Category Archives: exercise

Why you don’t need a cook or a driver in America……..

When I first told people I was moving to India, they all wanted to know – “does that mean you will have people working for you?” And they said it with lust in their eyes. As if it was all rainbows and unicorn farts burps. If you don’t know why that could possible be NOT the most fantastic thing that has ever happened to you – please read here first and then maybe here and maybe even here. This blog post might actually be more interesting to my readers who have never been in the U.S. but, trust me, if you are all too familiar with the ways of the West, you might just be amazed at what we are all taking for granted. Trust me on this one – it’s not always the same, same every where.

I have always admitted that having staff made my life in India (much) easier – it was just a pain to have people always around you and sometimes stealing from you and blah blah blah. In fact, for the last five weeks of our lives in India, I did all the cooking and 90 percent of the shopping. People marveled at how I was going to manage it. Why would it be so tough to manage without a cook? Well, most of the shopping is done in markets and there are very few convenience foods. There is no “one-stop” shopping.

Today I went to a grocery store and Walmart and I marveled at just how many things we do not have to do in America.

First of all, some stores in the United States are open 24 hours a day. That is right – they never close. Can I get a hallelujah? In India, most markets don’t open until much later in the morning. And have I bored you to tears yet by telling you how many different places you have to go to get everything on your list? Shopping, cleaning the food, preparing the food, and cooking the food really can be an all-day event. And the foods don’t have a lot of preservatives – which is all sorts of loverly – but it also means you have to go to the market more often. See how tedious it all becomes? I know, I know, there are bigger problems in the world – but I am just sayin – shopping, cooking, and cleaning in India – harder than in the U.S.

So, I am in my car – driving myself – listening to the radio – windows down and I am reminded that the definition of traffic is not universal. Here is what I saw

Now this is not a side road – it is a well traveled thoroughfare and this is at 8:30am. Not necessarily the height of rush hour – but not in the middle of the night either. And, no, everyone is not simply running late today because no one was really behind me either. And I know I should not have been taking a picture – but give me a break – I used the rearview mirror – I had my eyes on the road the whole time! Pinky swear!

So, I pull into the road in front of the shopping plaza and see this sign.

Yes, you see that correctly – A) there is a sign telling you what’s here (what a marvel of modern technology) and B) all of these mega stores are within walking distance of each other.

There is a Target next to a Walmart (basically the same thing) and a BJs with everything that Walmart and Target sell, only in larger quantities. There is a shoe warehouse next to a Payless shoe store and a Toy Store right next to Target and Walmart (which both have enough toys in them for a large country). If you are from India and know about Spencers or Big Bazaar – think of that magnified 8,000 times. Bigger, bigger and better, better.

I know it reveals just how fancy I am not – but if I had to pick only one store to go to for the rest of my life – it would be Walmart – okay, a super Walmart – but a Walmart nonetheless. I heart this store! And, for my Indian readers – do you notice what is missing? Parking attendants and drivers waiting by the front? Oh yeah, and the occasional armed guard. That is because – everywhere in the U.S. there are parking lots. In India, mostly only the malls have parking lots. Hence the real benefit of having a driver. Here – no problemo – parking galore…

See all those empty spaces – you just pick the one you want and zip in – no one has to push a car out of the way for you or drive around the block while you shop. The down side of that is – guess what – you are carrying your own groceries. Just consider it exercise.

And inside these markets is a whole different shopping experience.

There are carrots that are already peeled and cleaned for you. Yummy.

Need a veggie tray? Done.

Need a fruit salad? Done.

Want lettuce? You can get it cleaned and shredded – ready to eat.

Oh, I am sorry – did you need dressing with that?

What’s that? You don’t like bottled dressings? Okay – make your own – here is a starter kit.

Would you like some cheese with that? Shredded perhaps? Remember how our parents used to tell us that they had to walk to school in the snow, uphill, both ways? I now lament with my children the olden days gone by when I had to shred my own cheese. And slice it too. And there sure as heck wasn’t any colby/cheddar on those grocery store racks. Oh, the hardships of childhood.

Oh, your child has tactile issues and prefers sliced cheese? No worries, we’ve got that…

Your mother-in-law prefers cubes – it doesn’t matter if she says that just to make you crazy – it’s all good, we’ve got that too…

And just in case no one is happy with the above choices, let’s throw in some cheese sticks.

And yes, you saw the labels correctly – those are all some form of cheddar cheese – but some like it shredded some like it not.

