Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Like Rocky Balboa - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Every evening, after the class is over, I take off the teacher cloths, I wear shorts, a t-shirt, trainers and I go out for a jog. From Brickfields, near KL central station, to Bangsar, a half hour along the streets of some residential area. 
Malaysians exercise too, of course, but I suspect that they do it at those nice air-conditioned gyms or in some other area: in here I'm the only one trotting about. And those who I meet on the way must think that I am an eccentric westerner or a serious athlete who's preparing for an official contest (in the second case they probably didn't look carefully at my body). Anyway I must appear like one who you ought to smile, talk or show your sympathy to. The illegal parking attendant giggles and says: "He he...running, running...yes, yes..." The luxury condos security guards greet me: "Good evening, Sir!" And the passersby ask me, a bit rhetorically: "Going jogging, right?" Everybody laughs, sympathizes, encourages me. I normally set out to mind my business, stretch my muscles, do a couple of push-ups and then go back to my room, tired and satisfied. 
But I can't pretend that all this doesn't mean anything. So I reply, smile, greet, and their approaches infuse energy into me. I didn't know I needed it, but their humanity enters my bloodstream, invigorates, refreshes and excites me. I gain speed, lift my gaze and move more smoothly. I almost feel like Rocky Balboa training on the roads of Philadelphia, and when the street goes uphill it's as if I was climbing up that famous stairway, surrounded by kids. And when I am on top I could stop, throw my arms up in the air, jump and scream: "Come on Apollo Creed! I'm right here, your Italian Stallion, ready to kick your ass and rip that golden belt away from your waist!" 
But I don't do it. I turn around and get started on my way back instead. I also start to feel a bit tired actually: that damned hill, and that meaningless acceleration are taking their toll. Fortunately physics is coming to rescue me: what used to go up must necessarily go down on the way back. I just have to control my strides and watch my joints. 
Rocky Balboa my ass, right now I feel more like Danny Devito, Benny Hill or Mr. Bean. Still, what an adrenaline injection a stranger's smiles and nice words can be, especially in an alien place. Just like some kind of doping, only without side-effects.

No comments: