Ever wondered how ordinary people suddenly find courage, strength and abilities they never thought they had when confronted by a situation that threatens their survival? Ever seen or read anything that made you say ‘Naah! That can’t be true. Nobody could have ever done that. Not especially him (or her)!’. I have. But that was before I realised the power of the instinct for survival. The very same instinct that is so hardwired in every species on this planet (and others also I guess if life exists elsewhere in the Universe- maybe!) that in an instant you find that you can jump across roofs, run like a professional athlete, or even drink horlicks! Intrigued? Read on.
At 12 I was a rebel. At the age when every other kid in my class was meekly drinking horlicks or complan or whatever vile concoction that companies decided to market as health drinks (and parents as always wishing their children the very best unwittingly thrust down their throats), I was a caffeine addict. No proteins or vitamins or artificial chemicals morphed to taste like yucky goo soaked in milk and sugar for me please! A nice strong freshly brewed (by my mum) cuppa would do great- thankyouverymuch! Never mind that I was not going to be the tallest in my class or the fact that I could fall ill quite often without those liquid travesties (I didn’t in fact!)- any mention of the withdrawal of my daily ‘first thing in the morning’ dose of caffeine would provoke an a la Patrick Henry reaction (Give me coffee or give me death!) from me.
But we all have our weaknesses and my failing was my lethargy. As I grew up and traveled and got myself into situations where my mum could no longer brew coffee for me, I decided that I would rather be lazy and not do anything and passively overcome my caffeine addiction rather than brew myself a cup of coffee in the morning (instant coffee is not coffee- it is something that is no better than those abhorrent health drinks!). So from a spirited rebel I went on to becoming someone who could cope with just about anything- the absence of coffee did not trigger panic reactions from me. I may even have gone to the other extreme of being scared of getting addicted and started positively avoiding coffee- the rise and fall of Sukanya Ramanujan, I guess! And yet I hadn’t yet struck the bottom of the well!
When recently I found myself alone and very ill and unable to eat anything- my mum, having run out of all options I may not have violently reacted to, found herself suggesting that I drink (ye Gods, you are cruel!) Horlicks. She expected me to react with vehemence. I expected me to react with vehemence. But like I said when confronted with a situation where your life or well being is at stake- man does horrible things. So the next day I found myself driving to the grocery store to visit the health drinks section (I’d never been here- not even during my brief career stint in the retail domain) and was amazed to find the range and variety with which companies market their weapons of torture. Sigh! I soon found myself back home having a staring competition with a steaming hot cup of horlicks (no sugar, no milk- If I have to poison myself I’d rather do it unsweetened). I blinked first- I had to. It was I who was threatened by the survival question. Did I see the bottle smirk? Did I see GlaxoSmithKline say “We told you so!”. I had to swallow the insults and the cup of horlicks.
To my surprise (or maybe I was just delirious!) I didn’t find myself shivering because of how vile the drink was. Horror of horrors! I actually felt better after half an hour. Horlicks could actually be comforting. My life and my value system came crumbling down. If all your life you have defined yourself in opposition to something or someone, what do you do when you don’t find yourself in the opposition? Simple, I became a convert.
I now find myself happily embracing the horlicks theology. (Or maybe it is my lethargy kicking in again when I find that I can easily defect to a cup of horlicks and stop hunger in its tracks rather than bothering about breakfast or the occasional dinner! and hey horlicks has vitamins and proteins you know!). I may have found salvation in a blue and orange glass bottle.
Vicisti Horlicks! Verily!
ps- I can’t believe GlaxoSmithKline is not paying me to write this.
pps- I can’t believe Complan or Milo aren’t paying me not to write this.
ppps- No religious symbolism has been intended anywhere in the post or the blog. Whatever is implied is pure coincidence or the product of a lazy mind.
* the title is an adaptation of the famous words of Julian the Apostate on his death bed- Vicisti Gallilaee (You have conquered Galilean!)