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Just a walk in the park

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MOHAN MENON

IF I didn't know any better, I could have sworn that she was off to a grand soiree.But then, it was 7.00 a.m. at Cubbon Park and there she was in her shimmering sari taking in the morning air. Around her was a motley crowd of walkers in attire that would induce fashionists to head straight for Valhalla.Striding past the shimmering vision, I cut across a green patch. The landscape featured Schwarzenneger wannabes and middle aged housewives engaged in frenetic callisthenics almost furtively, in the shadowy fringes.Do I see two feet in the air behind a hedge? They are at eye level, making rapid progress in a horizontal direction. The legs finally came into full view, attached to a body walking on two hands. Besides upside down walkers, you're likely to encounter people walking backwards with no concern as to what they might back into.Then there is the walker who is busy cheering himself on by clapping his hands rhythmically over his head. The Tyson groupies (watch out!) punch away at the air in front of them as they charge on relentlessly. Some saunter past zombie-like as their headphones pummel music into their skulls.Headphones can't help your ears from being assaulted by members of the laughter club.The loud forced hilarity sends birds shrieking from their nests and passers-by gawk.I risk being trampled on by a phalanx (marching six abreast) which is almost upon me without breaking stride.I stumble out of their way with nanoseconds to spare. I look back to see whether they were indeed shod in Nazi jackboots. I wondered how they would have reacted if they came upon a snarling German shepherd smack in their path.Speaking of dogs, the park is witness to petite lapdogs escorting very large humans, diminutive people careening and ricocheting from pillar to wall to hedge, yanked about by large beasts seemingly on heat or steroids.A car that draws up disgorges what can only be described as hairy brown dachshunds. While the pedigreed quadrupeds sniff excitedly at the new and unfamiliar, the local canines are vastly amused. However their attempts to consort with their privileged cousins are met with stiff opposition from the owners. Walt Disney's "Lady and the Tramp" I thought to myself, albeit with a different ending.Before you feel sorry for the pariahs of the park, you should know that they have their well wishers too. These good Samaritans bring capacious bags containing bread and biscuit crumbs, which are normally snapped up with alacrity by man's best friend.Occasionally the Samaritans meet ungrateful curs who ignore the offerings with thinly veiled contempt. (What, no meat?!)Bird lovers are not far behind. Armed with sacks of grain and seed, they converge at a particular spot in front of the High Court. This is where the pigeons bill, coo and nibble.Each time a rain of grain comes their way, there's an almighty flapping and fluttering of wings. Then suddenly as if to some silent signal, the birds noisily churn the air and take wing in a ceremonial flypast that most often ends abruptly on the august roof of the court. It's almost like a performance to reward their earthbound feeders.Then to complete the ceremony, the rulers of the roost bless the court with generous amounts of guano.I lower my sights and chug along humming to myself, avoiding badminton racquets that threaten to decapitate me and little gremlins on bicycles who want to render me lame. One had barely saved life and limb, when (whoa!) two horses loomed into view, galloping straight at me. Turned out that our very own Mounties were chasing a scooter rider who had no excuse for riding in the park. After duly censuring the hapless scooterist, the khaki clad duo clip-clopped away looking down indulgently at the lower mortals on their two legs.Most people walked with unhappy or deadpan expressions, wearing invisible blinkers. Had they seen those glorious yellow tabibia blooms, the flaming gulmohars? The lilac trees with an inviting carpet of lilac blossoms at their feet? As Sherlock Holmes remarked to his friend, "Watson, you have seen but not observed."Looking pityingly at the unseeing hordes, I lap up the music from the bandstand, sweet music to `soothe the savage breast'. Did I get the quote right or should I google it? I settle down (read collapse) and succumb to the melodious notes wafting over me. After my rather turbulent passage through the park this was as close to heaven as I could get.When the stone bench began to insistently remind me what it was made of, I got up reluctantly from my repose. As I trudged towards the car a strange tableau greeted me: karatekas with frozen movements mouthing silent yells.Before they could yell "Banzai", I squealed away, scorching rubber."How was your walk, honey?""Fine, darling" I quavered. "Have you seen my Prozac?"


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