Tag Archives: walking

The Great Wall and Time

The sun’s heat is scorching. We walk at a steady pace, completely awed. 

We are at the Great Wall of China.

 Before we reach the starting point, our guide briefs us about the Wall and its history, and loads us with many interesting nuggets of information.  We agree on a time to meet, and proceed on our long walk.

The valleys on either side watch us in silence, as we walk, stop and marvel. How was this feat even possible!

At every turn, the wall winds up and down into the rugged terrain, an off-white line that stretches away into places that the eye cannot see. 

We feel humbled.  We walk up steps, climb down others, pausing for breath, pausing to take pictures, wondering, only wondering.

We can picture the soldiers at their viewing decks, and the invading armies. 

My son and I sit down, as we wait for the others. There is a deep silence. Except from two crows that caw on and off, all is quiet.  Our hats give us some semblance of protection as the sun’s hot rays reflect off the stones.

I look up at the clear blue sky and smile. A merry little jet is whizzing importantly across the sky, leaving behind a fluff of white lace. 

Time seems suspended between history and the future. 

The Wall is unchanging, a witness to thousands of years of history, culture and human development.  The jet is too busy to stop, it is after all, busy carrying people to appointments and meetings.

The word ‘time’ as I know it seems pointless, as I sit on the Great Wall, knowing that even after we are all gone, this architectural wonder will still remain.

Tree-top Walk

We are on a tree top trail. It is late in the afternoon as we ascend the few steps that take us to the start of the trail.

The late afternoon Sun is quite strong, as we walk with a sense of purpose. As the trail snakes its way upwards, the sounds from the highway below gradually fade away and the delicious smell of crisp, fresh air fills our nostrils. The only sounds one can hear are the rustling of leaves, the chirping of birds and the dull thud of one’s own footsteps.

There is a drop of bright blue on the branch of a tree. A kingfisher resting on a swaying branch. We stop to look at him. He is oblivious to all this attention.

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We climb higher. We are level with the tops of trees – in every shade of green possible, some shining metallic in the afternoon light. We see squirrels and orioles, playing inside the foliage. A rustle here and a flutter there.

Otherwise peace is the norm. We stop to drink water. The trail goes on and on. Beautiful, lush trees on both sides. Flora and fauna humming to their own rhythm.

Up here, the real world seems far away. We drop our cares and worries, soak in the peace into every pore of our bodies, and inhale the oxygen-rich air.

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We spot some shrikes and monkeys. As we reach the top of the trail, the wind whips past our faces, slapping our hair about, and carrying away the sweat from our faces.

We stretch and sit awhile, then head back. The downward walk is easy. When we near the end, the real world greets us – with bustling activity and vehicles. We flow into the main artery of everyday life, to be sucked into the mundane once more.

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At least till the next trek….!

My favourite uncle

Growing up, we’ve all had our favourite uncles, aunts and cousins. There were some ‘go to’ aunts and uncles, who indulged us, some whom we went to for advice and then again, others whom we didn’t bother with.

My all-time favourite uncle was my Dad’s younger brother. When he was with us, fun times were not far away.

From birthday cakes to surprise treats, he made our childhood days so special.

One absolutely special memory with him was  ‘Kids’ Movie Night’.  Whenever a new children’s film played in one of the oldest cinema houses in town, our uncle took us to watch them – ‘Annie’, ‘Lassie come home’, ‘Herbie goes Bananas’, ‘Jungle Book’ and countless other wonderful films.  We usually went to the 6 pm show on Saturdays.

When we stepped out of the theatre after the movie, the roads were usually deserted. Due to the biting cold, we wore our sweaters and caps, and walked back with our uncle.

On the way back, we usually made two stops. The first stop was just outside the theatre at a peanut seller’s stall. He was an integral part of the movie-going experience. He stood behind his stall, roasting peanuts in a huge wok, which had sand at the bottom. The spatula with which he roasted made a metallic grating sound, the only sound that could be heard on that road.  The warm fire of his stove set his face aglow, as he smiled at my uncle in recognition.

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Picture courtesy – http://www.wikihow.com

He deftly rolled paper into cones and filled them to the brim with warm peanuts. We slowly munched our way through those yummy peanuts, as we headed towards our second stop.

This was a small, quaint tea shop, which served great coffee and tea (as I discovered when I grew up). But, when we were with our uncle, we got to have warm, creamy glasses of fresh milk and cookies to go with them.

