Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Not the usual run story

I love running. Over the years I have toiled to get better at it and be able to call myself a legitimate runner. As most runners would tell you, the idea of going through the pain of transporting oneself from point A to point B, without motorised or mechanical aid, using solely a fanatic drive to move one’s lower limbs incessantly till the journey is done, is absurdly attractive. Runners talk about what gets them running through pain, hallucination dehydration, and vomit, and the feeling of absolute worthiness of the effort when they finish. It’s an odd plethora of masochistic accounts that seems to draw you into self affliction. And I don’t intend to add to it.

Instead, on this highly unfavourable day, when my feet ache reminiscently of the pain from the last few runs , I would rather talk about what happens to runners like me* after we finish a much glorified attempt at acing a run.
The image of a runner like me, at the finish line, can be roughly templated — Hands spread wide, chest cresting forward, head slightly held back and decorated with a wide smile that isn’t. That’s the exterior; possibly, expressing the joy of accomplishment but also equally suppressing the pain accumulated over the last several miles. Much like the timing chip that resigns from its duty as you cross the finish line, this exterior too dissolves into a mishmash of pain-ridden contortions of the face. The system slows down to bring the bones, muscles, and the body to a spattering halt, and you collapse into a heap of dysfunctional nothingness.
Soon after, the post race euphoria kicks in and you realise that you have an honour to uphold. It would be utmost unfortunate to be seen in a state as hapless as this, so you reboot with whatever residual fuel you have left, and stand up. This is where you become comically interesting.
You try and keep your legs as far apart as possible to prevent any further chafing of the inner thighs which, by now, have attained exaggerated girth . You keep your arms a little spread out, lending balance to the perilous walk you are trying to execute while hopping on your screaming toes. This is a disturbingly incongruent element in your story where once you ran like a graceful horse but now waddle like a duck. The walk to the refreshment counter lasts the equivalent of a 5 mile run. The interesting bit is that you aren’t really hungry. It is difficult to be so when every bit of your brain, including the one that signals hunger, is deployed towards the single task of registering pain from almost every part of your body. Yet, you walk to the refreshment counter like a conqueror marching towards his reward for the war, decorated with battle scars and also, in this case, wobbly legs.
The gust of energy ingested into you does help in forgetting the pain, albeit, momentarily. This is the time you chat with fellow runners about your experience of the run which is mostly intended to make them appreciate your heroics, if you finished first, or appreciate your courage, if they did. This is also the time when everyone forgets their arduous state from a few minutes ago and emphatically agrees to participate in the run coming up next week. This fervour for the next run gets extracted excruciatingly from your body (and soul) later that evening while you are writhing in pain in your sleep.
I am a teetotaler so I haven’t really experienced a hangover. I would imagine it would feel similar to what one feels on the morning after the run. The difference, of course, is that unlike a run, you had fun sinning the night before and the hangover, perhaps, is a bit of a corrective punishment. As you wake up, your first 2 minutes are spent contemplating which part of the body should bear your weight first. A wrong choice here can have disastrous consequences, so you wait and evaluate. Chances are that all your choices would be wrong and would lead to those disastrous consequences as mornings are designed to put you in mortal danger. From the moment you wake up, you are put through a regimen of awkward movements — the cranking up of your upper body to sit up, then the dexterous swivel on the bed to get your feet down, the activation of you heels, calves, knees, and glutes to stand up, followed by a walk to the loo where you proceed to sit only to stand again? This seemingly innocuous ritual of the everyday is fraught with risks of devastating magnitude! If I had the choice, I would sleep on the pot post the run just to have the odds of a safe tomorrow in my favour.
The day post the run is also an opportunity to indulge yourself. And you do it rather graciously, consuming foods of all kind with absolute impunity. Your brain possibly tells you that if still hurts, you are still burning calories, so eat on my friend.
If you have been into running for a few years, the pain would start to reduce by evening of the post race day and, almost miraculously, the guilt of having cursed running, and eating like a pig with no tomorrow would start replacing it. When that happens, you would probably first reason it out with yourself and mock at the preposterousness of it all but slowly, and surely, you will find yourself wallowing in the swamp of guilt and self loathe. You would go to sleep like a man who has sinned, seeking repentance.
The next morning, you’ll wake up, sit upright, swivel on your bed, and stand up in one swift motion. And then, you will go for your run.
*Note: This is by no means a representation of the entire community of runners, or even a part of it. This is entirely a reflection of my ongoing mental duels with running and my absolute love for it.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Behold, he cometh!

