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Soul Cycle

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I love to spin and bike. Spin classes have always been my favorite. I love the music, biking is so much easier on the knees, and you get to strengthen your muscles and burn a lot of calories in 45 mins.

One of my friends talked me into doing a Soul Cycle class at 6:30am. I am not a morning person. Not at all. I set the alarm and keep snoozing till it is time to get the kids ready for school. So I didn’t wake up and didn’t go. I decided to try one class at my time, and if I liked it enough, it would be motivation enough to wake up.

I tried one. OMG!!! It was in a small dark room with loud blaring music. I was not expecting that. So many people love it and swear by it, but I had no idea! They closed the doors, the room felt a bit warm to make people sweat more I guess. I have never done a spin class with clip ons, I just don’t like them. But here that was all they had. So I borrowed a pair. The clip ons had zero arch support so my right foot hurt like hell and I could not do any adjustments. The music was super loud, and the instructor had to speak louder through the mike to be heard. Within 15 minutes I was feeling claustrophobic but didn’t want to quit. So I kept going. I saw two small weights in the bike in front of me. Holy shit! Would they make us do weights on the bike itself?

Anyway, it was hard, very hard. I love spin and didn’t expect it to be this hard. After another 15 minutes I could not take the loud music anymore. I started thinking of how late I had slept the night prior, how I had skipped my lunch and had a smoothie instead, maybe that is why I could not continue. The instructor had a candle by his bike. Already the room felt hot, there was limited oxygen with doors closed and room so dark, now I had to share my oxygen with a candle!!!

I felt the pain in my right foot acutely. Every time the instructor spoke, I thought my ear drums would burst. That is when I decided to walk out. So I struggled to get the clipped shoes out. I had no idea what to do. The instructor asked me to just leave the shoes there and velcro my feet out of them. So I did.

Outside the manager and another employee showed a lot of concern. They were super nice which is such an anomaly in New York. I mentioned how claustrophobic I got and the music was just too loud. My ears would not stop ringing. I had a headache. They credited me for the ride and told me I should use ear buds next time, and all Soul Cycle rooms are dark.

On a positive note, I had class that was a third full. Imagine if I had attended a popular class!!! My calves feel like lead so obviously something worked. My friend is now talking me into going to one class with her, she really likes her instructor. Maybe I will make the trek in the morning and use ear buds this time. Maybe it won’t be so bad on my foot, I will wear compression socks or something. I have that credit to use on my account.

I ended up reading about it after my experience. Many people recommend doing at least three sessions before deciding to stop. But I just cannot work out in a dark room.

After Soul Cycle, I walked outside, it was super hot. I went right into Mercedes Club for a swim. It was such a refreshing change. The club was bright, airy, and open, no dark areas. And the pool had skylight. The gym was cool, pun intended. I felt like I could finally breathe. It was just such a refreshing change from Soul Cycle. I don’t know if I can start my mornings in a warm dark room with blaring music.

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Apples of my eyes

My adorable boys are 2 years old, a big milestone. I see changes in them everyday. They are learning and growing, learning to be more expressive and empathetic. Today Aadi didn’t want me to cut his nail but obliged with his father. I was a little upset and felt like why doesn’t he want his mom to do it anymore, and AM was a bit nervous since he has never done it. So he wanted me to do it. I looked at Aadi feeling a bit upset, he gave me his charming adorable smile which I didn’t return showing that I was upset, his smile faded which broke my heart, as I was going to reach out to him to make him feel that it is ok, he looked at me and walked over to me and gave me his hands to cut his nails. My heart melted and I teared up a bit, wondering if I am teaching him to put himself second and feeling a tad guilty about it, but also feeling so nice like he cares about my feelings. He is only two but understands everything. It was just so sweet, I can’t stop thinking about it and feeling a burning in my heart for having caused him any little pain that made his smile fade, and yet feeling wanted and loved by him.

Motherhood has changed me in so many ways. Previously, kids seemed like such a nuisance. Now, when I see kids throwing tantrums I feel for the parents and I like children in general. Somehow parenthood unites you like nothing else. Before motherhood, I nit-picked about people; now, I get along with a lot of parents on the common ground that my kids are happy with their kids. You kind of feel like in the same boat and supportive of each other. I didn’t expect motherhood to change me so much. I also find pleasure in small things, like recognizing words my kids are learning, small things that make them smile like a lollipop (wowwipop), excitement in going to the zoo and showing them different animals and teaching them in general. I am learning to be very patient, and my toddlers, both of them, test my patience to the maximum. I am trying to change a lot just to deal with tantrums better. It is easy to just walk out or yell back, but a lot harder to just try to understand them, take a deep breath, and be patient. But I am happy, in a way I never was in my job or any other relationship. I feel truly happy!

