Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Taking Inspiration from the World

 

There are times in my fitness journey that I have to look outside for motivation. For this I follow several people on Instagram and read about them. It inspires me every day and it makes my problems feel minuscule in the grand scheme of things.

So I have this tiny crush on a woman (let’s call her Zee) whom I follow on Instagram. Nothing attracts me more than a person graciously exercising every day and motivating people through example. This lady is pretty, she is 47, and has abs that can give Katrina Kaif’s Kaala chashma look a run for its money. Just the type of abs I like in a woman! I am straight, just FYI!

A couple of days back Zee wrote her story. It started 6 years back when she found out her husband was cheating on her for a long time. She filed for divorce, fought for her rights and the custody of her kids, and at the same time had to deal with rumours which said that it was her who had an extra marital affair.

If you see the kind of career and body she has made in the last six years, you will be super impressed. Whether it was revenge or necessity, we will never know. But the lady is an inspiration.

The other woman, lets call her Es, is 43. Yes, yes, when you are reaching your forties, you tend to look for people in forties for inspiration! I also think that when you are nearing forties you tend to do more of inspiring stuff – midlife crisis or whatever! Anyway, Es looks like she has got it all together. She works 24/7 as a diet consultant, goes to the gym where she makes videos for her followers, walks a minimum of 10,000 steps and takes care of a household. In the last 4 years she has lost 45 kgs and is now on her way to make killer abs.

Es has battled depression, miscarriages, and a traumatic experience where her best friend morphed her photos and circulated on social media because of some misunderstanding! Even during the toughest phase she managed to talk to and inspire her clients in their journey of weight loss. Here I don’t even feel like talking to my friends if I have period cramps!

So what I am trying to say is this – the fact that everyone is fighting a battle is true. But during this time if we manage to take care of our body, we can emerge out of every problem triumphantly. When you see your before after pictures, when you feel those happy hormones in your body after a gym session, when you look at yourself in the mirror and see how far you have come – your problems take a back seat.

Like I told a friend a few days back – food is the only thing we have control over. Start your fitness journey and see yourself transform into something extraordinary.

Meanwhile, I am trying. I am slow, but I am progressing. It will be years before I can show you my before after pictures, but it will happen. And trust me when I say, this journey is absolutely wonderful!

 

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Memories from the Germany-Hungary trip

 

When you visit a new place, every single day is an experience. Sometimes there are challenges which make you learn and grow. Isn’t that what travel all about? Apart from the immense joy it brings to your life, of course!

So this year when we went to Germany and Hungary, the Boy and I had our share of interesting experiences which I thought I’d share here.

Transport offense

Our hotel in Frankfurt gave us a complimentary pass for the local transport for the length of our stay which was 4 nights. It had my name spelt wrong so I had to change it when I noticed the mistake the next day. On day 3, we were on a local tram when the inspectors came to check the tickets. We took ours out and as I was holding and waiting for the inspectors, I noticed that the receptionist had given me a 2-day pass by mistake and it was now expired! The inspector came to our seat and just as I was about to show him my ticket, he walked behind us where a drunk man was sitting and spitting all over the place. We had actually noticed him before and therefore decided to change our seats and sit away from him. Anyway, the inspector and his colleague dragged him out and made him get off at the next stop. We too got off without them checking our tickets!

It was a narrow escape. Even though the fine was 60 euro, I had major palpitations because I am the types who follows the rules to the T. Lesson learnt – drunk people are super cool.

License blunder

While we were in Baden-Baden, we went to pick up our pre-booked car. We had plans to drive around the Black Forest for 3 days. We had done the area before in public transport and so this time we wanted to do something different. It was quite exciting because the prospect of stopping anywhere, going to random places without planning, and just exploring at our own pace was fun in itself.

When we went to Sixt to pick up our vehicle, the manager asked the Boy for his international driver’s licence, his passport and his licence from the country of residence. Now when we travel, we tend to empty our wallets and keep only the necessary cards and cash. The Boy had left his national licence in Bahrain because it was not required. The manager refused to give us a car without it.

Frustrated that all our plans will need to change now, we tried to contact the other car rental agencies. Avis readily agreed to give us a car with our documents in hand and we had a Volkswagon in less than half an hour!

Lesson learnt – keep only the important things with you when you travel. Oh, we know this from before!

