Sometimes serendipity turns into a life-changer. I was a cent per cent bookworm with no traces of liking for sports. The only game I liked was football and I was always offered a defender’s role – the reason being my stubbornness to stop the strikers. I ended up hitting them hard on their insteps, shins and calves – and left no chances to bring them down. After few matches even the defender’s role became coveted for me. Everybody was scared of my fouls.
I even tried gymnastics and karate. After few spells of somersaults, my left hand got caught in a stool and I was banned to attend gymnastics classes. Same happened with karate. I was self-teaching karate with a handbook published by Indian Book House. I punched on everything, be it a rice bag, a wall that came into my sight, or a mound of sand. As my parents noticed the knuckles, the handbook and self-learning both had to be stalled.
While my friends were doing the pull-ups and push-ups, and pumping the dumbbells, I used to sit in a corner and read books – the Famous Five, Secret Seven, and the Hardy Boys series. It was a complete no-no to sports for me.
This is how I ended up in gym
Then I landed up in India for my Bachelors. One day doing the chin-ups, I fell down and hit my head hard on the cemented floor. Suddenly, the lights went off and it was a complete darkness for me. I experienced what it feels like while dying. I opened my eyes as my friends from the dormitory sprinkled water over my face.
It resulted into a deep cut on my head. They took me to the college dispensary and after first aid I was again on my toes – live and kicking. I was recommended to go for a CT scan. I was reluctant – I didn’t want my parents to know how it happened. So I avoided it in spite of fears of having blood clots in my brain.
The fear amplified as I discovered that the whole world seemed to revolve as and when I knelt to pick anything lying on the floor. I had no options – I took to gym with the faint hope that I will cure myself of this malady. I started pumping iron, eating boiled eggs, drinking packets of milk, slurping down glasses of banana shake, and sleeping like the dead.
…And I started loving gym
As the days passed, I could feel the difference. Earlier the whole hall seemed to hover over me as I lifted heavy weights while doing decline bench press. Slowly the hovering turned to light shaking and after few months it was normal. Nothing hovered or shook when I knelt. I thought – the exercise helped set the brain in the skull which had to bear a huge shock during the fall.
Then I noticed another difference. My biceps bulged and I could notice the triceps while brushing every morning. My chest inflated and I could feel the power in my hands. Then after few months I could feel the set of abs appearing on my once flat stomach. It was a huge achievement for me.
The desire for more muscles controlled my desire to consume limitless alcohol with my buddies. As the six packs started showing, I got more and more addicted to gymming.
Then I got stuck to gymming
Then came the Eureka moment – I found the reason to stick to gymming. It’s an interesting anecdote.
I was in the third year of my Bachelors of Engineering and ragging was rampant in the campus. However, I had never ragged a junior.
One day we were returning to our hostel for lunch. It was 1 pm and the sun was shining to its might. The distance between the lecture hall and hostel was almost 15 minutes’ walk. As we were passing by the college gymnasium, we saw a group of first year students walking in a straight line. Some senior students might have told them to do so – they had formed a chain and each was holding the former’s shoulder.
I was annoyed with the teacher who had made us wait for 20 minutes more than the actual period. Going to hostel and coming back to lecture hall needed at least half an hour. We barely had 10 minutes to gulp the lunch. Seeing the first year guys, one of my friends asked me to give some extra work to them. In the fit of anger, I kicked a wild fruit and asked a guy to fetch it. He ran in the hot sand to fetch the fruit and was literally crying when he brought it to us. Then again one of my friends kicked it and asked another first year student to bring it back to us. I felt bad about it but some of my friends were laughing and enjoying.
In the evening, as usual, I returned from college and went to gym. I wasn’t feeling like pumping iron that day. My sixth sense hinted that something bad was coming my way. And it happened. As I returned from the gym, a white piece of paper was gummed to my door and it read, “Report to the Proctor at 6.00 PM”.
I was in a panic. I ran to my friends without even opening the doors. My friends knew the consequences – it had two meaning – either some disciplinary action would be taken against me or in the worst case scenario, I was going to be rusticated. My friend Atul Dev Saraf also had same sort of notice glued to his doors. He too was worried. Now we were two, so our problems halved. He was consoling me and I was sympathising him.
We made a deal – I would report first and he would follow me. With heavy hearts we headed for the staff quarters. Atul waited on the way and I reached the Proctor’s residence on stated time. With thumping heart I pushed the door-bell. To my surprise, the guy opening the door was my partner in the gym. To my good luck the Proctor was on his way to home and my friend was his son.
I narrated the story to him. As we were chatting in the drawing room, the Proctor arrived. I introduced myself and explained why I was there. He then asked me to sit down and told why I was summoned. Two first year students had lodged a complaint with the anti-ragging squad and they had identified Atul and me from the student profiles. It was obvious – they knew we were third year students of Chemical Engineering and my face was the most recognisable being a Mongoloid.
My friend came to my rescue. He told about our partnership in the gym and praised my calm attitude. The Proctor also recognised me – he had taught Physics in the first year and I was one of the good guys. This connection saved me. I told the truth – it was not a ragging as such. I was spared with an admonition. There should be no complaints against me in the coming days. I sighed with relief and thanked my dear friend and my favourite gym. They had rescued me from being suspended. Atul too followed my footsteps and he too was spared.
After this incident I became a loyal follower of gymming.
Once a gymmer always a gymmer
These days, like my friends, I too have lots of responsibilities – home, a sweet wife and a cute little daughter. Then there’s my job and my network of friends and relatives. I snatch away that one hour, at least three times a week, and pump the iron.
I made many friends in gyms in India and Nepal. My heartfelt thanks to Amar Deep Singh in Jaipur; Prashant Anand, Ashutosh Jaiswal, Kaiser Wani, Arshur Rahman and Balbir Singh in Delhi; Som Timilsina, Paras Shrestha, Rabindra Karki and Deependra in Kathmandu; and Keshav Karki in Surkhet for keeping up with me.
It’s once a gymmer always a gymmer.
Do you have it in you?
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