After a long bout of cold winter, summer was here and the days were getting warmer and cheerful.
I was still weighing a miserable 75 kilograms and was classified as being overweight and pro diabetic. It amused the doctor to know that I was a lifetime member of a fitness centre and worked out regularly – it sure did nothing to my weight that proportionately went up with my age.
That was when my husband suggested I consider walking outdoors as an alternative to my workouts – I eyed him doubtfully – he was the only person unperturbed by my weight issues so far and had let me amuse myself with my ridiculous diets and workout overkills. A suggestion from him could mean either that I definitely had crossed the threshold of my permissible weight levels in his analytical mind or that he seriously wanted to strike out my gym membership expense off his monthly bank statement (which anyways was doing no good!). So I decided on a fine Sunday to test his theory by taking a jog in the nice little park grounds near our place.
Let me share something with you here. I never took a fancy for running around outdoors in parks as I lacked the confidence to just jog alongside athletic young men with their six packs and women with their fancy Adidas running gear (in pink!). It bothered me to think that they would silently laugh at my unsightly bulge around the waist and my huffs and pants. It made me self conscious. But I'd often dreamed about joining the outdoor runners someday when I would have lost a few stones and looked as lean and mean as them...As for now, my fitness centre had a secluded section for women who wished to workout in complete privacy – it was frequented by women like me, who were too self conscious to have a workout amidst the fitter ones.
It was a pleasant Sunday morning and as I walked in through the park gates I was glad to see that there weren’t as many runners as I had imagined there would be. There were just a few amateur walkers and joggers around. Thank God for late Saturday nights and Sunday hangovers! With silent relief, I started my warm-up stretches on the lush green grounds. There was a nice breeze about and it felt good against my face. A few minutes of stretching and I was on my way – slow jogging with quick little steps, the iPod playing A.R. Rahman's latest numbers. Not bad, I thought – I could do this again.
Gradually , as I jogged ahead into my second round, I started exchanging smiles with my fellow joggers/walkers – a couple of elderly ladies, all wrapped up (yes, it was summer) chatting away as they slow jogged (read 'walked'), a middle-aged couple with their two dogs at a brisk jog and a few lone walkers like me. And in the grounds, people started wandering in. A few old men, a local cricket team for their practice match and quite a few people walking their dogs. Soon, the ground was all lively with cheers erupting every now and then from the cricket team guys and excited dogs barking all over the place in their frenzy of having found open spaces to run around and tree stumps and lamp posts to relieve themselves at will!
Mr. Rahman's music somehow sounded better still here in the open amidst the tall tall trees and the lush green grass... Perhaps it was because music and nature together somehow drew you to them till you somehow feel you are in harmony with them. You're sweating, panting, but yeah, it’s alright, and you feel at peace. I passed the elderly lady who had brought her little grandson and his dog out to play. The exuberant look on her face as she saw her grandson gleefully kick around a ball with the furry dog yapping around at his heels, fetching him the ball whenever he kicked it hard and far. A smile broke out involuntarily on my face as the old lady pitched in with a weak kick of her own, when the ball came her way.
And as I passed the team playing cricket ,carefully keeping my distance to dodge any stray balls headed in my direction, I saw the player at the boundary being ticked off for paying more attention to the pretty girl having her morning run than on the ball – he apparently misfielded every time the girl drew near the boundary! I slackened my pace to hear more of the argument, but the other players came over to cool things off and the team took a breather, much to the disappointment of the elderly man, the uninvited lone spectator of the match. He sat on a bench across, his book by his side, untouched. I’m sure he'd have followed every ball in the match with all his attention. Now I could see a little frown on his face as the team relaxed under an old oak tree. He probably was silently urging them to go on with the game.
An interesting couple was coming towards me – the man was pushing a pram with a sleeping child and his slightly plump wife jogged alongside, swinging her arms wide and taking deep breaths. She could have been trying to lose some weight post delivery and her husband probably would've tagged along. Anyways it was funny seeing the guy with the pram trying to keep pace with his wife. The cricket match by then had resumed and I couldn’t help glancing at the old man who now had a wistful expression on his face and was staring hard at the bowler. What was he thinking of, I wondered – his own days of playing cricket, perhaps or the bowler who perhaps reminded him of his own son or grandson? I suddenly stopped and sat down on the other end of the bench. He was slightly startled and looked across at me – I gave him my biggest smile and an out of breath 'Hello'. He gave me a wider smile and a cheerier Hello. Then he was back concentrating on the game. I sat there for a few moments, gazing at the match along with him – as if we were friends of old, cracking jokes and watching a game. I slowly got up and walked away, the old man didn’t notice, he was still focused on the game.
My phone rang just then. It was my husband asking me if I was yet again on one of my 'workout overkills' as I'd been away jogging for an hour and a half. ''I'll be back in ten,” I said and headed towards the ground's exit. And as I walked back, I felt ravenously hungry – a nice healthy appetite – to write. And write, I would. Those glimpses of mundane life I saw on my morning run, somehow made words and ideas erupt out of nowhere. I would come back, I decided, every day if I could, for I could get enough inspiring ideas from these everyday sights to write a dozen novels, at the least.
There couldn't possibly be a better way to lose weight!