Saturday, January 26, 2008

Gesundheit and other stories

The other stories first

It has been pointed out to me, on more occasions than I can remember, that I am fat. The unassuming protuberance in my mid-regions has been attributed to excessive eating and a steadfast refusal to exercise. While being centre-forward(according to an old joke in Kannada) is a good thing, and some tribes in Central Africa actually celebrate this as sign of virility and some tribes in South India actually celebrate this as a sign of affluence, today's zeitgeist frowns upon corpulence. So, to be fit, I decided to run, O my brothers.

I woke up early Wednesday morning(early being 7) and went to a nearby park. Old people with a fitness fetish and older people of the Days-of-the-Raj, the my-name-is-KrishRao types, filled the park. There's this one group of old men that roams this park and I've never heard them talk about anything besides office politics. Always. They're always grumbling about how this guy did this and got promoted and that guy didn't do that and got promoted and how those two guys finally got caught bribing a senior officer and stuff like that. There was another man wearing a blue t-shirt who was huffing and puffing like he was after the three little pigs. A lot of other people were there too, glowering at younger people with unmasked hatred. It was old age having a go at youth and....ok, a little Anthony Burgess hangover, but they did look a little surly, as though unhappy at having been woken so early in the morning. Well, if you're going to be so grumpy about it, why'd you let yourself go, then? Why'd you get fat? If you let yourself get fat, you might as well enjoy it. Or face the struggle bravely.

Anyway, I started running. I covered the first round around the park quite comfortably, breathing through my mouth only once or twice. "Mouth-breather!" Yes, whattodo? Around half of the second round and I started feeling definite signs of tiredness. I felt like bloody Phidippides. Which reminds me, isn't awarding medals to Marathon winners about the stupidest thing you've heard of? In this age of rapid mass transport systems and advanced technology, a man runs 26 miles with relentless energy and stupidity; and you give him a medal for that?! "Oh can you do that?" No, and there's a reason I won't:- it's stupid. I want to get to a place 26 miles from here, I'll drive. So, into the second round, I stopped, exhausted. I felt so ashamed of my own weakness, I decided to continue the rest of the 'exercise' by walk. This old hag who was sitting on a bench nearby smirked at me. So I asked her what her problem was and then, just for good measure, punched her in the face and broke her nose and teeth. Or maybe I was just imagining her smirking.

But I've embarked on a health routine now. No more fattening-foods-every-two-hours, no eating relentlessly at 1 in the morning, no succumbing to pressure from my father and eating large amounts of rice at night for dinner. Even if this last one means loud fights within the family and an almost certain eviction from the hallowed annals of successful middle-class Kannadiga/Telugu boys who always listened to their parents, studied well, worked hard and ate well. In fact, this topic is a leitmotif of most conversations at weddings within my family.

"IIT, IIM, look at him. He is now working for Im-fo-sys/Wipro/Lyoo-sent/Motaa-row-la/A-may-zahn(this is a new one). He is married, has a house in Jayanagar and two cars(one for him one for his wife). They had their honeymoon in choose-one-from-Zurich-Mauritius-Seychelles-London-Madrid-Yooyuss-Scaatlund-Saskatchewan-
UpperSlopesOfMountNicaragua. Every month, he earns about three lakhs. Soooo successful!"

I know, I know, it's only people who are geniuses at something different, something offbeat who should be writing this way about those with 'conventional' careers; not people with mediocre skills and in the same line of business as the afore-mentioned IIT-IIMs. You can also lob the 'sour-grapes' thing at me, since I haven't made it through to these prestigious institutions despite several(two) attempts. Well, go die somewhere, I'm not bitter. I have nothing against the successful guys. Some of my friends, from IITs, are among the nicest, most hilarious(which is rare if you're from IIT) people alive. I just hate these conversations. So pointless and boring. I'd rather hit my head against the wall. Or pluck my toenails by hand.

Wait, I've lost track of what the point was of all this....yeah whatever, it wasn't that interesting anyway.


This is about a man who sneezed all over my monitor and me. So if you're eating something now, or feel generally queasy about these sorts of things("Thu, he is writing about sneezes-u, seks-u, saangs-u!"), LOOK AWAY!!

RIght, my colleague. A very nice man, very genial, very humble, VERY patient. An issue comes up and we're discussing it. Some error reported by some customer in South Africa(which later turned out to be a configuration issue. I say one thing:- RTFM! Yeah, I've never been able to feel clever enough to use that, till these guys started calling up.). We talked for a bit about what would be the best course of action to pursue next, considering it was a Prio 1("Critical!! Oh my God!!") error. I turned back to my monitor to shoot a mail off to the customer liaison gentleman from our company(a friendly man named Wullstein. He always answers his phone 'Wool-shtine!" I like that. I'm going to say "Sharma!" next time someone calls me. Makes me sound more professional. Or a bit like Basil Fawlty, like I have no time for these trivial issues like critical errors.) and my colleague came and stood next to me. Then, as I was about to begin the letter, he shot at me.


I jumped. I was startled, jolted out of my pleasant universe where everything was nice and ordered, where sights were known and sounds were not unexpected. And where, most of all, small blotches did not suddenly appear on my monitor and make my desktop look like a hippie's acid trip(undulating waves of text, oh my!). And then, I felt it. Ickle drops of cold liquid on my hands. Nothing alarming, nothing to drown huge coastal civilizations, nothing that would register on the Beaufort scale.But some patches of skin on my hand tingled with the recognition of a foreign presence in their midst:- "Hey you guys, you guys, look! There's somebody else here! Quick, inform that brain dude!"

The brain quickly swung into action. Devoting itself fully to the task of bringing to my attention the fact that somebody had definitely, most certainly, sneezed on me, it delivered the following message:- "Look, you numbnuts, look! This man just sneezed on you! LOOOOK!!!" With utmost trepidation, I looked.

Yes, verily, my colleague had sneezed on me.

Small spots on my hands appeared shinier and brighter than the others surrounding them, like they were somehow special, superior, more worthy of attention than the others. They glistened in the light, rising up to meet the eye more eagerly than usual. I sat stunned for a few moments. Then shock turned to disgust and I fled the scene, mumbling a few unintelligible excuses. I washed my hands about a hundred times after that. Water, dettol, scrub vigorously, water, dettol, scrub vigorously, water, dettol, scrub vigorously, water...then I drank some tea and went back.

The horror, the horror...


Harish said...

When the nation is faced with such teething problems like poverty and communalism, you are glorifying an otherwise obscene incident in your office. This is deplorable. But good humour, indeed.

Anonymous said...

you poor thing. I hate unhygeinic ppl/things/places, except when I'm trekking