I woke up with a jolt. A distant voice, intending to be melodic but failing miserably at it was beckoning me to rise and take notice. As I sat in my bed contemplating if it were just a dream or something real, I inadvertently reached out to my phone and tapped gently on the YouTube app on the screen. Beads of cold sweat trickled down my forehead as my heart raced like its pants were on fire. I woke up my peacefully sleeping wife and showed her the screen, she managed half a yelp and exclaimed – “ Gosh.. it’s Taher, he is BACK!”


The morning brought sunlight, and with it the relief that the world hadn’t come to an end as I had imagined it would the night before. I reminded myself that back in 2013, when Taher Shah had spun the entire planet out of its axis by his mind addling music video – Eyesto Eyes, we all somehow managed to survive, albeit with indelible scars. Back then, I had pretty much watched his video on loop till I had internalized his every move (read: gently swaying from side to side), every glance (read: looking flirtatiously into the camera and then turning away with unprecedented coyness), his every illusion (read: spawning a clone of himself, dressed in black but doing the same shit), and the killer smile (read: the kind of half smile you give when you really ‘need to go’, but they won’t let you). Hell, I even found myself humming the song while reading a book at a coffee shop and stopped only when a stranger seated on the next table threatened to stab me with a fork if I didn’t.

The point is that he messed with the marbles in my head and I did succeed in putting them back in their place. But that took time. This time around, I had to be better prepared, after all, I had been there once, I had seen what he was capable of, and I knew he couldn’t throw something at me that I wasn’t prepared for. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Look into his eyes... look! 
This time around Taher drops the pristine Simi Grewal look, escapes the confines of a walled structure, sprouts wings from his belly fat, and turns into an angel, actually, as he insists, “Mankind’s Angel”.  Playing this abominable creature, Taher roams in green fields, singing blissfully much like a cow that has found itself on the other side of the fence. He proceeds to spin a web of unfathomably complex lyrics, which need some serious deciphering. If you haven't been exposed to the video yet, I suggest you have a look before you read ahead. 

Now here’s the thing, while the song seems comical to many, it is actually a chronicle of the evolution of mankind itself. The song documents three different life- phases of the lost angel who probably got dropped on earth because he was unbearably heavy for heaven.

In the first phase, we see him wandering around the fields, singing longingly around a diabolically twisted tree. Dressed in purple and teal gowns, with a wand in hand, and a tiara on his head, he keeps looking heavenwards wishing for a soul mate who clearly God is reluctant to grant him (I am assuming that would be because God is just being kind to the rest of the world). But then he delivers a really compelling argument which moves the heavens -

Dearest creation, by God
Heaven on earth, mankind’s Angel
Lonely for you, like an Angel
Your love is, my true Angel
Without you I always, live alone
As the heart beats, without a soul
I fall in love with you, always….
Like Angels, love other Angels
Angel Angel, … mankind’s Angel
Laa, Laa, Laa, Laa, Laa, Laa, Laa, Laa”

As you'd have observed, the words are way too moving and with the “Laa laa….”  in the end, he just nails it.

Anyway, so God grants him a mate. And lo and behold she appears, a vigilante with an eye mask but much like him otherwise in girth and wings.

The vigilante angel
This is where the song enters its second phase. Our man angel breaks into a senseless love lyric where he compares himself to a mermaid and kills it for all normal men who have always had fond imaginations of mermaids.

“You are my lovely, … sweet Angel
Without you my love, … stays alone
Like a mermaid, … lives alone
When I found you, I was so glad……
As I gained,… lovely heaven
Angel Angel,… mankind’s Angel
Laa, Laa, Laa, Laa, Laa, Laa, Laa, Laa”

Yet again, he uses the “Laa, Laa….”  to clinical effect, driving you, the listener/watcher, one step closer to the kitchen knife.