MIA

I have been MIA for a long time, writing a blog requires a lot of motivation. Maybe I should commit to one!

So much has been going on in my life. I will cover each of these in detail, because living in NY is crazy, but with kids it is even more crazy! In my third trimester I found out that I was having twins, twin boys no less, and now they are almost 2. It has been a roller coaster ride. Having one child is hard, twins is three times hard because you have the same number of people managing two! I want to get back into writing my blog, so I will choose one topic each time and cover it at length.

Alexander Wang for Balenciaga

It has been so long since I last wrote! I am hoping to make writing a regular part of my day now that I don’t have an official job.

I have been getting into designer handbags in a big way. I LOVE fashion like most people, and have always been interested in designer and regular clothing. But of late I have really gotten into handbags. More about that later.

I LOVE LOVE Alexander Wang. His designs are minimalistic with subtle use of hardware. His bags have a very structured look, as do his clothes. Most of his handbags are accessorized with minimal hardware in interesting places, very very subtle looking, but they add a “pop” to the bags. He is also very creative with flexibility in the ways in which a bag can be worn. His Marion Prisma bag uses sleek rose gold hardware to add a touch of color. The white Diego bucket bag has colorful studs. The Lia messenger bag has studs at the bottom, very subtle and attractive. His bags are not always practical though. The Lia messenger bag is very very stiff and while that helps maintain shape, you can’t put as much into it even though the size is good. 

Balenciaga recently got him on as designer. Balenciaga and Wang have very different aesthetics, so this marriage doesn’t fully make sense. On further probe though they target a very similar customer. Both have “rocker chic” looks. Balenciaga’s motorcycle bags are very popular, they have a very different look from Wang. Lots of zippers, tiny tassles, very “out there” and busy. Wang’s looks are very minimalistic with pops of color using studs and other hardware. Both target “rockers”. From that perspective it makes sense. It also allows Balenciaga to move into unchartered territory, and make a name for itself in bags other than motorcycle-looking ones; there are only so many similar bags that women will buy.

Wang’s new bags for Balenciaga are very minimalistic, practical, and attractive. They have a very understated look. They leather is EXCELLENT! I tried out a few in Bergdorf’s and am in love. The leather is soft, designs very interesting, the very look is sophisticated and structured. Clean lines, subtle hardware. I am very excited to see where Wang takes Balenciaga next.

Delhi protests

Protests in India continue, with ample police and additional forces brought in to contain the masses. Police started beating protestors including women, and charged with tear gas and water pipes. So government has enough policemen to beat masses but not enough to protect women? They even shut down some metro stations so people could not go and protest, emergency was declared to prevent people from coming out, but people still protested and went, they still camped out the entire night in the cold. The Prime Minister comes out finally and addresses the nation, with his expressionless statements about how he has 3 daughters – 3 daughters who are well protected with ample security. I want every single politician’s office to be burned down, masses to take justice into their own hands, march to the police station, drag the rapists out and castrate them and let them be on the road. I want women everywhere to deal with rapes by castrating the men involved. One village, angered by this incident, took matters into their own hands. For years 4 young men had been eve-teasing women. So 40 of them marched ahead and killed them, then surrendered to the police. All 40 of them are in lock-up.

Not 24 hours passed since this incident when rapes continue, so disgusting. The husband of the owner of a playschool raped a 3 year old girl along with her other schoolmates. Another 4 year old was raped, and police didn’t register the case till the mother brought a party of people. A woman in Tripura, mother of 5-year old, was dragged out of her house and gang-raped in public while onlookers watched on, afterwards she was beaten brutally, naked, and tied to a tree. What the hell is going on? For how long will this go on? Every 20 minutes someone is raped in India, NOTHING is done about it, absolutely nothing. Villages have been raped including a pregnant woman who gave birth 4 days later to a kid with a fractured arm, and reports were modified so accused went scot free. When the Mayans said that the world is ending, this is what they meant.