The cereal aisle can quickly earn you a seasons pass straight to the looney bin. Frosted or not. Fiber or not. Crunchberries or not. Sugar free or high octane. It’s amazing we ever get out of the store.

And even when our carts are full of things we can cook, we still have the option of not preparing our own food. Close your eyes on this first one if you are vegetarian.

We don’t even have to put cheese and crackers together ourselves. They even add a drink.

And if opening a box just seems too daunting at the end of the day – there’s this – we don’t even have to make a sandwich. It’s been done.

Those were frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The first time I saw them, I was outraged that we have become so lazy that we can’t even make our own sandwiches. Now, I own stock in the company. They are frozen so you do have to plan ahead and let them thaw out for a whole 15 minutes. Patience Grasshopper. Either that or tell your kids they are a popsicle  and cross dessert off the list as well.

Need a drink? Which one? Beer?

Wine?

I included this picture just to show you that Gallo wine really does not cost almost $30 a bottle. Remember that?

And to top it all off, you can even buy your apples already sliced.

You would think with us doing all of our own cooking, shopping, and driving that we would run out of time to do anything else. Not true. This woman still had time to decorate her car with silk flowers. Who says Americans don’t have their priorities in order?

To be very fair to this person, though, this car is a Honda and finding a Honda – your Honda – in the midst of a Walmart parking lot without the aid of a driver is like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack. She probably did this to make it easier to find her car and to ensure that other moms (or anyone else for that matter) wouldn’t go anywhere near it. She clearly does not have teenagers yet. They would never stand for this degree of lunacy.

So, that is why we don’t need drivers and cooks – we have parking lots and shredded cheese.

Housekeepers, on the other hand, are another story altogether. I cannot imagine a land or a time or a dream where they don’t make perfect sense. 😉

The Great Wall of China……………

This past weekend we hopped over to Beijing to see the Great Wall of China. That sounds crazy, right? Well it was, kind of. I truly never imagined that I would “hop” over to China. But it was fantastic.

The Great Wall is certainly great. Construction of the wall began in 221 BC under the direction of the first Chinese Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi. Further construction was accomplished during the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644). It is now 4,000 miles long. Urban legend holds that the Great Wall is the only structure on earth that you can see from outer space – but the actual astronauts who have been in outer space seem to dispute that. I’ll go with what they said.

So the Great Wall is up, up, up on top of the mountain – that means if you want to climb it, you must go up a lot of stairs – and by a lot, I mean A LOT. We climbed stairs for about an hour and a half. That was mostly because I way dumbed us down and took a long time getting to the top. My kids probably could have done it in an hour no problem. But, did I mention, it’s a lot of stairs? And stairs that were built a very long time ago – so some are really tall and some are not so much tall and some are crooked. And the handrail was meant for people with not very long arms. So, it is not like stairmaster stairs or escalator stairs. It’s more like Dr. Seuss stairs. Tall stairs, small stairs, and crooked stairs too. Up some, down some, and over some too.

And I learned this about China. Most of the doorways in the older structures have a step within them. I was told this is because they believe that evil spirits are short and cannot enter a doorway with a step in it. Okay – I am not one to point out minor details – but if an evil spirit has to climb, let’s just say 1,000 steps to even get to the doorway, it seems a wee bit redundant to put one more obstacle before him. But, hey, better safe than sorry on the “keeping evil spirits out” philosophy!

We did not have time to go see the terra cotta warriors while we were in China – so it was fun that these guys were there. Too bad he wasn’t available to carry me up the stairs.

And I think you should heed this warning.

We saw these locks lining the walls. I wish I had known that they were the “locks of love”. Couples come and add their lock to the chain, then throw the key over the side of the wall. I would have totally done this with hubby!

There are a few pit stops along the way – a couple of places to buy a drink or an ice cream or souvenirs. But there is only one “bathroom”. So go before you go. Or you will be squatting for all the world to see. This picture will surely totally confuse some of my western readers. So, I will answer a few questions – yes, this is the women’s restroom. No, there are no doors. No, there is not toilet paper. Yes, it is at least inside a room – a room with windows – but a room. Yes, be thankful this is not a scratch and sniff blog.

The girls and I went in thinking it would be a good idea to take advantage of the facilities and then we decided that we could wait for a better option. But on the way back down, I wanted to get a picture for you dear blog readers. So, armed with my camera, I turned the corner to take a picture and a woman was – let’s just say busy – so, I quickly stepped back out. It was really hysterical when she came out and tried to explain to me what the “bathroom” was. I just said, “yes, I understand, bathroom. Just wanted a picture – not willing to actually use it.”

