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The Haj is a journey that many choose to undertake at a specific time of the year. There is also the Kailash Manasarovar Yatra. I am mentioning both just to remain secular. There are subsidies provided by the government for these mass tourism packages. A significant number of people (not all!) are driven to visit these places by a deeply entrenched belief that there will be a magical transformation in their fortunes after the first visit.
There is another place that people visit every year in the hope of magical transformations after the first visit. It is called the gym. But the government does not provide subsidies for these yearly visits. With no subsidies in place and people with deep pockets ready to pay for the fulfilment of their equally deeply entrenched beliefs in magical transformations, there is great business potential in this domain.
So, I close my travel agent shop every year in the month of January and turn it into a gym. It is not much of a hassle if you plan it properly. Every time someone goes on a tourism package to Goa, I request them to send me their holiday snaps. The beach photos of the reasonably fit people go up on my wall. So you see, I don’t really have to change the interiors during the January gym season.
Moving the furniture and gym equipment every year is also easier than you think. End of every year, in the Christmas week, I put on a false beard and a dhoti (real, not false) and conduct a one week workshop titled “Power Yoga Using Furniture Props”.
By the end of the week, all the stuff is in place for the grand opening of the gym in New Year. I don’t get to sit back and relax and take things easy anywhere else except when I am in my gym in January. There is something innately satisfying about just sitting back and watching people sweat and toil and struggle. It is like having my own private sports cum entertainment arena.
Nothing brings me into the yearly holiday spirit like a room pregnant with the air of exhausted breaths, well worn out deodorants and freshly prepared protein shakes. Oh that rhythmic clang of metal against metal, powered by tired human muscle. Tired human muscle that is driven by the extra dose of will power that is distributed every New Year. It is music to my ears.
As the month draws to a close, the crowd thins down. The nerd crowd that visits every year from their library hangout across the street slowly starts hanging out at the library more often. The regular gym goers who decided to visit the library as a New Year’s resolution start coming back to the gym.
The most common complaint of the New Year gym goers is that they find the grunts, snorts, snarls and in general, all gym noises, intimidating. The most common complaint of the regular gymmers who visit the library is that they find the silence too intimidating. One of them got thrown out when he shouted “Eureka” after finishing a Chetan Bhagat novel.
Anyways, as the will powers return to their pre New Year levels and the year draws to a close, I have to go and prepare for the “Power Yoga using Furniture Props” session again. These tourists are going to leave me soon and new ones will be visiting me in February.
The above piece was written as part of a Write Club session held on 9th January, 2016 hosted by Deepshikha. The theme was to describe a place that you visited like a tourist. Needless to say, I did not manage to stick to the theme in my piece.
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