The third phase is kind of predictable. We have a man angel, a woman angel - who is quite like the man angel - they sort of get together so logically, there’s a child angel.
My heart goes out to the child though, who is not only made to look like our man angel but is also decorated with a blond wig in one of the sequences, ostensibly to look like his angel mother. This of course, leads to an absurd output and a really disgusted child in his father’s arms.

" I hate you daddy! "
The song closes with yet another rendition of “Laa, laa, ….”  which I reckon are Taher’s best words in this song.

Taher’s “Angel” has already started having an impact. I have spent the afternoon going over the lyrics multiple times. His face, which is arguably the largest any man has ever carried, is looming larger still in front of my eyes. But I will fight this out. I will not fall under his spell. I will survive this too.

Until next time,
Love. “Laa, laa, laa…” 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Bubble Wrap Syndrome

Dear friends , 
Image courtesy:

For some time now I have been planning to write to you all but could never get down to it. I was contemplating if a phone call, or possibly, an in person meeting would be a better way to execute this communication task. 

After much thought though, I concluded that a phone call would leave my visual senses vulnerable to distraction and hence deprive my words of the intended emphasis. I also realised that a face to face meeting would give all of you the opportunity to lock me in a pillory of shame and affect an immediate execution. Hence, I decided to put down my thoughts in writing instead. 

Let me start by setting the context. 

A new purchase is a thing of joy, well, for most people. Unfortunately , I am not one of them. I suffer from a condition that not only prevents me from enjoying my new purchase but also adds persistent stress to my life; I call this the Bubble Wrap syndrome 

Bubble Wrap syndrome: A condition where one is so obsessed with the newness of a purchased good that the anxiety to preserve this newness supersedes the resultant joy of using the good itself. The inflicted individuals often identify themselves with a duty-bound bubble wrap, hence the name. 

I am often touted as the paragon of BWS in my social circles, thanks to you guys .  So when I bought a car, my biggest purchase since I started earning, it made big news. Some of you got together to discuss how I would demonstrate psychotic obsession for the car's newness, others steeled themselves for the imminent emotional storm that I would unleash, my wife got down to praying with unprecedented devoutness. 

It's been 5 days now since the car arrived, and to be honest, I've kept myself well within boundaries of rational behaviour, only occasionally straying here and there. Here's a list of some very restrained behaviour that I have exhibited : 

1. I have covered the floor of my car with multiple copies of Mumbai Mirror. Some might find this weird but I think the car is definitely newsworthy. Also, it keeps the floor carpet clean. From feet which have shoes on them, which in turn have dirt. Get the point?

2. Every time I get out of the car, I carry out a thorough inspection. I do this to check if there are any scratches / blemishes that need my attention. Mum  pointed out that our building guard, who is a regular witness of this routine, has been looking at me with an expression which alternates between pity and suspicion. I have made mental note to not tip the ass anymore. 

3. I have instructed my fellow occupants to carry polythene bags along with their umbrellas . Their umbrellas should go into these bags when they come aboard. This is a well thought out measure to prevent the water dripping umbrellas from wetting the newspapers on the floor.  I have sensed some discomfort amongst co-occupants, especially colleagues hitching a ride,  who are not willing to understand the rationale behind this . Hence, I have stocked extra polythene bags for people who don't carry one. My car, which now has several newspapers and polythene bags inside, somehow reminds me of the dump yard next to the neighbourhood public toilet. 

4. I do random rounds of inspection of other people's cars. That's right. After my car got a few scratches, I was distraught. The only way to lessen the pain was to look for others who shared it. I was seeking a sense of belonging to a community of car owners who have been subjected to similar atrocities.  I agree that I did catch a lot of unfavourable attention as I moved from one car to another, inspecting each with a keen eye to look for signs of disorder, often rubbing these cars with a handy cloth to check if a suspected scratch was real or just a mark of dust, but all this did make me feel a part of a much larger group . It's nice to know you are not alone when adversity strikes.

The list is actually longer but I guess I have made my point. As you'd have gathered  , I have sound reasons to back my actions which, I do agree, are somewhat a product of the aforementioned mental condition.  

If you thought that the intention of this note was just to explain my recent behaviour, you would be only partially right. Through this message, I would like to accomplish at least 2 more objectives :

First, I would like to thank you all for putting up with me so far, and Second, I would request all of you to carry polythene bags with your umbrellas the next time we meet. 

Lots of love.
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