Health struggles

I always plan my trips very diligently because I don't want any health struggles. I have difficulty climbing steps and walking uphill and so before going to a place of interest, I see how the location is wheelchair friendly because if it is good for a disabled, it should be ok for me.

This trip was planned at the last moment due to forever changing covid numbers. I was not able to plan every single thing. When we were in Budapest, we decided to go to a cute near-by village called Szentendre. This town was one hour by train. When we reached the train station I saw that the step into the trains was very high. Usually the Boy lifts me up in such situations. But I have a thing with trains. Since they stop only for a minute or two, I panic in case of a difficulty. That is exactly what happened. I could not climb, it was a huge step, the Boy tried to help me but his usual style wasn't working, and the train's door was about to shut and leave the station!

It was the scariest moment ever. But my Knight in shining Armour lifted me with all his might and I was in the train. It took me a while to get over this and while returning I was just glad that Szentendre was the first station for the train and I had ten minutes to get into it!

Why o Why do they make steps like that! We need a more inclusive society and this is one reason I dread going back to India. There I can't do anything alone!

Leap of faith

I love being in nature. The idea of being in a dense forest with the smell of nothing but trees and wet sand is my most favourite thing in the world. But unfortunately, most of this involves hiking which I cannot do. When we were in Baden-Baden, we took a cable car to the top of a hill. This place had mesmerizing views and a dense forest along the way. It was approximately 4 kilometres from the base which didn't seem like a difficult task going downhill.

I entered a part of the trek on the top and was amazed by how serene it was. Emotions took over me and I started walking downhill convincing the Boy that I will manage the whole way. After one kilometer I realised what a mistake this was. Although I was loving every breath I took, each step felt like an enormous task. With several breaks we managed to reach the base but by then it had started raining and I was drained! I lost balance and fell down, without getting hurt, thankfully. We didn't have a car on this day and the bus was about half an hour away. With no bench in sight, we decided to call a cab.

The next day was super scary! When I walked out of the hotel for breakfast, the floor was moving. My nervous system had completely gone bonkers from the experience! I prayed for this to pass which it did in two days.

Will I do the downhill trek again! Oh, yes, but probably towards the end of the trip so that I can have my bed rest for two days!

Sweetest gestures

When we called the cab after my experience mentioned above, it was raining heavily. On arrival to the hotel, the cab driver told me to wait in the car. He ran to take out an umbrella from the boot and escorted me to the hotel door! I cannot forget his sweet face ever! 

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Ah, sweet memories, I want to go back already!

Monday, September 20, 2021

How to get a digital EU Covid health pass if you are vaccinated outside of Europe

If you are familiar with Covid-19 applications, then there must be one which is widely used in your country. It has your vaccination details, your test history, the situation in your country, and is needed at many places for entry. Similarly, Germany has Luca for its citizens and since June, EU launched an application which saves your vaccine certificate digitally to make travel easy between the Schenghen zone. It is called CovPass.

How to have your vaccination certificate issued in your country visible on the CovPass or how to convert your vaccination certificate into an EU digital certificate? The process is simple although it has certain steps.

First, you have to find the pharmacies that issue digital vaccine certificate in a particular city. Our first city was Baden-Baden in Germany. I found a list of pharmacies there which issue the same and emailed a few. This list can be found here.

There were a few that said that they will not convert, but one responded in the positive. It said that they need my vaccination proof with a QR code and my passport.

When we landed, this is the first thing we did. The pharmacist scanned my QR code and performed checks on their device. Then she issued me an equivalent vaccine certificate for Germany which had another QR code. All I had to do then was scan this code into the CovPass and I was done! I was now free to move in the Schenghen zone! I could also scan this code in the local Luca application which was checked at many places in Germany.

Note that I am vaccinated with Pfizer Biontech vaccine. You can only get an EU pass with certain vaccines. As far as I know, Sinopharm and Sputnik are not accepted.

We travelled to Germany, Hungary and France after this and did not have any problems. We showed our CovPass whenever asked which was quite a few times and it was easily accepted.

To find the list of pharmacies issuing this certificate will require some research. For the German list, you can look here.

There might soon be a global application to show your vaccination status. Or better still, Covid-19 will miraculously vanish from the face of the world and we will be able to jump with joy across borders without any problems.

Planning a trip during this pandemic requires a lot of research. But trust me, it is all worth it in the end!


