- Kuwait Times Extra
April is a cruel month. Resolutions bravely made in the wake of the New Year turn to ashes within a few months when faced with one’s lack of will. Taking cake for the most common New Year resolution with the least success rate is the commitment to ‘Get a Healthy Lifestyle.’ Like most other resolution-takers, this innocuous intention topped my list.
As expected, some months into the New Year, the only step I had taken towards the fulfillment of this wish was to move to an apartment overlooking the local park. I seemed to be under the mistaken impression that just leading the horse to water could make it drink. Ever since, I have assumed the position I enjoy most — that of armchair critic with a ringside view. Perched at my window, I am most comfortable watching the world go by while more result-oriented mortals put their resolutions to work by exercising in the park. Before too long, I was enjoyably engaged in my favorite pastime-watching with amusement the foibles of my fellow men as they went about the serious task of keeping themselves fit.
Soon, I discovered that the occupants of the park could be classified into certain well-defined species. The most obvious variety is the ‘Gadget Guru.’ He or very often she, can be mistaken for a mobile electronics shop. The latest gizmos hang from every appendage, making her a bundle of flickering lights and buzzing beeps. While instruments strapped to her body measure her vital parameters, she is busy whispering into her blue-tooth enabled smartphone, even as it belts out the latest Bollywood number. It is, indeed, a wonder how, in the midst of all this frenetic activity, she is able to actually move without tripping over the many wires that crisscross her.
I envy the next character, the ‘Optimistic Olympian,’ for his positive attitude, however misplaced. This pitiable creature is always at it, come sun or shine. His enthusiasm is matched only by his perseverance, which peaks when there is some sporting event going on anywhere in the world. While it is doubtful whether he will ever be able to get anywhere close to a racing track, he definitely sets the Salmiya jogging track on fire. More power to this optimist, his tribe ensures that die hard doomsdayers like me can keep complaining while they keep things moving.
The ‘Genial Gossip’ is usually a housewife escaping from her insufferable husband and children for a spin with the neighbors. Away from the drudgery of housework, she ambles at a leisurely pace with her friends in tow, talking incessantly of weighty matters while other speedier walkers try to squeeze past her on the track. At that pace, the only part of her body that gets any exercise must be her tongue.
If the Olympian and Gossip are examples of positive radiance, the ‘Serious Sloucher’ portrays the majority of mankind-plodding along wearily with the weight of humanity’s woes on his shoulders. He is usually a middle-aged male, dressed in an Ill-fitting T shirt, who, most probably spends all day slouched over a desk and continues slouching seriously even after he is done for the day. Trust the SS to turn even the most enjoyable activity into a compulsory chore.
The Sloucher, however, looks positively sunny compared to the next animal that inhabits this strange menagerie, the ‘Sniffing Shuffler.’ SS2 is usually pale, anemic and asthmatic. His wife rightly believes that he badly needs some fresh air and throws him to the elements every morning. He sniffles and shuffles along as if his lungs would give way any moment, sneezing once in a while for variety. He keeps looking at his watch every thirty seconds, wondering if it is enough to convince his wife that he had filled his quota of exercise for the day.
Though strictly speaking, he is on the track, not off it, and for want of a better name I have to call him the ‘Roadside Romeo.’ This pitiable product of our times, nudges his way past the bevy of belles trying to grab their attention with his antics. He definitely does not believe in understatement when it comes to sartorial matters and can be easily mistaken for a bird in mating season. Romeo is accident prone due to his tendency to run backwards while he follows his roving eye. He is usually around when the female population of the park is at its highest and beats a hasty retreat when the boys come out to play.
And that character I can see entering the park looks suspiciously like yours truly, the ‘Reluctant Resolution-Taker’ RR2′s psychology is something familiar, as I experienced it all along. For him, the end justifies the means. If there were a more lethargic means to stay in shape, he would chose it. But for the time being, he comes out once a month to keep his resolution alive.
Sneaking back home after half a round, he is secure in the knowledge that he is not alone, a majority if not all of humanity shares his tendency to promise but not deliver -looking for shortcuts to results that have no easy path to achievement.
Now that I have this guilt off my chest, I need to try out the next weapon in my war chest. The guys at the gym just called to say that my membership would lapse if I did not visit the place at least once a year. Now that would be interesting, especially with the onset of summer when I cannot possibly practice my strict regimen in the park!
By Jayaram Vengayil
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