by Sumit Raj
Walking is essential for health and I encourage everyone to do so.
'Pedestrians have the right to use the road' is mentioned on an information board placed on Road connecting Chota Shimla with Kasumpti. This road remains closed for non VIP vehicles in the morning hours as all diplomat residing there use it to reach their offices in the secretariat.
I am surprised at this arrangement. How many walkers are left out on this beautiful planet? The roaring monsters, the smoke emitting vehicles have entered the remotest parts of the earth. Who likes to walk now except some enthusiasts who have retained this powerful urge? I see a number of people going for a morning walk. They make a few rounds, on their designated route, count them and are pleased to know that they walked more round. A number of people walk to their cars, to the toilet, to the dining table. They also walk to the lift and when come out; they once again, walk to the office.
But here, in Shimla, there is an exception. People walk a lot and I am sure that in this town there are more walkers than at any other place. I see some of the vehicles, fitted with red lights on top, entering the restricted lanes, perhaps, because the possessors of these cars feel shy of walking with common people.
I used to walk a lot even when I was in Delhi. Every evening, when I was jobless, I would walk to Fatehpuri that was a two kilometers distance way, to teach a young boy. He remained my good student for two years. Then I found a job with a travel company in South Delhi and stopped giving tuitions.
In the evening I would walk from my father's railway quarter in Bari More Sarai, near Old Delhi Railway station, to Rajghat. I had no friends there so I would sit there for some time, miss the hills, curse myself for being in Delhi and then walk back. Sometimes I would walk past Shantivan, towards the fields and find peace, imagining that I was in the hills. When I worked in the Travel Agency, every evening after leaving my office, I would walk to Safdarjung Airport, two kilometers away, to catch bus to Chandni Chowk.
'Why don't you take the bus from outside the office? Every bus halts here', advised my colleagues many a time.
I always remained mute at this. They could not understand the concept of taking a bus from such a far away place. One day they insisted on this and I said, 'Every evening I have to get my legs repaired'. One day the bus stopped at India Gate due to some mechanical fault and I walked to Chandni Chowk. The other fellow passengers waited for the next bus but I was helpless as my legs wanted to move, so I moved.
And now I'm back to my beloved town, and hills where I can walk to those places too where the cars cannot reach. I can walk through the forests, on the trails, up to the snow peaks, down to a stream, to the library, to the bazaar and of course to the toilet and back to my study table.