I’m crawling, beaten, towards that time of year when you’re supposed to be all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. At the end of each day you’re meant to fling on your best clothes, paint yourself up to look smokily seductive/blingy/young, paste a grin on your face, and teeter out into the lethal miasma of suspended particulate matter, carbon monoxide and firecracker smoke that is the night air of Delhi, to play cards, or celebrate Diwali, or attend a wedding, or a Christmas party, or a New Year’s party, or drinks and dinner with friends.
The trashy newspaper supplements have a way of using a phrase as if it were a one-word noun, such as the phrase-noun “ourhecticmodernlifestyles”. It’s used as if it’s an absolute value, and a good one, and not to be questioned. This one has a particularly revolting wink-wink, nudge-nudge quality to it. I stayed up until five in the morning doing a report, then I figured I’d drink until seven, after which I went to the gym to fill up the two hours before my nine o’clock high-powered meeting with the Board! The more exhausted and unhealthy I am, the cooler and more successful I must be! I think I feel some chest pain—let’s skip lunch and have another meeting!
It’s a total mystery to me why people sigh with secret pride over how little they slept, and how madly busy they are, and how much they have to do, and how much junk food they eat, and how many hours they spent on a plane that week and how their phone never stops ringing—the one they just upgraded so that they could have phone calls and web browsers and satellite and the hotline to Mars and be in touch at all times.
You would think that in the face of said ourhecticmodernlifestyles, people might find it useful, at the end of a workday, to eat, watch a movie, read something or otherwise relax, and get eight hours of sleep.
The problem is that this city is bursting at the seams with the sort of big, fat, hairy machismo that you associate with a Beverly Hills teenage bimbette, or a certain type of Sicilian underworld thug. And so the result is that going out to dinner is inevitably a matter of leaving at 9 or 9.30 pm, drinking for a few hours on an empty stomach, then stuffing yourself with food somewhere between midnight and 1am, and falling into bed at 1.30am in order to be up around 6am.
The weird thing is that the same newspaper supplements are simultaneously banging on about how important it is to be healthy and in shape. The secret, apparently, is to exercise, practice yoga and meditation, drink lots of water, eat frequent and small meals bristling with fruits and vegetables, have a midday nap, eat your last meal of the day no later than 8pm, and retire at 10pm to get a solid eight hours’ sleep.
It’s called a change of pace; but since that would mean (gasp) modifying ourhecticmodernlifestyles so that they’re not quite as hectic, the next best thing is to gulp antacids like bonbons, pop vitamins and supplements, get the newest concealer for dark circles, and buy clothes that flatter whatever sorry shape you’re in—advertisements for all of which can be found in the self-same trusty supplements.
Here’s my impossible dream: That one day Delhi’s hosts will insist that their guests arrive at 7.30pm, to enjoy one drink before dinner is served at 8pm, following which everyone is welcome to another couple of drinks before saying good night at 10pm.
It beats catching up in the ICU at the age of fifty.