A Toasty Morning

I was hungry for breakfast and I found some French toast in the hospital cafeteria. As I sat down in the lounge to devour it, a café staff members happened to enter looking for pepper and salt shakers. I tried to cut the toast with a fork (trying to minimize plastic) and it was not too easy. Not that I care too much about it. I said “hmm, this French toast is a bit hardened” more as a filler conversation than anything else. She noticed that I did not have syrup on it either. (Well, I am trying to minimize sugar too :P)

“Oh yes, that is looking stiff, and you don’t have syrup either. You should go get a fresh one.”

“Oh this should be just fine. But are there more fresh ones made?” I asked curiously, continuing to poke the bread on my plate that refused to break

“Sure, let me go ask the server at the service kiosk or whatever it is called.” She goes – comes back in a minute and says she spoke with the other staff & it is ok. After all that leg work she had done, I thought I should be nice. So I went ahead and got a fresher French toast and also some syrup, threw away the old and cold one.

“oh this is much better”

Then the staff member talked a few minutes about how public speaking is very important and we need to learn to speak up for ourselves. “Public speaking is something that is lacking in American education system.”

“Well, is it? I thought it was much better here. My early education was in India and there is not as much  emphasis on public speaking as for academia. But I have to agree with you it is indeed very important to be able to speak up. I was pretty bad when I came here to this country but now I am much better. “

“thanks for speaking up for me err.. about the French toast” I added, smiling as she wished me a good day and left

After she left, I wondered if I made her think I was suffering through the French toast breakfast so much, but did not have enough guts to go ask for an exchange, that she felt the need to help me get a fresh one. Not that I don’t get cranky about repetitive and boring (and not to mention unhealthy) café food choices, but today I was not. I appreciated her concern and compassion as a fellow human being. I was not eating that French toast because I had no choice or I had no voice, but mostly because I couldn’t care less. In any case, I realized, I had just created the right premise for her talk, I chuckled. I was taken over by her pampering, or should I say assertiveness and could not express that I did not really care. But I did have a better French toast and a very mused morning

Which brings us to evaluate the quintessence of assertiveness as a personal skill. Is assertiveness always a sign of individuality and confidence? When does it slip into an inconsiderate and snobbish territory? A squeaky wheel of no consequence in matters that don’t really matter.  An image builder of sorts to make oneself more visible and more heard, in which case it must matter- a lot- to some. Do people who are assertive about their French toasts have an advantage when it comes to speaking up against other kinds of ‘wrongs’? Something to ponder.

While making a post out of thin air and a thick French toast may not give me an answer, it limns the fact that even tedious moments are intricately woven, fun to tease apart, examine and write about

Wine train

Some old wise man said that the chaos of life cannot be conquered but should be engaged with, and embraced. Chaos works because it seems to be the natural rhythm of the universe. When things go wrong, they always seem to result not because of the chaos but a deliberate attempt to control it.

There have been other instances I can remember (like that one time I traveled with an expired passport or that one time I traveled with no ID with me. Or may be that another time where I waited for the plane in the boarding area while the plane took off right under my nose, literally) . I have a collection of such one time experiences. Life can be exciting in so many different ways.

The following will be narrated when I get old if I live long enough to narrate this as “once in a lifetime” experience. If not, someone might read this and that will be just as good.

I was driving cautiously on a dark evening in one of the heaviest rainfalls my town had seen in years. Making a left turn to cross the highway which ran parallel to the wine train tracks which had to be also crossed before heading across the highway. Staying too close to the highway would be risky on a rainy night (a skidding car on the highway would be dangerous). Staying behind the tracks would be too close to the service road. Call it a combination of diligent indecisiveness about where to stop and careless overconfidence that a wine train cannot possibly be coming down exactly that minute on a rainy evening and I was hurrying up to the hospital to finish up some pending work. What are the odds? Turns out pretty high.
Sure enough, I saw it coming down the tracks, southbound while the gates closed and bells rang ceremoniously. In a moment of disbelief, I said to the universe, “you must be kidding me! I am not ready.. ” well, I had to save that conversation with the universe for later. Right now, I had to get out of the train’s way that was a few blocks away and approaching me slowly.. Or just slow enough for me to be able to write about it today.
I took the car back in reverse and realized the gate has closed behind me and could not get behind far enough. Then I changed to ‘drive’ mode and went across the tracks to almost enter the highway. I stayed there, stunned, not able to determine if I am still in a ‘wrong spot’. Then I notice the train had come to an emergency stop behind me and the front end of the train was way beyond where my car had been. I will be really brief abt the rest of the story- because you know after this incident each second of my life counts (twice) The police arrived. No license! White coat and hospital ID to rescue. Phone calls made. Police followed me to hospital (and then I crossed a red-light, you know, just because… . Now how many people dare to do that and not get a ticket? ) Husband delivered my purse. Policeman was too kind. (You don’t hear that often these days. But it is true there are many kind policemen). Report done. No one in train injured (sigh…)
Vented out to a friendly nurse, got a hug, Tried to weep while coming back home, no tears, finally able to pull out two drops. Wanted to hug a teddy bear and lay still for a minute or an hour or until I felt better. Chatted with a few of my favorite people and then felt better after I got enough attention or more like when my daughter started getting bored of the repeats.
Now time for mulling over it.
If I did die, It can’t even be said I died doing what I liked. (Waiting at a redlight on a railroad track can’t be anyone’s favorite thing to do). It would be nicer if it was  while dancing and singing with my kiddo on a lazy weekend, while doing a kidney biopsy, or at the finish line of a race or during happy family time, or while chatting with friends drinking wine., It wouldn’t be death from wine, but death from wine train. both would be equally pitiful and tragic – can’t decide which is worse.

