Monday, November 9, 2009


During school vacations, sometimes my father would suddenly have the urge to go on morning walks with me and my brother. Ma (mother) would wake us all up at some unearthly hour, get us suitably attired (depending, of course, on the weather - it was sacrilege to step out in winter without being bundled up in sweaters and scarves), give us a Marie Biscuit each, and push us out of the house before, I suspect, going back to a blissfully peaceful snooze.

Half-reluctant, half-awake, rubbing sleep out of our eyes, we would stumble out, weaving through the nearly-empty roads in our neighbourhood, under the guidance of our enthusiastic leader, Baba (father).

As we left the crowd of houses behind, the gradually brightening sky showed us the way to greener fields and the banks of the Ganga. Baba always wanted to reach the riverbank - a good half-an-hour's walk from our house - to catch the sunrise over the placid Ganga's horizon. Our senses awakened to the chirruping Good Mornings of the birds and the fresh wetness of dew brushing against our legs. Masses of flowers bent over trees and hedges and tickled our noses with their scents - shiuli, rajanigandha, kamini, beli. It was, to understate, a nice way to way up all our senses.

And the high point was flopping down, all huffed-and-puffed, on the banks of the brown river, feeling the cool breeze wipe off the sweat from our faces, and lifting our eyes to watch the sun paint the eastern sky with an amazing palette of red-orange-gold-pink. The Ganga, a great imitator, would reflect whatever the sun drew on the sky, adding millions of tiny silver ripples for special effects. And a few early morning braveheart-bathers, sun-worshippers and Ganga-devotees, would step into this colour-play in the water to take their daily dip in the holy river.

While going back, we would stop at some riverside tea-stall for locally-made toast-biscuits and Baba would have a cup of tea - the first of his daily dozen-or-more.

No birdsong. No sunrise. Maybe they happen, but morning-walkers hardly notice. They hear the latest tracks on their earphones, and see only a focussed vision of six-packs or size-zero.

And if I thought that the self was made of the mind, body and soul, then of course, I was wrong. Only the body matters, at least while morning-walking.



Ugich Konitari said...

Some tag along,
shoelaces open,
clutching a big finger;
skipping through
the grassy path
to the river.
And as the
sun paints the horizon,
they flop down,
lying on wet grass,
of Ma, baba, didi
and of course,

trainers guide the feet,
not in the heart,
but in the shoes;
Headbands with tick marks
instead of a sari pallu
wiping the forehead;
two massive discs
cover the ears.

Missing out
the mother,
calling out with
the left lunchbox,
a wife,
about the key,
the building sweeper
his soundless
toothy smile,
the neighbor's dog
protesting the balcony.

The sky changes color,
so do the signals,
The fresh air
gets a whiff of exhaust;
he adjusts his headphones,
takes a deep breath,
and listens,
to someone sing,
"Beat it !"

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Earlier we were close towards nature. Now we are close towards materialistic world And gadgets are a part.

What is six pack?
What is eight pack?
What is size-zero?
Temporary or permanent???

Anyways, regarding walks: quit years back but yes, when I used to walk it was for fresh breathing And fresh night dews for feet. Those were the days. Now-a-days even grass is rare And fresh breathing a dream.

Nazish Rahman said...

Nice analysis...its so true!!!

Kavi said...

Brilliant !

These days, when i run in the morning, i notice the i-pod types, with goggles !

And wonder, what they are running from or what they are running to.

But thats the way of the world. these days !

The only thing that perhaps seems to be as common as the old times, is the sun rising !

The ganges must be polluted. And the tea is expensive ! And the natural sounds are replaced by honks and heckles.

Ok. The toast biscuit...well, save that !

ZB said...

I feel the world is the same, its we who change. When i was a child everything and anything brought curiosity. birds, trees, rivers, bridges all were such wonderful objects that captured our fancy.

But now, its money, investment, future, child's future, health, old age, retirement.

Only time i turn back is when i spend time with my daughter. Thats when i realize everything is the same, its i who have changed. Its wonderful to remember those wonderful childhood days. Thanks for sharing this.

lopamudra said...

My elder daughter's school bus comes 10 minutes before sunrise, so we all have a swell time watching the mesmerizing sunrise everyday and walk past the dew soaked grass, so do all the other elementary school kids.After dropping my li'l one to school I go for a long walk without any contraption in my ears and listen to the chirping birds.I do use an i-pod when I am in the gym but not outdoors.

seana said...

I moved about six months ago to a new/old part of town. Although I usually take the bus home, I always walk to work in the morning. It's a beautiful neighborhood, probably one of the most settled and established, and I really enjoy it.

♥ Braja said...

There's nothing finer than an Indian's no longer possible in some places, but don't worry, it's still here.....the Ganga is 150m away from me, early morning bathers are there; the sounds from nearby temples and roadside stores delight the ears and senses; the first cup of chai from the wallah with the huge old 1920's kettle :)'s all there....and I love it....

radha said...

Stopped the morning walks. The roads that have been dug up have not been filled properly, and this can be quite a strain to avoid the stones, but how many can you avoid? And the traffic that comes on the wrong side of the road. Now we have a stationary bike and then some yoga etc etc. Miss the morning fresh air. Walks with my grandfather and father were a little like the one you described.

Peter Rozovsky said...

I remember walking to “the Village” in the town in the Laurentian mountains where my family had a country house. We could walk by the rocks on one side of the street or the lake on the other. Those words the Village give the small commercial center great solidity in my recollections.
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

Akshay said...

Indeed, morning walks are no longer the way they used to be. Today, you will find people going for a walk with headphones on. Awesome with a fluid writing style.

Sucharita Sarkar said...

Thanks, everybody, for taking us along for a walk down memory lane.