Friday, February 27, 2009

Home is where the heart is

Sorry abt my long absence. I flew back to India on the 23rd and am still getting over the jetlag.

Even though I've spent 12 years outside the country, India is still home for me. And yet, this time I return home with mixed feelings. There is, of course, the excitement of meeting family & friends, the wonderful pampering, the 24 hr domestic help, facials, manicures & pedicures for a tenth of what they cost in the US.

Yet, each time I come back, I feel a little more distant from my 'home'. As I walk out of the airplane, I see how dirty the International airport is. I notice the pollution and the noise a little bit more. I find myself carrying Purell hand sanitizer everywhere I go. I can't sit in a non-air conditioned car for more than a few minutes. I fear I might be turning into (shudder) an NRI (Non Resident Indian) snob!

I hate people who leave India and then consider themselves 'above' the desis (locals), those for whom criticizing their country becomes almost a status symbol - "how do you live in all that dirt...uff, I could never go back! Of course, I still love India dearly, but..." I guess that's the sort of love that can only be sustained at a distance.

And yet, I find myself thinking, if not saying these kind of things. And I start wondering - is it so wrong to want to live in a country that's clean, where officials (except, of course, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich) aren't corrupt, where doctors can be trusted to diagnose you fairly and not send you for unneccesary tests just to make some money? Every time I look at the Indian newspapers I stories of organ trafficking, medical malpractice, abuse of women and the like.

I'm feeling terribly guilty as I write this. I feel as though I'm letting down my country, bringing it's ugly side out in the open. After all, all homes have their issues, shouldn't we try to solve them internally and not open them up for scrutiny by the neighbors? Then why am I bad-mouthing my home?

It's in this frame of mind that I start looking around me a little more carefully. I come across an interesting story of how cops played cupid for a young couple. And I thought, though it is in no way pardonable that so many intercast couples are still rejected or worse by their own families in my country, maybe there is a glimmer of hope. A perfect example of the slow changes coming into India is that of the Muslim couple who married their adopted hindu daughter to a Hindu groom.

Suddenly, I feel a little more cheerful. Sure, there is a lot in India that needs to be improved. But if those of us who are young and educated, those of us who are wlling and capable of making a change start leaving our 'home' for greener pastures, then how can we expect India to move in the right direction?

Yes, it is tempting to live in a country where most issues have already been resolved, but wouldn't it be far more fulfilling to help my own country reach that level?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A pain in the neck?

I have recently discovered something truly horrific. Something that has affected me to the very depths of my soul and shaken my core beliefs. I have discovered that - the laptop is not my friend!

For the past 6 years I have believed that my laptop was my best friend. We've practically been joined at the hip.

Coincidentally, for 5 of these 6 years I've had increasingly bad neck and shoulder pains. But, of course, I could never in my wildest dreams imagine that my laptop was responsible. Not the companion that gave me so much joy - we checked email together, visited Facebook for hours, saw movies, heard music and, recently, even entered the exciting world of Blogging hand in hand.

But now I find out that my laptop has been lying to me all along. We never were friends. It's probably been laughing at me behind my back all these years. Oh! the treachery of it all.

Apparently, there is no 'good' way to use the laptop. Not without putting strain on either your neck/shoulders or your wrist (I do have intermittent wrist pains at well...sigh...the duplicity). I tend to use the laptop while it's, well, while it's on my lap. That is what the name suggests, right?

Wrong! Apparently this is the worst possible way to use the laptop (it must have been some advertising whizkid who came up with the name). While your wrists may be okay in this position - since your forearms and hands are in a straight line - it is awful for the neck, as your neck is constantly bent in an unnatural position.

If, on the other hand, you decide to raise your laptop so that you can look at it with a straight neck, well then your wrists will be bent at an awkward angle, resulting in carpal tunnel syndrome.

Many people, especially kids, lie down and use laptops which is leading to increasing lower back pains in children. Computer companies seem to be aware of the problem and new ergonomic devices like the iFold or Laptop Laidback are flooding the market. But I haven't yet come across one that actually helps.

The only viable option open to me seems to be to limit the amount of time I spent with my laptop. From 6-8 hours a day, I have now restricted out "together time" to a maximum of 2 hours.

Until a laptop is invented that has greater distance between the screen and the keyboard, it seems like the relationship between my laptop and I will have to be demoted from BFFs to mere acquaintances.

M.O.B. - Update

Some of you may have noticed that I've not been keeping up with my 'Moment of Beauty' posts very regularly. The reason for this is not that I can't things worth posting - in fact, it's incredible how much beauty I've been seeing in the most unexpected places now that I'm looking for it.

