Why Karate?

Learning Martial Arts has always been on top of my list since I saw Karate Kid (Ralph Macchio) back in 1984. After watching the movie with a bunch of friends I went home and asked if I could join karate classes and there was a volley of optimistic “she’ll grow out of this phase” responses “Join the basketball team” “Play badminton like your mom and dad!” “Swimming? No?” “Girls don’t learn karate! Ladies don’t fight!” I kept persisting every time the “You should play sports” topic arose. I was so dead keen on learning karate but no girls don’t fight, it’s not ladylike. Eventually I gave up ever learning seeing how stubborn my father was on not letting me go for classes.

Somewhere during my teens I found a karate manual. Hey! wasn’t that how Daniel Larusso started learning karate? From a manual? So it began… page by page… in the privacy of my room I tried out punches and kicks (obviously not the right way and we grew up in a YouTubeless era) hoping that I was getting it right. A friend borrowed that book and that was the last I saw of it. My DIY Karate classes came to an end. The dream lingered at the back of my head.

Now out of college and working, perhaps I could possibly save and pay for my own classes. Yes, that was a sound plan til I walked into a teak sofa that suddenly appeared out of nowhere and I dislocated my toe. The classes came to an end. Took me a good six months because doctor Me set the toe right.

Three years ago, all hopes of learning karate was lost til I shared a friend’s post. A couple of friends did start class and told me that since I shared the post I should start too. I asked my husband if I could and here I am still going for classes. Well, I did take a year off.

Karate has helped me in so many ways and I highly recommend classes for everyone.

Why Karate?

After an incident (fortunately very minor incident) that took place day before yesterday, I can’t stress enough on how important it is to know karate or any form of self defence. I am partial to Karate hence the harping on about it.

I was at the beach with my husband and a friend. We decided to have street food. The three of us stood by the stall waiting for our turn when a couple of men walked towards us. One of them had a daughter with him. As they approached us, the man with his daughter turned his back to me and started walking into me. I moved back a couple of steps and so did he. I moved sideways and he moved again, close enough to ensure there was contact both times. I moved the third time and raised my arm ready for him to make a move. He didn’t disappoint and he got a sharp elbow to the back. He spun around and I asked him where he was going. He put his head down and walked away. Smooth! no need to involve neither husband nor friend. I had enough confidence to handle myself.

Karate classes are definitely paying off. I can think of so many reasons why Karate is important but I’m only going to elaborate on what I feel are the main reasons and why I don’t want to quit.

#1. My main reason being anger management. If you have anger management hassles this is the best way to control anger. You can’t go out there and slap anyone you feel like but it teaches you control. It teaches you how to stay calm when people are in your face, pushing you to levels even you didn’t know you had. You stay calm because you are a karateka and Karate is all about discipline.

How I wish I had to start classes earlier than I did. I can safely vouch for the anger management part because I have trouble controlling my anger especially when I get pushed beyond my limits. I have what is known as the “Hulk syndrome” I blank out and I have no recollection of what was said and done during that time. In the past decade there have been a few incidents that drove me over the top but I was not training then. I usually walk away when I feel that surge of anger but sometimes it’s not possible to walk away. Karate has given me that control. I still lose my temper but I keep well within limits now and no one gets hurt. I do encounter an occasional irritant and when things get heated I do katas in my head and I keep telling myself “I’m a Karateka, I will stay calm”. It’s worked like a charm! However, there are those stray moments and people who get on my last nerve and I am learning control. However, I don’t “just” get angry, I do make it very clear that I am reaching the end of my tether and if someone decides to continue pushing me, they do so at their own risk and I tell them so very clearly. I’m definitely better at keeping my anger levels down now than I was my entire life and I have karate to thank for that.

If my mom was still around she’ll probably list out the number of things that got broken in the house because I lost control of my temper. A teak cupboard got cracked because I kicked the door with my knee (I was not training then) and the refrigerator, the door came right out I don’t know what I did but the door broke. I was incredibly puny and seeing that damage no one would have thought it could match my size. The number of plates and glasses that were smashed. Yes, definitely not proud moments for me and I’m pretty sure there must have been more damage  done in that house but I can’t remember anything more.

#2. Keeps you fit. If you’re asthmatic this is a good way to get rid of that wheezing. Carry your inhaler along in case you can’t handle the exercises but after a few months of training you probably won’t need to look at the inhaler. I’m asthmatic and training has helped there too.

#3. Self defence. You can feel safe at all times. You may not always have enough time to reach for a pepper spray or grab your taser but you can definitely be fast enough to throw in a few punches and kicks. You will definitely cause a few injuries and there are high chances you will be safe at the end of it. We live in times when no one is safe. If you’re a girl then you need to know self defence to protect yourself if you’re alone. If you’re a guy, you still need to know self defence in case you need to protect yourself or your partner. It’s just something that will always be a useful skill to acquire.

