Interviews, Zippers and Mistaken Identities

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Interviews. I think of zippers whenever I think of interviews. Strange neuro-association, isn’t it? I can hear you mumbling neuro….what? Neuro- association is the way in which the brain links up two things together which it considers logical. In my (over)analysis of my neuro associations, I have gasped multiple times at the ludicrous neuro-associations in my brain and then tapped on my face to remove those ‘logical’ neuro associations(read about EFT tapping before you judge me). Sigh, I secretly dream of a world where we all are as weird as I am. That doesn’t seem likely unless I create billions of weird-face-tapping clones of me.

Back to zippers….and interviews. Interviews bring up images of folders with a resume in them, complete with a passport size photo in my mind(apart from zippers, of course). It feels insensitive to call it a resume, it should be called the ‘Shining Glory of My Life Spent on This Planet’ or something like that. Aah. Anyway, I had carried my ‘Shining Glory…blah…blah…’ to the interview room few years back, after having fixed my hair and lip gloss a few dozen times, aiming to give a perfect impression of my sincere-shining self. People walked in, asked me questions, nodded a lot and then informed me that few other people wanted to interview me. I smiled unnaturally, as is natural to do so in the interview. Perhaps, people finish their quota of smiles(and lip-gloss) in the interview room and then frown for the next few years they work in that place.

I first stared at the walls of the interview room, which I feel obliged to do in such situations, where nothing else seems to fill that time between the going out and coming in of people. I then stared at my skirt. It looked nice…black…formal…and dull. Good. But then, I noticed that my skirt zip(on the side of the skirt) was undone and spoilt. So now, one could see the holy white tucked in shirt, through the black skirt. Eeks!

I didn’t know how any of this was my fault, but I was convinced it was. In some way it was…as it always was. My hand immediately covered up the gap…the gap which would put gaps between cliffs which people dream of jumping to shame. I felt handicapped at that moment, with only one hand of mine operational, since one hand had to do its job of saving my izzat(respect). The other hand  would have to be used to shake hands and wave animatedly in the air in order to declare my passion for the job. The second set of people came in and asked their stuff. I replied, one hand stuck to the side of the skirt. I sensed that they sensed that there was something wrong with my arm. But, I was determined to not let ‘the gap’ spoil my interview. Finally my interview ended and I walked out with a sense of confidence that I could single handedly(sense the pun?) sail through an interview.

My neuro-association is prompting me to write about yet another embarrassing situation where I was asked to wait in a coffee shop for an interview. I had checked the Facebook profile of my interviewer the previous night, as part of my research. Amazing how one can do anything under the pretext of research. So, I was looking for this lady of a particular nationality to come and interview me. A lady breezily came up to me and said ‘Hieee. I’ll be back in a moment.’ I smiled politely and rummaged through my brain for the Facebook photo I had seen of the interviewer the previous day.  Mismatch! She was not the one.

Perhaps, she had decided that she wanted her face to match another nationality’s and had then gone through a series of painful plastic surgeries to make that happen. I settled(sank) into my chair and waited for the lady-who-had-changed-her-nationality. To my horror, I saw a person with a face that matched the Facebook photo I had seen earlier walk towards me. She sat next to me and started asking relevant questions. I started spurting out my replies in an organised and rehearsed manner. The breezy-lady-who-I-thought-had-changed-her-nationality popped up again and stared at me and the interviewer-whose-photo-matched-the-Facebook-profile.  I just pointed at the interviewer’s head and nodded as part of some secret code that the breezy lady seemed to get. She nodded apologetically and walked off. The interviewer stared at me and I blabbered something like ‘She must have assumed I am someone else’ and continued jabbering my answers…..as if nothing happened.

Over to you. What weird(funny) interview experiences have you had? What pops into your mind whenever you think of interviews?

P.S – I have sworn myself off the virus called ‘perfection’ in a ceremony that involved two frogs, one unicorn and five strands of hair of men who have now turned bald but were wise enough to preserve those strands of hair for my ceremony. Talk about foresight. This deadly virus leads you to squint and read through your text at least two dozen times. I am trying to return to normalcy and hence I read through the text only a couple of times, after it is done. Pardon me, puhleeeez, if there is a typo, although you can let me know about it…in private, of course. Together we can fight this virus and save time.

