Monday, February 27, 2017

Health is wealth

And health is wealth. Repetition is key.

(Published on February 18, 2017 in Business Standard)

My eldest niece, who just last week was sixteen inches long and did nothing but poop and sleep, this week turned 12 years old, and has kind of a cool haircut. If that’s not weird enough, a couple of days ago I heard an aunt tell my mother, “It was a nice day, and we didn’t have anything to do, so we said, chalo, let’s go get a bone density test.”

In other words, gentle reader, time passeth. I have not been paying attention, so now it leapeth up and biteth me in the butt. I haven’t yet begun to think of bone density tests as a leisure activity, but I am now open to saying never say never.

I last had a top-to-toe health check about fifteen years ago, back when excess was only an occasional thing. Since I thought of myself as ageing at the time, my clean bill of health made me pretty smug. Today it is obvious to me that I had nothing whatsoever to do with the test results—I was just young and hale. Fifteen years on, occasional delinquency has slipped into hardened habit, and physical discipline has pulled its blankie over its eyes and gone back to sleep. What used to be an invigorating run in the park is now a sedate walk that feels like hard work. In other words I have grown bibulous, portly, lazy, and mutinous about it all.

In my twenties, I would observe all the weird old people walking around the world with their paunches and double chins and their cottony lack of muscle tone, and I would say to myself, Not me. That will never be me. Since I know it can get there, I simply won’t let it. Forewarned is forearmed. Why are they smirking? I will always exercise. I will never overeat. I will never drink too m—okay, I didn’t say that last thing, but you get the picture.

Dear weird old people, please accept my sincerest apologies. I kneel before you, eating crow and also humble pie, since I always have one portion too many of everything. Smirk all you want. I deserve it.

To the judgy young people I used to be: I could just smirk quietly to myself, but I am instead going to do you a solid, and pass on some valuable wisdom that nobody told me. Here it comes:

It’s going to happen to you too, suckers. Mwahahaha.

What will happen to you is that you haven’t the faintest idea of the power of one simple thing: repetition. You know those mind-numbing canyons of sculpted stone, created by wind and water? They aren’t made by typhoons and tsunamis. They’re made by perfectly ordinary breezes and little lapping waves that simply keep gently breezing and waving, over a period of time. Repetition can erode, and it can build. Mine, needless to say, have built—around all the areas I was going to keep forewarned and forearmed.

Since my emotions cannot keep up with what I’ve done to myself, I have decided that actually this is all happening because of a dreadful medical condition which will be revealed by a full medical check. Except that I’m too frightened to go by myself, so I’ve made a date with a friend who is also too frightened to go by himself. (I can just hear my niece: “And then my aunt and her friend said, it’s a nice day, let’s go see the doctor.”)

So, judgy young people, you are now forewarned and forearmed. You either need to understand the power of repetition, or start practicing your best smirk. You’re welcome.


Anonymous said...

Check out the Paleo diet. And these books:

Kind of similar to the gut book you recommended.

Anonymous said...

Can you please mail me at
I wish to translate your column to Punjabi.