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Chicken soup for the new year’s resolution befuddled mind

Indulge. Repent. Indulge. Repent. Repeat.

If there is any real sign of the cyclical nature of life, the fact that humanity is entrenched in repetitive, safe patterns, it is the Christmas/January cycle. Go nuts at Christmas, eat shit, feel fat in January, diet you fat fucker. We don’t care that much about what you do in February, you’ll either be drowning yourself in preparation for Valentine’s Day if you’re single or buying a Marks & Spencer meal for two with free lubricant at the counter if you are lucky enough to be in a couple.

Is this a British tradition, this guilt? Does it enhance the pleasure, like some strange sort of sado-masochistic orgasmic self-flagellation? The Christmas fun will only be enhanced by utter consumption to the point of sickness, whereby in January I will actually want to spend a month drinking kale juice. Then in February, well then we just go back to our routines of eating badly sometimes, feeling guilty, going to the gym, eating chocolate on the way home, walking to work, looking for signs of fat in the mirror, wondering if we can get away with carbs after 8pm etc. A sort of mini cycle of splurging and repentance.

I am certainly not saying that I am above all of this. I did over indulge and now my jeans which previously I needed a belt for are happily sitting on my hips sans belt saying hey, this don’t feel so bad. But I don’t feel guilt and am not going to diet in January. What I am going to do is exercise and not binge eat. It’s just radical enough to work.

I have spent the last two odd years working in a conflict affected country in Africa. I have now moved back to England and am regaining my feet, so to speak, and also looking for work. It’s a strange sort of period, this transition. It reminds me of my previous post about life’s waiting room, whereby again I am living my life waiting for something to happen and I wonder when this waiting will end. It is this waiting that probably gives everything I do a temporary feel and always has done, this might not be always a bad thing, as it gives you a sort of short-term look on the world which means you are more likely to take risks. However it can also mean that the prospect of permanence, any kind of life permanence, is completely terrifying.

I wonder if I am so content waiting that I can’t bear to look at what lies behind the other side of that door. Marriage? A permanent home? Or, horror of all eternal horrors, spending my weekend going to Homebase to buy curtain rings? It seems as distant idea as the land of Narnia at the moment. But, as I sit in this limbo which feels like I’ve taken time out of my life to assess what my next step will be, should I be running after this life now? Or running towards new adventures? Can I really not have both?

Too much to contemplate so early in the year? Ok – on to MY new year’s resolutions, none of which involve watching an ex celebrity big brother contestant jumping in lycra while I huff and puff in my living room with the DVD remote, my bottle of water and a half eaten Nutri Grain making my heart sink with every jump. I will complete the novel I am working on. I will live healthily. I will, most importantly, be happy within myself instead of looking for others around me or some elusive thing to make me happy.

When I did a Vipassana meditation course last year, we were constantly reminded of these two words, ‘Be Happy’. Simple and yet effective to remember as the empty January days make us feel slightly bleak. Be Happy. Now.

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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How to come back to a blog…with style!

Yes, yes, yes my dears – I have come back. It may have been a couple of years, I am older, wiser and probably a bit more explosive and I have returned to this blog.

Now I don’t expect this blog to take me back with open arms. I mean I just ran off, leaving it abandoned, cold and unread for two whole years. It doesn’t trust anymore. It has had to learn the hard way that people can come, jazz you up, make you think that life is full of new possibilities and blog posts about my diet and making cups of tea. And then they can just leave you, when you are at your most pumped up and full of love, leave you to learn that in fact that life full of regular loving, warm, oozing posts was not meant to be. Ok I don’t know what I’m talking about, give me a break, I haven’t blogged in two years. I was trying to find a cool, sexy way of coming back the way James Bond re-enters the London offices after a stint killing one-eyed Russians on a train in Monrovia and says something devastating, like ‘Did I miss anything’? or ‘Do you know why it rains in June in China?’.

I was never very good at sticking to things, hence the lack of blogging regularity, but if there’s one thing I like doing is going back to things that I thought I had left for good, which is also why I made a trip to the job centre a couple of days ago. I hope it also won’t mean that I end up going out on a date with that guy who wore string vests. And on that glorious note, I depart for now. Yes my blog, my dear neglected but still beautiful blog, I am back!

 
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Posted by on November 21, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

No I don’t want to diet

I have been faced recently with the unenviable position of having to diet for a specific occasion. This occasion, which will remain nameless but involves vows between a man and a woman who I am related to (I’m only related to one of them, not both, it’s not one of those weddings)

Dieting for a specific occasion is different to the general, hmm-I-should-eat-healthily kinda thing. There is no messing around here. If you eat that piece of chocolate from the Guylian box, it WILL make a difference to your waistline, give you that extra whoopee cushion on your back on the big day. Make your cheeks stretch out that much further when you smile…or in terms of the southward cheek variety, when you try to fit into the tight pants. There is no room to be a half-arse here. It is hard core, lean, mean, gut-slicing business.

This is a tad difficult for me. I have always been the mincing kind of person who thinks they ought to eat healthier, who thinks they probably would look generally better if they were a stone lighter – but is not willing to cut out Pret A Manger mozzarella and tomato croissants as a means to achieving this end. I just don’t think I ever wanted it enough. Looking thin and sexy clearly is worth eating nothing but edamame beans and Ryvita crackers for some people and I have respect for their opinion but secretly feel smug and disdainful of their sterile, flavourless view of the world. Eating is a sensuous, sumptuous thing and so is a full bottom.

Having said all that, yes I am on a hardcore diet. Faced with the event where many, many faces will be on me, I have taken the plunge to become a streamlined version of myself. So far I am a little lighter as a result, yes I fit into clothes better I suppose. The facial cheeks – always my main nemesis since my passport photo where my face looks like I’ve been attached to a balloon pump and been energetically blown up – have calmed down a bit. They are still there though, as big cheeks are part of my genetic make-up.

My particular brand of last-minute, crash dieting means I am doing the protein-only thing. This basically zaps all the joy out of food like a Dyson and meal times become a desperate forage for all things non-carbohydrate – yes, I think carrots are ok but then again, hmm, there are some carbs, should I risk it? Hmm. Hmm. God! I can NOT BE THIS PERSON!!

I can’t back out now though, only a few more weeks left. But make no bones about it – oh yes, I’m allowed those – I’m hungry and cranky and I don’t intend to live like this. I might be slightly thinner but a major source of pleasure in my life has gone and been replaced with dried up husks masquerading as meals.

The reason I have always been ‘pleasantly plump’, as my mother puts it, is because food is a joy for me. The reason I’m now depriving myself of it is because of the curse we all live with. I care what other people think. I care what people will think of me when they see me at this event. And therein, my friends, lies le crux of le problemo.

I don’t think I’m going to stop caring about what people think in a hurry. My grandma has not perfected this, far from it, and she’s 82 so I figure it might take me a while. I like to think I’m on route to a cure. In the meantime while I await the miracle remedy, I will see this as a project and enjoy the feeling of empowerment of succeeding in it. It’s the only way I can keep going when I see another limp bowl of broccoli soup waiting for me for dinner.

I am going to enjoy this event and my cheeks will probably still be a little bit big, it’s me. As long as I accept this, the photos afterwards will, without a doubt, make me smile. I’ll be smiling while I eat a big fat piece of cake.

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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The art of the fine flirt

There are countless articles about how to become the most fantastic flirt in the kingdom of flirtdom and bat your eyelids and mirror actions until the night becomes a haze of heady lust and zinging signals.

So I’m not going to make this another one. Namely because I am in need of Freddy the Flirting Fountain of Knowledge to impart his (or her) wisdom to me.

My flirting technique has not so much evolved as mutated into separate phases; each is a unique and amorphous life form. Some are higher life forms than others but all are strange and slightly wrong in their own right. I went through a phase where I was the ballsy, brazen flirt who went out for what I wanted and goddamnit I got it. But that doesn’t really work because inevitably the guys that are attracted to this flirt want a woman who will carry on dominating them and bossing them around when really I wanted to play with their ears and read Jughead comics while eating vanilla ice cream in bed. (What?!)

Sometimes I go the complete opposite direction and do the total antithesis of flirting. Pay attention, if I really like you this is what I’ll do. I’ll start talking about my diet plan or the weird fungus that’s growing out of left toe for no real reason other than that my mind has convinced me that flirting with this particular man is so out of the question as he is so utterly unattainable that I should firmly instate him as a eunuch-like friend by telling him all the things that were wrong with my ex and the detailed reaction my body has to Senakot.

Recently my flirting has taken on a new life form. Faced with the latest victim/bachelor, I became The Giggling, Blushing Maiden Woman. I don’t know who this woman is, usually the one I’m sneering at from behind my black double espresso. It all started when I knocked over a rack of lollypops while talking to him in a shop (yes, really) and since then I’ve found myself, to my horror, tittering and looking down and even using my hand to cover my bashful smile in his presence. Unsurprisingly this particular tactic is most likely to provoke a favourable response in men.

