I have been doing a lot of yoga for my yoga teacher training and that does have an impact on your body. I can feel some sort of change happening but these hot flushes and night sweats were there even before I started my training. I had my doubts, but you know how it is with anything menstrual…it is never clear because it varies from one body to the other. What with the lockdown and all, I couldn’t have done anything about it even if I wanted to (apart from using AskMyGP which wasn’t how I wanted to discuss this because I had a lot of questions) and then slowly my periods kind of became too irregular. I wouldn’t have them for 45 days to 75 days and then have them for a day or two and then zilch. The only major impact I had because of that is my lower back pain and being grumpy for a day or two and then whooosh…it’s gone.

When the lockdown restrictions were lifted and my long-awaited cervical cancer screening which was postponed for a year got resumed, I took the opportunity to talk to my GP and they confirmed that it “could” be menopause. Mr M was like “really? at your age?”. I was like “why not? my body is tired of producing eggs when it kind of knows that nothing is ever gonna happen anymore…why bother producing it and go through all the cycle. Might as well just shut down the system and be done with it”. It might sound very callous to my body but it is the truth. Now I know that the menstrual cycle plays a very important role in a woman’s body because of all the hormones that get generated and how it is a natural cleansing process and once it is done, your body undergoes a lot of changes which may or may not be healthier for me. But having said that, I will also be happy to just let it go. I am acutely aware of the changes that go through my body and I kind of keep track of it and at the least be aware of any major changes so that I know what to look for and be prepared if I can be.

The topic of the menstrual cycle also became a forefront now because funnily enough, my parents were talking about preparing my niece who might soon be attaining her puberty. I wish I was prepared for it. I never was. And I am glad that things have changed from my times and I am very comfortable talking to her about it and letting her know that it is nothing to be afraid of. But there is not much I know myself apart from my personal experience, which was full of pain (courtesy of my mom’s genes which I have inherited in abundance and my occasional fainting episodes due to the pain). My sister on the other hand kind of breezes through it (and it annoys me to no extent). Recently I came across this podcast called 28-ish days later by India Rakusen which I stumbled upon in BBC Sounds. I am still on the 12th day of the 28-ish days, but so far I have enjoyed it because they not only go through the ins and outs of the menstrual cycle but also discuss various experiences and talk about it. It is also not a very long episode. It is short and sweet and very informative. It also helps to hear people talk about their experiences which are so similar to your own (I hated the event that happens when you attain puberty too…the drama of it all…urgh…). I hope I can use the information that I have gathered from that to help my nieces and anyone else who might need it (given that I will be dealing with girls of similar age in the school when I start teaching). If you are interested in this topic, I would suggest having a listen to that podcast.

I still don’t know for sure if I am going through a peri-menopause or just a menopause phase but either way, I don’t care so much now. The not knowing kind of irks me a bit but I guess I have come to accept that some things happen in their own time and as long as I am aware of that and keep myself as healthier as possible, it should be alright. I also know what works to help me alleviate any pain or discomfort and what symptoms I should be looking for to be prepared. But there are things that still surprise me and I am trying to be OK with it, to some extent. If I am not, I just rant about it and get over it. But what this ongoing experience and the podcast have helped me realize is that a woman’s body is a universe of its own. It is so mysterious and yet so wonderful and I can’t wait for my menstrual cycle to finish what it started and enter the menses-less phase.

What will I miss?

I am relieved of my official duties, we have shipped our things, we made our one last final day trip within the UK to a place I wanted to always visit (more on that later in the day trip post on the other blog), we have given away all the things that might be of some use to others, found my plants a new home with my friends, etc. etc. There are a few last-minute bits and pieces left to do until the next weekend when we finally board the plane. But there is one question that a few asked me for which I am trying here to find an answer. What will you miss when you go back to India?

Honestly? I don’t know. Materially I don’t think I would miss anything. Life has taught me (without being too maudlin) that it is easy to replace the material things if you have some savings left with you and you might even come to know if you absolutely needed those things in your life or not. And with the globalisation of things, we can get a lot of stuff that we get here in the UK back in India too (although I should say I remember seeing more American stuff than British stuff… times might have changed…who knows…I will update you if I do see a change 🙂 ) Jokingly, I would say I would miss the concept of a bath. Just soaking in that hot water until I turn into a prune is just heavenly during the winter. I can never have that in my place. Half of the time we have water shortages, especially in the summer. What about English Breakfast? I might have to travel to Bangalore to get one but definitely not in Coimbatore 😀

What did I miss when I moved to the UK? I am sure some folks asked me the same question when I was about to leave India. After living here for 5 years, what did I miss? Did I miss the dosa and paratha or the temples or my travel fridge magnets (100’s of them) that I had collected over the years which are now stored in a locked room? Honestly? No. What then? People in my circle, my very small circle. This circle consists of my close friends and immediate family. Thanks to WhatsApp, Skype, GatherTown, Zoom etc., the distance between them and me seems to be that bit smaller.

