Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Bradley Cooper Project

I come bearing good news. After a long, seemingly unending sabbatical from any sort of constructive activity, I am now gainfully employed. It's quite irrelevant what I'm now gainfully employed with, adding value is what one is concerned with at the present moment. Talking of adding value, you know you're not doing any of that when you get a back-ache the moment you get up; or when you can't lift beyond three kilos without breaking into a sweat.

Right then, in the spirit of adding value, I decided to join a gym. Anyone who has had the honour of meeting me personally would realize that I could use some extra weight. And this is exactly what I decided to explain to the gym owner. Unfortunately however, when I reached the gym, I found men whose biceps would be about the same girth as both my thighs put together lifting weights heavier than me. Ashamed at my condition (succinctly described as skinny, to say the least), I pretended like I never intended to go the gym and walked on by, whistling casually for added effect. To be honest, this pattern repeated itself a few times. About three weeks later, however, a friend of mine came over and I had him accompany me to the gym, where I finally got the chance to share my plight with the trainer.

I started the next Monday. As a testimony of fitness to myself, I decided to jog to the gym (barely 200 metres away) on the first day. I was puffing billy by the 101st metre, after which I decided to amble my way to the gym, whistling casually for added effect. After having reached, I was assigned my work-out for the day. I started off with a bang. The cycling was fun for the whole three minutes. The first set of pull-ups went by quite well and by the time the first set of push-ups ended, I was almost getting cocky. Soon after the second set however, my world began to spin. Realizing I was near collapse, I made a hand signal to the trainer which usually indicates "I'm dead." and staggered back home. It took three glasses of very sweet lemonade and a shower to get me to stand on my two feet. Of course, the unused muscles in my body cried for freedom from this painful life for the next few days. It was almost a week before I could even straighten out my arms completely.

Things are getting better, nonetheless. I can now bench-press the whole 2 kilos. As far as the pull-ups and chin-ups I use my brain to compensate for the brawn. You see, there is this little theory in physics called conservation of momentum. Stated in lay man's terms. If you're hanging of a cross bar in thin air, and you flay your legs wildly, kicking the air underneath, the rest of the body might have a shot at getting your chin over the bar to compensate for that gain in momentum.

This post has proceeded in reverse in a certain sense. That's because I will now explain the title. A dear friend went and saw "The Hangover" (great movie, I recommend it) and came back drooling over the aforementioned gentleman. In a fit of testosterone (slight excesses of which are known to flow through your body when you exercise : case in point, the Williams sisters), I claimed that I could chisel myself into his shape in the next 45 days.

To all the ladies reading this blog: be nice to the next man you see hanging from the cross-bar, wildly flailing his legs to get his chin up over the bar. He could be a good looking blog author who is also intelligent and takes great photographs, all that aside from having a body like Bradley Cooper's. Imagine the possibilities.

To all the men reading this blog: W.A.T.C.H O.U.T.

I'll go and bench press two and a half kilos now.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Memories Like Fingerprints...

...are slowly fading. I borrow from Pearl Jam's "Elderly woman behind the counter in a small town" to start my post.

It has just begun to rain in Delhi. For someone who refused to share the same physical space as the Sun for almost a month, whilst contending with a general feeling of uselessness and ennui, I can't begin to describe how much of a relief the arrival of the monsoon is.

For the last few days, I have tried to avoid the news as much as possible. And I will give you no reason for it other than the fact that it scares me to death. Aside from all the regular bad news one seems to be getting these days, I tend to amplify it manifold by somehow finding a domino-toppling connection to my being able to fund my graduate study next year. What was particularly worrying in the last week of June especially, was the extreme power and water shortage that was plaguing more than half the country because of imminent failure of monsoon. Water levels at three of our major reservoirs were running dangerously low. The city of Pune would lose its water supply if it didn't rain in the next 48 hours. Then, almost miraculously, the monsoon revived and advanced. We had a narrow miss, and not many of us realized, especially those of us who stayed hidden behind our green curtains in rooms cooled by generator driven ACs.

As happy as I am that the monsoon has arrived, I also begin to muse on the nature of human memory. We might have a near normal monsoon, maybe a deficient one. Then there will come a winter, where the demand for power and water will be lower and it is quite likely a large number of us will not face a severe shortage. Somewhere in the course of this winter that intervenes between two summers, we tend to forget the mistakes we made in summers past. Each summer gets progressively worse, and each winter makes us forget the previous one. The whole process, as a result gives us this illusion of being very gradual. We adapt every summer, and are oblivious every winter. To make a rather gratuitous generalization, this sort of behaviour extends to a very large part of our lives. I had written after the Mumbai terror attacks that things tend to get time-averaged. In fact, most of the times we are on a crest, we forget the lessons learned we should have ideally retained from the last trough. As a result, the highs keep getting lower, and the lows keep getting deeper.

I find myself in a dilemma. I don't know whether to applaud the ability of human beings to shut their eyes and adapt, or to be incensed at the extreme sense of callousness which seems to drive that ability most of the time.