One of the best ways of keeping fit physically and mentally is to walk everyday, for at least half an hour. If you have a park nearby or can reach one by car, what greater pleasure is there than to go there, savour nature for a little while, meet some people on just “hi” and “bye” terms, see the unique or queer idiosyncracies of some people, or just get caught in an unexpected shower of rain. In smaller cities like Trivandrum, we have only the Kanakakunnu Palace with its ups and downs and the Museum Grounds (limited choices, no doubt) but excellent for walking. I am reminded of Central Park in New York—large and beautiful, ideal for cycling, walking, skating and taking rest/relaxing on the grass near the pathway. At one time it was a nightmare—most unsafe—it contributed to crime and sexual misbehaviour. But one resourceful mayor took a lot of steps to transform it and it is a showpiece now.
Walking along roads is scary, because vehicles come very close to you. The pavements are dangerous because there are pits, holes, garbage, uneven surfaces and stones. There are even clusters of dogs, and then you have to step onto the road to avoid them and climb up again on clearer ground. Pavements are sometimes used for parking cars and two-wheelers, robbing the pedestrian of his/her right to walk on them. Once while I was walking on a pavement which had a steep incline towards the end, a cyclist whizzed past me so suddenly that I almost tripped. But he fell. Poor chap, I’m sure he didn’t have any intention of harassing me, because the incline was a surprise for him, but today’s media would have made a story out of it!
I hardly see young couples in these parks, poor things are busy coping with life—there is no time for walking. And anyway, they probably think that walking is for oldies who cannot exercise much and who have nothing much to do! I see some zealous men jogging away or walking very briskly. It is said that ideally one must walk briskly for results. There are many whose derriere and/or front remains the same in shape and size despite walking for a long time. They need kudos for keeping at it, for they probably know that walking is meant for keeping fit—not necessarily for losing weight. I see plenty of women walking in the Museum Ground reaching there straight from the office—they know they cannot “waste” away the inches at the “waist” with mere housework where simplification has occurred with the pressure cooker, the gas cylinder, electric items like the mixie, easy mops and so on.
Here is this man who is walking fast swinging his arms wildly—a kind of textbook walk. And today I see my friend who does his regular exercises in the park in a quiet corner. I have seen groups doing some very elegant dance-like exercises in Shanghai and people practising judo.
I find that walking cheers me up and makes me feel positively positive and I am ready to take up any task without tears or fears. Would it not be wonderful if everybody makes a resolution for this year to walk as much as possible and talk as little as one should?