I do not think of the current state of my body as a special post-30 phenomenon. The body is what it is, different from others’ who are in their 30s, and quite obviously different from my own 20s. There is nothing profound or astonishing about the changes in its form or preferences over time.
However, there are some things that, to me, are more sensibly measured in established time units: year-on-year personal progress which is easy for me to see because of the annual reflections post.
<the sun lovingly disarms the body and mind>*
2018 was my year of transformation. At the end of 2017, I wrote about how I worked on resurrecting my confidence through that year. The new year opened up a new playing field for that confidence. Professionally, I got the space I’d been looking for for years, to spread out and ground my feet. Personally, I made a(nother) new attempt at managing the excess weight and this time the effort stuck. The two things fed each other – owning my space at work strangely gave me the confidence to power through the initially daunting task of changing the way I ate, and improving my diet gave me energy and clarity I had never experienced before. It was a rare win-win for which I am grateful to a lot of people who made it happen. It set the tone for many things that happened through the year…
- Firstly, I lost ten kilos. It was an all-consuming experience. I felt uncomfortable when clothes first started getting loose. It was as though a part of me was leaving me and I didn’t know how to be in my own skin. There was one day when I didn’t even want the change. But the change was undeniably exhilarating. I obsessed about it and people around me patiently encouraged me. I reflected on my life-long battle with being overweight and partially managed to see my size independent of me. I realised, growing up, the only options were to be skinny or fat. There was no in-between. And I was never skinny. But it took 32 years to truly realise that I was never fat either (even though I now see old photos and notice fat I couldn’t see earlier). That friends and family didn’t just say it because they loved me. That boys, men, aunties with nasty words didn’t know better. That said, I don’t yet feel confident enough about maintaining the new habits and weight now.
- I ate more vegetables in 2018 than I ever did. It sounds inane but for someone who doesn’t eat meat I hardly used to give myself any options for food. Pumpkin and saag were two big break-throughs this year. There were also a lot of new types of experiments in the kitchen. My mother hasn’t been happier.
- I got promoted at the beginning of the year. I badly wanted it. And that’s the farthest I wanted to go in that job.
- I looked for a new job for ten months before landing on an opportunity that had interest both ways. I got the job. It has a few things that have me excited. It’s early days though.
- I went to the south of Spain. Gaudi is God. Orange trees stretch for miles at end in the countryside. I fell into a pit while appreciating some almond trees – there was pain, blood, laughter, crying and some scars that have stayed.
- I also went to the south of France. It’s pretty but overrated. And I SO do not relate to the high-flying life of the Riviera, nor to the trashy, flashy life of Cannes. The best discovery of the region was Fragonard – buy their perfume if you get a chance. And one for me too!
- For C’s birthday, Ruhi, C and I made a road trip to Peak District. Our Airbnb had pear and apple trees in its backyard and sheep in the frontyard. There is so much peace to draw from such places once you’re done jumping up and down with excitement! I’m getting excited thinking about it now, nearly six months later as well.
- For his birthday we also went to the BBC Proms for a piano recital. He was happy, and I just enjoyed the fabulous ambience and music.
- I went to the ER again – this time I got great service from the NHS because my emergency sounded really scary. For a change I was scared too. This was in February.
- At the end of the year in November, I went to the ER in Oslo. Even before I arrived in Oslo, I’d noted my sole aim for the trip to not slip on ice. But slip I did!
- Ruhi kindly showed up to help out in both emergencies.
- I bought my first red lipstick. I’d toyed with the idea for a while, experimented a bit as well, but the one I found is the perfect one.
- There’s a small place called Rye in England. It can make for a nice day-trip from London. Except my trip was rainy and not nice.
- My office temporarily moved to WeWork in Aldgate because of ‘The Great Flood of Wigmore Street’. That’s what we called the accident that involved our office’s roofs falling down thanks to some blocked pipes on the floor above ours. Those three months were a new kind of London experience, including a LOT of days working from home and getting so much other stuff done.
- We went back to Tuscany – this time during the harvest season. We stayed at a vineyard, the air smelled of grapes as we drove through Chianti, the food was amazing as ever, and C upped the game further for my birthday celebrations.
- And then there was Kenya! So much of it was like India, and so much of it was nothing like I’d ever seen before. It was a true exotica-meets-nostalgia experience with all the face-to-face encounters with lions, cheetahs, African elephants, giraffes, rhinos, and others.
- One Saturday in the summer we drove to the outskirts of London to Enfield to Parkside Farm, where you can pick your own strawberries, blueberries, other berries, onions, beans, and all kinds of veggies!! Pay for what you pick and off you go! The left the car smelling of strawberries thanks to all the child-like excitement with which we shopped. I LOVED IT and totally recommend the experience for anyone who visits in the summer.
- A very different kind of trip was undertaken with Ruhi after she demanded a girls-only vacation. I went on to Skyscanner and checked where we could go for the cheapest flights. A place called Carcassonne came up in the search. I had never heard of it, so I searched for what it was all about. Looked nice and legit – and off we went! Pretty chateaus, lush green fields, French wine, bread, non-touristy experiences and a lot of talking! We ended up sending each other postcards, not knowing we were doing so until we received them days later.
- I went back to Berlin – this time for work. But I managed to spend some nice time with T (I love that boy) and did some graffiti as part of a team-building exercise. It’s fun but those fumes from the colours are brutal.
- As you can tell, I travelled a lot in 2018. There were many more work trips as well. At the end of the year, my employers paid for a new passport because I’d made 19 work trips in the three years I was there. That’s 57 stamps!
- I watched more DDLJ.
- I went for an evening of Shakespearean theatre at the Westminster Abbey, which was amazing in itself, and then we bumped into Pankaj Kapur(!).
- I started ‘gardening’ in my first floor home without a balcony. Yes, it’s possible. You should do it too. It’s rewarding to see a seed grow into a plant that later flowers.
- I went for a pottery class which was a lot of FUN. Damn these things are expensive af in this city!
- I experienced south Mumbai through two work trips. It was quite clearly not the Mumbai life I dislike.
- It snowed like crazy in the spring and I spent an afternoon clicking photos in my favourite Hampstead Heath.
- I went back to learning how to drive (I think I write about this topic every year). I got the best instructor in the world. I drove and drove and drove and then I failed my exam because of bad judgement at a turn, which was a result of out-of-control nerves. But I did not give up this time and finally got my licence at the end of the year. It is such a gigantic win that I cannot do anything to describe it. I’m still terribly nervous about driving on my own though but hopefully I’ll overcome that as well. fingers crossed
- My lovely team at work organised a fabulous send-off for me before Christmas and then I went to India for a month.
- The India trip was tiring and hectic, as usual. To top it I contracted bronchitis and sinusitis in Delhi’s gas chamber.
The busy trip meant I could not get around to finishing and publishing this post on time. But here I am – six weeks late to the party.
2019 is already all-consuming but I am very available in the evenings doing nothing, watching Netflix.
*thanks to the luxury of access to a sunny terrace on 26 December.