Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Of Celebrity

In more optimistic times, I too was a member of the gym going world. This was around a year after I'd arrived in Adelaide. Following a health scare and inspired by the Australians who showed up at the beach near our house to run irrespective of the weather, I decided to do what any self-respecting consumer of health does. I did not join them on the beach, which was free and so how could it be a viable option? Instead, I joined a gym and started making trips there as regularly as any devout person would to a temple. My gym was attached to a hotel, which actually meant that it was less busy than regular gyms, since not many people knew that it was open to outside membership.
One evening I got into the elevator. There were already two Australian guys in it. Quite a few Australian guys are big and muscular, and these two were no exception. Also, often people in Australia will talk to you in social situations, things like "how's it going" or just a smile and a nod to acknowledge your existence. So I was not really surprised when one of them spoke to me. What I was surprised by, however, was what he said. "Must be your lucky day" he said, "You get to go in the elevator with us". Never one to waste an opportunity to make a quip, I retorted "Its your lucky day too, you get to go in the elevator with me". He looked a little taken aback but then we had reached my floor and I was out of the elevator.
Later I told Vipul about this conversation. He told me "Those guys must have been famous". "Oh" I replied. That someone could say such a thing in a matter-of-fact way and not ironically had never occurred to me. "Its AFL season. They must have been AFL players" he continued. AFL is Australian Football League and that is when I realised just how much of a surprise my flippant reply must have been to them.
This leads me to re-formulate a philosophical question for our times: If you are a celebrity stuck in an elevator with someone who does not know you, are you still a celebrity in that moment?