In praise of walking

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One of the things that I am hoping to do in 2014, is to lose weight. Side-note: This has been on my yearly to-do lists since I started making these lists.

Since I have a medical condition that prevents me from running and gymming, I have handful of things that I can do to lose weight.

One of these things is walking. I have thus taken it upon me to ensure that I walk 10000 steps. Every day. Why 10000 steps?


A, its measurable.
B, it seems large enough goal.
C, its easy to keep track.
D, its simple to do.

In fact here is a chart that Moves has generated for me (if you want to track your steps, Moves is a simple, beautiful and intuitive application). For the sake of keeping scores, I walked 47K steps in the last week. And I walked 48K this week. Coming week I want to do 50K.

Except wednesday and sunday, I try and walk 10000 steps a day. Some days I do more. Somedays I do less. But the point is that I am more aware that each day I am supposed to walk. And each day I walk with a goal in my head. I have started doing things differently, like I walk shorter distances. As a run of thumb, any distance that is less than 2 KMs, I walk it up. Takes about 20 minutes for a fat-ass like me. I ensure that I leave in time to be able to walk for 20 minutes. Although when I reach, I am panting, I am gasping for breath but I know that I have burned some calories. And I know that I saved 20 bucks (10 bucks per KM in Mumbai). Two little drops in two different oceans that are important to me.

So today, while I walking something dawned on me. That when we take transport, we miss the scenery. And the stories that the scenery tells us. Its same as taking the train versus taking a flight. Imagine you flying over the countryside in a comfortable tube. You see things from 30000 feet and you marvel at the sights below when you could be part of the sight. There is so much to see, so much to experience on the ground below. A comfortable seat in the clouds can not match the experience of being a part of the sight. Ever. Trust me. Been there, done that.

And why do I like flying and airports so much? Because I am perpetually short of time. And I rather save time than save money. And flying is the fastest mode of travel for distances more than 1000 KMs. atleast in India. Even if its a scheduled flight.

So let me come to walking. This is supposed to be a post in praise of walking. So today, I had lunch and then I walked home. Its around 3 KMs walk and I took about 40 minutes for it. En route a couple of things happened that made me happy about my decision to walk home after lunch.

Let me talk about those two things.

First. These few kids were playing football close to where I was walking. Somehow the ball landed close to me. A kid yelled at me and said, "Uncle please pass the ball."

He called me uncle. Uncle. I was so furious so furious that it's not funny. I know I am old and I am fat and I am bald but I am not getting called uncle by these kids. Before I could yell back at him and invite him for showdown, since I was walking, my thinking muscles were active. I realized that it was not a personal remark and he was just going by my looks. He did not know me and he had no way to know that I hate being called an uncle.

The episode taught me a very important lesson. That I need to think through things and evaluate them objectively. I could've got angry at him. I almost flipped the bird but I did not.

Second. Along the way a rickshaw stopped me and asked for directions. I take pride in my ability to remember directions and I told him. An instant later, another pedestrian asked me for directions. This guy was from one of the seven Eastern states, I don't know which one though. He looked as if he had walked quite a distance and still had some distance to go. He didn't seem to have money for a rick and I did not know the bus routes. So, dejected, I told him that its a 30 minute walk and I dont know the bus. The dude grinned and walked away.

After I told him the directions, as well as I could, I realized that he comes from one of the most beautiful and gifted locations and yet he is here, in polluted and over-crowded Mumbai. I am assuming he's come here chasing the same thing that I've been chasing - my dreams. I thought if I was in his place and I lived amidst those mountains and valleys and rivers and springs and flowers and trees and beauty and whether, I would never leave that place. I would have normally cursed him and give him unsolicited advice of going back.

But then, since I was in the thinking mode, I thought, what if he's thinking the same thing about me That I have left family and friends and comfort and protection and all those things behind. To chase a dream that I am not even sure of.

Thats it. Two stories. Each happened in quick succession. I am sure if I walked everyday with an intent to look for scenery and stories, I can find many more. For a storyteller that I want to become, these stories are going to be important. I definitely saw much more, observed more and grasped more. And not just storytelling, for the lazy account planner in me, people-watching is an important tool. Walking gives me yet another opportunity to observe people in their natural environments.

So the point of these stories is that if you walk, you get better at being a human. Rickshaws speeds you up and fly past the scenery. Ofcourse rickshaws don't make you bad but they don't make you good either. You get the point?

No? May be go for a walk after you've read this.

Anyway, to end this note, the lesson of the day is that there are so many merits of walking and its sad that I've ignored all these all these years. No more. From now on, I am going to walk. At least 10000 steps a day.

For the ones who like to skim rather than read, here is a quick list in praise of walking.

When you walk...

  1. You lose weight without realizing that you are losing weight. All you do is walk and you dont goto the gym or go on a diet. You just walk and you realize that inches are reducing from your waistline. 
  2. You give your muscles exercise. Muscles work on the principle of positive feedback loop. Or Anti-fragility if you will. Every step you take, makes your muscles stronger. 
  3. You can tweak walking to make it a tool to spend more time with your special someone. Walking gives you "together" time. Nothing like walk. For a self-proclaimed King of Mush like me, I think, walking in the rain is THE most romantic thing you could do.
  4. You see things. Read the two anecdotes above. 
  5. You get perspective. Again, read the two anecdotes above.
This is it!

What next? Go walk! 10000 steps a day! Preferably with your special someone :)

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