Our program for Thursday evening announced: A tai-chi instructor will come and demonstrate Eastern exercises. Riding down the elevator, an old lady, silver-haired and round of figure, who lives on the 9th floor asked me:
“What is this? It sounds like some green tea! Are we supposed to taste some of it? It would be nicer if they would invite us to taste some wine or even something stronger!”
“It’s not tea, I explained, it’s physical exercise. Something we haven’t done before!’
“Impossible! We’ve done everything. There is the gym, the pool, there is yoga, Feldenkrais and aerobics. I’m busy every morning improving my physical condition! But if I can improve it even more, I’ll do it!, let’s see what it is all about!”
Actually it was curiosity that caused full attendance. The hall was full when the tai-chi instructor arrived, a nice, blonde, no longer very young lady.
First she explained to us the benefits we would earn by joining the tai-chi class.
“The movements are very slow, very controlled and can never cause any harm whatsoever to our bodies!”
“OK, no harm said the man who sat next to me, but what about good? Does it do any good?”
“It will improve your balance, continued the tai-chi teacher, it will stimulate your brain and encourage you to think about what you are about to do, it is actually a different form of meditation accompanied by movement! You concentrate on whether you have to move to the right or to the left, and this concentration shuts out all other thoughts! Of course you’ll get it wrong in the beginning, I will say move to the right and you will move to the left, but even getting it wrong, means that you are doing tai-chi!”
She started to demonstrate some of the moves and we looked on in wonder. It’s something we’ve seen in movies and on TV but did we ever consider doing this ourselves?
After the demonstration a small group of residents sat down to discuss tai-chi.
“It’s just too slow, someone said, does it burn any calories? I usually work out in order to slim down!”
“If you didn’t slim down until now, said her helpful neighbor, nothing will ever do it for you! You’ve worked at slimming down for the last 20 years, and you are getting fatter and fatter!”
“But all those Asians are so thin! I think I’ll go for it!”
“Slim Asians, you say, did you ever watch a sumo fight? Sumo wrestlers are Asians too! ”
“Listen to this, intervened someone else, the sister of my brother’s mother- in- law had the worst rheumatic pains and after only two weeks of tai-chi she was completely cured!”
“What nonsense! Two weeks, two years or maybe never!?”
“It should help me with my bridge, said one lady wistfully, who lives on the 6th floor, if it really improves one’s brain! My partner complains that I am slow and I don’t concentrate! Somebody told me that he is looking around for another partner and this is terrible! Yes, I am definitely going to do that tai-chi!”
The discussion became quite heated.
“I don’t like people who claim to know everything prior to real experience! Why don’t we try it and then we can talk about it?”
“I don’t have any time, said the lady to my left, I work out in the gym every morning, then I take a swim in the pool, then I cook a bit, and I would never give up my afternoon nap for anything in the world!”
“Oh yes, you would! Just let someone tell you about a summer sale somewhere and you’d be off like a shot for a bit of shopping!”
“This is not true! I -…”
“All right, it’s 8 o’clock, I intervened, the news are on and let’s see who demonstrates against what before we ourselves demonstrate for or against tai-chi!