Now I know that intersection like the back of my hand and know exactly what to do if happens again. And I also know it will not happen again because I will never ever stop on the tracks.
“experience is a lesson you learn after you really need it”.
But now I get to blog about my first experience with the wine train (filled with fear, confusion, shock, regret, solemnity, joy, peace, and humor). I have heard the wine train is quite expensive. I think mine is the most expensive so far! 🙂 and not worth it.

Drive safely and Happy holidays!

Birthday Party

The big birthday was here! 7th birthday for our 7/7/7 born daughter! special day for us!

Birthday was on 7th but we decided to celebrate a day before on a Sunday. Still not sure of the number who would come to the party, I erred on the side of safety and had too much food than too little. Pinada was ready, balloons were waiting to be blown up. Egg puff pastries, southern indian salad in endives, dill flavored mini idlis with coconut chutney, cheese and crackers, olives and dates, condiments, lemonade, juice for kids, pizza and cake!  Bean bag toss, lawn bowling, clay art for kids. Boxes laying around unopened. Floors ripped off to be re-done.

I called the bakery to confirm the pick up time, hey had a pick up time for tomorrow!. After much begging and pleading with them, they agreed to make it happen. The decorator came back and did it for us! Husband was supposed to home at noon, but he ended up coming after all the guests arrived. (sigh.. life of doctors) . So the balloons were not blown up, the table was not ready, the plates and cups were missing. The children were having so much fun no one seemed to care. The white board which I planned to frame after people wrote birthday wishes on it- did not happen. Pinada – did not happen. Sewing machine broke- just in time. The little kid aprons I was trying to make as an item in their party favor bag – did not happen. The clay art I arranged for kids to make tiny charms – they did not know why there is so little clay- so we had 4 big items- they got burnt in the oven. The aroma of the food was replaced by smoke from the oven. Cake time came, and went. Being with daughter and cutting the first slice of cake with daughter and also getting a chance to take that picture – cannot happen at the same time! 🙂 I am just too greedy or may be just desperate trying to take it all in while I still can as much as I can for I do know the fleeting nature moments in the passage of time.  

Friends and their kids came, enjoyed the evening, they seemed liked they had a good time. We enjoyed having them over. It was too short! Finally, a tender moment when my daughter said, I was the best mom ever and she does not want to grow and wants to live with me forever 🙂 . I said “me too”. On reflection, we might say many of these little experiences give us a glimpse of how really life happens. Most importantly, grab them memories and put them in the chestbox

It sure was a memorable one. Everything was planned elaborately, though most of it did not happen, whatever happened was fun! 🙂 will keep looking for more

Happy 7th birthday to my little one!

My first duathlon (crash and burn)

There was no planning, no training. I had forgotten I had registered for a duathlon. I saw the mail a few weeks ago and was too late to start training now. I had to decide if I should really do this. I had cleated shoes with paddle locks that I had tried only once many weeks ago. I still went with a yes. I trusted my endurance for long runs and thought I should be able to do this.  I showed up to pick up my packet and realized I had registered for the olympic distance not the sprint distance. “we could change” the friendly man at the counter said. I asked him if the biking course is hilly. He wavered his hand and said “meh..no, not really”. Can I bike 22 miles? Yes. Can I run 9 miles? Yes. So it was a simple math right?Sure enough and dumb enough, I did not change it. I looked up some equivalent miles for biking and running and came up with abt 15 miles total. I had done a half last weekend. 

what I totally disregarded was the fact that I had very little training even for that half. and I had to do these things one after the other

