Fringe benefits

Sitting at the wheel of my car on a heavy traffic day, I was listening to the FM radio. Between songs, a cardiologist was being interviewed. Many of his wise suggestions were on food. Then came the tip not to fret and fume while in a traffic jam.

This appeared redundant. Bangalorean is so used to the chaotic traffic, that he is no more ruffled by such minor irritants. He was advising to simulate rapid, forceful cough in case of a heart attack, before medical help could reach. Sane advice indeed! Yet it reminded me of the instruction given by the air hostess, before the take off, of how to fasten the life jacket tucked below the seat in case of emergency landing on water, to keep afloat. I always wondered was anyone in the history of aviation ever saved in this manner.

Then the talk veered on to benefits of walking. He was lamenting that this form of exercise is taken only by people who have already crossed their middle age when some form of ailment has already set in. Until recently, games were part of the growing up of children. This has almost now vanished with stress on academic attainment to the exclusion of all else. At this rate as they grow up they too would be joining us in parks making the present parks woefully inadequate.

Incidentally my mind strayed on to my morning walk. Besides health benefit, it has certain fringe benefits. You constantly meet the same people who over a period of time become your friends. At the end of walking you tend to assemble for a small gossip, the topics ranging from most profound to profane, all in good humour.

Take the case of my friend, who in his heady days of marriage, even before he could explore the mysteries of his new bride, she was taken away to her parents’ house in Mumbai due to a much hated custom. Then flowed copious poetry in Sindhi from my friend’s pen and all remained unanswered to his utter chagrin, till the day she came back asking much to his consternation to explain them as she could not read Sindhi.

Then there is our professor, a self-styled yoga expert was never tired of talking of the tangible and intangible benefits of yoga. But his misguided contortions consigned him to his bed to heal his weary bones. Now I dare say he ruminates only on the intangible benefits.

In his youthful days, our coffee planter was a sight of envy on his Royal Enfield. Strutting with his puffed-up chest, he was the talk of the town. After marriage, he took to the sober ways of a farmer but indiscriminate consumption of coffee and cigarette did him in.

Now in his old age with all complications of health, he still struts around in the park with poor vision, on legs which barely carry him. Yet even now with a beatific smile, he twirls his moustache with the same old spark. Each day in the park opens up to new humour. I often wonder whether these fringe benefits are better than the benefits of walking itself!

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