My uncle chatted with the owner, as my sister and I drank our milk and compared our white ‘milk mustaches’, giggling at each other.

We discussed our favourite parts in the movie, as we held our uncle’s hands and walked back to our cozy home.

Twilight Walk – A Short Story

Fiona had to run across M.G.Road, and walk about 300 m to drop off a set of documents to another office, and get back to her workplace to wind down for the day.

She grabbed her handbag, took the folder containing the documents, and left the building.

The Sun had already set and most office-goers were heading home, some in a rush, some strolling, others busy on their phones.

Hundreds of crows were cawing raucously in the twilight, catching up on the day’s gossip. Fiona smiled to herself, as she imagined what the crows would say to each other.

Traffic was heavy on MG Road and it took her sometime to cross. She quickened her pace. She walked down 1st Cross, took the second left, went into the office, dropped off the folder and headed back.

She badly wanted to have a cold drink. The humidity was stifling. As she walked back, there was a stretch of road where the street lights were not working. As she looked up to see the lamp post, she was grabbed from the back and forced against a wall.

A masked face pointed a knife at her neck and asked for her handbag. Fear paralysed her, as the handbag was snatched, and she felt darkness engulf her. She felt herself going limp as her legs gave way. She felt that these were her last moments. After that nothing.

When she came to, she felt water drops on her face. She could hear many voices, indignant, worried and lots of murmuring.

She opened her eyes and looked into ten or twelve pairs of eyes. They helped her to her feet and asked her what had happened.

She was too tired to talk and told them that she was okay and that she could manage. One of the women offered to drive her back. Fiona declined and said she could easily walk back.

Another man said he would walk her down to the office, just to ensure she reached safely. She agreed.

She thanked everyone for their concern and started walking towards the office.
The man made polite conversation. He looked like a banker or sales guy, well dressed, and she noticed he wore branded glasses. Smart, she thought.

The office building was fast emptying, as they reached the lift. He smiled.

She smiled and said, “I can manage from here, thank you so very much.”

He said, “No trouble at all. I will see you up.”

She did not want to be rude, and they got into the lift.

The door closed. And then he caught hold of her neck and pushed her against the lift wall.

“You silly woman, there was nothing in your handbag, except trivia, no money, no smartphone, nothing”, he said.

Her eyes widened in terror.

“I will not go back empty handed”, he said.

He snatched the thin gold chain she wore around her neck, yanked it off, pressed the lift for the next floor and disappeared into the night.

She then remembered that her wallet was in her laptop bag along with her phone. She rubbed her neck, which now had an angry red line.

What a day it had been! Phew!

Another Day Begins

I am on my morning walk.  I enjoy the cool air as it envelopes my face.  The Sun is still an orange tinge on the horizon.

I see other joggers and walkers.  Some are techie-joggers, they have devices strapped to their arms and their wrists, measuring various parameters.  They are on a mission, say their serious faces, burn, calorie, burn.

Cute little dogs are on their morning walks too, pausing here, sniffing there, enjoying the smells of dawn.  Their owners stretch themselves, sometimes walking, sometimes trotting with their pets.

The drone of vehicles has started on the main road, as I leave our building. Early morning office-goers, trim and proper, in their formal attire, well groomed and ready to take on the day, with their laptops and papers and smartphones.

School-going children waiting at the bus stops for their buses. Teens listening to music, the younger ones chattering away, some other ones still half-asleep, clinging to their moms.

The last-minute breakfast-munchers, quickly biting into a sandwich, as they get ready to take on their day.

One set of people going into the tube station, one set coming out, both sets in a hurry, smoking, eating, talking into their phones, but hurrying.

The newspaper vendor, doing brisk business, as everybody wants to know what’s happened in the world, while they slept on.

The caffeine-lovers, who sip large-size take-away coffees, as they walk.  I want my coffee too, but I have to finish my morning beat.

When I reach the stadium, all these thoughts vanish, as I watch people whizzing past, walking at alarming speeds, jogging and some even sprinting.  A few stretch, a few curl, a few twist, a few climb, a few hang….on the exercise bars.

I join the ‘serious‘ now. Meeting my fitness goals for the day. The Sun is up and about.  I finish. I guzzle water.

I head back home.  The frantic office-goers are now replaced by older folk, who are on their morning walk; men and women walk back, swinging their tennis or badminton rackets, after energetic games.

The vehicles are noisier, the Sun is warmer, the trees are greener, the wind is warm.  I reach home. I measure, I note.

I turn my attention to the rest of my day.