After the initial 5K run, the biking seemed brutal. 3 loops for 22 miles. First loop, I was angry at the man who told me it was not really hilly. The crowd was awesome as always. They pretty much cheered me up a hill until my legs no longer listened. Second loop, I was laughing at myself, then started making weird loud noises. I had to stop at a couple of uphills and then go again and while doing so fell. Twice. I could not get the shoe off in time to stop. I fell to the left. Then I stood up and started uphill again, did not work. Fell to the right..Bruised my knee and elbow. My bike handle had turned in a weird direction as it had hit the curb. But the gears worked fine. So off I went again. Not wanting to fall again, I had my cleats locked on only one pedal. This was hilarious, pathetic and painful all combined. Had I been in such situations before? Yes, but not with a bike on the road. Third loop, I wept. Really? No matter how strong I am there is a vulnerable spot in my brain somewhere that gets activated for unknown reasons at unknown times, oblivious to the surroundings but also somehow triggered by it. I was not even sure if it was the crowd that petted and pampered me, joy of almost competing the brutal biking loops or just the dumb move of getting myself into this. Tears, sweat no one knew. How in the world will I run a 10k after this? When I entered the transition area, I felt so happy that I can run now, can stop turn stop whenever and however I wanted to. Drained out, but in control, not feeling stuck in my feet. Now it was a 10K. I had taken so much time for biking there was no way I could make for it now with my exhausted body.

I finished last, but I finished. It is not the kind of first duathlon I had planned for. But it is what it is. As I was running my last loop of run, I saw a couple of people who sympathized with me. Or at least it felt like it. What did they know? This was more than I could handle, and more than what I had expected myself to do. I learned a lot of what not to do. It was like going into a battle unarmed and traveling without a toolkit. Note to self: Never again. I want to turn away and walk the other direction when I see a duathlon along my way. But I will not do that. Next time, I will train before I do it. Until then I will stick with daily routine of minimum required exercise and stay away from registrations for runs and bikes. 

When I returned, I had to round at two hospitals and do what I do best, then cooked something tasty for dinner and slept like a dead animal.


Next morning I was reborn 🙂 with a limp 😉

Should I make a public blog post out of this as if the pain on the course wasn’t bad enough, I wondered. Yes, to this one too. It left me bruised, hurt, embarrassed, shocked, exhausted, numbed. But it is still my first duathlon and will probably be the most memorable one 🙂

Women’s road rage :)

It was just another run on just another weekend with just enough training miles to keep me at just around 2.5 hrs. This has pretty much become my formula and may be losing its ‘mojo’ . I got a glimpse of the grandiosity of this event when I showed up at the expo the day before the race. I have done enough half marathons that I have stopped looking at the course elevation maps or even the course maps before the runs. I know I will finish it, somehow.  There expo was so crowded, there were waiting lines at every booth. After packet pick up, I got a “spread health” generic temporary tattoo (trying to avoid the commercial logos) after waiting in line for about an hour! I could have actually spread more health if I was not off that day… 😉 and then left the overhyped overcrowded over glamorous expo. I thought this event is just another face of the american brand commercialism.

I was fortunate enough to be in the napa valley sole sisters group so I could be a part of this historical event. The 10th anniversary of this major running event. Unlike my usual hurried rush, I had an enjoyable ride with friends, just in time to check our bags and get ready at the start line but not enough to get a snap of our sleepless excited faces. I realized running with friends doubles up the fun

I stood with the crowd, I think I was towards the tail end of that street which was still overcrowded. Fireworks at the start line, cheers on the loudspeakers. high energy flowing in the air. and Women > 30,000 of them! (must be > 35000 as there were bib numbers more than that.) and I heard the announcement that 143 million dollars had been raised!  what an amazing event this becomes! (despite all the underlying Nike affair). It was an awesome feeling to be a part of that humongous group of women runners. Actually what a long journey since the katherine switzer incident in boston in 1967.

There were some things that stood out during  this race. Well organized considering the sheer volume. Volunteers were amazing. Aid stations were well organized. Handing out neutragena face cleansing wipes and offering sunscreen sprays! Dark chocolate bars!

And then came the finish line. Now comes the really hyped up part of this whole thing. A fireman in a tuxedo hands a finisher’s necklace after you walk on a red carpet! Holy molly guacamole! I don’t think it is a hype at all. I was actually looking for the handsomest one to decide which firemanI want to go to! But you know, reality is there were lots (I mean LOTS!) of women who ran faster 🙂 Ok now we had to stand in a line after running 13.1 miles waiting for the necklace. I am not sure if the firemen really enjoyed standing next to all the stinky sweaty women. And then another line for the picture and then another line for the food and then one more if you wanted the neutragena goodie bag and then a long one if you wanted a red towel or a massage. I have never spent this much time post race but here I had nothing else to do. I made instant friends with so many women, we talked like we knew each other forever. Now the lines were not as bad after all.

