Scared, witless by dire warnings from medical friends about the horrifying ailments that await those who turn fifty, one decides to embark on a fitness drive. Thus, clad with one ‘Reeback’ tracksuit from a roadside boutique (Made as USA – assures the label), one pair of cloned Nikes, one Chinese iPod and walking tips from the internet, one sets off on a morning walk. In Puttenahalli.
The walker’s website advises ‘Start with a deep breath’. So, one goes ‘Aaaahh, Inhaaaale!’ Bad mistake. There’s an overflowing garbage bin at the corner. Gasp, choke, gag.
‘Avoid main roads’, the website further advises. That’s easy, no main roads here. In fact, no roads here at all. There’s a huge bottomless pit where 15th Cross used to be. This bottomless pit, the notice board says, is the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) Underpass – that should have come up in Feb 2009. So much for the IT City.
One trips and stumbles across the debris, and ducks into a side-lane. Another bad mistake. No tar on this road. The stones slice into desi Nikes. The feet howl in protest. One takes a detour into muddy 8th Cross. Soft mud may be dirty but it doesn’t chew up your soles.
Mud doesn’t chew up soles but the local canine brigade certainly does. For sheer raw excitement in the morning, there’s nothing like ten growling strays charging right at you.
One takes a very quick detour into the next lane. Right. We start again.
Feel the air in your lungs, the website says. The air has a misty feel. Just like a dream sequence from Bollywood. Gasp, choke, wheeze. Dream sequence shattered. The mist turns out to be dust from vigorous brooms of a laneful of housewives.
Website walking tips be damned. One finally seeks refuge in the newly tarred main road. Nice smooth tar, no dogs, no bins. One can put in some serious walking finally.
Impact of one round object on the cranium. “Ball please!”, yell ten future Sachins, in one collective scream, from the ground across the road. One doesn’t wish to ruin the future of Indian cricket. So one tosses the ball. Which bounces back from the fence. Future of Indian cricket giggles loudly. With a mighty heave one clears the fence. And adds injury to insult as one’s ancient shoulder screams in protest.
Now it’s one lonely man against the Elements. Dusty lungs, torn feet, aching arm, but one walks on grimly.
“MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!” “Daari bidee Saar !”
Entire cardiac system skips one colossal beat. It’s the milkman with his coterie of bovine employees. One doesn’t wish to incur the wrath of 300 crore devis and devtas that our scriptures say reside in those cows, so one makes a strategic retreat. The Gods have won.
One retires, hurt, to one’s pavilion. And finally, one bows to the inevitable. One joins the local gym, for an astronomical fee. It’s expensive, it’s crowded with brash, pushy IT types, the music is loud enough to waken the dead but it does have a couple of good treadmills – and it does have pretty women.
And finally, one can put in a brisk walk. Thus filled with hope in one’s heart, one grins broadly at a young woman on the next treadmill and says, “Hi. Isn’t it a fine morning?”
She sniffs and says, “Hello Uncle”.
Next morning – armed with one TV remote, one tunes into ESPN’s aerobics show, and firmly settles down into nearest couch.
Potatoes of all kinds are good for the heart, so say my medical friends. That includes couch potatoes. So say I.