Spinning Class, John Abraham and Hypnotised Goldfish

Once upon a time, a big trend in the fitness world caught my eye(and thighs) – Spinning. When I first heard of it, I imagined it had something to do with going round in circles. But, on searching the internet for this trend, which my friend swore helped women of my weight burn 700-800 Kcal in a one hour session, I was intrigued. It was a cycling session, plain and simple. It was just the right thing for me to attempt, given that I had a knee injury a few years back which had prevented me from doing any high impact exercises, leaving me with the options of swimming and cycling. I decided to dive into spinning. I used to stay in Bandra in Mumbai, close to the hippest gyms that I could ever dream of being close to. The hippest gyms were made hip primarily due to the species of people that walked in there – actors, models, aspiring models, college kids and misfits like me who had no business being in that area or those gyms. Well, it was and still is a free world. Hence, I walked into Gold’s Gym in Bandra and signed up for spinning classes which cost me Rs. 2000 for a month.

Simpleton that I was, I didn’t realise the impact spinning could have on one’s life and thighs. Also, my lungs were ready be shocked out of their wits especially after mocking a certain guru who used to teach pranayam on tv with the best of intentions, results etc for the people who actually went past the mockery to do what he said. Anyhow, when the fee for spinning class was whipped out from my bank account. my brain started getting paranoid over the fee.

‘You are paying Rs. 2000 for cycling?’ my brain said.

‘It is spinning,’ I said.

‘Doesn’t matter. It is the same thing. Didn’t you have a cycle back home which you got bored of and now use to hang towels on?’ my brain said.

I was stumped. I decided to go ahead with the class the next day before I beat myself up prematurely over my poor financial decisions which astrologers had predicted all their lives I would do.

The next day, I arrived on time having booked my slot for the class. Even wild horses could not keep me away from the class which had aroused my curiosity for knowing the difference between the cycle back home and the cycle which would be used for spinning. Armed with a water bottle in hand, I stepped into the class. As soon as I entered the spinning studio, I noticed the dim lights. Then I saw the instructor whose cycle was on a pedestal with the rest of the cycles below. Was she going to teach us how to cycle? Puhleez, I thought to myself.

We mounted the cycles which were kept in neat orderly rows, close to three walls of the small room. The 4th wall belonged to the instructor and her cycle. There were wall sized mirrors on each wall except the instructor’s and large speaker systems mounted around the room. The door was closed and to my surprise the lights went off. The music was turned on at a delightfully-eardrum-blasting volume. And then…Drumroll…..Disco lights were turned on! The instructor patiently explained to me as to how to ride the cycles and it was certainly more complex than what I had thought, given all the code words and instructions she promised she was about to use.

We started cycling, err, spinning and staring at the mirror in front of us. It was a delight spinning in a disco type setting. It was one of the things that I never thought I would experience or be allowed to experience in a real disco. And here I was- loud music, lots of mirrors and disco lights. The only thing that didn’t go well in the setting was the unnatural number of gasps that I was letting out due to the stale air being pumped out of my lungs. The instructor made it look easy, as if she was cycling in a meadow in France. There were exquisite movements which my cycle back home might not have been able to handle me doing. I would not be surprised if they made us do upward and downward dog yoga moves on those bikes. But thankfully, they concluded the class after making sure that atleast 15% of the stale air in my lungs was pumped out, much to the telepathic delight of the pranayam guru who seemed to be smiling much more when I saw him on television the next morning after having regained consciousness post 15 hours of sleep owing to the intense disco shock my body underwent. But, I felt strangely good about myself, maybe because of the extra boost of dopamine in my brain.

Evening rolled around and I sprung back to the spinning studio, this time more eager than the first day. Months passed by and the love affair between me and the spinning class grew stronger and stronger. One evening I was at the reception of the gym, talking to the receptionist in order to book my next day’s slot in the class. She started off well, acknowledging my presence and then started behaving distracted. She didn’t even bother to maintain eye contact at this point. There are certain things that I feel obliged to be offended about, one of them being people not paying attention when I talk to them. I adopted a firmer tone, hoping that she would realise that I was the customer and I was upset! I wanted to be able to use the word ‘irate’ because there is hardly any occasion that I get to use it, but I remember being upset in a no-veins-sticking-out-of-my-neck-while-I-yell way.