#4. Helps your reflexes and reaction time. I don’t think this needs much elaboration.

#5. Builds up confidence and not just the way you carry yourself but all round confidence but I do admit, I am incredibly shy so this is still work in progress but again, I’m far better than what I was before.

#6. The Meditation. This may not happen at every class but when it does happen it leaves you feeling calm and makes you feel like you can take on anything. This is another thing that contributes in anger management.

#7. Helps keep depression at bay.

#8. Helps overall fitness. Tones the body. After training a little more seriously than I did when I started, I have dropped a few extra pounds. Still a long way to go but yes, it helps with weight.

#9. Age doesn’t matter. You may not be able to do a complete split or you may not be able to kick higher than a foot above the ground but don’t let that deter you. Just keep practicing and you will get there with determination and grit.

All I can say is learning karate is definitely one of the best decisions I’ve made. Please do consider self defence classes of some sort, it doesn’t have to be karate. More importantly, stay safe!

Poster in our Dojo

Poster in our Dojo

For a Friend.

“Live another day,

Climb a little higher,

Find another reason to stay,

Ashes in your hands,

Mercy in your eyes,

If you’re searching for a silent sky…” – Dream Theater

Our talk today made me think of the lyrics of “Another Day” by Dream Theater. Sometimes it’s hard to wake up and live through another day. Sometimes it’s just a walk in the park. No one really understands what’s going through your mind but live another day. I know sometimes it’s hard to fill a void that has been gaping for so long and then we find something that will make us feel whole again and we cling on for all we’re worth and we know it’s worth it.

Know that tough times don’t last but tough people do. Sometimes we underestimate ourselves and feel like there’s no way out but there’s always that guiding light that will lead the way to fairer times. We’ve all had our moments, we’ve sunk so low that a way out seemed impossible but even through the darkest pit there’ll be a kind soul who’ll throw down a rope and pull us out of what seemed like a hopeless chasm of desperation.

If you’re anything like me then you’ll be a master at disguising heartache, sadness, grief and not all of us are brave enough to speak out. I’m not the best person when it comes to expressing myself but I try through my writing in the hopes there will be someone who will be reading this and saying “Hey! this is so me!” and drop me a mail and an unspoken bond is formed.

It’s strange sometimes how someone comes into our lives right out of the blue and changes things around. If we’re lucky that someone will stick around for a long time, if not then we know the person has made a difference and brought a fleeting moment of happiness.

Like you, I’ve had my fair share of what now seems like situations that were impossible to live through. When a new day dawns it’s hardly surprising that we sailed through troubled waters.

Please know that the toughest times are behind you and you don’t have to face anything on your own. There are people out there who are willing to throw you that rope and pull you out of the pit of despair. If you doubt love just look around you at the people who are always there for you, ready to stand by your side no matter what. No times are tough enough for someone who is already tough. What you’re going through, you are not alone… there are others going through the exact same things and more.

A wise person told me once “if you think you got a raw deal, just look around you and you’ll find someone who’s worse off.” You have a roof above your head, good food on the table, a partner by your side, then know that you are luckier than a lot of people out there. Take it easy and everything will fall into place, as cliched as it may sound, it’s true!

“Walk on with hope in your heart and you’ll never walk alone!” (Rodgers and Hammerstein)

(I sincerely hope this helps you through all your tough times. Be safe and stay happy always.)

May not…

I may not always call you,

We may not often greet,

But I’ll always have a broad smile,

For every time we meet.

I may not always be there,

Often times you know I can’t,

That doesn’t mean I don’t care,

I’ll have spare moments to listen to you rant.

If you need to talk,

Don’t look at the time,

You can disturb my sleep,

It’s okay I’ll be fine.

My display of affections might be missing,

My words, at times, maybe few,

But not a day goes by,

When I don’t think of you.

(I lost a dear friend today. We used to hang out together, go for swims, three close friends and one of us has passed on to another realm. I met him a couple of months ago, he smiled broadly and said we had to catch up. I promised we would. That was the last time I saw him and spoke to him. I never thought it would all turn into memories so soon.

I’m awful at telling people how much I care or that I love them and this is the only way I know best… writing. So this is my message to everyone who chooses to be a part of my life, who has stepped forward and helped me when I needed it, been my shoulder to cry on, been my ray of sunshine, everyone who has been and still is a part of my life, old friends and new, family, everyone who has seen me through every time. Everyone who has believed in me, believed I was right (you know who you are). We may not meet but you are in my thoughts, always. I will always cherish those memories.)

(Another one of those five-minute poems. I combined two styles, one where every alternate line rhymes and one where just the second and fourth line rhyme. I don’t like to stick to a fixed poetry style so there’ll always be a lot of experimenting with rhyming and non-rhyming verses.)