Having been here in the UK only for 5 years, my circle is much smaller than the one in India 😀 and since the sudden change of work, place, country etc, is gonna hit me hard next month, I guess I will miss them sharply given the way we have been together. So here is a shout out to those few poor souls who happen to be in my circle and for whose presence I am forever grateful because they made my life a bit more colourful here. (Only pseudonyms in my blog sadly… but I hope you can spot yourself in this post 😀 )

When I moved from software engineering to teaching I didn’t have much help and was floundering to find a way (thanks to some online courses and books) but Mr Millwall came to my rescue with his 30+ years of teaching experience. He just took me under his wing and taught me the ropes of education and became my very close friend. He is also the first to call me if there is some interesting news in the cricket world 🙂 I am glad he is enjoying his retirement and is doing well. Hopefully, he will learn how to call via WhatsApp soon so that I can connect with him.

The tall Croatian teaching assistant has been there to give me an extra hand whenever I needed one and kept me sane. We didn’t have anything in common and in spite o that we bonded very well. Being much more experienced than me both at work and in life, she was a good sounding board and we started hanging out of work too, sharing bus rides and life stories and eventually became friends. I am glad that I could get her a churidar from India last time I was there and she looked absolutely gorgeous in it.

Ms Iskcon was Mr M’s friend but she is now a family friend, thanks to our heritage and shared native language. We used to spend our Christmas Eve at her place playing board games and puzzles with her family, which gave us the feeling of being a part of a big loud, amazing, and chaotic family from now and then. She used to come to our place for the Sunday lunch (she had a knack for calling us exactly at lunchtime and would be invited inevitably 😀 It helped that she lived only a floor below us.) Any time we talk, we end up discussing and debating everything under the sun. I will cherish her ability to discuss anything and everything (spiritual, political, socio-economic, you name it). I sincerely hope that she can visit us in India.

Now comes the group in Swansea 🙂 Who knew that a kick (literally) would start a friendship. I keep telling Mr Half-Trousers that in terms of his age he is closer to my nephew than to me but that has only made the friendship more fun. He has tried to teach me frisbee (emphasis on the word tried…). He has also fed me so much baked stuff it feels like he was fulfilling some debt he owed from his previous life 😀 His sticky toffee pudding is one thing I will never be able to replace. I wish he keeps up with his star baker abilities in spite of his busy software engineering lifestyle, which he has taken up now. He has also been my yoga student for the past 6 months helping me in my journey.

Mr Tall and Grumpy (I can say this and get away with it because he knows he is, lol) was that person whom I thought would the quiet and studious one but turned out that he is all that and also the naughtiest. Both him and Mr Half-Trousers have been the reason I am known in my team for throwing squishy toys at people. They drove me nuts with their antics 😀 but he was also my partner in crime at work. We taught together quite a lot and that gave us a lot to share in terms of knowledge and experience. I am very glad he is having a stint at the industry now and I will miss seeing his daughter grow (hopefully he will keep me posted on that and would take a trip to India and go on a good food tour).

Mr Badmintennis is one of a kind. An old soul trapped in a very young body. He amazes me with his knowledge of all things old and historic. I should call him Mr Minecraft or Mr Gamemaker because he is very well known for that but more than that he is/was my badminton/tennis partner. We have been playing the game for a while now and I hope he continues to play it with the rest of the group. I am sure I will engage his expertise in my new job when I have to do something in Minecraft or even take us on a virtual tour of computers.

Ms OrganizedArtist joined us during the first lockdown and so there has been a delay in getting to know her but my god, she is talented. I am always happy to be associated with very artistic friends like her and Anita. They bring a lot of colour in my life 🙂 She is the second person in my life (after my friend in Bangalore) with whom I haven’t felt any reservations whatsoever, while being before their camera and knowing that they are taking my photograph. She is yet to perfect her art of hitting Mr Badmintennis on his head during the tennis/badminton games but I am sure she will get there with a little bit more practice 😉 (make sure you let me know when that happens, girl!) She did a painting of my portrait which is available on my Instagram and I am very thankful for that. It is definitely getting framed. I am sure she will definitely make her way to South India and I will get to visit her home country (Ukraine) soon.

There are a couple more people I know and are part of that small circle but this is my group whom I would like to keep in touch with no matter where I go and what I do (assuming that they feel the same 😀 ) I am again hoping that the various communication channels that helped me keep in touch with my group in India while I was in the UK would help me do the same with this lot. This is also my way of conveying my thanks to them for being part of my journey and saying a proper goodbye I guess, even though we did say our goodbyes by doing a South Indian food tour and what a day it was 🙂 So much fun.