There was still no response from her. I turned to the object of her distraction, the person who had made me the abandoned-hanging-between-upset-and-irate spinner. It was one of those moments where the world became extinct and the only object of my focus became the entire world. The object of my focus was John Abraham, decidedly flashing his best smile, with furrowed eyebrows, perhaps because my expression was now out of my control. I stared at him, looking like a hypnotised goldfish, with my mouth opening and closing, trying to form words. When I think about it in retrospection, I feel like Ross felt when he kissed Denise Richards on ‘Friends’ and then scrambled around for words.

‘Say something. Say anything. Say hi!’ my brain went at that time.

But, my mouth just opened and closed, with no words coming out of it, much to my dismay. This may have happened for 5-10 seconds, but it felt like eternity.

The next obvious thing to do after screwing up a potential conversation with the drool-able actor was to update my Facebook status.  The likes and comments were like balm for my goldfish soul. Blob!

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Maggi, Shahrukh Khan and Mt Bromo

Bromo Sunrise-2

From Ijen crater(read-jaws of hell) to Mt. Bromo

We headed from Ijen crater to Mt Bromo by car. By this time we had accepted some realities of life which had presented themselves during the trip. One was that our driver said ‘yes’ to everything we asked him and then went into a long pause during which his eyebrows became furrowed, perhaps trying to understand what he had said yes to. Second was that sleep was a luxury which we could not afford except for the few minutes we nodded off in the vehicle during our drive. Of course, the sleep was interspersed with heated conversations about Indian culture, politics, few random topics during which everyone got heated up without any concrete conclusions on the topic of the debate(gender wars being one of them) and the interpretation of the driver’s expressions and nods.

We had a fair idea about our journey ahead. We were to reach our hotel which was quite near the sunrise vantage point from which Mt Bromo could be seen. In the month before the trip, I had seen two dreams of volcanoes erupting. I just hoped during the trip that it had something to do with the volcanoes which we often saw in Chacha Chowdhury comics, related to Sabu’s anger outbursts and not prophetic dreams about real volcanoes erupting. I informed the gang about the dreams I had been having and they brushed it off. I needed a clear conscience. If something were to happen, at least I could say ‘See, I told you so,’ to the gang, before we ran for our lives. Obviously you must have figured out that since I am posting this, the dreams had something to do with the aforementioned Chacha Chowdhury comics and not Nostradamussy dreams.

But I wish the dreams I had few years back of beating Milind Soman in a race could come true. Sadly, that kind of dream coming true requires more effort than flopping into bed and letting the subconscious mind go crazy with its whims and fancies.

The hotel we checked into was a decent stripped down hotel, with bare necessities well provided for. The hotels around the place were of a similar kind, adding to the rustic beauty of the place. After taking a shower, we headed to the restaurant for dinner. We carried some Maggi packets with us, just in case we didn’t get vegetarian food. I sat in a corner, waiting for the rest of the gang to figure out what was on the menu. When they came back to our table, they looked excited.

“So, do they have vegetarian food?” I asked

“No,” my husband said, beaming with joy.

“Ok,” I said.

“They have french fries on the menu,” he said.

“That’s vegetarian food,” I said, beaming a little with joy.

It is always good to not beam too much at the mention of french fries, because it is politically appropriate to show some concern for the calories contained in the little devils.

“But they don’t have it,” he said.

“Aha,” I said, disappointed.

“They have vegetarian sandwiches on the menu,” he said.

“Aha,” I said, my face lighting up completely. There is nothing politically incorrect with your face lighting up at the mention of sandwiches.

“But they don’t have it,” he said.

“Why are you so happy then?” I said, not wanting to spark a discussion at that time about how happiness should spring up from inside as I often preach.

“Maggi,” he said, his eyes sparkling.

“Maggeeee?” I said.

“Yes,” he said.

“They agreed to let us use the kitchen?” I said.

“Yes,” he said.

