Just the other day when my daughter's friend had dropped in at home and we were chatting a spark of an idea came that we should plan a walk in Cubbon Park on the coming Sunday morning. There we were getting ready to catch the metro. I realized that one can't leave one's age behind as it has a way of catching up with oneself. My daughter reminded me to carry along a mask as the metro still stipulates mask wearing though a little anachronistic in these times. I had tucked this into my jacket pocket along with my wallet. As I was checking in with my metro card the security fellow asked me to don my mask and he saw me fumbling in my pocket to retrieve the mask. I was surprised I could not find it and walked out to the vendor, at security's behest, who was resourceful in selling masks to absent-minded people like me. In an attempt to pull out money from the wallet, I pulled out the mask and said sorry to the vendor. For a moment I could not find my metro card, a case of too many pockets in the jacket as the age-related absent-mindedness caught up.
After these mini panicky experiences, we finally boarded the metro which was quite empty, and reached Cubbon Park station without any more mishaps. We were joined by two of my daughter's friends.
Cubbon Park reminded me of life itself. There is the outer but neatly laid out path for those who want to take the safe route. For the more adventurous there is the inner path with its not-so-paved path and ups and downs are strewn with dug-out mud and rock here and there. We also came across a trail path that warned us of snakes lurking behind bushes. Snakes are a good metaphor for many nasty things that happen in life itself. The park also represents the diversity of people in terms of age, size, body mass index, economic class, and gender who were into jogging or skating, or walking like us. I got surprised to see an old man on skates balancing himself with two sticks held in each hand. He could be in the vicinity of eighties going by the wrinkles on his face and neck.
Then we saw a snail by the bush. It seems to say "hell I care for the rat race." The snail reminded me of the slow movement that is catching up in the world. I remembered my own one-liner joke. A snail was caught by a policeman for speeding. Snail is called escargot in French and is also a culinary delicacy served as an appetizer. Not all varieties are eaten and the one which is most popular is the Helix variety considered to be flavourful and rich in protein.
After nearly a one-hour walk, we decided to proceed towards breakfast at a pre-decided restaurant. I ordered masala dosa and filter coffee for myself. I wished the dosa was a tad bigger and the coffee was more, though I must say both tasted good.
Then off we were once again marching towards the metro station. Somewhere near the exit, a lady asked me to join their small group for a reading of poetry. They call themselves bahutva (plurality) Karnataka and another lady explained in her introduction it was poetry for her whenever she felt down. She went on to read a poem in Hindi, not hers. The poem a feminist one said we are sinners, shameless women who break shackles and eat the darkness of the night but the moon shines like a bindi on our forehead. In Hindi or Urdu, it sounded very beautiful and revolutionary. I too take recourse to poetry though not as beautiful as the one in Hindi mentioned above. I have written it below:
Mood does swing
High and low
And it doesn't need a wing.
Life, a bit too shallow
In pity at times wallow
Reality I just swallow.
Breathe in and out
With the moods, I have a bout
Living, is all about.
I sit in silence
For which I don't need a license.
It calms me and makes sense.
Words my life saver
Verses I write, I savour
In my mundane life, gives a flavour.
The mood is now upbeat
In a while, I would hit the street
Daily exercise, to my body, is a treat.
By now we have already spent a good three hours in what is called forest bathing. The Japanese call it shinrin yoku and it is recognised as a clinical therapy in that country. Research has established that forest bathing is healing and makes people happy. Trees and plants release essential oils, and phytoncides which boost our moods and immune system. The effect was expected to last for some days.
We bid goodbye thanking each other for the shinrin yoku and a promise to do it again soon.