Thursday, April 3, 2014

An irate gym instructor and Colin Firth- How I learned to love audio books

Gym by itself is not an unknown concept to me. I have been aware of its existence ever since my mother was aware of the existence of the three rolls on my stomach. Refusing to bring up the poster child of childhood obesity, I was forced to be a guest feature at quite a few gyms across the country, where I mostly treated them as a place to take a shower before moving on toanother dessert hunt. Until the campus introduced a free gym and I had no more excuses to be fat. Not with the instructor eyeing me in the glinty, fascinated way an evil scientist must eye rabbits.

What did come as a surprise to me was how utterly dull the process of getting thin was. The zeal for fitting in a size 10 refused to consume me and all I could really concentrate on was how terribly, incredibly and completely boring a treadmill could be. I made playlists full of upbeat music. I tried watching sitcom episodes downloaded on my phone. I even tried to sneak in an Agatha Christie once. Neither option worked very well. I still wince when I hear the strains of a bass guitar. The instructor definitely did not appreciate the fact that I had to take breaks between jogging so that I could gasp out in laughter. The book simply received a wry "Are you kidding me?" 

It was desultory Google searches, mostly on  the lines of "How not to try to kill yourself on the treadmill", where audiobooks came up as a suggestion. I was not a believer in audiobooks, mostly seeing them as another fancy way of avoiding real, physical books (this was also way before I bought a tablet and embraced all fancy ways out there). However, I was overweight, unmotivated and was already nursing an intense desire to punch bass guitarists everywhere. Then the choice was made easier. Colin Firth. Colin Firth with his dulcet tones and memories- sweet, secret memories- of a puppy-faced Darcy. It did not matter what book it was he was narrating, it did not even matter that the book seemed to be a combination of romance and religion, both genres I  tend to avoid. It was Firth. He could read the definitive text on Monetary Policy to me and I would lap it up.

And lap it up I did. The End of the Affair is not a book I would have liked to read. I found it slightly overbearing and shallow. But I will always maintain that the reason I fell in love with Greene and his mastery of sentence writing is Colin Firth. He read the words aloud as they were supposed to be read, with a hint of irony mixed with melancholia and indifference. He brought the book alive as I listened, lost,  to words written sixty years ago, all the while running on a treadmill. Not perhaps how Greene ever imagined his work might be appreciated. But appreciated it nevertheless was.

Needless to say, I have stopped looking at gyms as wormholes who suck up hours of my time. I have stopped considering audiobooks as an aid to the lazy. I have also added another genre to my reading experience. All because my gym instructor believes that to exercise is to suffer. And the magic of Colin Firth.

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