Flea Market Chase

Toot! Toot!

I looked out the window. It was Jugs announcing his arrival.

“He’s here,” I informed.

Dad chuckled. “Well, he’s on time. I’ll say that.”

We made it outside to find Jugs standing in front of a three-wheeled vehicle—it had a yellow canvas top, open sides, and five-inch tires.

Erica’s eyes widened. “Are you kidding?” She looked at dad and then me. “Seriously? We’re riding in this thing?”

Dad laughed. “Relax, the auto-rickshaw is a tried and tested mode of transportation here.”

Well, this is something, I thought. At least getting in and out would be easy. Plus, the open cabin would surely be airy; no need for air-conditioning.

“This my personal auto-rickshaw—TuTu! She go very fast…at least thirty,” said Jugs enthusiastically.

“What happened to the cab?” I asked.

“I’m off today…so can’t bring cab.”

Meanwhile, Erica had circled the vehicle. “This thing is actually kind of cute,” she said surprisingly...text omitted…

Soon we reached the market which was spread on a hilly area. The parking lot was on the top, at the fourth level, as evident by a marker near the gate. Narrow cobbled steps snaked down to each level, the sides of which were cluttered by a myriad of shops.

Jugs parked TuTu near the entrance. We got down and shook our limbs loose. Sitting in a tight space had its benefits...text omitted…

“Wow, this some market,” I said, eying the expanse of shops below.

“Let’s go,”  I said...text omitted…

Some clanged their items creating a cacophony that drew attention. Others tried out-yell the next guy with announcements. A strong aroma of fried cuisine floated in the air..text omitted…

Walking across, I almost bumped into a guy, who was standing at the store entrance.

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I Stand On My Head

I quickly gulped some spaghetti and meatballs to ease the hunger pangs. The clock struck five and I hurriedly donned my Yogaudoo outfit. This happened to be one of the few sweat-inspiring sessions that I looked forward to. Unfortunately, it meant aching and bruised muscles later.

Our teacher, Mr. Neogi, was an Army veteran and had served in the fabled Gurkha regiment in India. His unit had seen action during World War II. He had a burly physique and was about five feet and eight inches tall. Though he had thick, muscular shoulders and a broad chest, he carried himself lithely. I would guess his age to be in the lower seventies, but he still seemed as active as a person in his teens.

“Looks can be deceptive, Daniel!” he would say. And in his case, I totally agreed.…text omitted…

Mr. Neogi had created Yogaudoo after his deep and personal study of Judo and Yoga. He felt that most mainstream martial arts emphasized too much on: brute force, power, and rigidity. They didn’t lay much focus on flexibility and suppleness of the body. According to him, Yogaudoo fused yoga and judo to complement each other. One taught self-control, flexibility and proper breathing; the other taught self-defense...text omitted…

Mr. Neogi started working his way down the line, pausing and scrutinizing each of us. His motto was: “If you don’t care about your uniform, then you don’t care about the class ...text omitted…

He smiled. “Well, you’ve to pay the karma.”

John grudgingly stepped out of the line to the sides and started his pushups.…text omitted…

As I held the headstand pose, a pair of shiny white teeth and fluttering eyelashes caught my attention; Sabrina’s contorting eyebrows were trying to grab my attention.

I tried to look the other way but she caught my eye.

“Hey Daniel,” she whispered.

“What?”

“Do I look slimmer this way?”

“I don’t know but your face sure looks like it’s on fire,” I said uncertainly trying to keep my balance.

Gosh, you can be so annoying,” she snapped.…text omitted…

We broke into pairs and spread across the mats so that we had sufficient room. I could catch Sabrina and her group from the corner of my eyes, talking and gesturing towards us, engaged in a who’s-the-best argument.

I grinned at John. “We’re being graded. Let’s not get sloppy.”

“You’re going to fail this one,” he sneered.

He advanced menacingly towards me, his arms hanging by his side, and his head lowered.

“Really, let’s see.”
We circled around each other on the mat, arms outstretched, and fingertips barely touching each other. John moved from posture to posture as he tried to gauge my intent with nudges and pushes. I could feel the tension and my heartbeat quickened.

He faked an atemi at my neck. Instead of blocking the strike, I grabbed his arm with my left hand and moved into him. Closing the gap I circled his waist with my right hand and grabbed his gi. Immediately I turned and heaved with both arms. But, I forgot one important thing, to sink my waist. Now, I had no leverage.

It was too late. John sensed my move and pushed me. Next thing I knew, we both crashed onto the mats into a tangled mess of arms and legs.…text omitted…