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Keep your brain young by doing math, said a health website, and then the real estate salesperson said maintenance charges was three per cent of the built-up area.

“Don’t forget, the registration cost is six per cent,” he said, and I told him to be quiet before he reeled off more figures.

I did not remember whether the website said I should solve the math problem mentally or use the calculator to keep my brain healthy, but when I reached for my smartphone, it had two per cent battery life left.

“Is it the carpet area?” interjected my wife, and the sales person said, “No, ma’am, super built-up area.”

“Wait, give me your phone,” I told my wife. “What were we talking about?”

“Javid here says he can give us a 30 per cent discount if we close the deal with him,” she said.

“I will also deduct Rs500,000 [5 lakhs] if you do not want the interior,” the salesperson said.

“Of course, we want the interior,” I nearly shouted.

“He means the fittings,” said my wife. “We would like to choose the wardrobes, the kitchen colour scheme and the lights.”

“Will someone tell me how much is the maintenance cost of this place?” I screamed.

“It’s three per cent of the built-up area,” said my wife.

The other thing one can do to stop the brain from ageing is to learn dancing or learn a new language to challenge your brain, said the website, quoting a brain surgeon.

When I told my wife that I would like to learn salsa and I would be gone for three hours in the evening, every Tuesdays and Fridays, she stopped speaking to me for a week. When I finally managed to ask her what was wrong, she queried whether I had no shame thinking of dancing with strange young women.’

Dancing the salsa

“Are you getting localised? I sincerely hope they are not strange. Anyway, who knows who my dancing partner will be. Maybe she will be Mrs Ranganathan on the fourth floor, God forbid,” I said.

The thought of Mrs Ranganathan doing the salsa with me gave my wife the giggles and I dropped the idea of dancing and thought of learning the Hindi language, “India’s national language”, or so I thought.

“Just because you lived abroad for many years does not mean you should be an ignoramus,” said Samy, sounding like Shashi Tharoor. My yoga mate’s name is actually very long, Swamy something, but everyone calls him Samy, as if he is a Canadian of Jamaican origin.

“India does not have a national language,” he said sternly. “You are living in south India. Do you see any Hindi signboards, anywhere?” he said, looking at me as if I had committed a serious crime.

“Dhumrapan mana..” I said slowly spelling out the words and reading the “No Smoking” sign in Hindi in the clubhouse gym.

“Not that,” he said angrily, waving his hands about. “Do you see any road signs in Hindi?”

“I don’t know, I can’t read very well, that’s why I wish to learn,” I said. “Why are the road signs in English anyway, we are not a colony anymore?” I teased Samy. He spluttered and his face changed colour from a deep chocolate brown to a pale latte. “Don’t talk to me now, do your mountain pose,” he said. The health website said I should watch thought-provoking movies, that would challenge my brain to think.

I was watching a slasher movie where teenage girls get killed for doing silly and stupid things while a killer is on the prowl, when the bedroom door opened slowly and my wife came and stood watching the screen.

“It’s late, go to sleep,” she said.

The website had said that sleep is also very good for the brain.

Mahmood Saberi is a storyteller and blogger based in Bengaluru, India. Twitter: @mahmood_saberi