Diolch yn fawr for everything and hopefully we will get to meet again sooner rather than later.

It’s been a year already…

Ever since I moved to Swansea, I guess I have fallen off the blogging bandwagon and have been posting here only once a year (approx), which is sad really. Because so much has happened since we moved here and I could have kept the record of all the stories behind it if only I took some time to post about it. Here is hoping to do more in the new year.

2021 hasn’t been any different to 2020 to most and I am not going to add to the doom and gloom of it because we have had enough of that. I have kept myself busy with my post-graduate certificate course in higher education, started training in yoga (online), prepared two new courses when I had a break for a term, visited a few places (safely and within the permitted guidelines) etc. etc.

Now coming to the end of this year, I have successfully completed my PGCE and am now a qualified yoga teacher. I have already started teaching yoga to a couple of my friends and have been doing so for the past few months (online, of course). I recently finished writing all about my travels on my other blog. I have thoroughly enjoyed travelling in and around Swansea and making sure we take breaks whenever we can and as safely as we can. Neither of us is getting any younger but the year-long training of yoga has kept us in good shape. I should say that I have never been better, health-wise, than now and may long it continue. I have also never written so many essays in my life. This year has seen me write so many essays (both for my PGCE and for my yoga training). I think that is why I didn’t feel the need to write anymore in any blog. People are surprised when I tell them about the essays in yoga teacher training. Those essays have enabled me to read various classical texts on yoga and have given me a lot of things to think about and reflect on. It also reiterates the fact that yoga is an all-encompassing thing, a way of life, not just a physical exercise.

I have also witnessed a few heartbreaks, a few disappointments, a few sad events, but who doesn’t. It is part of life and growing up, I think. Just recently my nephew had a breakdown because he wasn’t happy with his Christmas present 😀 and he thought that Santa could have done better. I had to tell him that his message to Santa about his gift was very ambiguous and in future, he would do well to remember that ambiguity would lead to heartbreaks and he better make it super clear as to what he wants.

At work, after being together for almost three years, slowly things started to change as and when folks moved on to better prospects and I ended up finally identifying who my friends are and who are just acquaintances and I am glad for my friend’s circle, which is very small but very good. I also had a good term recently where a very difficult module was totally redesigned and there were no tears. That is a huge success in my book. Even though I wasn’t super happy about going back to face to face teaching this autumn term, we did it and touch wood, no one got ill during the term. We maintained social distancing, face masks, letting people learn from home when they had any slight symptoms etc. What the next term is gonna be is anyone’s guess at the moment. All I know is I am ready for both online and in-person teaching and I have managed to keep the learning experiences similar-ish either way.

Another year without any choir to attend (not even an online one like last year) which is sad, but at least we were able to visit a few churches and see their nativity displays and enjoy a couple of Christmas markets. This is the first holiday where I haven’t been working or even thinking of work. All I have been doing is relaxing, doing odds bits and pieces that needed to be done at home, doing my regular yoga, and finishing some last-minute books for this year (according to GoodReads, I have read 130 books this year, which is quite good) etc. Just chilling out really.

To top it all, I have finally been offered a teaching job back in India in my hometown which I would be started during the next academic year (Indian academic year). That means that we will be relocating to India next year, which is going to be very exciting more for Mr M than me, as it would be like going home after a very long break I guess. The move might not be as smooth as it was when I moved to the UK as it was just me then and this time we are moving as a family. There will be so many things to sort out and on top of it I would have to start my work without much break, but I guess I deal better when I have things to do and Mr M is more than capable of dealing with the admin stuff anyway. My nieces and nephew are quite excited about my move back and are looking forward to it very eagerly.

This virus is not going to go away any time soon. It is in their nature to mutate and spread and then mutate some more and spread again. It is their cycle of life, just like we have ours. Having seen the worse of it in 2020 and then some in 2021, all we can ever try and do is be safe ourselves and ensure that we protect our near and dear ones as much as we can within capacity. Some things are beyond our capacity and control especially, how the governments behave during such a crisis (I am trying hard to not get political here), but we should do what is within our control and capacity and get through this together. I am getting my booster jab today and Mr M has already had his a couple of weeks ago. Here’s to hoping that these boosters help along with some common sense.

Looking back, this year has been jam-packed with loads of learning and travelling and the new year is starting with new opportunities and new experiences. Let’s hope and pray that it is all for the best.

May this New Year bring with it hope, health, and happiness to all of you. Keep smiling and keep spreading joy wherever and whenever you can. Blwyddyn Newydd Dda! Happy New Year! 

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.