The reasons I haven't been blogging abt them are:

1. I haven't had my camera with me (this has happened a couple of times)

2. I haven't been quick enough to capture something in motion - a hummingbird outside my window last week, a gull landing in water.

3. But the most common reason is this - I look out of the same window , walk down the same path with Lola everyday. And everyday it looks different, beautiful in a unique way. Sometimes I see a single ray of sunshine hitting the water just so, other times I look at the raindrops falling on the same water, and still other days I concentrate on how the clouds in the clear blue sky are reflected in that very water.

And though I see a different beauty everyday, the actual place is the same and I'm not a good enough photographer to capture it's myriad moods.

I hope that those of you who do actually read my blog are still taking a moment out of your day to reflect on the beauty around you - it doesn't matter if you can't photograph it, or even describe it. It doesn't matter if it's the same flower - once a bud, now in bloom. What matters is that you feel that rush of joy when you see it, that it brings a smile to your face and a feeling of wonder to your heart. That it makes your day just a little bit brighter than it was.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

To massage or not to massage? - UPDATE

Hubby just had the gumption to say that maybe, just maybe, he had applied a tad too much pressure last time, but he stands by his theory. Next time he'll be a little more gentle. Next time??? Yeah, your dreams buddy!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

To massage or not to massage?

So, here I am applying Icy-Hot to my excruciatingly painful shoulder muscles, with a heating pad under my calves, trying to write my blog. Why, you wonder? Was I in a accident? Did I fall? Try to overdo things? Well, no...not exactly. Let me tell you the story from the beginning...

The other day my body aches were especially bad (who knows why - just one of those CFS things I guess). I had tried stretching and soaking in a hot bath, but the aches just kept getting worse.

My loving, caring husband couldn't bear to see me in such pain and offered to give me a hot oil massage. Well, there was no way I was turning that offer down.

As soon as we began, I could feel that certain parts of my body were extremely tender - I screamed with pain even when he applied minimal pressure.

"Don't worry," Hubby Dear assured me, "I know exactly what I'm doing." Trustingly, I settled back down only to feel an explosion of pain in the aforementioned tender muscles as he really laid into them.

Once I had established that, against all evidence, Hubby was not trying to murder me (anything that doesn't kill you just makes you stronger!), I tried to understand his explanation. "The more it hurts, the more you need to press down. That's the only way it's going to get better." he assured me earnestly.

Well, I had heard that according to Eastern medicine, tender spots are indicative of an an energy block in the body. In acupressure & acupuncture pressure/needles are placed on these spots to release the blockages and allow the chi (vital energy/life force) to flow uninterrupted through the body. By restoring balance and flow of energy, the body can be healed.

Looking at the glow of sincerity and compassion emanating from Hubby Dear, I couldn't doubt his intentions any further. "No pain, no gain," I muttered, giving myself up to his (not-so) tender ministrations.

To cut a long story short, it has now been two days since that fateful day - two days of intense pain, dire threats from Yours Truly & abject apologies from Hubby - and, while I am still recovering from my "relaxing " hot oil massage, I am finally able to get back to my blog.

MOTTO OF THE STORY: Massage is probably good for you, but it's not supposed to hurt. If it increases your pain instead of helping, STOP!

Click here to learn more about the benefits of massage.

Friday, February 6, 2009

M.O.B. - Feb 6th

Outdoor classes today?

OK, this is more funny than 'beautiful', but still...


OK, it's a new day, new beginning. And I'm over my little sojourn into self pity. So let the good times roll...

But, wait, before we bring out the champagne, I rly want to understand what it is that worries me so when my fatigue gets bad.

After much self-scrutiny and introspection, I have come up with 2 things:

1. Life is passing me by / I am not doing anything worthwhile.

2. Because I am not doing anything, my mind is slowly dying and I'm going to become this vapid creature without a single intelligent thought in her head. I hesitate to use the term 'dumb blonde', especially since I'm not blonde, but you know what I mean...

So, let's address these issues.

