17 March, 2009
Morning Walk - The First Day
The morning didn’t begin exactly well, woke up with a start to a sore posterior. By the time the sleep befuddled mind was clearing up saw the missus drawing back her foot. Holy cow… had been kicked awake by a determined face all geared up in her exercise mode finery. Had promised the wife that would be joining her for the daily regimen over a few weeks but “procrastination” was the culprit. I justified my laziness using a huge word. The morning slumber is precious. Having to give it up & the lovely dreams approaching their climaxes for sweat and pain was not my idea of fun. But not only had my deadline passed but had exceeded the grace period as well, which explained the aching rear end. I tried using my charm as she came back with a T-Shirt, Track pant and running shoes all in a bundle which she hurled at my head. The shoes hurt. “Don’t u bloody well bat those eyes or give me that oh so innocent expression” she growled "you are coming and that’s final and in five minutes too", with this ultimatum the bedroom door slammed.
Grudgingly agreed that had put on a few pounds (ok ok more than just a few !!!) but didn’t the Chinese respect a man with a belly? I asked her. She fumbled through our document drawer and something blue flashed before my face as I hurriedly laced up my shoes. It was my passport, “Are you Chinese?” she hissed. I knew when i was licked and mustering up whatever dignity left, we started for the ground nearby. It had a walking track and a green patch.
Jeezzz, it was 6.10 am as I looked at my watch. The cool air removed the last vestiges of sleep on me.There were some known faces from the neighborhood that were on their way back having completed their routines. Some cheerfully smiled at me. One cheekily even asked me “Out for a change is it?” I pasted a weak smile on my face and trudged along. Mornings are not my favorite times but when the better half has so majestically decreed, the not so better half is left with no option. As we reached the track the missus streamed ahead getting into her rhythm and moving past other walkers nodding to some, yet not slackening pace. Now that I was here, put my “serious man on a mission face” and start walking. This was the external profile; the somber expression but my eyes were taking in this whole scene out here. It looked like it would be fun, not my walk, mind you, but the experience.
This track is a musical jogging track (whatever that means, in the lamp columns there are speakers which spew music from some distantly placed music system). A light devotional song was playing in the praise of the lord. It was 6.27am. I kept walking and the very minute the minute hand touched 6.30am Bappi Lahiri’s voice jumped out of the speakers “ Yaar Bina Cheyn Kaha Re eyyyyy” this was too hilarious for words. I stood for a moment in surprise and got bumped into by the walkers from behind as I could not hold my laughter. Annoyed, somebody jostled me from behind “if you want to laugh get on the green the laughter club is at the other end” and sure enough a group of 25-30 people were swaying their hands like maniacs and laughing uproariously. This was supposed to some kind of a therapy and the seriousness with which it was being practiced was a unique sight for me. Why would respectable people from middle class backgrounds with varying ages from 20-80 yrs act like certifiable locos in public, under the name of therapeutic exercise ? Was I the only sane person left in a world gone nuts, I wondered. I plodded on.
An elderly man was walking his dog on the track ahead of me. The dog was a mixed breed. Pets are family to most owners but how do they acquire the features of their owners is an occurrence that has me beaten. It may be due to co-habitation, my mind tried to create a pseudo-scientific explanation to this phenomenon. Observing the serious faced dog marching in the centre while his master struggled to stay on the track made it obvious that it was the dog walking the man. On the green grass there were some who were doing vigorous stretches and a group was practicing yoga.
Suddenly a lovely young woman was walking beside me . My shoulders automatically squared and even the pace picked up a bit. The natural instincts of the animal kingdom took over and the peacock in me tried to unfurl his imaginary colorful tail to do the mating dance. But she seemed like a veteran here and before the tail was fully unfurled she had zipped past at a furious pace. I was left behind watching the waddling adipose of an extremely obese lady huffing ahead in a sari. Each step had some part of hers jiggling in a different direction. It was almost as if a triple sized bean bag had been animated and forced onto the track. I gently edged past her and heaved a sigh. As I approached the end of the circuit, from the return side the missus with her eagle eyes waved three fingers indicating that the target was three rounds. Near the end of the track were a temple and a paper stand where it curved to create a parallel return path. Here there were vendors who marketed their wares. A man was selling herbal juices. This was with a menu card highlighting the medicinal benefits of the colorful potions inside each glass bottle on display. Wheat grass seemed to be the flavor of the day. People who had finished their walks/runs were drinking from small measure cups costing Rs.15 to Rs.30. I passed this sight and was looking at the embankment. Here groups of senior citizens were having animated discussions. It seemed like they were having fun too cackling and jostling each other like schoolboys.
Just ahead of me was a person who was a walking endorsement board. He seemed to be wearing all brands that are probably possible to display on oneself. Nike footwear, Adidas vest, Blackberry on one side of his belt and an Apple I-pod on the other, he was communicating with someone. It was a business call being taken in a style that all around here his busy and connected state of affairs was advertised. “Goddammit, I want this done’ screamed he into the speaker that had a few old people jumping out of his way. The sound & the tone was quite like that of a canine whose tail is accidentally stepped upon. My competitive instincts saw my hand groping for my cell phone only to realise it was at home. Then again who in my network would ever call me at this ungodly hour? All would be snoring away inside their warm beds while I sweated. The feeling of righteous nobility at my health focused industry started and blossomed up inside me. On this self important feeling alone I breezed through one full circle. Only one more circle to go now.
New people joined in while those who had finished were leaving. The Diaspora of faces was changing every hour and I could now spot a cluster of three very attractive ladies casually walking ahead of me. Two were sari clad while the third one was wearing attire similar to mine. Again the spring returned to my step and was breezing past making eyes. One of them even noticed and giggled. Hmmm now the track was looking promising enough to return again tomorrow. The wife was sitting on the stone bench near the entrance watching my lecherous performance with a smile. I grinned back and reached her as she said’ having fun you dog? See I told you it’s not all that bad. Now come home and I shall make us a huge pot of tea without sugar and since you have been such a good boy, you can even eat one Shrewsbury biscuit as a reward." I just turned my face to her and said “woof woof madam". She punched my arm, her eyes twinkling, as we walked back home.