Friday, November 21, 2008

The 'Super Baba' strikes again
























Ever since I heard that Baba Ramdev graced the premises of a news organisation in Delhi and demonstrated his amazing yoga tricks for a healthy living to a bunch of journalist who survive on cussing and stale junk food, I have been itching to share a long lost memory.


As I keep reiterating, I am strictly against all forms of health food.
If I'm having salad, I make sure I have three plates to fill my ample stomach.
My opinion on sprouts is well known. Sprouts are best when planted in pretty porcelain pots by the window sill and not on my breakfast plate.

In these circumstances, it's for the best that Baba and me have not yet met.
We would have formed an unholy pair. Like my good man says during an argument - "either you convince me or I convince you."

I for sure would not be able to roll my abdomen and shoulders and swing my thighs rhythmically while sipping bitter gourd juice. So he would have to tuck into Tandoori chicken and Vodka/lime cordial. I have a nagging worry that he would not.

I'm not entirely godless. I have my faith in the supreme being.
But my fanaticism is reserved for more serious issues. Like why Mc Donald's has increased the price of its Aloo Tikki Burger. Or why Hyderabadi Biriyani House has decreased the quantity of its spicy chicken biriyani while almost doubling the price.

So I do not quite understand what perfectly normal, albeit plump, Delhi women see in the Super Baba to leave their household unguarded and flock to his sessions of deep breathing.

Their eyes shine with a manic light even if the Baba is so much as criticized by the media. I have seen women in formal office wear sitting in the cosy depths of their cars at traffic lights, breathing in and breathing out, trying hard to roll their stomach muscles and wiggle their shoulder blades.

But I know all about mass yoga sessions.

It was the summer of 1997 and around 50 of us had trooped into the Bengali extra class in 11th standard. Some of my close friends and me adorned the back seats of the huge classroom where we could carry on with our mischief undisturbed.

I wasn't ready for the pop test nor the acid tongue of the teacher and was hugely relieved when she announced regally "we will do something new today."
The front benchers looked worried, flicking surreptitiously through their syllabus for additional chapters they have not mugged yet.

"We will do pranayaam." she declared.

She could have well said that she's a descendant of an Italian mafioso family and the effect would have been the same.

"What the hell is pranayaam?" we whispered hopefully. Whatever it is, this means we do not have to trudge through grammar.

She showed us soon enough. "Close one nostril with your thumb and breathe through the other one...." And she wanted pin-drop silence in the room of course.

There's a trigger somewhere in the brain for helpless, uncontrolled laughter especially in situations where it would be severely punished.
And my brain refused to heed to any of my stern warnings of dire consequences if I so much as smiled.
But the girl next to me had her eyes closed with such a silly solemn expression pasted on her face, her blocked nose making a 'wheee' sound every time she took in air and alternated her thumbs for both nostrils, that it was my undoing.
Me and another friend (both of us will burn in hell for eternity) keeled over with silent laughter under the desks.

Laughter that would not stop, even when I imagined past deaths of family members, my breakup with a boyfriend, world hunger, poverty in my home state - the damned laughter just wont stop.

It was novelty of it all. A classroom full of girls breathing in and out while we shook in silent laughter on the floor in the extreme corner of the room, students and teachers passing by on the corridors looking in curiously, sounds of chatter coming in from the next room, contrasting with the silence in ours as 48 odd girls practised pranayaam on command.

That friend of mine and me still laugh over it sometimes, though we still don't get what's so funny about it.

When I imagined the Baba perched on a glass topped table on the Editor's work station, surrounded by surly journalists who normally would not be caught doing exercises during mid-afternoon, the dam very nearly broke again.

I have my utmost respect for yoga exponents and do not mean to berate them, but I have a silly grin pasted on my face as I write this.

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