Singapore Adventure

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Sweat Lodge
by jima

At the end of yet another morning run:

Venitha: "Running in this country is sweaty business." She wipes her face for the hundredth time with her already-drenched t-shirt.

Me: "Arh-kabloo-ptah!" I lob a gob of phlegm into a monsoon gutter.

Venitha: "Singapore is a fine city, lah." She's right. There is undoubtedly a fine for such disgusting behavior.

Me: "Sorry, lah. Uhg-hummm." Clearing my throat.

You may infer from the fact that we are running together, that we are running, tragically, foolishly, heroically, outside. What the hell are we thinking?

I am thinking that it is a major bummer that our condo's treadmill, the one next to two, count them, two, blasting air-con units, is not functioning. My lovely and fitness-devoted wife is thinking that she doesn't like running outside in the dark by herself. Lucky me.

Now, for those of you just joining the story, this is Singapore. It's hot. It's humid. Even at 6:00am, a 40-minute run produces sweat in quantities more than a touch frightening. And Venitha, being the sadist good training partner that she is, insists on a one-minute sprint at the end and has even - in Singapore! - found hills.

It is always near the end of our runs - when the only thing that keeps me going is the fact that the fastest path to air-con, faster even than hailing a cab that would have to obey red lights and one-way streets - is to keep running, when I am reminded of my father-in-law. No, it's not the sweaty stench. And, no, it's not Venitha's ponytail, bobbing with annoying perkiness and not a little hypnotism, in front of me. It's his tale of his experience in his neighbor's sweat lodge. Which I am clearly channeling.

A tribal leader was called in, they stripped down and packed tightly together inside the lodge, too close for comfort to each other, to the blazing fire, and to the scalding, billowing steam. Whether visions resulted from the intense heat, the dehydration, the spirit world, or spirits of-this-world, I don't know.

As for me, I believe it's the sweat that induces my visions of my father-in-law's sweat lodge, and it's the visions of a bunch of near-naked sweaty senior citizens packed into it that leave me hacking up a lung.

jima - with thanks to my lovely running partner/editor