Chapter 1 : Manning learns to walk.
Walking at a pace slightly faster than a slow-mo replay of babies learning to walk, was Manning on the treadmill. Where he hails from, his name is a little bit longer - Manikandan.
He was surprised at how most people that he has worked with over the years, seem to be remarking that Manning needs to hit the gym. He was told six-pack abs was the way to go. Poor thing, no one told him that six-pack did not mean 6 packs of trail-mix cereal bars.
The gym experience was not as exciting as he thought it would be. No one at the gym would talk to him, he would stare at everyone only to realize that all were busy with their headphones. And then it happened.
Chapter 2 : Harry met Sally.
Full moon on the treadmill, yes, he was convinced. It took a while for him to realize it was indeed a very beautiful looking desi female. With an air of no-nonsense, the smile of a mona-lisa, a cute dimple, a bright smile and to top it all, no headphones on.
All of this meant only one thing to him, he should try to strike a conversation within the next 6 months, and manage a smile in the next few weeks. He knew it took a lot conviction. Smiling was second nature to him, except that he could not when she was around.
He believed in baby-steps, ironically. He would give it some time, and the chemistry would set in, for laws of physical attraction to work. His mathematical abilities signalled a very high statistical probability of getting a smile in return. It did not matter he never managed to clear any of these subjects while schooling.
Days went by, with Manning slowly mustering the courage to steal some glances unbeknownst to his angel, but not before he was totally convinced that she would not jump out of the picture on his cellphone, to slap him.
Chapter 3 : Harry nears Sally.
That day, he was really assured, as calm as a storm, that he would go near her. The steps took a long time coming, yet after 15 minutes, he was still where he was. Damn it ! these treadmills he thought !
The next day, he made sure, he was not anywhere near a treadmill - and he was not that far away from her. She seemed unflustered at a desi male approach, only to realize this guy walked past her, without even stealing a look. Hmm ! that is surprising she thought. Little did she know how Manning was turned into a nervous wreck just crossing her, and he was sure, that the act of looking at her in the eye was light-years away !
Two weeks later, he was quite comfortable walking across her, stealing glances, smiling at her without any reciprocity, and even staring at her. She started feeling the creeps. She was boiling over on the inside, but never did her facade of a smile give way to her emotions. She was carefully watching his every move thinking of how to counter him.
Chapter 4 : Interesting Weekend
His weekend was a disaster. A friend from 5-6 years back, came over to drag him out a conference where 'e-Business' was the theme and a VP of one of the largent commercial bank was to talk on how to achieve market penetration. He had warned his friend about any Amway'sh pyramid schemes. But little did he know how valuable this conference was.
The audience were urged to stop working and start their own business. The business of adding people to a pyramid. The business of making money for your upline (person ahead of you in the pyramid), of making money out of gullible people, of making people buy products at a price higher than any other comparable products in the market, of convincing them that the reason for such higher prices is higher quality. They spoke at length about 'free enterprise days', to listen to which, you had to pay atleast five or six-20 dollar bills. They spoke about how to develop your business by talking to people about starting their own business. The speakers at the conference proclaimed, this would be the most unforgettable day in every attendee's life. It sure was.
Manning was drained, frustrated, irritated and was almost gonna bash up few Indian cricket players for their performance. But, her face, the very thought of her, calmed him down, while at most other times, it would stir the tummy within.
Chapter 5 : D-Day
On monday, he had realized this was his day. The day he'd waited for all this long. The day when he was to go strike a conversation with his angel. When he got to the gym he looked around for his angel. Not to be found. He told himself, good things had to wait. He was rehearsing his lines over and over again. He also carefully considered his exit plan. After all these weeks on the treadmill, his legs were good enough to run away should she decide to explode. He knew the layout, the distance it would take for him to be safe. The number of blocks he had to scurry. All of it seemed perfect. The most oppurtune moment it was.
And there she was. Walking right past him, casting a spell of fragrance, leaving him debilitated. The drop of sweat from his eyebrow woke him up. He walked up to her, more like a disco dancer shaking his leg, only that he was not one. And yes, now he was within her striking range.
Chapter 6 : Da-moment
This was the moment. Manning was right in front of her. Only the words in his mind separated her from him. However, some powerful glue, was preventing his vocal chords to move. He still managed, "Hi, can i talk to you about something ?"
She could sense Manning's approach. The eerie feeling of yet another desi male approaching her. What could be different ? They are all the same. She seemed to be signalling someone. Before Manning could realize what was going on, He-man was standing in front of him.
Chapter 7 : He-man
She had discussed with her weight-trainer couple of days ago, over her cup of frappucino with double whip, about some help she may need to ward off a potential troublemaker. The trainer was all for it. He could swat a fly in the time it takes for you to think about it. He could crush an ant, in the time you could spell it. The airmass displaced while he walks past causes couple of treadmills to lose their bearings. All she had to do was wink, and this real six-packer would be beside her in a moment. She knew this would work like a charm against Manning. He-man he was.
Manning realized the folly of his move, but only a little bit too late. The whole word seemed to come to a grinding halt. But not the treadmills in the gym. All his exit routes seemed non-existent. He had to do something. He had to, for the love of his life.
Chapter 8 : He-does-it
He did it. His lips moved. His vocal chord produced few words. And then there were none. She had disappeared. So was the he-man. So were the guys in the hearing range.
Back home, he was narrating this story to his friends. None of them could stand the suspense. What did you do ? Hope this is not potty humor ? Did you say something bad ? How could you make a weight-trainer disappear ? Why would he-man runaway they kept pestering him.
Manning's eyes twinkled. It had mischief written all over it. With a smug face, after what seemed to extend a brief pause to an eternity, he blurted it out.
Manning had said, "Do you know how McDonald's business model works ? Can i talk to you about Amway ?"
He thanked Amway for saving his life :)