Outer space does not fascinate me at all. In fact it terrifies me. I will never be that person who will sign up for an expedition to the Moon or Mars.
So deep-rooted has been my fear of intergalactic excursions that I have heard myself proclaim that I wouldn't sign up for Richard Branson's flight to moon on-board Virgin Galactic even if he were to offer me a free seat on it along with a mansion on Nikki Beach and a date with Bradley Cooper.
But lately, I am beginning to rethink such sweeping declarations in view of the issues I have with the gravitational pull of our planet Earth. I am growing to severely dislike gravity because of how quickly it is beginning to work on my (middle-ageing) body since the past few years. You can lie about your age all you want and pop vitamins to keep your body and soul together but this Earth, she is keeping count, every single year and using its gravitational force on you without discretion.
It is most disheartening to see your body parts slowly slide southwards against your will. I am not given to cribbing easily and if it were just one or two things that one had to attend to, to keep their form together, I would have made my peace with it. But face, neck, back, belly, butt, arms, thighs… If I were to start working on all of them, I wouldn't have much time left for anything else at all.
Just as I begin to get my butt into shape, I find my belly sliding downwards; I start to focus on the belly along with maintaining the butt shape and I realise that my double chin is beginning to grow in proportion. Is there no end to this? Should I just move to the Moon as soon as Branson makes those flights possible? When reduced gravity acts on my body parts, my ageing will get retarded to one-sixth of its current momentum.
Sometimes I wish we could outsource the annoying aspects of physical fitness along with all the other things we are already outsourcing. We were already outsourcing tedious chores such as laundry, grocery shopping, bill payment etc and then quite wonderfully surrogacy made it possible for babies to be outsourced too.
How fantastic it would be then if we could outsource physical fitness to someone else as well! Why should we have to put ourselves through the strain of working out?
It would be marvellous if one could call a helpline of a Body Workout and Fitness Outsourcing company. Here is what the conversation with the person with a complicated accent on the other end of the line would go. Bear in mind that this call is being recorded for quality assurance purposes:
"Hello this is Suresh speaking saar how can I help you?"
"Suresh my name is Shunali and I wanted to speak to you about my tummy."
"Yes saar, how can I help you?"
"Not sir, ma'am. I am a woman."
"Yes saar, I mean ma'am. Can you tell me what is the problem with your stomach?"
"I am not happy with the way it is looking. I want it toned. Ever since I paid your company for outsourcing my workouts, I notice that my arms and thighs are getting toned but my belly fat hasn't reduced even the slightest bit and if in fact an entity by itself."
"Madam Shunali, your contract states that our team will tone your stomach within six months of signing up. It had only been three months."
"Six months? I did not read the fine print when I paid your company. I cannot wait that long, I have a family wedding next month."
"Madam Shunali, are you in front of a computer right now? I request you go to our website and see the various packages if you can. I can explain them to you."
"I am online now."
"Ok madam, now see, your package is the silver category package but if you want someone to work out twice a day to get a better body faster, then you need to upgrade your package to Express Gold. But for that you will have to pay us Rs. 19,999 more under our special discount scheme."
Gasping. "But that is too much for just the stomach toning!!! And this is after a discount?!"
"No saar, since you are a returning customer we are giving good discount to you of ten per cent. And in this package you don't have any dietary restrictions also as the assigned person will go on a diet on your behalf. So if you want to sign up can you share your credit card details with our automated system?"
"Hmmmm. Oh well ok. But make sure the person starts working out right away and twice as much. And keep her on a liquid diet." I realise I am treating my "assigned person" like a clone from Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go and feel awful about it. "No, wait, you can keep her on a low-carb-no-sugar-diet," I say charitably.
"You don't worry saar… Madam, we will be sending you weekly videos of concerned person working out so you will be satisfied yourself and you will see your body shape improving."
"Is there anything else that we can do for you today madam Shunali? If you don't mind my asking you, are you one of those women who get headaches at night?"
"I beg your pardon?"
"Madam we have an outsourcing service for spouses of women with headaches too. Can you look at our website right now?"
I hang up before he can finish. There are some things that shouldn't be outsourced after all.