Home!

Sometimes, just sometimes, I love my dreams because they leave me feeling calm. Today? Today, I woke up dazed and confused. I was back in my old room, I could smell the trees that grew outside my bedroom window. I could hear the boy next door blasting music I detested. Yup! I was home. My house was intact, my dogs were all over the place. My Duchess just outside my bedroom guarding, waiting for me to open my bedroom door. The birds chirped madly as they perched on branches of the blossoming mango tree just outside my window. I could hear the children playing in the garden behind my house. Everything was normal just the way it always was. Just the way I knew. The old familiar feeling like putting a well-worn shoe. I was home!

I walked out of my room, I heard my mom pottering around in the kitchen giving orders to her help. My dad yelling at someone. Yes, things were quite normal. I stepped out of the front gate, Duchess at my heels. That shadow! I met my friends who lived next door. Everything was just the way it is supposed to be.

A perfect summer’s day, the well maintained, colourful gardens adding to the surroundings, the lavender honeysuckle creeper doing its best to sway in the breeze. The sound of happy children. Balmly breeze coaxing me to head down to the beach. I woke up! For a moment I was confused. I looked around me. Everything was unfamiliar. This is not my room. Where was that steel hospital bed? My cluttered desk? Overloaded bookshelves? Clothes and shoes bundled across the floor? Sunlight blinding me? Where was I if not home? Duchesss?

Part of me wanted to crawl back into bed and just lie there but the day had to start somewhere. Still half asleep I managed to convince myself to get out. Anytime now I’ll hear mom call out to me. Yes, I heard the dogs bark but none of them sounded like Duchess, that stunted German Shepherd who won my heart the minute our eyes met, my inseparable friend. Part of me wanted to run to the corner I knew for thirty three years and hide away.

I wanted to go home, I wanted to spend the day at home. I wanted to look into my dog’s big brown eyes, tease her to chase me around the garden looking for coconuts to play with. I wanted to walk around breathing in the air scented with a heady mix of the sea, jasmine, our old cook’s aromatic prawn curry. Those glimpses of the ocean sparkling between the palm trees. I had to be home. I missed home. I miss those empty spaces we turned into playgrounds. The trees we climbed. The roads we walked on. The sunsets from the cliffs. Running away from vigilant neighbours because we were caught sneaking around the quarry, heading towards the cemetery. Memories flooded my mind as though someone had just opened the sluice gates!

Oh to be home for just a few hours…

These dreams can really suck the reality out of you!

The battles within

The Battles Within

Perfect from the outside,
Broken from the inside,
Do the cracks show?
Does everyone know?

Can they see it in your eyes,
Hidden behind your smile?
Your hurt, did it go away?
Or was it cast aside for another day?

Did you hide behind your closed doors?
Your best friend, did she know,
The secrets you locked within,
Or did you tell your children?

You taught them all to trust people,
Who see the pain behind a smile
And the tears that hide
Behind bright eyes.

The battles within will never be known,
The sadness? That too will never be shown.
In the end everyone’s alone.

(Written on the 22nd of March for a very special person who will never read this.)

It’s true, we do not know what someone else is going through. As normal as they seem from the outside, the smiles, the laughter are great masks to hide everything that’s broken inside. I knew a person like that once and she hid her sadness from the world. Her best friend knew everything, I found out later. It’s so easy to judge someone “Oh you look so normal! You are not sad!” Then again, there are a few people who see the smile and know there’s untold pain behind it.

For Narnia!

I gently held you through those nights,

Watching you endure your plight.

I stroked your head while you whined,

These agonising memories trapped in the webs of time.

I watched those brown eyes

Close their final goodbye.

I caught your last breath

On a sigh.

I held your paw with all my heart,

Even now when we’re apart.

I watched you cross the Rainbow Bridge,

Where you can run and play and you can live

A life without suffering and pain

Til we fulfill our hearts’ silent promise to meet again.

(This took me a while to write and only because I was trying to get my emotions into words.)

Memories captured and frozen in time.

Memories captured and frozen in time.

(In no way was this poem written to be self centered. “I” here is the reader who has gone through times like this, holding a pet who is ill and fighting for his/ her life. Someone who has spent hours nursing a sick dog, watching him/ her fade away will relate to these emotions quite easily. The feelings of helplessness of not being able to help ease the pain and suffering.

Like art, poetry can be interpreted in a million ways. “I” in poetry is never egotistical but it is for the reader who will read it is as “I” and not “You”. It’s just my style. A lot of thoughts and emotions go into every piece of work and definitely not in an egoistic manner. I like my readers to feel what I feel and it is best expressed as “I”.

I usually don’t interpret my own poetry and how it is meant to sound but this time I made an exception. It will make the interpretation easier knowing how the poem was meant to be.)

