March 08, 2011

From March 8th - March 8th

Today matters to me for two reasons, because it's International Women's Day and because it marks my 1 year Spark-versary. This time last year, I was sitting at my laptop in the office when the office manager came by and dropped off a picture of me taken at a talk and book signing Cherie Blair held for LSE alums. I'm not an LSE alum, but my boss was and he made such a fuss about it, the whole office emptied and we went for the talk, I guess seeing as our office was sponsoring the talk, non attendance was non negotiable. 

So anyway, today last year, I get the picture, with my smiley jowly face, frizzy 'fro, and bulgy sweater and I was depressed. Seeing as it was IWD, I made a facebook post on something along the lines of despite almost every pic being another bad angle one, at least that day, I would be proudly woman - jowls and all. But that evening I went home and started thinking seriously (for the thousandth time) about doing something about my bulging waist and jowly face.

This time was different though. I decided I needed to start exercising and so I went on Youtube for fitness vids. The idea was, I'd try some out, if I could stick with them, then I would buy the videos and start exercising with them. I stumbled on coach Nicole's vids, attempted the 10-minute Cardio Jump Start (I almost had a heart attack, and that was after I stopped at 4mins). At the end of the video - like all her youtube videos, Coach Nicole said log in to SP for more fitness vids and WL resources. I felt like she was talking to me personally, and soon as I could get off the floor, I did. 

That was the evening of March 8th. The rest as they say has been history since then. So this March 8, as I look back and reflect over the last year, I am amazed. So let me count my blessings a bit: 

# I've lost over 50kg, gone from 130'ish to 79 
# I've gone from wearing a UK 24 to a 12 / M 
# My waist has gone from 48 ins to 32 ins 
# My hips have gone from 54 ins to 42.5 ins 
# I walk 10km 3 - 4 times a week 
# I can wear my underwear standing 
# I've lost all those jowls, and a lot of the bulgy waist 
# I've moved countries (and continents) for the third time in 4 years, this time without the safety net of a job, yet I'm able to remain optimistic and confident. If I could lose 50 kg in a year, nothing is impossible! 

As I log off to continue with my job search, writing this blog has been a good pep talk for me. Only by looking back on occasion can we truly begin to appreciate how much distance has been covered, even when we thought we were standing still. So, I remain confident that come March 8th the next, I'd have moved on from here, no matter how impossible it seems now!

December 23, 2010

Jaipur - Agra

Since I left Udaipur on sunday night, I've spent 2 and a half days in Jaipur and I'm now in Agra. Jaipur was nice. Not exactly my cup of tea, but I did get to see a few sights / monuments and they were fantastic.

It was quite incongruous at times trying to reconcile the mad turmoil that is present day Jaipur with what it must have been in the time of the Maharajas. The Hawa Mahal (Wind Palace) was lovely, I could almost imagine the lovelies in the Maharajas harem, peeping through the lattice stone work and peepholes at the city below, because they were in strict purdah.

At the Amber Palace, I think I fell in love! The opulence, which is evident even today, must have been truly astounding. I've read a few trashy novels set in harems in my time and I must say very few of them do portray them accurately, however when they talk about lover trysts holding in the palaces, I've always snorted yeah right. But those palaces are massive, with a gazillion alcoves, and courtyards. I could envisage them being used for trysts after all.

As I blog this, I'm in the Agra Fort seated in the courtyard opposite the public Diwani'am (sp?). Despite the milling tourists, it's so peaceful here. I can understand just why so many Mughal Emperors chose to base their capital here. Noteworthy of these emperors is Shah Jehan - that old romantic who gave us the Taj Mahal.

The guy loved marble, an inverterate builder, he had so many marble buildings constructed in the fort. And in places where he left the original sand stone, he sometimes had them whitewashed to give a marble effect. In his time he had over a 1000 women in his harem, so I imagine when he was imprisoned by his son at the fort, he must have at least had lots of comforting from his women. His bed chamber and the harem faced each other across a garden with fountains. On the other side, his rooms looked across the river to the Taj Mahal.

I'm off to the Taj now, but I know now that if I get caught in a time warp and travel back in time, I know who and where I want to be - the favourite concubine in an emperor's harem!
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December 19, 2010


Ah! Udaipur is lovely. The lovely Lake Pichola and seeing the massive palaces and havelis that front the lake. Although they've gone to seed somewhat - especially the Bagore Haveli, it's enough to make you imagine the splendour those Maharanas and Maharajas lived in. In Naija speak, those guys sabi chop life.

Walking around the old ciy is a pleasure. I've walked some already, but plan to do more that today. Striking thing here is how widely English is spoken. Coming from Ahmedabad and how rare it is to find someone who can speak English beyond yelling 'which is your country name?', Udaipur is almost like being in England!

The usual handcraft bazaars and jewellery stalls litter the streets, charging outrageous sums. Of course since they cater exclusively to tourists, I can imagine the mark up on those items, just to mop up all those extra dollars and euros, the tourists wouldn't otherwise know how to spend. Thinking of it that way, I guess it really is kind of them to help out on such a trying matter.