My blood boils so so so much reading these reports. I read a post yesterday that reflected on the Indian culture – this is not about sex, its about men’s egos and wanting to humiliate a woman who they feel is inferior to them. For years India has been plagued by dowry, foeticide/female infanticide, and what not. Men’s parents want dowry and sons because they feel that they have invested in their sons so somehow women’s parents owe them compensation, and they expect sons to take care of them. Now that women are earning, and that income shifts to the guy and his family, MEN SHOULD PAY WOMEN DOWRY. Why should women pay dowry in addition to their income? Indians pray to Goddesses, why doesn’t that translate into RESPECT FOR WOMEN? What is the point of praying to the Goddesses when in your very home women are treated differently?

TV shows in India are mainly about how women stay at home and play household politics, their job is to take care of the men. The God Ram that we pray to, himself banished his wife into exile because she was kidnapped by Ravana, his advisors were concerned that she had become “polluted”. The Upanishads also have quotes about forcing women. When someone talks about Indian culture and values, I have no idea what it means today. When I hear my elders talking about “culture”, and saying Americans have no culture, I want to ask them today – the same culture that says women are inferior to men, that encourages dowry, rapes, and foeticide? Is this what we drove the British out for, independence?

Why should in-laws expect the woman to have extra “duties” compared to the son? Why should the woman have to sacrifice more? Why? Why should there be restrictions on what women should wear, and how late they should stay at night? How about having men keep it in their pants? So many Indians blame the woman for “provoking and attracting” men to rape. WHY? Personally, I have decided to follow a zero tolerance policy. I intend to make sure that anyone I meet, including my elders, will not speak of how women need to do this and that because I will not stand for it.

I have grown up in a culture where I kept hearing how I have to take care of my husband, make him happy, mould myself to his needs, take care of in-laws, etc. Of course I rebelled against this, but it took me a few years to completely feel confident in my independent thoughts. Today where I stand, I have no tolerance for all this. So when I hear that I need to do this and that, I question it, I only do it if it is not expected of me just because I am a woman. My blood boils so much reading all the news reports about women’s treatment in India that if someone were to ever say anything that indicated that women are “inferior”, I think I would bite their head off.

I can talk and talk till I am hoarse and feel myself boiling, but I have no idea what to do other than sign petitions online. Had I been in India, I would have marched with the people and protested as well. In the US, I don’t know what to do. India recently opened up foreign investment for retail, I feel like contacting these companies on refusing to invest in India till there are stricter rape laws and stronger changes are made in government and police. How do I go about it?

Is US any better? Yes, much better in terms of laws and police, and the government. Much better. I feel much safer here. However, for women, especially when it comes to corporate, it is still hugely lacking. Maternity leave required is only 3 months and that also not necessarily paid. Some corporations have only 6-8 weeks maternity. On average, women don’t make as much money as men. The culture does not favor women’s taking a break and returning to work. So from that perspective, this country is hugely lacking and surprisingly is not in the top 10 list of most politicians. In fact, some politicians are even against abortion. Things need to start changing for women everywhere.

Delhi rape crisis

Delhi was officially crowned the “Rape Capital” of India, and the horrors continue. Delhi has the highest number of rape cases, surpassing 600 per year, and this is only for cases that are reported – many go unreported due to social stigma associated with rape. It is absolutely disgusting. So on average, 2 women are raped per day in Delhi alone, and that is just for reported rapes. Per statistics, for every rape reported in India, 50 cases go unreported.

On Dec 16, a woman was beaten and brutally raped, so much so that her vagina and small intestine are completely ruined, she is still in the hospital fighting death but will not even be able to eat her whole life. The woman, a medical student, was at a bus station with her friend after watching a movie. After waiting for 30 mins they decided to take a private bus home. They got tickets from the driver and got into the bus that had 5 passengers. The passengers and driver knew each other, and passed a lewd comment about the girl. When her male friend protested, they hit him on the head with an iron rod. When the girl tried to save him, one of them beat both of them with iron rods and the rest followed suit. They then took her to the rear of the bus and took turns raping her. She defended herself and bit the hand of one of the rapists. He got so angry that he decided to teach her a lesson. After raping, they put a long iron rod inside her and pulled it out with so much force that her intestines came out. For the life of me I still cannot figure out how someone can put a rod inside someone’s private part and pull out an intestine, how is that even possible, what immense pain that girl must have gone through, the pain and the horror. The rapists then dropped off both of them naked on the outskirts – some reports say they threw out the guy before they raped the girl, and the girl was thrown out elsewhere. Someone saw and called the police, for one hour nobody helped the girl or covered her up. She was bleeding profusely and lost 1 litre of blood – 20% of the human body blood content. It is so horrifying and disturbing to read, I cannot stop thinking and feeling my blood boil at the plight of women in India. I feel like puking, so so so so terrible. I cannot imagine the pain the girl went through. It makes me think of how horrible those men must be to do this to her. What animals we reside among.

