Over the course of the past two weeks I experienced contrasting reactions to an activity I perform regularly. The reactions left me amused and also served as a confirmation that I am now part of a generation that is right in the middle of a curious but affable previous generation and an inquisitive but unafraid next generation.
Last week, I was in Ludhiana for three days and stayed in one of the innumerable hotels on Ferozepur Road. Ferozepur Road is a broad, well-maintained road which is ideal for an early morning jog. I generally jog on the road and try to find long circular routes to avoid monotony of repeating the same stretch over and over. I found a lovely route from Ferozepur Road to Mall road which also had a fairly empty stretch where middle-aged and elderly people come for their morning walks. One such gentleman saw me jogging with my now customary Mobile-holder Armband strapped to my left arm. He stopped me, not with a show of hand, but with a bright smile and a question.
“Beta, What is it that you are wearing”, he asked, pointing at my armband.
I slowed down to his pace and explained to him about the mobile which also had a running application which tracked my speed, distance and calories among other things.
He seemed really impressed.
“How long do you run every day?” he asked.
“4-5 kilometers on average”, I replied.
“That is very good. Carry on Beta”, he smiled and bade me farewell.
I felt energized by this conversation as it had absolutely no motive other than curiosity and genuine warmth from the gentleman’s side and an eagerness to reply out of deference from my side. I also felt younger by his loving reference to me as beta.
This was an enduring memory of my long trip to Punjab and Delhi which culminated with my return to Bangalore last week.
My early morning office hours in Bangalore has forced me to reschedule my daily jogs to evenings. I usually go for my evening runs at around 6:30 pm which also happens to be the prime playing time for the children in my apartment. I remember my childhood when most of us talked only to our age group or at best to boys or girls just a few years elder to us. But today’s children are altogether different. They have no qualms about speaking to anyone and everyone.
As I stepped down for my evening run yesterday, a badminton racquet-wielding boy came up to me.
“Going for a walk Uncle?” he asked.
I gave myself a once over before replying. I had put on a pretty decent dry-fit tee-shirt over running shorts and was also wearing my Nike Lite running shoes. Even after exuding so much coolness I was getting ‘Uncle’!
That’s when I realized I was not wearing my mobile-holder armband. I immediately tucked in my belly and brought out the armband from my pocket.
“Going for a jog”, I replied, while giving him a supercilious smile as he curiously watched me wearing my armband. I was sure his impression of me being a middle-aged uncle would have changed now.
“What is it that you are wearing?” he asked.
I felt a wave of satisfaction as I explained to him about the running application in the mobile which I was wearing.
“Oh! So you don’t have a Fitbit?” he asked.
It felt as if someone punched me in the stomach.
“No”, I replied meekly.
“You should really get a Fitbit. It is much better than carrying around your mobile in an armband Uncle”, he further advised.
It felt as if someone thumped me on the back before I could recover from the punch in my stomach.
I thanked him and moved away from his eyesight before the impending extra-long inhalation brought my belly back to its original position.