P.s. Rules regarding Covid-19 are forever changing. This was my experience in August 2021 in Germany. Please do your research before travelling.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

How to choose a travel destination during the Covid-19 pandemic

The Boy and I live for travel. Our lives change when we take a break of two weeks and explore a new place. The experience rejuvenates us mentally and gives us plenty of memories to go on for the next few months. Although this is the smallest issue, but this is the only (thankfully) reason that the pandemic has been hard on us.

So as soon as travel became a little safer, we took our Schenghen visa appointment and decided to fly into Europe. Our criteria was simple –

-        -   there should be a direct flight from Bahrain to the destination because masks are hard to wear for longer periods of time,

-     -   no Quarantine requirements,

-      - high rate of vaccination,

-       -  and new covid cases numbers should be low.

 

That gave us only one city to fly into – Frankfurt. We were excited since Frankfurt is close to one of our favourite regions in the world – The Black Forest. We decided to go to Hamburg and Berlin as well but as we were planning, the Delta variant started spreading in densely populated areas of Germany and so we decided to travel to Hungary after the Black Forest.

Ah, I planned and planned but things changed constantly. I have no complaints though!

So how do you track covid numbers diligently and choose your vacation spots? There is a lot of data available online which makes everything very easy.

The first thing to consider is the incidence rate in any place. This is the number of new cases per 100,000. Usually, it is the average number of cases per week. The higher the number, the more the cases. Also, higher number means more curfews, chances of lockdown, greater use of masks, and an exhausted healthcare sector. When we started planning for the trip in July, the number for Germany was less than 1. When we returned, it had become 11 which is quite high. Hungary was less than 1 when we went and changed to 2 when we left.

If the world is your oyster, consider opening google maps. Click on ‘Layers’ and then press ‘Covid info’. When you zoom into any country, you will be able to see the incidence rate of that place. That was our starting point.

The next thing to check is the positivity rate. This is the percentage of people who test positive of the number of tests taken. The more the testing, the better you feel about how the government is reacting to the pandemic. Germany was taking only 1 test per thousand of its population which is low in comparison to its neighbours, but the positivity rate was also low at 1%. It increased to 8% when we left.

It is also great to see a local website of the country which can be found by checking where Worldometer is taking its data from. For Germany,this website has comprehensive data.

Now those are a lot of statistics to look at before you travel. But if you want to be safe and feel comfortable during your travels, this is the best way to go. For some people, ignorance is bliss. That is clearly not the case with me. I am not paranoid, but I am not carefree either.

It is another thing that you forget all about these numbers when you are on a holiday. I did not check covid info even once while we were on the vacation because by then we had already taken the plunge! If the laws are not stringent, nobody wears masks in these countries. We were the only people in most places who were very serious about masks and sanitisers. My prime concern was that I don’t want to fall ill in a foreign country even though I was fully vaccinated and my risk of serious illness is very low.

Coming up next - How to get an EU Covid Digital Health Pass while in Germany/Europe and bits from the trip!

Monday, July 5, 2021

Start, restart, whatever!

 Wen you are 38, everything becomes slow. I thought it happened at 75, but it seems it starts in your mid-thirties. People tell you it will, but you vow to stay young at heart. Bullshit!

But the good thing about slow is all the extra time you get to be wiser. You start meditating on things and it makes slow, umm, interesting. You are not in a hurry to get anywhere; your expectations are really low with results and you are prepared to be patient.

That doesn’t make the journey easier. But then you look at the bright side, or, sides. You start believing in sustainable. You start understanding energy, and aura, and positivity. You explore areas you never thought existed. And it is all because of that horrible thing called SLOW.

I am slowing down. I slowed down way before but I was in denial. Now I am in the know. Knowing that you are not getting anywhere fast enough makes disappointments easier to handle. So I fall, I learn and I rise again much faster. For example, I was running to get somewhere for the last six weeks. Slow results started to disappoint me after week five. I took three days, exactly three days, and I am on day one of until I fall again.

Yeah, I am sure I will fall, but I know I will rise, maybe more quickly the next time because I fell slowly too but I rose faster.

I am beginning to see the good sides of getting older. Besides having more money than when you had in your twenties, or dreaming of travelling business someday, you also get insight. You become intelligent emotionally. You learn how to get rid of useless feelings. And you restart where you fell.

