For someone who is still on the active & optimistic side of 30s, i lead a very sedentary & monogamous life. Not that i would want my days(& nights) to unfold any differently. But still, at times, a small voice inside me keeps nudging quietly, begging me to get out of the predictable rut. "Get a life.." (the small voice pleads) , most of the times I turn a deaf ear and let the voice die a slow natural death. Sometimes though, the little voice wins. Last saturday was one such day.
The monogamous streak of my persona , extends to my eating habits as well. For almost 3 months now, I have been frequenting a small non-decrepit joint on weekends. Not many people are aware of its existence. Its clientele is solely developed on word-of-mouth publicity. I have been eating the same spread of : Baturaa, Daal , Sabzee & Paalak Pakoda for past God-Only-Knows-How-Many-Saturdays.
These days, I just need to show my sullen face to the genial Sardarji (the owner of the eatery), not a word needs to be spoken. After the terse exchange of non-verbal pleasantries, I dutifully take my "regular" seat which, much to my liking, faces a blank gray wall. On couple of occasions I was tempted to change my order & eat something different. But that would have broken our (long established) channel of silent communication. There are two things I would rather NOT do :
Nbr 1 > TALK..
Some people are born without the gift of gab, You either have “it” or you don't have. Unfortunately for me, the later holds true & I have made peace with this handicap of mine. I do not forcefully try to cover up this inadequacy or improve upon it in any ways. I speak only when it is absolutely necessary.
Nbr 2> SMILE..
Since long, I have lost the mobility of the facial muscles which help a person to break into a smile. I feel revolted at the sight of my own artificial constipated smile. I prefer keeping a straight face rather than greeting someone with my choleric smile, If the smile doesn’t come from within then so be it, I am not going to fake it.
Coming back to my Saturday afternoon exploits, normally , after finishing the hearty meal i head back home & indulge in mid afternoon nap. Instead of heading back home, I decided to break the routine. Since long, I had envied those folks who are seen in public places ( park benches, beaches, swimming pools) with their head buried deeply in some book, oblivious to the world around them. It strikes to me as, something very meditative & peaceful thing to do amidst the chaos that usually surrounds us. My reading is mostly confined to the 4 walls of my home. This year though, I have resolved to take my reading beyond the confines of my bedroom.
Today, I decided to check out the exotic setting of Fort Canning Park to catch up on Shalimar-The Clown. This park sits atop a small hillock overlooking the meandering Sg'pore river. It was 2 O'Clock in the noon and the park was almost deserted except for few laborers in their fluorescent garbs busy doing landscaping work. At that odd hour, almost all the benches were empty. I had the luxury of picking & choosing. Settled for a bench which had generous shade from overhanging branches. Took deep breath to soak the clean air, could feel a deep sense of calm seeping in my veins as i started flipping the pages. Not even half way through the 2nd page, I felt something creeping up on my feet. Set the book aside to examine my feet. A busy group of red ants had taken fancy to my toes and I was being treated to a very holistic & natural form of acupuncture. I kicked away my floaters with annoyance and flicked the pesky crawlers. A close inspection of the ground beneath the bench revealed that i was sitting atop a very active colony of ants. It had rained for most of last week & sun was out after a very long hiatus. So like us humans, the ants too wanted to enjoy the warmth and were out in full force.
I decided to deal with the situation in a non-violent way, very magnamously i surrendered the territory to them & shifted base to another bench . It didn't offer much protection from the sun but atleast it was ants free. Resumed my reading. The peace didn't last long though. Some weird sounding insect started to screech with all its might. The notion of meditative & romantic setting was fast dissolving under the cacophony of various sounds from the insect kingdom.
Meanwhile, the combined effect of heavy meal & mid-afternoon sun had started to lull my senses. The need to stretch down on all fours was very intense. I kicked my footwear again.Using my backpack as pillow, i rested my back on the hard wooden bench. First thought that crossed my mind after lying down : What if I fall asleep deeply and somebody steals my chappals ?? This is a typical middle class thought i guess. Why on earth would anyone want to steal my dirty footwear ? No logic there, I am programmed to worry over inane matters. I can worry about any damn thing in the world. Every night i get worried that the gas burners haven't been shut off properly, the main door hasn't been locked etc etc. Amost every other night i wearily drag myself out of bed to silence these impotent worries.
[ Cuting back to the park bench. ]
Resting the book on my chest I closed my eyes for a while. My ears pick up bits of conversation drifting from tourist who are on a mid-afternoon stroll. I suddenly become conscious of my awkward supine body as the voices come closer. I try to cut a graceful pose, but its difficult to look graceful with two spindly little legs sticking up in air over an armrest. I peer thru my eyes pretending to be blissfully asleep. Most of the strollers are couples, they politely slip into low whispering tones as they pass me,lest they wake me up.
Finally i got tired of my uncomfortable stakeout. I started fantasizing the comforts of my bed , the softness of my big fat pillow, the familiarity of the 4 walls of my bedroom beckoned me. I got up quickly. First thing i did was to strap the chappals safely to my feet once again. Put the novel in backpack. Streched & cheerfully descended the hill to return to home sweet home.
Lesson learnt : Parks & reading don't mix that well. Maybe next time I will try some cool beach or perhaps a chair by the poolside to catch up on my reading. As of now, I am happy with the boring indoors .