Image Credits – Unknown(but brilliant).

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Morning Glemashomikumona

Bromo Sunrise-2Mornings…We either love them or hate them. The media has a big role to play in terms of how mornings should look like. For them, the idea of a morning involves the following sequence of events – Bright sunlight streams into large sized rooms(with no clutter, obviously). A vivacious woman wakes up with her hair perfectly falling on her shoulders. She has a wide smile playing on her lips. She proceeds to take a steamy shower using a shower gel.  She sometimes plays with the lather that forms and blows it out to no one in particular and then happily proceeds with her day. Depending on what is being sold in this version of mornings, the vivacious-girl-who-plays-with-lather might drink coffee and/or wave to people(sometimes even strangers, depending on how desperately they want to sell you what they are selling you).

Huh?

I would not speak for everyone, but my mornings are vastly different. For one, sunlight is not responsible for waking me up every morning. The alarm clock rings, leading my half awake self to turn it off multiple times. In fact, for some strange reason, I have two alarm clocks ringing at the same time, on my phone and my husband’s. I get up and turn both of them off and head back to my bed after this vigorous activity early in the morning. I almost feel guilty for sleeping without setting an alarm and then turning it off. Switching off the alarm, or turning on the snooze button earns you that right…the right to sleep for a few extra minutes. Those few extra minutes, if caught in a wrestling match with the remaining 6 (or 7…or 8…or 9….are you a lazy bum?) hours of sleep, would win hands down.

Over the years, I have understood the importance of a morning routine. It helps me find myself. Before I head into the day, doing what I am supposed to do, I sit and be ‘me’ for a few minutes, sipping on ginger tea and writing in my journal. I pick out angel cards in the morning to get advice which a person like me feels she needs to do, in order to be equipped to tackle the challenges of the day.

Earlier, my morning routine consisted of only three things – Get ready, have breakfast and listen to mindless dance Bollywood songs on MTV. That set the tone for the day. Over time, I have become more finicky(and weird) about the stuff that I need to squeeze into my mornings. I feel like an HR manager recruiting for an extremely tough role. I consider various options of what to include in my morning routine and then carefully hand-pick some. If they don’t provide value, I kick them out.

The first thing that  I do as soon as I open my eyes is look at the clouds. I feel thrilled if I see feather or angel shaped clouds, because I consider it to be a good morning wish from the big guy(or gal) up there. Then I scroll through Facebook and my email(not ideal I know) and get in touch with ‘reality’. I then make myself a cup of ginger tea and write in my journal. No playing with soapy foam for me, thank you. Sometimes, I just stare outside my house and think….about nothing in particular. Then I do some energy medicine moves, which have been recruited recently by me. And then the day starts….The value of this morning ‘me time’ has increased over the years and it acts like a soft landing before the day starts.

Now for some weird stuff that finds time in my morning routine. I sometimes write gibberish in my journal. I feel that the pressure for words to make sense build up over time and we talk in an extremely structured way with other people. But, words can’t do justice to raw emotions. Ever cursed and went on a I-don’t-know-what-came-over-me trip? Exactly! Now you know a way to curse without anyone ever getting offended.

Hence, I write nonsensical words(or sometimes sing them, just like kids do)….bapulaposimapoleeee. It feels great because emotions that you are not ready or express in words because they may be too ‘wrong’, come up. If you think I am crazy for doing this, try it. Most importantly know that Osho preaches this a fair bit. I feel much better dragging someone else into the picture. And just imagine if Aamir Khan spoke gibberish instead of what he said recently about intol…err… shimatolipasomimosa. Phew, that’s better.

What weird(or normal) stuff do you do in the mornings?

Signing off now..Have a great day!

Image Credits – Lenspaint Swyl Saksena Studio

P.S – I have sworn myself off the virus called ‘perfection’ in a ceremony that involved two frogs, one unicorn and five strands of hair of men who have now turned bald but were wise enough to preserve those strands of hair for my ceremony. Talk about foresight. This deadly virus leads you to squint and read through your text at least two dozen times. I am trying to return to normalcy and hence I read through the text only a couple of times, after it is done. Pardon me, please, if there is a typo, although you can let me know about it…in private, of course. Together we can fight this virus and save time.