But really none of this is my fault. It’s the men who are bringing out the bogus flirt in me – a quality flirt needs a quality man for inspiration, like a beautiful work of art and its admirable muse who made it happen. So until my muse comes, I’ll keep stumbling out inappropriate jokes about mothers, talking about my recent bout of athlete’s foot and twiddling my hair around my finger coyly. It worked for Minnie Mouse…the last one, I mean.

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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If you’re happy and you know it…

There’s a saying about happiness. It goes: Happiness is the man who was looking for his hat and found that it was on his head all along.

When I first heard it, it made my heart soften and go ‘aaah’ but then a sort of alarm took over. Because it was suddenly clear that the happiness I got out of hoping, praying, wishing things will be better in the future was in itself deep unhappiness.

The suggestion that happiness is in the here and now seems like a Mount Everest challenge to concentrate and find happiness in the present moment. Where is it? Is it here now? Then why is my heart squashed and crumpled with fear and anxiety – is there happiness in letting go of this? Can I really let go of all my ‘If only’s’ and wistful gazes away and embrace my warty, imperfect present happiness?

David Cameron et al are currently prancing about the idea of a Happiness Index  whereby Britain’s level of happiness is measured in some wooly way involving voluntary groups, reiterations of the words ‘Big Society’ and lots of clapping and meetings in church halls or whatever.

My efforts would certainly add a smile to Cameron’s red, elasticated face because I’ve been fulfilling his credo of becoming an upright citizen by volunteering and throwing myself into the harangue – I’ve signed myself up for various things of late, including the role of voluntary Development Ambassador which sounds great but I’m not entirely sure what it actually means. I think I’ve also signed up for some sort of assistant cake maker role, which could have been one of those spur-of-the-moment-when-slightly-inebriated decisions since the closest I’ve come to making a cake was when I accidentally left my trainers next to the radiator for two months. The reason I’m doing this malarkey is because I’m making an effort to become happier – the thing is it hasn’t quite worked yet.

I stunned myself when I asked that question and forced myself to be frank. Are you happy? I asked. ‘No” was the immediate and unfaltering answer. I didn’t even have to think about it. Frickin’ hell, I thought. This is worse than previously assumed. But hey, my brain reasons, you’ve had a rough time of it of late, it’s ok to be unhappy. Work isn’t great. My love life is like a drunk driver on the M25 taking random swerves, having near misses and periodically ramming into stationary objects with the airbag having long given up trying. I suppose since coming back from my travels in India, life in England feels like a long, stale fart – an anticlimax, an act of simply treading water.

Don’t we just love finding comfort and salvation in our unhappiness. It’s like a smelly blanket we wrap around ourselves, pretending to complain but really loving the scratchy feel against our skin, because it’s something. It’s there, it’s tangible and we can touch it. Unhappiness is always attainable. Happiness- well there’s the effort. There’s the change in the way of thinking, feeling, being.

I still don’t know how to answer the question about happiness. But I feel it inside me. I know it’s there because it is the delicious mischief of this world. As long as you can still smile at two pigeons having a little domestic on the pavement or at the evening sky that makes you stop in your tracks on the way home or how your sweet pancakes have somehow ended up tasting of anchovies, you can see the universe that is behind our small lives, that is not taking life as seriously as we are. And when you suddenly come right into tune with that energy, well then you are right in the music.

That’s when I know that it’s there all along. It is the invisible hat and it is resisting the wind, no matter how much of a hurricane my mind is conjuring up.

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Girls not on top for India

There’s been a lot of talk lately about India and it’s worrying sex ratio with men significantly outnumbering women and reportedly the chance that there could be 20% more men to women in the next two decades. That is a pretty scary figure and yet more proof that India, while racing ahead in many other aspects, remains sadly lagging behind when it comes to the way men and women are viewed. That was apparent to me not only as a woman travelling alone in India but from meeting other women there and it isn’t limited to disturbing sex-selective abortions but is there, spread in everyday life like an invisible yet smelly film over everything.

Of course I’ll be the first to acknowledge that men and women are viewed differently in all countries and we are not living in a rosy utopia of equality in the UK. But what struck me when I told Indian women that I was travelling alone was their sheer incredulity that I had embarked upon this journey. More than one girl said, “Here in India we don’t do that kind of thing.” Well I’m Indian too. “No, you’re not”, they’d say back to me. The girls I spoke to were slightly admiring yet mainly determined that they would not undertake such a journey alone. And these were not wide-eyed village girls but cafe latte-sipping, working urbanites.

