Sarwar Sukhera A visit to a doctor's clinic is never a fun experience. We prefer to try out the various herbal concoctions prescribed by our all-knowing friends until the minor ailment, like a nagging cough, becomes more of a habit. In my case, it's my kids who insist on my going for a general check-up every six months. Let's face it, taking your clothes off for a male doctor and then getting your prostrate checked is not something many of us fantasise about. Besides, I know exactly what the doctor is going to tell me after going through the embarrassing routine: stop smoking, eating right, and regular walking. Smoking: I took up smoking many decades ago with a lot of effort. At the time, it was a sign of maturity. Also, the brand you smoked, your cigarette case and the lighter you carried reflected your social status. If you watch old movies, you will see the heroine playing a classy lady with a long cigarette holder in her fingers, and the aristocratic male character taking a puff before making a profound statement. Not any more. I sometime suspect the whole world was waiting just for me to take up this habit to unleash all that propaganda about smoking being unhealthy, and even brainwashing people to think that the aroma of burnt tobacco is not a refreshing scent. Smoking appears to be the only point where the whole world agrees on. I, as a smoker, consider that a great service we have rendered to the cause of uniting the world. However, what I don't understand is why we the smokers are punished instead of being rewarded? Discrimination towards smokers has gone beyond apartheid and other cultural, religious or gender biases. Smoking is now barred in restaurants, on the airplanes and sometimes even on the streets. They rush to write on packets of cigarettes that smoking kills but never on bullets, guns, fighter planes or tanks. Of course, all living beings are going to die sooner or later. In the case of men, one wishes that some had died much earlier than when they actually did. I am beginning to subscribe to the conspiracy theory that multinational drug companies have drummed up this hysteria against smoking to sell their various new anti-smoking products. Anyway, since our fate is said to be sealed when we are born, why not go doing something that we enjoy than being blown up by the Taliban or the drones. Eating: I don't believe in the theory of us having unchiseled teeth and therefore being vegetarian by nature. If it had been so, God would not have commanded us to slaughter sheep and other animals to eat. Besides, I live to eat and not eat to live. Ask anyone and you will get the same answer that they work hard only to keep the hearth alight. Study any revolution that came about and read their slogans; you will invariably find the mention of bread before any of the other social demands. Even Carl Marx' wife once remarked that she had wished her husband would stop writing about the just distribution of monetary resources and start earning money to make their livelihoods easier. Let's face it; living is all about eating and since life is short, I eat a lot. I relish all that is considered by the medics harmful. Yet, the only thing growing in my body is the belly. I look like a little pinkie finger with a wart at the knuckle. That the ballooning shalwar is our national costume rather than streamlined trousers has a lot to do with our favourite pastime: eating. There is nothing better to end a meal than smoking. The long drags and clouds of smoke exhaled are the best compliments one can pay to the chef if someone else is taking care of the bill. Walking: I envy brawny young men with biceps larger than their brains. However it's so boring, painful and tiring to exercise. I too, wait for the machine to come out in the market that will tone up your whole body by the flick of a switch. Wake up, America Stop developing destructive gadgetry and concentrate on a machine like this if you want to win the hearts of those who talk more and do less, i.e. opinion makers and news analysts. I am going to take up walking because "angels whisper to you when you walk." I want to write since I am retired and have nothing productive to do. To know if your mind is flabby one has to feel one's legs. I squat like a frog all day long and use my legs only to wear trousers and to walk to the car. That should explain why my written content is so frivolous. I go out to look for the next to the best money can buy in sneakers and tracks. I am all fired up to walk, considering it an ambulation of mind. The ancient Egyptians prescribed walking in the garden to cure madness. Walking has also been described as a balance between spirit and humility. There is so much one can dig up to inspire a daily walk. I am dismayed to see that there are plenty of wide roads, flyovers and underpasses, but no footpaths for the pedestrians. Everyone has grown a garden or used the space to display wares where the footpath should have been. I have to ride the car for miles to walk a few steps. Once again, I am rudely reminded of who run this country and their self-serving preferences when it comes to using the national exchequer. It seems the only way one can walk here is by joining the protest marches. Richard Rogers' concept of civic rights does not seem to apply here: "Everyone has the right to walk from one end of the city to the other in secure and beautiful spaces. Everybody has the right to an unhampered view down the street, not full of wires, railings, signs and rubbish." I come back home, light a cigarette and sit down to write. I may not write anything worth a read but my smoking will surely save the jobs of many in the tobacco and health industries. Now I will take two at a time - asthma pills rather than steps on the stairs. The writer is a freelance columnist E-mail: msukhera2000@yahoo.com