Monday, June 02, 2008

This walking life

You know that look on my fathers face when he opened the door and saw me standing there? The jaw dropping, quick heart beating, eye popping out of socket one. It’s a priceless look, the one where for a few nano seconds a person loses and gains comprehension of what this is and feels this surge of bottomless joy, all mixed up. Stirred not shaken. Well, in the 2.5 days I spent with my folks in saadi Dilli I gave him one more such shock. I told him I was going to do a 10Km charity walk. Believe me when I say that it wasn’t the charity bit that bagged the look, it was the 10 KILOMETERS.

You have no idea, mainly because my alter-blog-ego is so fit (!), how much and with what vehemence I DISLIKE WALKING. For a long time while I was growing up my dad-the-early-morning-walker tried to interest me in the benefits of the morning walk – fresh air, sunrise, health, blah blah blah. I tried it in spits and with many a spat. I always fought it and while my father grumbled that it was my mother’s genes to blame for this inability to rise early and run around the colony, I remember silently thanking my mum for the genes that allowed me to sleep on guilt-free till she woke up to lead the way. He tried and tried and tried again but after every few weeks of enthusiastic morning walks around the colony (every six months or so) I invariably gave in to my old ways and warm razai, much to his disappointment.

Even in adulthood and then a London existence I fought the urge to adopt walking as the way forward. I talked the talk where environmental issues are concerned but where walking to save the planet is concerned I didn't walk the talk. For work and study in India I always got someone to drop or pick me up; threw silent internal tantrums at having to walk even to the end of the road to get a bus or an auto if the occasion so warranted. In London I grew to embrace walking after a long and pointless battle with myself and this city. It was not easy and was completely a case of mind over ALL this matter. I readily admit that I taught myself to enjoy walking the bits to and in stations, office, malls, museums, supermarkets, restaurants - all under duress. I learnt to focus on the end destination and what joy buying milk or eating at somewhere fine would bring me instead of on the journey to get there. Deep down though, in the inner inner bit I hate exposing, I would have to admit that I still strongly dislike walking, even from A to B, however close or far they may be. I don’t mind waking up at 5.30 to go to the gym for a rigourous workout but I hate that 3 minute walk TO the gym. So yes, make no mistake about it, I have always been, and still am, a slug.

So at the end of April when my colleagues mentioned forming a team to attempt Cruisaid ‘s 10km Walk for Life my first instinct was to pretend I was busy. When that didn’t work it was to remind them how much I hate walking – something that amuses their strong British legs no end. Well, that didn’t work. So after thinking about how this would help me prove my working out had had some effect on stamina if not svelte-ness, I went home one day signed on and committed to raising a significant amount of money towards a few causes. I ignored the fact that I was going to have to WALK to uphold my end of the bargain. Instead I attacked the fundraising target with fervour and continued to ignore the training for it, stodgily continuing on my steady gym routine. I wrote to everyone I knew asking them to sponsor me to walk. Some of them were so stunned that I, the World Slug Champion, was attempting to walk anywhere of my own free will, that they emptied out their pockets in support of my causes. (thank you, thank you - you know who you are). Others sent their good vibes. (again, thank you). Yet others ignored me, thinking it spam. After all there was no way that I would readily subject myself to walking. How wrong I proved them. And myself.

Yesterday dawned cloudy and very unlike the 1st of June, a bit chilly. Although who is to say what the weather should be like anymore in these weird global warming/ cooling days? I’d had two solid hours at the machines at the gym in the previous week and was quite confident that I’d manage the 10 km walk without falling flat on my face. Spoke to the folks while I waited at the station and my dad wished me luck in that still disbelieving tone; like "No way Jose is my child going to be WALKING 10kms. My same I-hate-walking-child? Never!". If it weren’t me standing outside City Hall in my trainers and gym gear on a Sunday morning, dad, even I wouldn’t have believed it!

Met the team and enthusiastically registered, collected our wristbands and did a very tiring warm up with a very enthusiastic trainer. Then we walked: in waves, breaking into smaller groups, finding our own pace, catching-up with and then losing team members, marveling at the buildings/ the river, staying hydrated, looking for signs to mark the kilometers as they passed us by. And surprisingly it was no tough thing – my alter-blog-ego and self seemed to merge seamlessly into one. I really enjoyed every minute of it. Two hours and 15 minutes later, through the history laden centre of London, on a long and arduous route – along London’s pavements and cobbled streets, through traffic lights and throngs of tourists – we did the fake-outstretched-arms-running-through-a-ribbon to pass the finish line. To be given a banana and a box of juice and entertained by a very good George Michael impersonator, while we sat by Tower Bridge and revelled in our feat. Went home with aches and pains that only time will heal, but a sense of accomplishment not only for fundraising that much but for my own walking without falling ability that had me smile my way into a dreamless sleep last night.

So yeah dad, apparently I DO like walking and I CAN do it. I even have a cheesy medal to prove it.

Saadi Dilli: My Delhi
razai: Quilt


  1. Anonymous11:40 PM

    This is totally cool! Cant wait to see the cheesy medal.

  2. Anonymous7:51 PM

    i have always been in awe of people who sign up for these walks and marathons. to 'know' someone who finished it makes me very proud! Put photooo of medal please..

    BTW, i could have sworn that i left comments on the last two posts...not sure where they went....sigh...i better stick to walking.

  3. Great going!! I am so thrilled and delighted for you. I am a slug-who-LIKES-to-walk -- so even though I entirely sympathize with the slug-element in your personality, I would urge on the newly awakened walker in you to shake those legs out more often.

    Truly proud and happy for you. Hugz!

  4. Cool!! Congrats on completing th walk! I participated in a 5 mile walk last year for Breast Cancer research foundation along with my mom. And is it a coincidence or what - I surprised my mom in April for her retirement party! Was gonna blog about it.

    Another post I had in mind was on friendships and I see you have posted on that too. Freaky!!

  5. Wow :) good for you.

  6. Anonymous6:03 AM

    Congrats! You may not like walking but you're one determined person.

  7. I thought hating walking was a real Indian thing? Hey, at least it's a medal...

  8. Congratulations. Now, after this wonderful achievement are you at all converted to walking for pleasure? That would be a major transformation!
    Did a 15km charity walk in college- phew- though we did routinely walk a fair amount this was just a bit too much.

  9. Anonymous6:29 PM

    Congrats on Completing the Walk.

  10. Anonymous8:35 PM

    many badhai's on your cheesy medal!!!

  11. To all:

    Thank you all for your encouragement and support and congratulations. It's what makes blogging better than just doing!

    Photo: I'm working on it. And polishing it relentlessly in the meantime!

    I'm not converted to walking, although I plan to walk great swathes of London just to prove to myself that I can. As for being determined, that's about all I have going for me right now. Thanks guys!