This isn’t an uncommon fear – travelling alone is daunting for anyone and certainly wasn’t always a cup of tea for me – but it was the resigned acknowledgement that that was the way things were that I remembered. It was the accepted ‘Things will not change when it comes to deciding what women can and can’t do’.

Yes Western women are just as shackled to these ideas, being dragged along by their high heeled shoes in an imbalanced, hysterical, beauty-clutching, marriage-obsessed world. But the more ingrained nature of family values on the young people of India leaves a certain mark which is less in British society. The closeness of families in India leaves less room for traditional ideals to slip through and get forgotten or neglected – the ideas stick and breathe in the everyday air and become a part of their fibres.

This can be a good or bad thing but it is just part of our being more (when I say ‘our’, I speak as an Indian living in Britain, also living in these tight-knit ideas) because family has always been a more inherent part of Indian culture. And it is a good AND a bad thing because it keeps us close but also keeps those old ideas stagnant, stale and ever-present, withstanding the passing mini whirlwinds of modern technology, career and education. There is nowhere for these old-fashioned, gender-skewed ideas to go so they remain and get passed on through generations.

So unless there is a throwing down of the old concepts and a dusting off of these moth-eaten rugs we will remain entrenched in what we can and can’t do. Being entrenched in that, along with all else that comes with being a woman these days, can keep those invisible barriers creeping up towards you until they are pressed up against your nose and you are gladly sitting on the other side.

 

 
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Posted by on April 11, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Oh book club, where art thou?

A little while ago I decided I wanted to join a book club.

No I am not a blue cardigan wearing bespectacled member of the 80 plus age group. I am a regular-ish young girl and I like reading and then talking about books I’ve read in a semi-intelligent way involving food and lots of drinks. I had this image of myself surrounded by young trendy urbanites in a darkened pub with dog-eared copies of our books around us with splashes of martini rosso upon them, saying things like ‘This book marks the zeitgeist of today without being too conformist’. Failing that it would at least mean that when I finish a book and go ‘huh?’ I’d have other people to ‘huh’ with too.

So I set about trying to find a book club. Like pretty much everything these days, whether it’s dates, shoes or part-owning a farm animal, I thought this would be easily achieved through the internet. It appears I was wrong. After googling ‘Book club North London’ to no avail, I tried ‘Book clubs London’ or ‘how to join a book club’ and I found lots of suggestions of how to form one but no real existing ones.

Finally I found one with a list of book clubs in London – aha, I had hit the jackpot I thought. After skimming through the options – ‘Afro-carribean under 40 book club’, ‘Young, gay and Jewish book club’, ‘Lives under the Brent Cross bypass next to the kebab shop and outside the post box book club’, I found one I thought would be fairly welcoming to me. I banged off a suitably witty and bookish, affable email expressing my interest to join said book club and asking when the next meeting would be. Two weeks later. No reply.

Hmm, I thought. This book club lark is harder than I thought. So I moved on to option number two, which had sounded like the book club equivalent of Club Med – 18-31 book club, discuss books and then cop off with the fittie next to you afterwards. Could be kinda fun? One email to them – one email back from them saying they were full. Full?? Since when have book clubs become the equivalent of Movida? It’s a book club for crying out loud, I thought they’d be gnawing my arm off with delight that I’ve deigned them with my presence and haven’t yet integrated into the Kindle-clutching android masses. But no – apparently book clubs are harder to get into than Juilliard.

In desperation I tried one more and received a mass, generic reply that they clearly send to all prospective book club suitors saying their next meeting was in three months time and they’d add me to the waiting list.

I give up. There’s gotta be an easier way to do this. I’d set one up in my area but as I’m currently residing in a sleepy commuter town I probably would need to give up my rose-tinted vision of enlightening chats about Sartre’s sub texts and settle for dissecting the latest Catherine Cookson over some digestives. Then again maybe that’s the kind of presumptions and snobbery that has led to iron-fenced book clubs where members thumb their noses and make new would-be members go through bum-paddlings and periodic electric shocks while having to recite the first chapter of Dickens ‘Little Dorrit’ .

If anyone has a book club that I can join, can I please, please join? I promise I’ll be good, make cakes and not put forward Kerry Katona’s autobiography as a suggestion (Katie Price’s is clearly better). Otherwise I’ll have to just set one up myself and invite all my fellow rejects from the exclusive School of Book Clubs. 

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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