So I succumbed, and after a bout of heavy bargaining, I bought a pair of black harem pants for 130 rupees. Brought it down from 250. But seeing as the harem pants usually cost 100 rupees elsewhere, it is a dubious kind of victory. I'm not buying anything else though. Chiefly because my laptop backpack has been pressed into duty to double as a rucksack, and I just don't have that kind of space. I hope d pants fit or else I'll prob just wear them under my jeans. That would at least ensure I stay warm on the train tonight.

I'm attaching a couple of pictures to this post. But seeing as I'm mailing this from my phone, I'm not too sure how it will appear. But will try, never let it be said that I didn't try anything (within reason of course, none of that bungee jumping nonsense, thank you) at least once! These pictures aren't the best quality cos my proper camera had its lcd screen smashed during yesterday's accident. So these pics were taken with my blackberry which is undoubtedly renowned for its crappy camera specs. Turns out though that the camera can still take pictures, just can't see them till I plug it into a computer. Will use it more today to capture some backup shots.
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December 18, 2010

Backpacking Trip

I know it's been a while since I wrote, but last few weeks have just been hectic. But I officially stopped work two days ago, so I have some me time!

I'd initially planned to be out of here by last week. What with my myomectomy and all, I decided to extend my stay by another three weeks. So that meant I was going to be in India for Christmas and the New Year and no plans made. And also quite skint too.

So, I've decided to go on a 10-day backpack trip across Rajasthan and a visit to Agra as well. This will take me right through Christmas and I'll be back in Ahmedabad for the New Year.

Plan is to go Ahmedabad - Udaipur - Jaipur - Agra - Jodhpur - Ahnedabad. I'll be travelling coach in trains and staying at budget hostels / hotels. As I write this, my train's just crawling into the station at Udaipur. Here's hoping my 2 days here are going to be fun before I leave for Jaipur tomorrow night!

Ps - being the superstitious African that I am. I hope the fact that I got knocked down (I mean literal glasses flying in the air knocked down) by some eejit driver on my way to the train station last night means the worst of the trip is behind and it can only get better from here on. Amen!
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November 15, 2010

Back to Work

I went back to work today. It was good to leave the house and be up and about. Although everyone knew I'd been away for girl surgery. Even the building guard gestured to my stomach and asked how I was. I tried not to be too mortified.

One thing I've noticed is how quickly shame and embarrassment give way in this circumstance. I've had a doctor poke a joystick, condom and all up my vagina. I've had another stick two of her fingers in me while her male colleague looked on. And then the nurses in the hospital wanted to give me a shave before surgery, thank God I was spared that one since I had remembered to do it myself before going in.

As if that's not enough, everyone had a gander at the tumours while I was passed out, and nicely (not?) thought to take pictures for posterity. Then of course I go into the office today and one of the girls wanted to raise my top to have a look.

Boundaries people!!! Ever heard of that?

Oh well it's too late now. I think I lost my last vestiges of pride just about when they were sticking a pain suppository up my butt!
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November 07, 2010

Oh No!!

It was so horrible!!! I went downstairs to get some water from the filter. The hostel's so quiet, I think I'm the only one in the building. Even the Catholic priest on the first floor is gone off somewhere.

So, I went down to get water and to get to the filter you have to walk past the entrance to the hostel. The gates at the entrance are closed to keep stray dogs out, but not locked - for some reason they love kicking the bins over, don't know why they can't just rifle through the contents of the bin without tipping all the trash out on the floor.

As I was leaving the filter and nearing the gates, I noticed that all the birds in the area were at the gate shrieking their heads off. I guessed something was up so I slowed down my crawl even more (still on bed rest from last week's surgery) and I saw this nasty, ugly grey eagle trying to snatch an owl. The owl was clinging desperately to the gates and trying to get in through the bars away from the eagle.

I was scared shitless!! I thought I was going to drop the bottles in my arms and have a heart attack on the spot.

The eagle dives in through the bars after the owl who is injured and lying on the corridor just to the right in front of me. I ran back to the filter and locked myself in there.

All the little birds had gone absolutely loco by this point. And the crows had started cawing their heads off too. I'm alone in the hostel and didn't have my phone with me.

The only saving grace is this is bright morning not night, I don't know how I'd have stood it if it was night. My not usually superstitious African self would have called my mum immediately to ask if it was an omen I guess. Maybe I should still call her, daylight or no. I digress.

After another 10 minutes (I guesstimate) of the shrieking and cawing, the sounds die off and things are getting quieter. So I sneak out back on to the corridor and see only one little bird left.

I imagine the eagle got tired of all the noisy distraction and flew off with its prey to have it's breakfast in peace and quiet, or maybe a bigger bird dived in through the open roof and swooped it off. I really don't know, but things were at least blessedly quiet.

I quickly limp up stairs clutching my bottles to my chest. What I need now is a shot of extra strong, extra sweet coffee to steady my nerves
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