Starting with the first, I am going to list all my accomplishments over the past 7 years (big and small) so I can see all that I have achieved since I got CFS:

1. I got married to the most wonderful, caring man.
2. I adopted a rescued dog and am giving her the best life I can.
3. I finished my Masters thesis and got my degree in Communication Management from the Annenberg School for Communication, USC.
4. I have been a Teaching Assistant.
5. I have made a lot of new friends.
6. I have been there for friends who were going through some rough times in life.
7. I have learned yoga.
8. I have taken a teacher training course and am now a certified yoga teacher (I don't teach professionally, but still...)
9. I have decided to start an online business in silverware, and have learned from scratch, everything about buying and selling silver.
10. I have opened an eBay store selling silver items an antique jewelry: Nazraana (meaning 'gift').
11. When I felt I was getting well enough to take up a job, I taught myself Search Engine Marketing (SEM) / Pay-Per-Click (PPC). Unfortunately my health deteriorated again & I wasn't able to work. But I did learn a lot!
12. I am learning how to cope with CFS and am much better now than I was when I first fell ill and was bedridden for months.

Now for point no.2. - the fear that my brain is dying a slow death. Well, here goes:

1. I play games like Scrabble and Sudoku daily to exercise my mind.
2. I read a lot about various topics.
3. I try to write my blog daily.
4. I ask everyone I meet a lot of questions about their work and love to learn things.
5. I manage / do all the calculations etc for my ebay store.

So, I don't think my brain is in immediate danger of complete annihilation.

As I finish this post I realize, and this is my Hallelujah moment, that life doesn't stop. Nor is it completely passing me by.

Maybe I would have accomplished more had I not had CFS. But who is to say that those accomplishments would be worth more than what I have achieved with CFS in the past 7 yrs. Who knows whether I would have made the same friends, or had the same relationships? Or even whether I would be the same person.

Hmmm....something to thnk about...

And, on that note, I am off to sharpen my brain and play some Scrabble on Facebook :)

Going to the dogs...

Here's another link for pet lovers: Funny Pet Pics by 'Thought Fur Paws'

Enjoy :)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Dog rescues Baby

yes, I got that right...and no, it's not meant to be 'Human rescues Puppy'!

Cool article for all you dog lovers...
Dog Rescues Newborn (click for original story)

The abandoned infant was found in a field with this dog and her newborn puppies.

(CNN) -- A dog sheltered a newborn baby abandoned by its 14-year-old mother in a field in rural Argentina until the boy was rescued, a doctor said Friday.

The abandoned infant was found in a field with this dog and her newborn puppies.

A resident of a rural area outside La Plata called police late Wednesday night to say that he had heard the baby crying in a field behind his house.

The man went outside and found the infant lying beside the dog and its six newborn puppies, said Daniel Salcedo, chief of police of the Province of Buenos Aires.

The temperature was a chilly 37 degrees, Salcedo said.

The dog had apparently carried the baby 50 meters from where his mother had abandoned him to where the puppies were huddled, police said.

"She took it like a puppy and rescued it," Salcedo said. "The doctors told us if she hadn't done this, he would have died.

"The dog is a hero to us."

Dr. Egidio Melia, director of the Melchor Romero Hospital in La Plata, said police showed up at the hospital at 11:30 p.m. Wednesday with the baby, who doctors say was only a few hours old.

Though the infant had superficial scratches and bruises and was bleeding from his mouth, he was in good shape, Melia said.

The next morning, the child's mother was driven by a neighbor to the hospital and told authorities that the 8-pound, 13-ounce infant is hers, Melia said.

The teenager was immediately given psychological treatment and was hospitalized, he said. She has said little about the incident.

The child has been transferred to a children's hospital in La Plata, 37 miles from Buenos Aires

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Why me?

Today I feel frustrated!

When I started this blog, I promised myself that it was going to be a fun, upbeat blog. But today I just have to rant. So if you are of delicate constitution, you've been given fair warning. You may want to stop reading now.

More than anything in the world, I want to run today. I want that happy exhaustion. Not this overwhelming, never-ending achy fatigue. I want to stretch my muscles and get my heartbeat going. I want to jump and dance and skip for no reason at all. I'm tired of always having to calculate the amount of energy I would waste standing up, or walking across the room, or talking on the phone.

I want to go swimming and horse riding and hiking and dancing.

I just want to be me.

I feel like I've been stuck in an old person's body for the past 7 years. Where did my 20s go? The time I was meant to be full of energy. Instead, a couple of days ago, a lady who was at least in her 60s asked me if I needed help because I wasn't able to walk to my car.

I know I have a lot to be thankful for, and I make sure I keep reminding myself about this. Most days, I believe that I have accepted the CFS, learnt to live with it. But suddenly one day the frustration gets the better of me.

And I just wonder - Why me?

Monday, February 2, 2009

M.O.B. - Feb 2nd

Today's Moment of Beauty:

Lola & I walk down this path every day, but it looked specially beautiful today.