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The Bond Guy on the train

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We have an amazing habit of linking things up. Right now, as I hear the thunder outside, I am reminded of tea which goes fabulously with rains. And tea always reminds me of the tiny kulhad tea that gets served in trains – The comforting sound of the train on the tracks, the voices of people talking (sometimes a bit too loudly, managing to disrupt the art of hiding behind a book to avoid the people sitting in front staring awkwardly at you, due to the sheer berth arrangement which makes people want to talk to each other) and the sounds of vendors selling tea, bhel and other items which somehow taste better on trains.

This incident goes back to my college days, back when we proclaimed ourselves to be cool. In an attempt to live by the code of coolness, we had to do certain things like not care about reserving our seats and behave indignantly when asked for tickets by the ticket checker. On one such fine day, we decided to buy a general ticket for our travel back home. It was an overnight journey and we thought we would just pay the difference and get a reserved seat, just like we always did.

That day was different. Firstly, the train was jam packed with smart alecs like us, who were also in the race to be proclaimed cool. Secondly, the ticket checker was ……well, I will let you form a judgement on him. We sat on seats hand-picked by us and went gabbing about things of paramount importance – who said what to whom in college….and why….and when….after which we went on to the debate of who was right. Within this time, the bond guy,  as we shall refer to the ticket checker, made his way to our kingdom.

The conversation after this went like this:

‘Uncle, can you upgrade our seats?’ my friend said.

Silence…. Bond Guy looked perturbed after which a wave of anger crossed his face. Yep, it was definitely anger, what with all the clenching(of the jaw, silly) and furrowed eyebrows.

‘Uncle?’ he gasped.

My friend giggled. Unfortunately, Bond Guy took more offence. This time he almost spat his response. Swach Bharat, anyone?

‘If I wore Nike shoes and spiked my hair, you would not be calling me uncle,’ he said.

We looked at each other in dismay. This uncle was our only support in the train, the only one who would redeem us of our general class tickets and give us reserved berths, where we would continue our who said what to whom and when game. But he adopted an air of huffiness. We could have buttered him on his looks, but it would mean lying through our teeth(and dentures, if anyone was secretly wearing them). We could have said sorry, but cool people don’t do that, according to the the ‘Worldwide Guide of Being Cool Handbook.’ I just made that handbook name up. Hope you didn’t waste your time searching for it online. I give classes on how to fake coolness, by the way. Wink.

Anyhow, the matter had slipped out of our hands, as we stared at Bond Guy, who stood there devoid of his Nike shoes.

‘Go to the general compartment,’ he ordered, pointing his index(not middle) finger in a particular direction.

Since we were part time rebels as well,  we walked in the opposite direction.

‘Hey, the general compartment is this side,’ he reminded us, although not too loudly, because by now the snorers had taken over the compartment.

We started running as fast as we could. He did not run after us…because of his Nike shoes dilemma. Now, because our semester exams had just gotten over, our college mates were spread throughout the train – some who would help us and some who….well , would show us the middle finger, because few things about us rubbed them the wrong way. Actually, all things about us. One of the people from the 1st category(the ones who would help us) was fortunate and well planned enough to be travelling in A.C 2nd tier. AC 2nd tier in India is the compartment in Indian trains, where curtains are used to provide privacy to passengers. As I ran through the 2nd AC compartment, I got pulled into a side lower berth by that well meaning 1st category person.

He hissed in a voice that only villains would take the risk of hissing in.

Chup jaa pagal. Warna T.C(Ticket Checker) pakad lega,’ he said. Heaven knows how he found out about the Nike dilemma. My legs were hanging from below the curtains. If there is one thing I know, it is to not get comfortable around any sort of hissing noises. No exceptions. I fled out of there. Meanwhile, my friend came running towards me.

‘You know what happened?’ she said.

‘What?’ I said.

‘This classmate (let’s name him Delusional Dude for reasons that are best undisclosed) whipped out his hand across the aisle out of nowhere,’ she said.

‘And?’ I said.

‘And he had a balm in his hand. He said “Ye lo…Balm lagao” ‘ she said.

‘What? Why?’ I said.

‘I don’t know. I shrieked,’ she said.

For those who don’t know, shrieking is considered a valid…almost expected response in these situations. If you don’t scream, perhaps you are as loony as him.

