One morning Mr Mark, our neighbour inquired, “I always see you with a backpack. What do you carry in it?” Old habits die hard and you can never take the soldier out of me.
“Two bottles of water, three energy bars, a packet of tissues, a bottle of moisturising lotion, a tube of hand cream, a cap, a pair of gloves, a neck warmer, a face mask and some cash,” I said, reminiscent of our cadet days when we had to rattle out the contents of the backpack of our Field Service Marching Order (FSMO.)
This morning as I stepped out of my room with my backpack, our son asked, “What do you do while walking ? Why don’t you get a pair of earphones? You can listen to either music or a podcast while you walk.” A wise idea! I thought and I immediately placed an online-order for a pair of earphones.
The Square 1 Mall opens at 6 am, not for shoppers, but for the cleaning staff and for the salespersons to set up their stores. The aisles are nearly empty where it is always warm at +25°C with music and it never rains or snows. The ground is even and level and there is no chance of slipping and falling. Morning walkers, mostly senior citizens use the facility.
Square 1 Mall has two levels, the upper and the lower. Walking fast through the aisles at each level takes me about 15 minutes. I walk on the upper level for 15 minutes, come down to the lower level and walk for 15 minutes and repeat it.
What do I do while I walk for 60 minutes?
Thanks to Whatsapp, I use this time to call up my friends and relatives in India to exchange pleasantries. It is the most convenient time – between 6 and 7 pm in India.
While walking, I enjoy the window displays of various stores, especially fashion, attire, accessories, shoes and perfume stores. While great products and excellent customer service can keep customers coming back, visuals and branding are the elements that get people to walk into a store and the store’s window display plays a big part in this. It got to be fresh and attention-grabbing as possible, positioned at eye level to draw customers’ attention. The message got to be conveyed to a stroller in three seconds and it is not nearly enough time to read anything.
As this is the Holiday Season with the Christmas and the new Year around the corner, it is the time most stores in the mall do maximum business, notwithstanding the pandemic. Thus, all stores put up their best window displays and it keeps changing too. I look for the changes like the game where one got to identify ten differences in two similar images.
During the walk, I plan out various activities for the day, many based on instructions from Marina in the morning. It is all about grocery shopping or a visit to our family doctor, buying the correct cut of meat at the butcher’s, trying to figure out the ingredients of the marinade for the meat to be cooked that evening – the list is endless.
I often get calls from her after she reaches her pharmacy about an impending medication delivery with instructions regarding the time of delivery based on the patient’s availability at their home. Sometimes, it is a query about a report, an invoice or a payment. In fact I am the CEO, accountant and delivery boy of our company with Marina and I as partners.
These days it is all about Christmas with the mall and the stores all decked up with Christmas themes with red and green – the Christmas colours. I enjoy all the Christmas trees put up all around the mall.
Last week while walking I observed various advisory and warning signs put up in view of the pandemic. Many a thoughts flashed through my mind. Why can’t they be creative? Why do they have to make it on a drab grey background instead used the Christmas colours? Why can’t they base it on a Christmas theme with the Santa and his eight reindeer to depict social distancing?
A couple of days ago, I tried to measure my ‘lateral deviation’ while I walked. In medical terms, it may be classified as gait dynamics. The first time I attempted it was as a cadet to measure my deviation from a straight line as I walked on a pitched dark night during various navigation exercises. I walked along the side lines of the soccer field and it was about a quarter meter to my right when I traversed 100 meters.
Here I walked along the line made by adjoining tiles on the aisle floor for 100 meters and it was still about a quarter meter to my right. Neither age nor my being in the Western hemisphere altered it. I should have measured it while vacationing in Peru in the Southern hemisphere. May be, it could be to my left. Anyhow I reserved it for my next trip to Australia and New Zealand.