If you read this blog often (which you don’t!) you will see how the writer has grown up. I don’t write rants anymore because I don’t get time after a situation which gives rise to a rant. I am busy starting again!

Sounds exciting, right? I bet you cant wait to grow up if you haven’t already. I am still not sure if that is good or bad. I will go with good for the time being!

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Quest to Cure

In my quest to heal myself, I’ve been studying a lot lately. Its all jumbled up right now because every single thing that I come across catches my attention and I deviate from the current subject! But I am learning something new every day and that is what matters, isn’t it?

One of the most interesting ideas that I read was in a book called ‘The last Best Cure by Donna Jackson Nakazawa’. According to her, our past traumas, especially the ones that happen before we enter adulthood, cause deep effect on us leading to illnesses later in life. Be it passing of a parent, a sudden shock, physical or emotional abuse – they all lead to damaging our cells in some way or the other.

I already knew parenting was hard, but to be present for your children in such a huge way is next to impossible. The only way out is to love your child unconditionally and make them feel that adulation all the time. It not only helps in building their confidence but also keeping them healthy in the long run. It certainly heals all wounds and all that they are going through without telling you.

This also brings me to the current state of our country. The pandemic is severely affecting adults and kids alike. Our country is collectively gearing up for PTSD. What happens to these kids in adulthood when they have been exposed to next to nothing during the past year and a half? The media is constantly creating fear, parents are afraid, and losing near and dear ones is not helping. The emotinal damage because of this is inconceivable.

What happens when we realise later in life that we faced a trauma, or some form of abuse which affects us health-wise? How do we get over it? Apparently by practicing mindfulness,forgiveness, and gratitude. I’ve had my share of things in the past which surface as I practice mindfulness. Things I didn’t even think mattered have emerged as quite important during meditation.

Frankly, I am new to all this. I have no idea how imperative these thoughts are. Are they coming out on their own from my subconscious mind or is my brain creating them? More importantly, when I practice forgiveness and gratitude, will these ‘traumas’ from my past have less effect on my body and mind in the future?

Well, we have been told time and again that we must forgive and forget, we must be grateful for what we have, and we must remain positive under all circumstances. But it wasn’t until now that I learnt how to truly do these things. Sometimes I feel I will go crazy reading this stuff! At other times I want to go crazy in the quest to find a second life for me..

I truly hope and pray that these efforts will be successful and I will emerge a better person physically and mentally. I am amazed at my experiences and I will document them when the miracle happens.

Until then, I am deep in my thoughts and journaling them here helps me a lot!

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Dreams

This time, last year, I was weaving stories for the A to Z challenge to make up for the lull that was April, 2020. How naive we all were then, how naive we are now. So much has changed in the last one year even though we are supposedly in a partial global lockdown with little that is happening.

Life is ironic and how! At a personal level this has been a dramatically positive time for me. I feel almost guilty for saying it out loud when the world is going through so much strife. I do pray and wish this was over soon and we don't end up losing a lot, but I can't help and wonder how this year has been good for me.

I can't delve into details, not just as yet because I want to weave a long detailed story around it. Today I want to talk about dreams. Do you have vivid dreams?

I usually see dramatic visuals during wee hours of the morning when I am just about to wake up. Maybe I just remember those dreams because I am half awake. Lately, I have been having such life affirming visions that I am positive a huge change is coming.

Before I use to see people from my past and present. I use to see mundane things about my school days, college life, missing a flight, being unprepared for an exam, events surrounding my friends and family, etc. There were several occasions when I woke up and wanted to call up the person I saw in my dream and tell him/her about the incident! And now, now I see myself. I see me soaring high in ways I cannot explain. When I go to sleep I cannot wait to dream yet another amazing incident that happens with me and then interpret that dream on google! There are times I see negative explanations, but I choose to see only the part that makes me happy and focused on reaching my goals.

What has led to these dreams? Well, I've been reading and practicing the power of my subconscious mind and focusing on results. I am also being healed by a pranic healer who, I feel, is a magician of sorts! I am writing down these dreams in detail so that when the time comes, I can share them since, as you know, I like to share everything!

Infact, I should have documented all my vivid dreams - how beautiful it is to be lost in a parallel world where anything and everything is possible. Ah, I am watching Anne with an E and her penchant for extreme imagination is having an effect on me!

I wonder what I would be writing about this day next year. I have two things in mind, but for that you will have to come back on 15 April 2022.