‘The worst part is he was probably asleep,’ she said.

Oh, the drama of the subconscious mind reveals itself just when you think you have concealed ‘that part of you‘ which no one should ever see.

We kept running until finally we found a bunch of seniors who were travelling in the same train. They were kind enough to provide us with ample inches for our bums to settle in.

Years later, I travelled in a train after Mr. Laloo had ended his reign as the railway minister of India. At that point I was not concerned much about the state of the railways, et al. To me, at a micro level, all that mattered was that I got to my destination without having to witness a guy….umm…how do I put this delicately….well, without having to witness a guy pleasing himself rather apparently under a thin bed sheet, on a berth that was right next to mine.

So, I settled into my side lower berth with rather low expectations and high excitement due to not having to share small talk with people staring at me. When I was about to fall asleep, my subconscious mind woke me up, perhaps sensing some danger. What I witnessed next was the fury of three cockroaches, rubbing their legs(?), arms(?) together on the train wall, while staring at me with eyes that were well bigger than ordinary cockroach eyes. I panicked and slid out of the berth, like a snake, albeit a terrified one. The trio didn’t budge, displaying their confidence and authority over a compartment that they probably considered their own. I begged someone to let me sleep in an empty berth next to theirs. But all night, I kept staring at the train wall, hoping that the trio didn’t follow me there.

Image credits: Unknown

Thursdays, Maggi and Short Circuits

Relationships grow with time. They take hard work, dedication and well…..bad hostel food. Such was the relationship between me and Maggi, the instant noddles brand which had been banned recently amidst much hue and cry. When I had joined hostel, Maggi was just a snack, something that could be substituted easily with a sandwich, samosa(deep fried Indian snack) or rolls. But, it required excellent effort by the hostel chefs to deep fry paneer(cottage cheese) coupled with my roommate’s love story with Maggi which illuminated me. This illumination happened via a series of events which repeated themselves over a period of three years. Every night, this room-mate (lets call her ‘S’) would diligently pick up a cooking pot  that she kept in a clean corner in the room(which was hard to find those days, since we mistook messiness for coolness). She would go to the tiny stove which was placed in between two flights of stairs. Some would see the stove as just another fire emitting appliance, but ‘S’ saw it as something which lit a fire of hope in her heart, that there was edible food in her vicinity and that she would not have to face a day where she was so starved that she would have to consume that…..deep fried paneer. I would accompany her on those fire-of-hope-Maggi-expeditions and watch her eyes light up as soon as her turn to cook came, even if the wait before that was half an hour long. She would boil the water first, then put the masala(spices), slit open two green chillies, break the Maggi square into smaller chunks and then….pure alchemy.Sigh!

Another friend of mine got seduced by this whole concept of Maggi saving lives and giving people hope deal. She got something which looked like it had been recovered from the ruins of Mohenjodaro and Harappa. She called it an appliance , a kettle which would help us make Maggi. So we sat around the ‘kettle’ like early men would have sat around a pile of stones with the intention of starting a fire. Our hearts were heavy with gratitude of being able to cook Maggi in the room and perhaps cholesterol due to gulping down golgappas(Indian street food) with pure oblivion to the concept of calories.

She turned on the switch to the electric heater. Smoke filled the entire room within seconds. Now, regarding the usage of electrical products in the hostel, we were not even allowed irons. But, every morning irons were exchanged amongst people with a towel covering the irons. We were in no mood to start a crumpled clothes fashion line. After the smoke started escaping the room, we switched the Mohenjodaro structure off. We sneaked out of the room to check if anyone had noticed the smoke. The entire floor’s fuse had blown out thanks to our kettle and we were immersed in complete darkness…and smoke. We thanked our stars and metaphorically dug the relic that had caused the blackout to happen.

Years later, Maggi found a permanent place in our schedule – Thursday nights. Every Thursday night me and my husband would rip open packets of Maggi as a welcome to the long awaited weekend. The steady accompaniment of Maggi in our house was (and still is) chill paneer which my husband is a pro at making. The recent Maggi ban in India due to suspected high levels of lead in Maggi, upset us a little, leading us to question our faith in the food that gave us so much joy. We switched to the tangier cousin of Maggi, i.e Ching’s and fell in love with it. The switch wasn’t easy though. I had a lingering guilt every time I opened my cabinet door to fetch Ching’s and saw Maggi staring back at me, reminding me of my betrayal towards it.

