By Vivek Hande
Walk your way to health, said the manual and I decided to take it seriously. I worked out my route and got my walking shoes on to ensure a decent hour of sweating. Consistency is important, I reminded myself.
I am bit of an observer of people and their behavior. I realized, more stimulating than the exercise, were the sights and sounds of the Mumbai morning. All kinds of people and activities make the Mumbai morning special and the vibrant spirit of the city was evident in its morning walkers.
There was this geriatric foursome – absolutely inseparable and at the same spot day after day. They did not seem to be walking much and would keep stopping after a few paces. Their discussion was animated and they would discuss and analyze all current national and international problems and issues till they had found a solution. Their conversation was livelier than any panel discussion on TV and they could out- Arnab the man himself till they got an answer that the country wanted to know!!
Then there was this portly seriously old gentleman, always dressed in tight, yellow shorts who was taken for a walk by his portlier and more serious looking St. Bernard.
There was this very interesting trio who was on a daily fashion parade and walked the ramps of Mumbai roads parading the latest ,in Versace and Pierre Cardin sportswear. How they were able to fit in, leave alone walk in those ultra-tight fitting garments defied all laws of physics!
And then there was this very officious business executive type who would have probably enjoyed walking in a pinstripe but made do with the copy of Economic Times as he ambled with a grave air about him, burdened by the financial woes of the world!
A couple walked with their chauffeur –driven Mercedes following them slowly at a respectful distance. Every now and then they would disappear into the car to emerge revitalized and charged for the next stretch.
A grizzly veteran, ramrod straight would stop at very intersection and scatter grains for hundreds of pigeons who seemed to know him rather well. Yet another lady was like the Pied Piper of Mumbai being followed by tens of stray dogs. She enjoyed feeding them biscuits every morning. Yet another lady kept handing out Sai Baba photo cards to as many people as she could while she chanted “Om sai Naam “.
Some walkers had headphones around their necks and seemed to be walking with their head swaying to some rocking music. Others could not do without their ubiquitous cell phones. There were some who walked for the company; others definitely meant serious business and walked and sweated it out as if their lives literally depended on it. Well, there were also some, who used the morning excursion to shop for milk and bread..
I was most certainly enjoying this people –watching and daily display of personalities till I heard a bunch of girls commenting when I passed by, “He is really weird. He is quite creepy you know. He keeps staring at everyone. He is either a nutcase or a pervert!”
In today’s sensitive and touchy times, no more people –watching for me. It is serious walking and nothing else…