Friday, June 11, 2010

Gym locker room dynamics

For several years, I should say decades I have been going to the gym. It is a major part of my life and the one place that I have a lot of fun. When I am not spending time with my kids, the next best thing is the gym and a good book. Nothing beats a good run on the treadmill and although I hate the crunches that accompany these fun cadios and I get to do those last and count the minutes.

In the last 18 months, my routine changed as I took a career break to make a career change. I started going to the gym at a different time of the day after workers have gone to the office and kids have gone to school. I realized after a couple months that it is different. It is a different group of people with different mindsets and different approach to life. To start with, there is no frenzy in terms of rushing in and out because you have to get to the office the same minute you are stepping out of the shower.

Showering at the gym in my new schedule was not a regular routine. In fact for several months I did not know where the locker room and shower facilities were because I usually get there for the aerobics and step aerobics classes, visit my favourite machines and head home. Every once in awhile I shower at the gym especially if I have an errand to run along that end of the city and recently it has become a lot more regular. Initially, I could not understand the kind of discussions and dynamics that happen at the locker room as ladies and women shower and change not to mention the fights.

The first time I witnessed one of these discussions, it was about breast size and augmentation and the ladies that their husbands want them to get certain sizes and others to lift up the sagging ones. I silently listened without contributing because such discussions were alien to me. Then came the label comparisons. Now I have noticed that this is a regular topic and one that really irritates me. Not that I do not know that women are usually concerned with fashion and fashion accessories but I have never been part of a women community that this is the dominant topic and everyone is trying to find out who is wearing and who and what everyday.

Over these past months too, I have come to know that these regulars at this time are in three categories…the ladies that are married to expatriates of all sorts (bi-racial partners) form one group, the foreign ladies (expatriate ladies and wives) form a second major group and others which is where I will classify (professionals and self employed who dictate their working hours) and often wear the expression “how did I end up being in this place at this time?” These groups believe me see the world differently and also there are usually silent wars and very fierce competition among the first group of our gym community members

One thing is obvious they (the first group) compare relationship notes, luxury goods notes and related antics. Sometimes I ‘enjoy’ listening to the shallow discussions such as labels on the clothes and how much the bags cost because it certainly shows me that there other types of people on the face of the earth that are not worried about achieving purpose or ranting about values and principles… the deep things. All said, the locker room can be very entertaining and irritating at the same time and until my schedule changes, this is my new gym communities… some are from mars!!!

Saturday, June 05, 2010

In Death we Live

Yesterday I attended the funeral service of an older friend’s mother. She was over 80 years of age and was considered to have done well in that regard.

It was not the good things that were said about this woman that caught my interest as I have long concluded that once you are dead you are so loved and you are very good.

My friend is at least 60 years and the first of 7 0r 8 siblings. Her brother is over 50 years. When I went to see my friend after I heard that her mum passed, she was tearing up talking about her mum and imagining what her mum would be saying now. She said she will really miss her mum. I told her that I thought that it is easier to deal with this separation when we are older. She said even as old as she is, she never really thought her mum will die… ( a little strange). She wanted confirmation that she did enough to show her mum that she really loved her while she was alive. I told her that I am sure she did.

Yesterday she was to thank the people for attending the service and the officiating priests and she broke down again and could barely talk. I can understand my friend could be quite emotional so it was not her tears that shook me up, it was her brother openly weeping after church. I have never seen that in my adult life.

As I left the church, I could not even remember any of the lofty achievements of this mother of 7 and they were plenty but the picture of the depth of the loss portrayed in the faces of her two grown children especially told me a lot. I concluded that even if she did or did not achieve much in terms of accolades, she was a mother who loved her children and was devoted to them.

The whole day I thought about this and I know she was one great mother even in death. If you will not be forgotten by the people you love then you live even though you die. Truly in death we live.