Go Goa… Let’s (not) Football! (Part 2)

Saturday ended on a rather caliginous note but there were a few of us who had hope that there would be tickets on Sunday. Personally, I had lost all hope of acquiring tickets especially after the cops on duty at Campal openly stated that the ticket counter would be closed on Sunday. My head was reeling with questions. Where were all the tickets? Who took them? What happened to them? 19,000 tickets, only 50% were “supposed” to be out on sale. Who do we question? Who is the brain behind Goans being deprived of watching a sport they are passionate about? How can this possibly be fair? From the hike of the tickets to the unavailability all I could see everywhere was “Amchi Goa!” (Our Goa) indeed… but whose team is this? Definitely not the Goans because we are being deprived of watching the match.

There were lengthy discussions and debates all over the popular social media sites, everyone speculating about why there were no tickets. All of Saturday passed by with us mulling over not getting tickets. My husband, our friends and I considered going to the Campal Stadium early and standing in line. As if five and a half hours on Saturday, withering away in the sweltering heat was not enough. We finally decided against it.

A few brave friends decided to give waiting in queues another try. Relying on updates I waited with bated breath hoping against hope that there would be something positive. My friends waited patiently only to reconfirm that the ticket counter did not open. Frustration took over and they wrecked a police car.

However, Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium (known as Fatorda Stadium) had an entirely different scenes. One of my friends went to the stadium at 4 a.m. There were people who had been there since midnight eagerly waiting for the ticket counter to open. They were in luck! The ticket counter did open but not for long. The crowd went beserk. They set the counter on fire. After waiting in line on Saturday, returning on Sunday, it was overwhelming to be faced with disappointment. I spoke to a few people who stayed the night outside the stadiums. More than being angry it was the disappointment.

The cherry on the pie was the sponsors of FC Goa promising parallel screenings for the North and South so disappointed fans can watch the game “live”. This is a clear mockery of our intelligence. Why would we want to watch a match being played in Goa, on a screen instead of at the stadium?

I am an ardent football fan considering my family owned one of the Goan football teams. I was raised watching football. Calcutta has always been a second home to me and to not watch this match where my “teams” are at loggerheads is just preposterous! Who do we approach to rectify this? Who do we talk to? What measures do we resort to in order to be heard? The sponsors claim they heard our complaints but are they actually listening? A screening? Really? How is that supposed to help when the main issue is the “disappearance” of the tickets?

On Saturday, one of my friends met someone who works for the Sports Authority of Goa (SAG) and she said she took tickets before the counter opened. This was an hour and a half before the counter did open. How fair is this? There were others who did the same thing. Tickets were “taken” before the opening of the counter. Now this is a perfectly good reason to get worked up. After standing in the heat for five and a half hours, listening to theories about where the bulk of the tickets are was infuriating. Cops openly giving their “theories” which happened to be closest to the truth. The worst part is knowing that we cannot do a thing about it. Raising voices, resorting to violence, this is history repeating itself. No one gives a hoot and even in the future events, we will face the same thing and recall all past incidents like what happened at Lusofonia games.

It is indeed disheartening not to be there to watch your team considering they rose from the tail end to the head. Why should the fans suffer considering most of us were there for all the home games standing by the team through their losses and cheering them on to victory. It’s the fans who make a club. These actions clearly prove that FC Goa has no regard for their following.

I wanted to blog earlier but I thought I would wait for a while in case there was a change in this ticketless scenario. People are successfully selling tickets in black at ridiculous amounts. There were a bunch of college students who sold their tickets in black, in front of the cops on duty. Nothing was done about it.

So here’s another epic failure for us to be proud of. Go FC Goa… football without your fans……… we’ll all be divided at the North and South screenings so lovingly arranged by your sponsors because they “heard” not “listened” to our complaints!

1.30 a.m. outside Indoor Stadium, Campal. Pic Courtesy Akshay.

1.30 a.m. outside Indoor Stadium, Campal. Pic Courtesy Akshay.

4 a.m. outside Fatorda Stadium. Pic by Hanson Fernandes.

4 a.m. outside Fatorda Stadium. Pic by Hanson Fernandes.

The crowd gathered outside Fatorda Stadium.

The crowd gathered outside Fatorda Stadium.

As the day progressed the mob grew bigger.

As the day progressed the mob grew bigger.

People set the ticket counter on fire just outside the Fatorda Stadium.

People set the ticket counter on fire just outside the Fatorda Stadium.

Screenshot of FC Goa's promise for screenings in the North and South.

Screenshot of FC Goa’s promise for screenings in the North and South.

I questioned them on instagram and of course there has been no reply. What could they possibly reply to the questions I raised?

I questioned them on instagram and of course there has been no reply. What could they possibly reply to the questions I raised?

The screenshots were taken at 4 a.m. on Sunday. The pics are all from early morning to midday on Sunday.