In Search of Sanity

24 Oct

About a month before I left for India, an e-mail with the title “Essentials in Bombay” came through the Bombay Expats message boards.  My new friend Andrea posted the message:  I am writing with a novel question- what are some items that are difficult to find in Bombay, but which you relied on back in your country or origin- particularly if you come from the States. In other words, what should I “stock up” on before my arrival? What’s really hard to find in Bombay?

First reply:  Sanity.

There’s a definite shortage of that here.  At least there has been during my first 10 days here.  As I’ve mentioned before, it supposedly takes two to three months to adjust to living in Mumbai, and “adjust” is a relative term.  I think it probably means that you no longer notice that you’ve gone mad.

So, for the last 10 days, I’ve been trying to find ways to mirror my old life–my life back in the U.S.–in order to have some brief moments of sanity.  Some have worked, some haven’t, and the ones that have worked are not fullproof.

For instance, last Tuesday I joined a gym in my neighborhood.  Previous tenants of my flat have suggested Gold’s Gym because it’s the nicest around, so I joined.  I waited nearly a week after arriving in India to join a gym for two reasons: 1) I haven’t paid for a gym membership in the last 5 years, because as a fitness instructor, I always had free membership, and 2) I had to come to terms with the fact that I will not be able to teach or participate in Body Pump classes while I’m here.  Since March, when I went through Body Pump instructor training, I have been obsessed.  The longest I’ve gone without doing it, until now, is five days.  So, I now listen to the music while I run on the treadmill or “climb hills” on the elliptical.

For the last few days, the gym has been my escape.  I leave my flat, hop in a rickshaw, and tell the driver to take me to the Jain Temple.  Gold’s is next door, but I learned quickly that no one knows Gold’s, but everyone knows the temple.  I take off my shoes and carry them into the gym, since shoes are not permitted inside until you enter the workout room.  I put my shoes back on, choose my poison (elliptical, treadmill, bike, weights), and get down to business.  I see the same girl on the neighboring elliptical every time I go.  We must have the same schedule.  I haven’t introduced myself yet, but the familiarity is comforting.  So, I hop on one of the machines and zone out.

Now, if I don’t want to be interrupted, I go for the cardio workout, because as I’ve learned, if I do the weight machines, the trainers come to “help me.”  They tell me how to lift weights.  Show me how to do exercises “properly.”  I want to yell at them and say, “HELLO, I am a FITNESS INSTRUCTOR.  I know how to lift weights.  I know how to kick my own ass and other people’s in class five times a week.”  But I don’t.  I let them count my repetitions, and then I let them tell me to do two more sets, and I do it with a smile as they watch.  But, I really just want to be left alone.

Today, I went to the corner of the gym, where it’s dark and mats are laid out for stretching.  I decided to do some push ups before cooling down.  I had just finished my fifteenth, when I looked up and saw the trainer watching me.  “You need to go lower,” he said.  “I know,” I said, “I’m working up to that.  I just finished my chest workout for the day.  I’m tired.”  “Try this,” he said and proceeded to demonstrate a proper push up, lowering himself within just an inch of the ground.  So I did 10.  Then he told me to place my feet differently.  Another 10.  Then he told me not to spread my fingers out while doing it.  Another 10.  I hated him.  So, after the gym, I walked to Baskin Robbins.  I found a moment of sanity in a scoop of Chocolate Chip Mousse.

And, just for fun, goats take over an unattended rickshaw.  Not an unusual occurrence in India.

courtesy of Anita Arenson


4 Responses to “In Search of Sanity”

  1. benignhumor October 24, 2010 at 11:04 pm #

    Steph, between Senate candidates that don’t know the First Amendment constitutionally protects the separation of church and state, Glenn Beck, and Keith Olberman, I think you’re overestimating the amount of sanity that remains here in the USA.

    Let’s just face it. Everyone’s crazy and you just have to find sanity yourself. Alone, at the gym.

  2. Mom October 24, 2010 at 11:50 pm #

    Sweetheart-You and I both know the only sanity in this entire world is found in a scoop of ANYTHING chocolate! You make me so proud…sniff, sniff.

  3. Jackie October 25, 2010 at 8:34 am #

    haha, Steph! I loved the ending to this post! Hilarious! At least you got a good chest workout in. You deserved every BIT of that ice cream! I can’t wait until we can catch up properly! Keep exploring and keep writing!

  4. Mona October 25, 2010 at 12:46 pm #

    That is hilarious!!! I love reading these everyday.

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