“Aha!” I said, this time my voice heavy with anticipation.

One of my friends entered the kitchen and the staff mesmerised by her beauty called her ‘Kareena Kapoor’. As she told me this, I could remember multiple Bollywood movies where the heroine walks into a room, her hair flying in a remarkably organised way and the guys in the room look like hypnotised goldfish. Back to reality, we started cooking the Maggi. Now, I would not like to comment on the state of the kitchen, because I am not Gordon Ramsay, but he would have passed out a few times on seeing the kitchen, each springing up back again to scream at the people handling the kitchen.

As we cooked the Maggi, we could smell the jealousy of the people back in India where Maggi has been banned. P.S – Singapore gave a clean chit to Maggi almost as soon as the verdict of the ban came out in India. We endured the rather watery Maggi with a grateful heart owing to the choice of having something other than peanut butter bread along with chips of various flavours. Having swallowed down one bowl of Maggi each, we scurried to our rooms after being told by my husband that we had about 2 hours to sleep.

We were woken up at 11:30 pm by my husband, who seemed extremely excited(and willing) to turn into a frozen popsicle by venturing to Mt. Bromo. I brr-ed my way out of the cozy warm bed. We headed to the Mt. Bromo sunrise point. I can hear you informing me that sunrise doesn’t happen before 5:00 am anywhere in the world. In my defence, we went early to the sunrise vantage point to click pictures of the Milky Way around which the trip had been planned. As we got down from the army type vehicle which had carried us up the slopes, with us chattering our teeth like skeletons which had TMJ(a painful jaw condition which I suspect I have), we realised that the gift of sweltering heat had to be cherished once we got back to Singapore. Ah, I can feel the humidity all around me right now and it is golden. One of our friends had carried a blanket from the hotel, to brave the cold well-armed. I saluted her presence of mind. We reached the sunrise vantage point and sat down there shivering like jelly which had malaria. My husband looked around for the Milky Way, but it was nowhere to be found. Small tufts of cloud coupled with stars tricked us into believing that it was the Milky Way, but alas and woe.

We headed back to our vehicle at the parking lot and huddled there. Slowly people started trickling in to the sunrise vantage point. I had realised the value of warm air in my life and was in the process of taking an oath of never going to any place cold ever! My husband who still seemed to be impervious to the cold weather, convinced us into moving our lazy and frozen bums down from the vehicle into the coffee shop which was 2 metres away. I decided to listen to him before completing the aforementioned oath.

The coffee tasted like drops of magic from heaven, each drop invoking a fighter spirit in me. Finally as I took the last sip, I declared that it was time to see the sunrise and that shivering in the cold was for sissies. We walked up the stairs again, this time with hordes of crowd already jammed into the tiny space, with cameras and phones already in place for the sun’s grand entry.

And there it was! The sunrise was like a gold chariot rising high in the sky, illuminating everyone around with its beauty, announcing its presence with valour and dignity, leaving us ordinary subjects spellbound, overawed, to the point of making us feel servile. Clicks went around everywhere. After a dizzying hour with all kinds of cameras, trying to capture the magical spell that the sunrise had cast, with clouds blanketing the land, owing to the sheer height that the photographs were being clicked from, it was time to leave. It almost seemed like the sun had reserved its most special sunrise performance for Mt. Bromo, her lover, seducing the volcano every morning with her enchanting beauty, making it and the thousands of subjects take notice.

We went back to the hotel drenched with happiness, after a few pit-stops for photos. We had to leave in a few hours for Surabaya. As we were leaving the hotel, a driver in the parking lot asked us – “Are you from India?”

“Yes,” we said.

“Chal chaiyya chaiyya chaiyaa,” he started singing.

We left the place with a smile, having seen one of the most beautiful performances of nature followed by a reminder of the fan following of King Khan. I remembered the song ‘Chaiyya Chaiyya’ as we boarded a train that afternoon, hoping we would not be expected the clamber onto the roof of the train and dance like King Khan.

Thankfully, we just snoozed throughout the train ride, waiting for our next destination- Yogyakarta.

Image Credits- Lenspaint-Swyl Saksena Studio

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