This is me – totally ready for the adventure…

And this is me about half-way up thinking “how much further?”.

Just a few tips. You don’t need to carry your purse. You won’t really need a lipstick at the top of the wall. A water bottle is a good idea though. And I did start off wearing a sweatshirt with a light sweater underneath with a t-shirt under that. I was glad to have the layers. We were there in early April and it was chilly starting off. But as we walked up more and more steps, we were glad to shed the sweatshirts. I was also happy to have my sweater to put back on as we went back down the stairs. It turns out going down is much, much easier than going up.

This sign either says “Great Wall” or “do you have any idea how many steps that is?”

It was interesting also to see that there were no first aid stations or anything like that. So, really be careful if you decide to take this hike. I am sure most people are fine – but take breaks when you need them – and do eat a good breakfast. Truly, just when I thought we were getting close, we turned around another guard tower just to find more steps. Steps that were going up.

The views were spectacular.

And if you do make it all the way to the top, cartwheels are absolutely in order!

And going down is much easier when you “slide” down. 😉

Wall in Wall it was a “great” trip.

Hook, Line, and Sneakers…………..

Literally hours before we left the U.S. to return to Delhi from Christmas break, I heard about the new Sketchers Shape Up tennis shoe.

They are supposed to tone your butt, improve your posture, and help you lose weight. What’s not to love, right?

I did not have a lot of time to do research to find out how good they really were and knew that it was very unlikely that I would find them in Delhi – so being the true impulse shopper that I am, I rushed to the store to get a pair.

Now, if you really want to feel old, go shopping in a hurry at a trendy sports store that employs only teenagers who feel like they are waiting on their mother or possibly their grandmother and are somewhat unamused by the (old) lady who thinks she is quite funny. Let’s just say that I didn’t get any new blog readers at Modells. But I did get a new pair of tennis shoes. Mine are solid black just in case you are curious.

I was going to show you the before and after picture to tout my success with my new sneakers. But right now the after picture is pretty much still the before picture. 😉 I might need to reread the instructions though, because they don’t seem to work too well in the box. I guess they might be more effective if they spent more time on my feet and my feet spent more time moving.

Have no fear though, I will certainly let you know how they work.

Sit on your b.u.t.t. for Life………..

Yesterday I posted about the Walk for Life happening in Delhi on Sunday, February 7th. I am sure some of you pulled out those calendars and marked the date, got your tennis shoes out, rallied friends and neighbors, and probably even went for a quick warm-up lap around the block. Heck, you probably have your pledge sheet completely filled out. (Show off. ) For the rest of us, not so much.

If you are anything like me, this things are great in t.h.e.o.r.y. Signing up is easy – it is a certainly a cause that has affected all of us in one way or the other – and it even sounds like fun.

But what if…
I am tired that day
A child is sick that day
It starts too early
It starts too late
I need to wash my hair
It’s raining
It’s not raining
It’s hot
It’s cold
It’s crowded
The sky really is falling
and on, and on, and on…..

Some of you even thought you were off the hook because the 8,000 mile commute is just a tad too much of a commitment. Nay-sayers.

Well, have I got the solution for you. While some of the less sane more dedicated among us Walk for Life, (there is even talk of some over-achievers people Running for Life – whatever), the rest of us can Sit on Our B.u.t.t.s. for Life.

There is a way to make a difference from that chair you are sitting in right now.

Log on to the payment gateway in the CanSupport website: www.cansupport.org or www.walkforlifeindia.org .

There are no two ways about it. Cancer is awful and we all know just how bad it can get – parents lose children, children lose parents, loved ones lose loved ones. Families suffer. Friends suffer. Strangers suffer. It stinks.

Unfortunately, many, many Cancer patients in India are left completely without any medical, psychological, and family support – they are left to battle in the fight of their lives without any help at all. In a word, they are often abandoned by their family, their friends, and their country. It is devastating to hear the diagnosis of Cancer and it is unfathomable that someone would have to face it alone. But that is just what happens. Families are overwhelmed as much by the cost of cancer treatments as by the stigma associated with the diagnosis. So they simply step back and retreat.

And even though early detection can mean all the difference in survival, most cancers in India are discovered much too late for effective treatment. People here have just not had the opportunity to learn enough about the disease to prevent it and fight it.

