Given that I squeeze out precious walking time from the intervals between running behind a child prone to climbing over walls (the park in our building is over the car park and therefore technically on the first floor), acting out Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan movies and deciding to swing lying with his head half off the swing, I am manic about the little time I actually get to actually, gasp, walk.
But there seems to be a species of women populating the park and the walking track who have come up with an interesting gambit and conspiracy to ensure that I dont manage to get any walking done. For one they assume that if you are walking alone it is their god given right to put you out of your solitude and fall in step with you. Without invitation. I am now terrified of even cracking a smile while I march on, lest it be misconstrued as an invitation for company. I have also learnt to stare vacantly at the tiled pathway in front of me and avoid all unnecessary eye contact. It kills me. Really. As anyone who knows me will aver, I am really really a people person.
These are women who are all twice my width so it would actually be nice to walk with them and be the thin one in comparison. You know, the old rule, go out with girls uglier than you are, so you are the pretty one, kind of thing. Never managed to do that too, all them friends are six feet tall, model thin, glamazons, so I get stuck with the funny one tag, everytime. Anyway, back to the park. Woman A, in striped collared tee obviously filched from the hubby and loose track pants which she could do a belly dance in should she want to, such brilliant flare and fall. Walks fast enough to keep pace with yours truly but insists on carrying on a droning conversation about what she’s cooked for breakfast lunch dinner, snacks and such like. Does not take the hint when I say sanguinely that I hate cooking and tries to enthuse me about getting into the kitchen. I then have to say rude things about how if I ate my own cooking I wouldnt need to lose any weight and she laughs and continues right on sharing her tips about how to get the idli batter to rise perfectly. I mention I buy mine ready made from Dmart and she perceptibly blanches and sidles away from me like I’ve a real bad communicable disease.
Woman B is recently down from a stint abroad. Her husband is still abroad. She has a home abroad. She misses her husband. I sympathise. I will even direct her to a shop where she could buy requisite aid that runs on batteries and makes a woman complete and bring some joy to her life. But the drip drip drip of her woes goes far beyond that. Her neighbours are mean. Someone stands looking into her balcony. The people above pour water on her drying clothes. Someone slashed her son’s bike seat with a blade. The telephone department guy who came to instal her telephone asked for a bribe. So? Thats his birthright, I told her. Welcome back to India. And keep the notes handy.The watchmen stare at her funnily. Frankly, after a couple of rounds of the park, so did I. I did the inching away here.
Woman C is nice, and chirpy, and has a son the brat’s age and would be the perfect companion but she is given to standing and gossiping with every stranger on the path. While I must need lumber on cracking the paved tiles. So she’s out.
Woman D will talk about her health problems. She started with her onset of arthritis and managed to reach upto Diabetes until I cottoned on, and vamoosed at a speed higher than what she could keep up with. Call me mean, but I would have been dead by the time she reached Z. Is there any illness at Z?
Finally, I discover that the phone can be a lifesaver and forbid anyone from falling in step with me. I message incessantly and make the most boring walk companion. And thankfully, am left in peace to do my rounds on my own. Guess I wont win any popularity contests here.