I was pleased with how the run ended. I finished faster than expected. (2.33) I was more pleased about where it ended. I had a dream about this lonely restaurant on a beach … Can’t even remember when. or was it that I had just seen it on my way to somewhere. I had tried to find it without knowing its name or the street it is on.. but here it was, at the finish line looking at me like a long lost friend! This was the closest I had been to a dream come true metaphoriterally speaking. I walked on the beach watching the sky, waves, the beach filled with an ocean of footprints, savored the magic of the moment, smiling at all those pleasant surprises life has to offer and then the phone rang and I realized I had spent way too much time here

It was just another weekend, just another run..

some fun cheer boards (if you got bore with the post)

– go! go! go! you run better than congress!

– run faster! channing tatum just passed by

-10 reasons to run. Me 1 leukemia 0; that necklace is mine; because I can; for my family; I will prove them wrong; this beats traffic; I love the city; skinny jeans ahead; it’s me time; amazing memories



I have to put it down on paper before I forget about this and start complaining about how life sucks the life out of everything. This will remind me, it does not, after all. In fact, it is more beautiful than one can ever imagine even with all the sucking that happens

While living a nomadic life for almost two years, looking for jobs, imagining a new kind of life after attending every interview, making stressful, challenging decisions, travel plans were abundant but the ones meant for relaxing, pleasure and exploration never came by. This was a welcome break, long overdue.

Maui is beautiful, gorgeous, pretty, wild. It has the right mix of fun, adventure, beauty and awe. The flora made me nostalgic since so much I saw was from my childhood.  We were able to visit and do the most important things in the time we had. Road to Hana, nice one- lane twisted route, with hikes along the way. We hiked to the twin falls, visited the ‘garden of eden’ which harbors a rock that appears in the movie jurassic park. While it is said to be one of the best scenic highways, I bet there are better ones in western ghats that need a little more marketing. Also as scenic as the road to Hana is the road that lines the southern shore of Maui. The road is bumpy and becomes gravel at times but offers endless breathtaking views. Haleakala sunrise point – There is a story that the Hawaiian Islands were pulled out of the ocean by demigod Maui and the sun was harnessed atop the Haleakala Mountain. one can understand why when you stand there. This was one of the most important things I had planned for during my visit. Waited in the almost freezing temperatures at the top of the Haleakala crater, 9740 ft high. Stared at the horizon and was able to miss the exact second the sun emerged from behind the clouds as I turned to answer my kid’s question. And then the clicks followed like no one had ever seen a sunrise before. It is indeed a memorable experience to be standing above the clouds, with the skies changing with each passing minute. Pictures(especially mine) can hardly tell the story. Awesome and worth the odd hour wake up. My kid was so co-operative, she deserves another vacation just for that!

First time snorkeling, parasailing. zip lining — to swim like a fish, fly like a bird or swing like arboreal monkeys. Or may be float like a leaf, fly like a kite and swing like a terrestrial monkey sounds better. The idea of sliding into the ocean was a bit overwhelming and intimidating to say the least. I was doing great until the snorkel came out and I gulped some ocean water. Called for help waving my hands as I thought I would drown and die right there. Then was able to swim safely to the boat only to dunk myself back in to look at the ocean floor decorated with corals for the colorful bright happy and busy looking fish that were swimming away gloriously in all directions. While the turtles lazed around totally disinterested in the (other-) worldly sea life. When I finally saw a turtle that came close enough to show its face, the underwater camera (bought it on board for 25 dollars) had run out of shots. Parasailing was more a pleasant and calming experience that my kid enjoyed so much she wanted to go back for more

Ate good food, relaxed in pools and spas. Strolled on beaches, busy streets with polynesian food, jewelry and clothes, splurged on some of them knowing they will never be worn again. Beaches, water, sand, sunsets, sunrises, moonsets and moonrises. Why don’t we do these things when we are not in vacation? If no beaches, we surely can make time to see these celestial bodies seemingly being juggled by our big old beautiful earth.

Enjoyed the abundant sugarcanes, coconuts, passion fruits and guavas. Took lots of pictures and lots more, then some. Mostly with wrong white balance, wrong shutter speed and without a tripod. We could only get a glimpse of Wainapanapa State park and Iao valley state park.

Luau introduced us to some of the legends and myths that surround the island through their beautiful songs and dances. The Polynesian culture of cooking a pig under burning coal and then carrying it in a parade before consumption a made my kid look away and never like a luau again. Evening filled with leis, hula dance, fire dance, dinner and desserts

As if this much fun was not enough, I registered last minute for the Maui half marathon. I usually ask myself why I am doing this at mile 7 or 8. This time I had to do it at mile 4 and then every mile after that. Seems my salvation lies there somewhere in that 13.1

Surprisingly enough(or not), I was not cranky at work for not being at a beach somewhere. But the same evening, I was looking at another destination for travel. Hope there are more exotic places to be seen on the way. And hope they come sooner or later. Or even later than never.

Mahalo(ful) for the great time!