One of the first lessons given in kindergarden were...' early to bed and early to rise makes u healthy, wealthy n wise'. Somewhere in the entire 'growing up' bedlam for most of us the lesson gradually metamorphed into ' late to bed and later to rise, who cares about health, when you have dad s wealth, and excuse me who on this planet is ever wise?'
After following the second lesson for almost two and a half decades of my life, one day the realisation struck me that if I don't mend my ways soon, I ll be competing in the heavy weight championship at the Olympics. With this thought out came my jogging shoes bought when I was 16 and never used. I was surprised when they fit me! but the fact that atleast my shoe size has not changed was hardly a self esteem booster.So with the resolve of getting back all other sizes down to that of a 16 year old , I set the alarm for 6am the next morning. Little did I know that the next morning would turn out to be one of the most amusing mornings of my entire life.
As I entered the joggers park, the first thing that hit me was that we indeed are the second most populated country in the world, for the fact that it was 6 am the place felt like a packed Mumbai local train. Suddenly jogging was not just about slow running it also became a test of your maneuvering and dodging skills, and sometimes even then you cant help but bump into someone, bear the wrath of their glare, mummer apologies and run before they reply.
Intrestingly the ones you bump into are usually extremly fat aunties, who's sole purpose of coming to the park is to talk about Mr Sharma's son having an affair with Mrs Ahuja s daughter, and many a times Mr Sharma and Mrs Ahuja have something cooking on the side as well. I call them the 'Gossip Girls'. Their walk follows a specific pattern, meeting at the entrence of the park, exchange of pleasentries, one round of the park in absolute silence depicting utmost sincearity towards shedding all those lards of fat accumulated over years of physical and mental inactivity. By the time the second round ensues conversations begin and two and a half rounds later the entire group has rested their humongous back sides on the park bench and are engrossed in animated conversations and if because of your ill fate it is a group comprising of 'Punjabi' or 'Gujrati' women then be rest assured you would not miss a word of the spicy gossip floating around because their raucous dissonance manages to vibrate every ear drum present in the park. But looking at the brighter side, with huge ass(ets) out of the way suddenly the park seems more spacious and fresh morning air wafts through your nostrils finally.
With the pudgy roly- poly aunties out of the way the next catagory of joggers that catch your eye are the 'self appointed brand ambassadors'.Everything from their socks to wrist band is branded(the purpose of wearing a wrist band while jogging still eludes me)and their brand loyalty is remarkable, an Addidas guy will not have a thread of Reebok on him,and a Puma girl will look down upon every other branded jogger as if she's the queen because she is adorned by Puma. oh! and how could I forget to mention the latest apple i pod, strapped to the forearm with a branded( I dont think I needed to mention here) i pod strap. Now, this catagory of people can be further sub categorised into two types..
1) Serious Joggers ie Health Freaks
2) Serious Letchers ie. Freaks!
Catagory one (serious joggers) comprises of people who are inspired by every well toned hollywood and bollywood actor and actress, needless to say majority of them are aspiring actors or models themselves 'Strugglers' as they are fondly called in their line of business. Though I often wonder how can people who are struggling so much so as to be labelled 'strugglers' (imagine the extent of the struggle, I ve heard their persistence could have put our freedom fighters to shame) afford to be live brand hoardings, whereas us lesser mortals, commoners, not so good looking ,relatively less struggling people can only manage a few and dream of the rest. I guess we just dont struggle enough! sigh! But you cant ignore their focus and dedication towards looking good, the moment this catagory enters the park you know they mean business, no looking around, no talking, with i pods strapped to their forearms, and eye of the tiger blaring out of their ear phone (believe me if u run parallel to one of these u can actually hear the song being played in their eye pod and invariably its the rocky theme) they jog with the focus of a sucide bomber, jaw set with the determination to have angles sharper than a knife's edge, stomach pulled in to get the 9th pack of abdominal muscles if possible, biceps bulging,and sharp angular faces, they do mange to make teenage hearts skip a few beats and though way past my teenage I would admit rather opprobriously my own heart has fluttered at times too.
Once you are done oogling at catagory one( serious joggers) catagory two catches your attention (Serious Letchers) now this catagory is what you would describe as a serious 'pain in the ass'. They come to the park with the sole motive of letching at very woman irrespective of her shape and size.They can be easily identified from a kilometers distance, irritatingly casual walk, roving eyes, annoying smirk on the face, these people seem to be on a constant look out for an 'eye contact' and if by devils luck you manage to so much as even take a glance in their direction you will be greeted by a wink and a 'so u like me baby!' smile.They would be brand loaded to the' T' too, but not so much for their utility value as for their 'chic magnet' effect. Now someone needs to tell them that in their case even the brands fail in front of their sordid antics. The best way to deal with this particular set of people is to deny their existance. Look through them, pretend to be blind, and go about with your jogging, and if they still annoy you threaten to call the police.Trust me , there is no other way to get them off your back if one of them decides to stick on to you like a leech.
After skillfully avoiding the aunties and the leeches and slyly ogling at the eye candies when you decide to resume with some serious exercise, a fourth and rather elusive category comes to your notice. I may add here that this set goes unnoticed by most because they are the 'Park Bencher's' .It would take an eagles eye to spot them and an equally keen observation to understand their activities.They dont jog, they dont walk, they dont undertake any form of exercise while in the park, so what do they do? Well they sit on the park bench and observe people like you, to be able to write an anecdote like this, and as you finish reading this you have encountered your first 'Park Bencher'. So now its confession time: Despite all the enthusiasm displayed, the moment I set my foot in the park I was completely taken in by the plethora of people occupying it. The amateur writer in me took over the pseudo fitness freak and I was compelled to occupy one of the side benches (left lone by the aunties surprisingly) and observe with great amusement a glimpse of the new age fitness freaks of India. Needless to say barring that one morning I have not even lost my way to a joggers park,and I guess the next time would be when I hit 50. When the trends would have changed drastically so as to deserve this 'Park Bencher' again.