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Horror Terror

I am terrified to the bone when it comes to ghosts – all types of them, although if the Indian TV shows producers were to hold a seminar on ghosts, they would have only one kind – the white sari clad ghost with a questionable choice of hair conditioner and toothpaste. When I was a kid, I was pretty brave when it came to the concept of ghosts and I used to brush it off as something that existed in stories. But slowly, shows like ‘Aahat’ started having a grip on my innocent psyche, what with the music score that sounded like a thousand hyenas who were singing like a certain Indian singer who holds his mic way above the Earth’s stratosphere.

Me and my sister started discussing ghost stories and it came up that there was probably a ghost in our room who liked to shake our bed, just for fun. How claustrophobic it must be for the ghost to slip into the space between the bed and the ground, which was hardly two inches. Plus, shaking of the mammoth bed with two damsels(this is the first time I got to call myself that) who were sleeping un-distressed , required a fair bit of muscle power, which I never remembered the sari clad ghosts in those horror movies having.

Even in school, people had these stories about ghosts, one of them was that someone saw a ghost standing on a tap while they were on the toilet, minding their own business. I can’t imagine the kind of ghost who would want to stand on a tap which was extremely difficult to balance on, especially with the volume of hair they carried with them, tilting their centre of gravity upward. And what if the aforementioned person ‘freshening themselves’ on the toilet, turned the tap in a rapid motion? Would the ghost fall down then or would it lead to tightrope-walking-kinda-balancing-moves like in the  abominably boring movie called ‘The Walk’ which should have been renamed to ‘The Walk Which Cures Insomnia…Forever’.

Another rumour that I heard about ghosts was that they came out at 12:00 in the midnight and all dogs started when the ghosts made their appearance. That eerily came true most of the nights I stayed up, causing me to shiver off to sleep whilst chanting Hanuman Chalisa(mantra) with utmost fervour.

By the time I stepped into college, the fear of the unknown had become paralysing. During my hostel days, I turned into a night owl along with three of my friends. Sleeping at 12:00 was not for self-proclaimed cool people like us. So we would haunt the hostel aimlessly and do other things which I shall reveal in a later post. One day, one of my friends(let’s call her ‘P’) decided that we should play a prank on another of our friends(let’s call her ‘S’). P got a white bed sheet from her room and put it on herself in a ghostly kind of way. She instructed me to fetch S from the room she was lazing around in at that time. S sleepily got up and walked into the dark corridor. I knew what was about to happen, but not completely. The events of that night forced me to go deeper and analyse my phobia of ghosts and white bedsheets strung over people in general.

As we walked down the corridor, I was grinning internally. In a moment, S would scream her lungs out and we would all laugh at her. P sprung out from the place where she was supposed to screaming a little in a ghostly voice. S screamed loudly with her hands on her ears, as is advisable to do so to prevent your delicate eardrums from the torture of your own scream. What surprised me was that my scream was louder than hers! In fact, hers would not even have been heard if a train was passing gingerly through the corridor. Mine! Well, lets just say that if a rocket ship decided to fly horizontally through a building called ‘Queen’s Castle’, its noise would be like a soft whimper. After the shock of two women screaming died down, I put on a smile – a corny-I-knew-what-was-happening-and-I-screamed-to-make-this-prank-feel-even-more-real-smile. But, my friends were in splits. I tried putting in all my creativity to convince them that I was not scared and that I had nerves of steel. But the grinning faces they had when I made those bold proclamations said it all.

It was around that time that I decided to quit watching ghost movies. You can’t drag me to one even if the aforementioned rocket runs on the ground and you tie me to it. An over-active imagination also plays a big role when it comes to this phobia. Alas! I hope I have not ticked off those who might be peeking into this post from behind me. I have to keep my mantras handy for tonight.

