Talking the walk

I’m walking at a sedate pace in the park when I notice a flash of colour to my right. It’s a young woman wearing red sweat pants and a T-shirt soaked in sweat. I recognise the walking Usain Bolt of the morning walking brigade. Predictably as I move ahead a few yards, she has already walked a full circle in the park, with the precision of a military general, neatly squeezing into the open spaces between slow walkers.

While busy applauding her technique, I unwittingly stumble onto a couple in front of me. When they look at me in consternation, I feel like an interloper. Muttering apologies, I give the cozy couple a wide berth as I determinedly sprint ahead, all the while keeping my eyes on the she-Bolt.

“Today the coffee was so bitter — but I dare not complain otherwise I will not even get my usual cuppa!” The remark is followed by loud guffaws and back slapping. When I look back I see a group, pot-bellied to the last man, dressed in black. Their black pants and shorts makes me stop for a moment.  I’m not sure if they are colour coordinated by intent but they certainly represent a show of unity. All that’s missing are peace bands on their wrists.

 The men are shadowed by three ambling women carrying on an animated conversation. Their neatly plaited hair and starched sarees appear to practically slap my face. Here I am in a crumpled Tee and pants fraying at the edges while these ladies appear immaculately attired and plaited to boot. When one of them loudly gesticulates to the others, I slow down to catch a bit of their conversation.

“She keeps demanding more and more.” Now I am all ears. Who was demanding more? A whiny daughter or a dominating mother-in-law? “Last month I had increased her salary but she takes leave for the flimsiest excuse.”

Ah! It is maid-bashing time. What follows next is like a script from a movie. When the Men in Black take a breather after lamenting over the metro construction everywhere, the amblers ruminate over maids, in-laws and shopping maladies. And circumscribed by the relentless pacing of the she-Bolt. On and on it goes. I listen to a running commentary covering a wide spectrum of subjects in my morning walk at the local park. It certainly saves me the bother of reading the newspaper.

This article first appeared in the Deccan Herald.

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