HEADPHONE ZONE: No socialising here

I’m thinking about joining a leisure centre. I’ve never thought of myself as a leisurely kind of guy so I find this impulse a bit, well… interesting.  I almost said, I find it a bit worrying, but I didn’t because that might negate the main point I’m hoping to get across.
When I moved to England a few months back I was advised to look into these high-priced indoor gyms where people work out in designer sweat suits listening to mind-numbing aerobics music and then take relaxation classes such as yoga, meditation and breathing – no kidding, breathing –but I put the mission on hold as soon as I discovered the cost: the equivalent of P12,000 a year for my two daughters and myself.

That’s a bit stiff for someone who’s been used to P500 plus another P150 in tennis section fees for an annual family membership at the Francistown Club.  Besides, there are loads of beautifully maintained parks around here –one of the truly great features of this country – complete with paths that serve as running tracks and exercise stations where you can do – or at least try to do – pull-ups, dips, inverted sit-ups and some other things that I haven’t figured out yet. Unlike the canal paths, they also have special pooper-scooper bins for the many residents who get their exercise by walking and picking up after their dogs.
I mention the dogs here because, for many people, owning one of them is an acceptable alternative to joining a leisure centre.  You see, the dog-walkers often stop and talk to each other, presumably about their dogs, so not only do they get a bit of exercise but they get some social intercourse as well.  If you don’t have a dog and you want to talk to a stranger in the park, however, you’re screwed.
And that, basically, is why leisure clubs are back in the picture; they appear to be one of the few places here where it is socially acceptable for strangers to speak to each other. I guess it has something to do with the fact that members are accountable to the club and have to be reasonably well off if they can afford to be there in the first place, or maybe it’s just because exercisers who don’t wish to be sociable just have to plug in their earphones.
Clubs and pubs are the other obvious socialising options but they can be bad for your health and at P35 for a Guinness, one pint a day for 365 days would cost more than the sports club – and that’s just for me.

Anyway, my point here, I think, is that worrying is not only bad for you; it can also be bloody expensive.  I mean as I see it lots of people spend a fortune on personal music systems so they can shut out the dangers of social interaction while they are out in public and then they fork out for sports club memberships and designer kits so they can take classes to help them get back in touch with the present moment and meet new people in a safe environment.
I hope this is one western development that doesn’t become common place in Botswana, although I suppose in some sections of our society it already has.  Oh well, now that I’ve had my little moan I think I’ll go for a run, listen to the birds and try not to worry about it.

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