So CanSupport steps in and helps where others cannot or simply will not. They educate, they coordinate, and they hold hands and hearts.

So yes, even from that comfy chair, you can make a difference. I do have my tennis shoes on but I am ready to use the keyboard if I trip on my laces standing up. 😉

P.S. And I promise not to bug you about this again – have no fear, my blog is not turning into a Jerry Lewis Telethon – but unless you are buying pashmina scarfs or carpets, a little bit of money goes a long way in India. You truly have the chance here to ease someone’s suffering without sacrificing too much yourself. Thanks for thinking about it!

Second Wind…………..

You might recall that I have promised myself that I would walk a few times a week and that I would be better about taking vitamins. Well, I have been walking a few times a week. I’ll get to the vitamins next week. Hopefully.

Being in India has given me more time to walk. And there is a lovely park right across from our house with a path. A small path – but luckily, I am not that ambitious.

But I do value time management – so I was thinking, if I ran a little bit, I could get done faster.

Great idea, I agree. So I tried jogging. Well, you have to loosen your definition of jogging a bit – to simply walking (a little) faster and managing to not fall down.

Now, I have heard many of my dear friends praise running. It’s faster. It’s a better work out. And when you hit that second wind, you can go on forever.

Really?

I mean, really?

The only second wind I am going to get is when the ambulance pulls up and the emergency technician gives me CPR. Seriously, I think I need to focus more on the vitamins.

I did hear about another weight loss concept called “eating less”. I am not really sure I am clear on what that means but I might just have to try it.

If you give a mom an ipod…………….

There is a book called “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.” It is about a mouse that gets very distracted along its way during the day. That is the story of my life. I. get. very. distracted. In fact, there is another book called “If You Give a Pancake.” I think we will all agree at the end of this post that this title more aptly applies.

Walk with me……..

I have been getting a few emails about the tone of my blog lately. Nothing bad or negative. Just some people are concerned. I guess I have been a little heavier in my writing lately. So I vowed this week to return to my smartarse ways.

One of the things I wanted to write about was my response to the new “no junk food” policy at the school. The policy in which you cannot buy potato chips but you can buy cookies and brownies with icing. Yes, I have a lot to say about that. Surprised? I still plan to write that because I am v.e.r.y. interested to see what you all have to say about it. But now I am distracted – see how this works?

I was distracted because before I started writing that post, I was looking through a few pictures to send some emails and I got a glimpse of a picture of me from the back. Yikes. Not what I have allowed myself to imagine pretend at all. This is what we call an exercise fail. and a reality fail. At least I can still multi-task.

So, I grab my ipod and decide to recommit myself to exercising a couple of times a week. Starting now. Right now. I am also revisiting my stance on potato chips. Yeah, not really – but I might have to walk more to start competing in triathalons. Off I go.

Well, it seems I have let the battery in my ipod run out. Yes, I was very committed to the exercising thing. Can you tell? Ipod fail.

No problemo – I grab my son’s ipod that is completely charged and I head out to walk.

As I am walking, I realize I don’t recognize many any of the songs. Coolnees fail.

Okay, I did recognize one. “SOS” by the Jonas Brothers. There is absolutely no need for you to point out to me that this song is like sooo last year – or quite possibly the year before. I know. Coolness fail. I get it. And it was not exactly inspiring – it is a love song – but I am no longer professing my love to Rick Springfield, so these songs dripping with Kool-aid and chanting “I will love you forever – or at least until tomorrow” stopped making me smile right after I gave away my favorite purple socks that were just like Donny Osmond’s.

I did decide, however, that I might as well listen to some of the songs on his ipod. Holy bad words batman. I had no idea that some of the songs on his ipod were so “advanced”. Parenting Fail.

Then I get to his favorite song. Another song I recognize. Maybe I am not as uncool as I once thought. Alas, I had no idea that his favorite song of a.l.l. t.i.m.e. has the eff word and the sh word bleeped out. And a couple others that are not. Yea, big fat parenting fail.

Well, at least I accomplished something. I walked.

Now for breakfast. Did I tell you that I found all the ingredients I need in India to make to teach Laxmi how to make a 7-layer mexican dip? Guess what is in my fridge? I cannot imagine why I also remain a lose weight fail. 😉

Here is hoping your day includes something really yummy to eat and a half an hour to walk it off. And if you see a pig with a pancake, please tell him I want my ipod back.