If I could take you with me for a walk, I would take you to places that have mattered to me. All I have liked to do here in this town is to walk and to explore. I remember the energetic morning walks of my childhood with my dad who has been an avid walker. The air would be cool and quite a respite from the sweltering heat that swept the north Indian plains for much of the year. We walked in the deserted lanes which would soon be bustling with cycles, scooters, rickshaws and school goers. When we were lucky enough to live in the vicinity of parks, we would walk there, moving along at a brisk pace, walking the length many times.
We walked this way in each town we lived. When I went my way in the world after my studies, I continued to walk the places I now lived with friends. In times of crisis, it was the only way to keep sane. I walked miles, covered familiar and unfamiliar neighbourhoods, walked to the vibrant vegetable markets, walked through lively trimmed parks and superbly kept suburban streets.
There are days when I walk with a friend and catch up on all that is happening and the only way to do this is not in a stuffy restaurant, over stale buns and tea but in the cool, fresh air where nature’s vibrance brings alive the music in our hearts. We talk as we make our way back to our homes.
I also walk alone. I take in the sights and the smells, look at the trees shedding their leaves that slowly flutter down in the breeze and at the wild, blooming marigolds on the hill slopes. I hear the birds, the rustle of the wind in the trees and the temple bells.
And now, I would like to walk with you. I want you to see the bush where I first saw the lilies and the little kitten mewing. I want you to stand on the edge of the forest and hear the wind blow so hard that it sounds like a river rushing by. I want you to see the jagged ends of the houses teethering on the uneven hill slopes, the sun making the shadows dance. I want you to see the geometric poetry of the lodges with an old world charm. I want you to see the shuttered up windows of houses that are long abandoned. I want to walk with you to the fringe of the market where the porters bear the goods on bent backs and walk like mules. I want to climb the dated, pitted staircases with you, shadowed by the overhanging balconies of the buildings that had seen better times. I want you to hear the church bells chime competing with the psychedelic music from the new shops. I want to take you to the old book stores where time seems to stand still in the musty odour. I want to walk down with you to the ice cream parlour where the cool refreshment is accompanied by a hot discussion on the spiritual legacy of the patron.
Through these walks, I want you to see the place with my eyes. Maybe we can walk together often.