Some days I am up with the lark! Days that are rare, I concede, but once I am up, I go for an invigorating walk. The breeze blows gently and the world sparkles. I find myself surrounded by walkers of all sizes, shapes and ages.
An Olympic-style walker whizzes around the block at the speed of light, arms akimbo, staring ahead in fierce concentration. A rotund old gentleman waddles ahead of me, with a strangely jerky walk. At one point he stops, looks around furtively, and takes out a plastic cover from within the recesses of his shirt. He proceeds to pluck flowers that grow strategically under a board that states ‘Please do not pluck flowers’.
A young girl jogs past, headphones and an attitude cutting her off from the rest, as she goes by. She does not believe in niceties and turns corners abruptly, scaring birds and little tots alike.
Another failed Olympian walks by with athletic steps, and suddenly beats his tummy rapidly, giving persons strolling behind the shock of their lives. This African dance movement is followed by a hop, skip and a jump, and then all is normal again! Till the next bout, that is.
The woman with a cellphone talks incessantly, sari-pallu tucked into her waist, walking shoes on. She is evidently killing two birds with one stone. She gets her daily dose of exercise, plus a roundup of all the gossip that enlivens her mundane life, judging by her avid expression.
A loud series of honks cut through the air, startling me almost out of my wits. I turn hurriedly to look for the road roller that seems to be dogging my footsteps, only to find that it is an aspiring singer, plugged into his iPod, singing with the ease that comes from an indifference to lesser mortals around.
The most colourful are a host of older women, resplendent in their Kanjivaram saris and diamond nose pins, who amble along in twos and threes, exchanging notes on religion, cookery and their daughters-in-law, all in the same breath.
A harassed housewife gallops by, angry at her husband/child/the world in general, needing to make a statement to prove her mettle. She strides on — stern- faced and strong-jawed, probably thinking of how to win her next battle at home.
Next to appear is the in-style walker, the style freak, in his Reebok head band, Nike shoes and designer togs, grooving to a different drummer. He revels in the looks thrown at him, and the actual walk comes only a poor second. The walkie- talkies are interesting. They talk as they walk and stop at junctions without missing a word.
Finally one gets to see those denizens who actually need their walks desperately, as they heave about, body parts appearing round corners before they do, with nary a smile as they walk seriously. It is another matter that they go back home, relax with a cup of sugar-laden tea and oily samosas/vadas, and muse soporifically about dinner ahead.
Walking is the perfect form of amusement, isn’t it?