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The day I turned DJ…for a taxi driver

Before I come to the actual story , let me give you a bit of background. Years ago, I was travelling in a cab at night in Mumbai. One doesn’t hesitate to travel at 11:45 pm in Mumbai, owing to its title of being a safe city. I hopped into the cab, a Maruti Van, incidentally the image of which has been marred by multiple movies as a kidnapping/rape vehicle. Thankfully, things went peacefully, as the car cruised along the Lower Parel to Bandra back road. Now, I am a suspicious person in general. I am sure I must have been a sniffer dog or something similar in one of my previous births. I noticed that in the middle of the cruise-y drive we were on, the driver put on his ear cords. Nothing suspicious about this if you really ponder hard with strained face muscles after the incident happens, but at 11:45 in the night everything(and everyone) looks suspicious. I was seated right behind the driver and I decided to keep an eye on him.

Approximately 5 minutes and 30 seconds later after the ear cord putting action, I looked into the rear-view mirror after having completed the pressing task of making sure I had read all the latest status updates by my friends and groaned after the battery ran out.

The driver was fast asleep! And that was not the worst part. The worst part was that the car was running on happily, as if nothing had happened, at speed 70 kmph or so.

I tapped the driver’s shoulder, a thing I normally avoid doing because I am a stickler for people’s privacy and if someone taps on my shoulder, I jump out of my skin which I deem as an appropriate response to the aforementioned act of invading my privacy and tapping on my shoulder. The driver thankfully just gasped loudly and realised that he had dozed off. We were near Mahim, a place which I would prefer to search-for-a-cab-because-my-driver-is-like-Garfield only during the daytime due to its close proximity to Dharavi, one of the most crime infested places in Mumbai. But I had to make the choice. A sleepy driver made the entire city unsafe for me. Even if he dozed off in front of a police station, I would no longer be alive to write this blog. So, I got down after doing some vague probability calculations. My phone was also peacefully asleep by now and there was no one on the road, except a few street dogs. Thankfully, a cab arrived, after what seemed like thousand years. The cabbie demanded Rs. 200 for going to Bandra, which if I ran at that time of the night, I would reach in 15 minutes tops. I took the cab and sighed loudly, as is customary to do so when one has undergone through such trauma. I reached Bandra safely and vowed to the following.

a. Never doze off in a cab when I am the only passenger in it.

b. Stare into the rear-view mirror from the back-seat to the point that the driver gets scared.

Cut to 2015 I found a new option to ensure that drivers don’t doze off anywhere they fancied.

2015: We were driving to Surabaya from Yogyakarta. We had left Yogykarta after sunset and we were well into the night. As the night progressed, everyone started dozing off, including me. I realised that point ‘a’ of the vows I had made approximately 5 years ago was getting violated. So I stared into the rear-view mirror. But the driver had eyelids which covered most of the eye area, even when his eyes were open. *Physics and maths always sneak into one’s life unannounced, don’t they*. I kept staring and he was impervious to the rudeness which I was exhibiting. The car kept moving at a steady pace.

Earlier on the trip we had talked about how the area between Surabaya and Yogyakarta was infested with ghosts and snakes. But the combination of the two had scared me the most – ghost snakes. What if there were ghosts of snakes in our vehicle? Also, there had been mysterious cloud type formations in front of our car the moment we talked about ghosts and they mysteriously disappeared once we got appropriately scared.

Anyhow, back to the driver and my self proclaimed role of a passenger-who-would-not-let-drivers-doze-off. I had figured out by now that it was impossible for me to understand if he was asleep or awake using the power of my eyes. I had to do more. I asked my friend who was fast asleep on the front passenger seat to take my place and I took my throne on the front seat. Ironical how it becomes a throne when you do something important on it, like saving people’s lives. Friends who were in the car – you can thank me by buying me coffee ;).

Once I sat on my throne, I felt in control. But things had to be done. I examined his full face, feeling like a moronic robot while doing so. He looked weary. I suddenly remembered people’s love for Bollywood in Indonesia. I had a bucket-load of Bollywood item songs. I know it reflects poorly on my taste of songs and one ‘should’ listen to more soulful songs, but jarring sounds coupled with questionable lyrics wake me up best in the morning and hence the item songs on my tablet. I started playing one after the other in a loud volume.

The driver started grinning from ear to ear. He also pressed the accelerator and brake with more alertness and enthusiasm, I noticed. I was bushed, but there was no way I could stop mixing the songs. All was well. We reached Surabaya safely and I realised how exhausting it would be for someone to be a taxi DJ, if such a profession ever took shape.

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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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