I am a seasonal fitness freak. Most of my exercise regime starts after the grand celebrations of Dashain and Tihar. The endless marathon of eating and drinking is a nightmare for anyone who lives in this part of the world of dress size. I do make a conscious effort to control the intake but as this time is heaven for foodies like me, a little of this and a little of that is enough to put on some extra pounds after these festivals.
So this year my elder sister and I decided to start early on our fitness agenda. We still believe that the pandemic is not over yet and sharing a covered gym hall with strangers coming from different environments can be catastrophic to our family’s health. So, the option that we agreed on was to go for walks. Since we don’t have precise working hours, we opted to wake up an hour early.
I am a grumpy cat when I work out. I don’t prefer to talk much or interact. Well, you got to understand, speaking itself is an exercise and that also you do on top of walking—it is double exercise and I don't like to exhaust myself. So I observe people; I observe attitudes; I observe stories.
On and off, I have been walking for years. But the kind of people I see hasn’t changed much. For all apparent reasons, it is mostly those who are fluffy (I hate to call them fat or obese). I hardly see any “fit” people running or walking in the mornings. Fit in an athletic and Body Mass Index (BMI) sense. I guess that population is to be found in fitness centers and clubs. A lot of times I hear people say they want to lose some weight and only then move to a gym. The gym environment is extremely competitive and people who are starting or have weight issues feel inferior and out of place. It definitely takes a lot of dedication and endurance for fluffy people to last in the gyms.
Anyway, when I talk about people I meet during the walks, one important group is those who are in dire need of weight-loss. Mostly, women in their mid-30s to 50s and clusters of two or three walk the same route because a big vegetable market happens to fall on their route back home; or maybe they made their route convenient according to the vegetable/milk market.
The second category is men in the age group of 40-60 in 5-7 member clusters. Mostly living in the same colony or from the same tole, these people walk longer hours and their walks end in a park or a tea stall where the politics of Nepal is dissected every day.
The final group consists of what I wish to call “The uncle gang”: men who are my dad’s age (70-80), nicely dressed in branded tracks and sneakers, most likely retired jolly good fellas. As they are retired and spend the whole day at home, coming out in the morning is probably a treat for them. There is one such group we meet almost every day, composed of three-four uncles who are extremely energetic and full of laughter. We often saw them going to a bhatti. One day we decided to observe them and were startled by their early-morning smoking, shots of local aila, followed by milk tea with sugar.
It might seem normal at first, but to think of it, this is pure naughty of these aged men. I am sure they all are barred from these activities and morning walk is a perfect excuse for them to earn some freedom. The whole time I was watching them, scared if they had a medical condition, that they are restricted from certain habits and lifestyle—how wrong I had been! I wonder if their families know. I understand 15-16-year-olds misbehaving for adrenaline but at 70 it seems pure negligence and stupidity.
Living on the edge doesn’t mean abusing life. It will be a heart-break if something bad happens to one of them and their family blame it on exercise or a disciplined lifestyle.
That day, I got home and asked my dad if he had done something similar while he was a morning-walk enthusiast. The times! Now we need to maintain surveillance on our parents, what they are eating and doing. Now we need to take up their responsibility.