Apparently the bus wasn’t even supposed to be running, the men were out just for a joyride. They robbed some other guy an hour before who got on the bus and dropped him off in some other location. The men were drunk. The driver was actually hired to pick up and drop off school children – God knows if he did anything to the poor kids. While they were raping the woman in a moving bus, they passed three police patrols, nobody stopped the bus even though buses with tinted glasses are not allowed in Delhi.

Over the last few years, India has progressed at a very fast pace. People have more money and live a much better lifestyle. More women are working and dressing the way they want. However, the men are getting worse. Cases of foeticide, dowry demands, rape, etc. continue. Foeticide is when a female fetus is aborted because she is female. Dowry is when women’s parents have to give into monetary demands of the groom’s family on account of marriage. Due to dowry many families don’t want a female child, instead they want a male “heir”. Since the population of men now exceeds women, rape cases and atrocities on women are prevalent.

The general social stigma is that women should not “get raped” by not staying out late, wearing clothes that “cover” them, and not getting too friendly with men. A research by Tehelka goes into the minds of police officers, its horrifying how everyone blames the woman. How about shifting the focus on men? Men are the ones that need to control themselves. A lot of men in India grow up with an inflated ego and sense that they are superior to women, it is okay to commit atrocities because women have no rights. Throwing acid on their faces, beating them drunk everyday, etc. It continues. Who are the men to decide what a woman should do, wear, and stay outside till what time? Why aren’t they treated as brutally? What are they teaching their children, that a woman shouldn’t wear revealing clothing or stay out late, if they do its okay to rape? Why aren’t the cops showing the accused faces to media? Let their faces be unveiled, and let them deal with the repercussions. Had the rapists been from privileged families, I doubt this would have gotten as much media coverage.

The Delhi rape crisis has gotten many politicians to react and enact rape laws. This has been going on for many years though, and there are as many as 20 cases filed against politicians themselves. Delhi is India’s capital, but ranks highest in lack of safety especially for women. When politicians cannot take care of their own city, how can they manage the whole country? Every part of India’s “democracy” is full of corruption. In one case, a raped woman went to the police station to report, the cops raped her right there!

In a way I am grateful that I am not in India. Reading this, I don’t intend to go back to live. I always thought of Delhi as a modern city, but when I met my sister last year she told me horror stories. If you hit a car, its best to run because the car driver/owner may shoot you, if a car hits you, do the same. While the US is also bad with the recent shooting event and nani murders in NYC, I feel safe going out and I know that if I dial 911 I will have help. In India, there is absolutely nothing you can do. Cases go on for years, cops don’t write reports, there is so much social stigma associated with rape, more often than not people remark that the woman must be at fault.

I have gone out at 3am or 4am alone to the nearby Duane Reade store to pick up milk, and have felt completely safe, but its also because my area has people all the time especially on weekends. I do agree to some extent that since India does not have strong rape laws, and cases go on for years, it makes sense to self-preserve by taking some precautions – staying away from unsafe locations, not staying out late in certain areas, dressing conservatively to prevent eye-teasing if it is bothersome, etc. However, there needs to be a change in general mindset and culture, and very strict punishment for such crimes. The only way to make the country safer for women is to have strong punishment, and act on them fast, that will put the fear of God in men. Women NEED to be safe in their own home and country, its not an option. Rapes should be countered by castrating the accused in public and then hanging them till death. I say bring in medieval times for rapists where punishment for crime was brutal, hang their heads for all to see.

It really makes me worry about my parenting, my responsibilities, how important it is for me to teach my kids to respect women, and have a sense of equality. I really hope I am able to inculcate this in them, and hopefully the traditional Indian feeling that somehow women “provoke” men is something my kids will stay far far away from.

I have to write an update on my Kulfi recipe post. I bought earthen pots and froze the milk mixture in that. There was a lot of taste of ice and the khoya didn’t mix in as well. Neither was it creamy. Very disappointing. I will try a different recipe to make it creamier, and post the update. This time I will use popsicle maker that is completely closed tightly. The pots are not closed tightly which makes it taste more “icy”.

However, the taste was delicious. I melted the whole thing and had it melted, it tasted like Basudi, a Gujarati specialty made of milk and saffron. I love Basudi! I suggest following the kulfi making directions but instead of freezing it, chilling it in the fridge and having it as a liquid. Yummy!